Energy News for March 9, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on March 9, 2015

POLITICO Morning Energy for 3/9/2015

By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Bob King

JEB BUSH’S POSITION ON OIL: NIMBY: Years before “drill, baby, drill” became a Republican rallying cry, Jeb Bush was one of Florida’s staunchest opponents of offshore drilling. As the governor of the tourist mecca, Bush fought to maintain Florida’s status as the only Gulf Coast state with no offshore oil and gas production — opposing even his brother’s administration in Washington when it sought to open new waters to drilling. He and his administration boasted of being Florida’s firewall against the rigs, citing it as one of his top environmental accomplishments and taunting both Al Gore and John Kerry for being wobbly on the issue.
Bush didn’t oppose drilling outside of Florida, and nowadays the GOP presidential prospect sounds largely in lockstep with his party’s support for fossil fuels: He favors building the Keystone XL oil pipeline, for example, and has drawn media attention as an advocate of fracking. Still, Bush’s opposition to oil and gas drilling in his backyard was outspoken and adamant — at least until he started making compromises with federal lawmakers late in his term. Andrew Restuccia sizes things up:

THIS ITEM ISN’T ABOUT THE ILLINOIS TRAIN DERAILMENT: It’s about the oil train derailment that happened Saturday in Ontario. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board announced Saturday that it was sending a team of investigators to the site of a crude oil train derailment just west of Gogama, Ontario. This accident is about 23 miles from the site of an oil train derailment that happened just last month. Reuters reported that multiple cars were ablaze and some were leaking oil into a waterway, according the Canadian National Railway Co., which operates the train. No injuries were reported. Reuters:

…BUT BACK IN ILLINOIS: BNSF Railway says the mainline track disrupted by the derailment of its oil train near Galena on Thursday could be operational today. Of the 21 cars that were derailed, eight are expected to be re-railed by today, the company said. The remaining cars will be removed by truck. The EPA said that air monitors were no longer detecting airborne particles from the fire on Saturday, and no oil had been seen in either the Galena or Mississippi Rivers. But an on-scene coordinator for EPA wrote that “the oil presents a imminent and substantial danger of discharging into” both rivers.

IT’S MONDAY AND YOU LOST AN HOUR — but it’s also gonna hit 60 degrees today so all is forgiven. Still, after spending five years in Ann Arbor, Mich., part of me won’t accept spring until it snows that one time in April. I’m your host, Darius Dixon, and to channel the late New York City Mayor Ed Koch: How’m I doin’? Send your energy commentary, news, scoops and tips to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

THE FIGHTIN’ FROSH: A batch of newly minted GOP lawmakers is coming out swinging, using high-profile encounters with Obama cabinet members to try to score some political points. But that doesn’t mean they’re landing many body blows. For new Hill denizens like Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska or Rep. Evan Jenkins of West Virginia, or lawmakers like Bill Cassidy of Louisiana who jumped from the House to the Senate, making an early mark as a tenacious fighter against the Obama administration can rally the base that helped them to oust incumbent Democrats last year.

In their feistiness, many of them are tripping over the details. For example, Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama thought that the Energy Department did oil and gas permitting and Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska appeared convinced that the EPA’s been drafting its climate rules based on last year’s greenhouse gas agreement with China. Alex Guillén has more:

FLORIDA OFFICIALS STEERED AWAY FROM CLIMATE WORDS: Via the Tampa Bay Times: “DEP officials have been ordered not to use the terms ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. ‘We were told not to use the terms “climate change,” “global warming” or “sustainability,”’ said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. ‘That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors.’”

CABINET ACTIVITY OF THE DAY: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will be part of a panel discussion about infrastructure and climate change at the annual conference of the National League of Cities this afternoon. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will also address the conference. If you go: Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road, N.W., at 3:30 p.m.


