Energy News for April 24, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on April 24, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 4/24/2015

By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Alex Guillén and Darren Goode

PUTTING YOUR YUAN WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS: A Chinese official said his government is primed to cut greenhouse gas emissions even if Republicans on Capitol Hill have cast doubt on U.S. promises and argued that the U.S. shouldn’t make similar reductions until other big emitters do the same. Gao Feng, China’s special representative to the ongoing United Nations climate change negotiations, asserted that China is more committed to dealing with climate change than ever, pointing to President Xi Jinping’s November joint global warming announcement with President Barack Obama. “In terms of China, the political will to join the global efforts to address climate change has never been stronger in the past because it’s deeply rooted in our economy,” he said during a panel discussion hosted by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions yesterday, according to Pro Energy’s Andrew Restuccia.
China has set up a series of regional cap-and-trade programs and is working to diversify its energy mix to rely less on coal and more on renewables. The country has also started playing a larger role in negotiations aimed at reaching an international climate change deal at a high-profile December summit in Paris — abandoning years of skepticism about the talks. Gao said China would be trying to slash its emissions with or without a climate change deal.

But don’t expect the GOP to suddenly alter course. Recall, what Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe told reporters in January: “If there’s anybody naive enough to believe what the president has been saying about China, they need to talk to some of the Chinese people that I’ve been talking to.” Andrew has more for Pros:

EPA RELEASES McCARTHY TEXTS IN RESPONSE TO GOP SUBPEONA: The EPA released hundreds of texts and other records last night related to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s work devices, but those hoping to find a smoking gun — like House Science Committee Republicans who subpoenaed the records — will end up with a “:(“. Chairman Lamar Smith has been pushing for EPA to release more records since it was revealed thousands of McCarthy text messages had been deleted. In a letter to the committee, EPA general counsel Avi Garbow writes that the “significant majority” of McCarthy’s text messages are to family members, and that none of the other messages are “of a substantive nature.”

Besides the text messages, EPA also released hundreds of pages of billing records and other documents, none of which appear to contain substantive information. Included in the batch is League of Conservation Voters chief Gene Karpinski’s previously released Feb. 5 text telling McCarthy “Great job on the EPA comments on keystone. I feel like the end is very near.” (McCarthy saved the message in her email and responded that he should avoid using text messages in the future.)

Here’s how it all breaks down, according to EPA: 75 percent were with family; 4.2 percent were with scheduling and security staff; 9.2 percent were with a few agency employees; and the rest were to friends and coworkers. The documents:

EPA: “We’re providing phone bills associated with every device that has been assigned to the Administrator while she has been at EPA as the Assistant Administrator and as Administrator, from 2009 until now. This includes air cards and phones for international travel.”

No prank calling: Phone numbers in the documents posted publicly have phone numbers partially redacted to preserve privacy. The phone numbers that are fully redacted are those of McCarthy’s family members as well as her current cell number but the House Science Committee was given documents with unredacted non-family phone numbers.

Say cheese: The batch includes what may be photos to commemorate former EPA deputy administrator Bob Perciasepe, including two pictures of him at a Baltimore Orioles game. The pictures, sent on Aug. 19, 2014 — just weeks after Perciasepe left EPA — were sent by Lisa Feldt, who stepped in as acting deputy administrator for a time following his departure. It’s unclear when the pictures were taken; the Orioles were playing in Chicago on that date. Feldt also on Aug. 19 sent a picture of Perciasepe standing on a street corner with a woman whose face is obscured by the poor quality of the copy. Several other photos included in the trove were redacted and marked as personal.

TGIF, FOLKS! I’m Darius Dixon, your morning host, and the first time someone in D.C. mentioned “nerd prom” to me I thought it was some awe-inspiring mix of Comic Con, E3 and a Star Trek convention. But of course, I quickly learned that, like a lot of things in this town, it’s terribly misleading. Seems like jock prom to me. Send your energy tips to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

** In recognition of Earth Day, a new Business Roundtable report, “Create, Grow, Sustain: Leading by Example,” features the sustainable practices of 148 of America’s leading businesses. By employing sustainable business practices, CEO-led efforts are improving communities throughout the United States and around the world. Learn how at: **

THE KEYSTONE XL OIL BLIPLINE: For all the incredible political drama it has inspired, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Pro Energy’s Darren Goode that the Keystone XL pipeline was just a “blip” on the radar screen of the nation’s larger need to modernize the aging, inadequate energy infrastructure. “No matter what the decision of Keystone is, it is one blip on the big picture of the energy infrastructure challenges,” he told Darren in an interview at the IHS CERAWeek Conference. “I mean, I don’t want to minimize it, but I don’t want to maximize it either.”