— The politics of ethanol have shifted enough over the last 15 years that several Republican presidential candidates felt comfortable — at an agricultural summit in Iowa Saturday — expressing their disagreement with special government supports for corn growers, philosophically at least. Still, POLITICO’s James Hohmann’s reports from the Hawkeye State show there are limits to just how far the conversation has shifted. Top-tier candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, said they would love to eventually phase out the Renewable Fuel Standard — which requires refiners to blend a certain amount of ethanol into their gasoline — but that it ought to stay in place for at least a few more years.

— Republicans went on the attack against “Big Oil.” Ethanol producers see oil companies as their enemy. While opposing the RFS isn’t the deal breaker it once was, even the most conservative Republicans who hold elected office in Iowa attack the oil industry. Steve King, one of the most conservative members of the House, suggested that “America itself” could be “lost” if the oil companies have their way. “The dream team of petroleum industry lobbyists” has maneuvered to undercut ethanol in Congress, King said. “The petroleum industry…wants to shut down all we’re doing here [in order] to keep the competition out.” James has more:

— Sen. Ted Cruz accused liberals of “anti-science zealotry” on global warming, genetically-modified food labeling and biotechnology. “The radical left loves attacking people as anti-science when anyone dares question their computer models on global warming,” Cruz told about a thousand activists during the agriculture summit. “They scream, ‘you’re anti-science,’ when someone points out, for example, that in the last 17 years, satellite data shows there’s been no warming whatsoever.” Even more from James:

DESPITE WHAT CRUZ SAYS, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data shows that nine of the planet’s 10 warmest years on record occurred in the 21st century — 2014 was the warmest on record. Even though warming has flattened out, it hasn’t declined.

JAY LENO WOULDN’T DO WELL IN IOWA: Tonight Show host emeritus — and car aficionado — Jay Leno “hates ethanol” and writes in Autoweek that “The big growers of corn have sold us a bill of goods.”:

THE LATEST EAST-WEST RIVALRY: NOAA also released national summary information about this winter and the main takeaway seems to be that the coasts suffered opposite extremes. Here are a few highlights:

— Five Western states had their warmest winters on record: Arizona, Calif., Nevada, Utah, and Washington. Another five states in the West, and Alaska, had one of their top 10 warmest winters on record (Alaska’s famed Iditarod had a rough start this year). But because of the mild first half of winter, no state had winter temperatures that ranked among the 10 coldest on record.

— No state had winter precipitation totals that ranked among the 10 driest or wettest on record. But Boston is on track to have its snowiest winter on record. The city had more than 64 inches of snow last month! Ugh. The summary — the full report comes out Wednesday — can be found here:

GRIJALVA GETS PUSHBACK FROM HOMESTATE UNIVERSITY: Arizona State University has offered the latest pushback to Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s climate probe into seven professors. In a letter to the Arizona Democrat, obtained by ME, university president Michael Crow expressed his “personal concern about the manner in which you are proceeding.” ASU professor Robert Balling was targeted by Grijalva. After citing a passage in a letter the American Meteorological Society sent to Grijalva criticizing the lawmaker’s singling out of researchers, Crow wrote that he was sending an unsolicited copy of ASU’s academic freedom policy. “I strongly urge you and your colleagues to be aware of and to consider the principle of academic freedom as you continue your pursuit of documents and information from universities and individual faculty members,” Crow wrote:

I CAN SEE HERON FROM MY HIGH-RISE: The National Wildlife Federation is out today with a new Top 10 ranking of big American cities based on their wildlife-friendliness. Unsurprisingly, Portland, Ore., is high on the list. But D.C. makes a decent showing at No. 5, with Baltimore one spot higher. Your morning host thought that the eyebrow-raiser was No. 10. The list:


— PG&E overlooked key seismic test at Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. The San Francisco Chronicle:

— Iditarod show goes on despite lack of snow. The Associated Press:

— Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar. The Washington Post:

— Imbalance in Crude Oil Price Will Even Out Soon: OPEC Chief. Bloomberg:

— Pa. Gov. Wolf’s budget to boost green energy on back of fossil fuels. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

— Conservative solar proponents decry attack on ballot initiative as ‘campaign of deception.’ The Tampa Bay Times:



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