Beyond the six-year controversy over Keystone, Moniz said that the departments of Energy and Transportation are “very active collaborators” on research aimed at improving oversight of fuel shipped by rail as well as pipelines, particularly the light crude gushing forth from North Dakota and Texas that has raised questions about whether such shale oil is inherently more volatile after a year of frequent fuel-train accidents. Darren and Elana Schor have more for Pros:

On the Quadrennial Energy Review released this week: Moniz seemed optimistic about moving on some aspects of the QER in Congress. “There are Republicans and there are Republicans,” he said. “And in particular if you look at the leadership of the two energy committees, Congressman [Fred] Upton and Senator [Lisa] Murkowski, I think they’ve been very positive. And frankly, it’s not just in the last two days since the report was published.” DOE staff and Republican aides on Capitol Hill, he said, have been working together “for quite a while because they are interested in a bipartisan and Congress-administration discussion about infrastructure bills that are a lot more comprehensive than Keystone.”

McCARTHY: FRACKING REVIEW COMING: EPA chief Gina McCarthy, at CERAWeek, said the agency’s review of groundwater concerns over fracking is coming soon, and she suggested it wouldn’t hinder the growth of shale gas. “The good news is you won’t be in suspense for long,” she told reporters of the water-cycle examination that Congress required regarding fracking. “We’re getting prepared to actually get that out.” But by way of preview, “there’s nothing that you need to put a call out for a new technology,” she said of the fracking study. “There are best management practices that will come out of this, there are engineering strategies that we can rely on. So I do not see that this is going to do anything other than provide another … opportunity for the states to ensure that they can take advantage of these low natural gas prices and the U.S. can continue to take advantage of the benefits that extensive natural gas” production can provide.

DELAYED RESPONSE: The Supreme Court will discuss whether to take up FERC’s appeal to rescue the agency’s demand response program at the justices’ weekly conference today. But orders from those conferences don’t come out until the following Monday, so we most likely won’t know if the court will hear the case for three days (You’ve made it this far, you’ll survive three more days of not knowing). It’s late enough in the court’s current term that, should they agree to hear the case, oral arguments would happen this fall. A split three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated FERC’s demand response rule, Order No. 745, last year saying it improperly extended FERC’s powers into activities under states’ jurisdiction.

GIUSTRA RESPONDS TO NYT URANIUM-CLINTON STORY: Posting a statement to, Frank Giustra, a central figure in a New York Times yesterday making connections between donations made to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was at the State Department, panned the paper’s account. “A book that has not yet been published has caused the New York Times to publish a wildly speculative, innuendo-laced article about the Clinton Foundation and my role in contributing money to it… If this is what passes for investigative journalism in the United States, it is very sad.” Giustra:

The New York Times story detailed how a Canadian mining company acquired about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production and eventually ended up in the hands of Russia’s nuclear energy firm, Rosatom — a deal approved by the State Department under Hillary Clinton while multimillion-dollar Canadian and Russian donations and speaking fees were made to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton. Still, the Times, which built its story off of information in Peter Schweizer’s forthcoming book, “Clinton Cash,” doesn’t make a causal link between the donations and decisions at State. “Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of State, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.” NYT:

A HIGH WIRES ACT: States, utilities and grid planners are taking a small-ball approach to building out new electric transmission, a report from WIRES says. The interregional planning process, it adds, needs to have a more expansive view of project benefits. Planners should “resist making the assumption that less transmission investment is always a lower-cost solution,” the report, prepared by The Brattle Group for the transmission-boosting organization, says. It also argues that a review of the regional economic planning practices established partly to meet requirements of FERC’s 2011 transmission planning rule, Order No. 1000, “has not progressed much in recent years.” The paper is designed in part to urge transmission planners “to move from compartmentalizing projects into ‘reliability,’ ‘economic,’ and ‘public policy’ projects to considering the multiple values provided by all transmission investments.”

The report goes on to say that the interregional grid planning process should, “allow for the evaluation of projects that address different needs in different regions, recognizing that most interregional transmission projects offer a wide range of economic, reliability, and public policy benefits and that the type and magnitude of these benefits can differ across inter-connecting regions.” The report:


— California may adopt time-of-use electric rates. Argus Media:

— Russia deepens energy cooperation with Argentina. Reuters:

— Michigan Democrats propose doubling clean-energy standards. Midwest Energy News:

— Court cases frustrate efforts to restart Japan’s nuclear plants. The Economist:

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