Energy News for April 3, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on April 3, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 4/3/2015

GRAHAM’S PLAN TO GO GREEN OR GO HOME: Lindsey Graham may paint some green onto the 2016 Republican presidential platform. Just don’t call him a moderate. The South Carolina senator and potential GOP presidential contender is one of the few Republicans left on Capitol Hill to embrace the idea that humans play a sizable role in warming the planet. He spent months negotiating with Democrats on an attempt at major climate legislation during President Barack Obama’s first two years, and he’s received both praise and fundraising help from the Environmental Defense Fund, a centrist voice in the green movement.
That could offer a big contrast between Graham and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who opened his own long-shot White House bid last week with a message of unabashed conservatism. … But Graham, who bases his climate views as much on Scripture as on science, balked when asked whether the GOP needs a moderating voice — akin to the pro-science, pro-climate-action role that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman played in the 2012 Republican primaries.

Here’s the nut: “From a biblical point of view, we were counseled by God to be good stewards of the environment,” he said in an interview. His question for the GOP on climate change is almost an existential quandary: What exactly does the party stand for? Darren Goode has the story:

OBAMA’S RED ROCK SOLAR PITCH: President Barack Obama is expected to announce a multi-prong effort this morning aimed at boosting jobs in the renewable energy sector while helping military veterans get a leg-up. Speaking at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, Obama is launching the so-called Solar Vets Ready program, a joint initiative between the departments of Energy and Defense, which will operate at 10 military bases and train military personnel transitioning to civilian life on how to enter the solar workforce through DOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network and the Pentagon’s 2012 Skillbridge transition authority, according to a White House factsheet. Similarly, the Labor Department will be involved with educating service members about solar job training programs during their last three months on active duty as well as with reaching out to unemployed veterans about jobs in the sector. The Department of Veterans Affairs will work with DOE and state agencies to get approval for GI Bill funding for the program. Obama will also increase the solar job training target for DOE from 50,000 to 75,000 by 2020.

Not to be left out: The president intends to heap a bit of praise on nearby Salt Lake City for its own efforts on clean energy: The city plans to announce that it will boost energy efficiency across 1.6 million square feet of public and private building space over the next decade as part of Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge.

Obama will hold a roundtable on clean energy at Hill Air Force Base this morning and return to D.C. later today.

HAPPY FRIDAY! I’m your morning host, Darius Dixon, and I’ll keep it simple today: Have a good Passover and/or Easter and/or simply have a relaxing weekend. Oh, and I decided to go with “Dream City” by Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood, considering how passionately you all feel about it. Send your energy tips to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

OIL IMPACTS OF NEW IRAN DEAL? *SHRUG*: Oil prices dipped yesterday amid prospects that the nuclear breakthrough with Iran could end sanctions on the country’s oil exports — though the longer-term impact on global prices and supply is far less certain. Even if a final deal comes together by June 30, it could take months to pump an additional 1.5 million barrels a day of Iranian oil into an already glutted global market. After that, the uncertainties include whether U.S. oil production will continue at its current pace and whether major exporters like Saudi Arabia would curb their own output to prop up prices.

Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy director Jason Bordoff, a former special assistant to Obama on climate change: “Many of the key technical details … still need to be resolved, and, even if that difficult task is achieved, Iranian compliance will still need to be verified before any sanctions on oil would be lifted. It is thus going to take time for Iranian oil to come back to the global market, likely not until 2016 at the earliest.” Darren Goode has more:

On the congressional front, Kevin Book with ClearView Energy Partners: “In our view, the provisions outlined in that fact sheet could dissuade on-the-fence Members from voting on final passage of legislation that would intervene into — and potentially stop — the next phase of P5+1 negotiations.”

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BIRDS AND GREENS: If you’re anything like me and are weeks behind in your issues of the New Yorker magazine, you may not know that fiction author Jonathan Franzen has ruffled the feathers of a lot of environmentalists this week. Exhibit A: The Audubon Society published a scathing review of Franzen’s piece, which gave an account of how environmentalists’ concern about climate change has overridden conservation issues, such as bird protection. “We were hardly a hundred words into Jonathan Franzen’s essay in the New Yorker about climate change and conservation when we suddenly found Audubon taking all kinds of flak about our concern about the impacts of climate change on birds, of all things. … By the time we got to the end, our confusion had turned to incredulity. Just what exactly was this man trying to say?” National Audubon Society chief David Yarnold and Garrison Frost, with the group’s California office, wrote. They add: “Our members can walk and chew gum at the same time.” Yarnold and Frost go on to say that Franzen misquoted a subject. Audubon:

While many others took to Twitter to air their frustrations with Franzen, Grist ( and ThinkProgress ( offered their own takedowns calling him “confused” and “deeply irresponsible.”

GET YOUR HEAD LAMP AND YOUR ROCK HAMMER: Two Nevada Republicans are planning to join Yucca Mountain supporter Rep. John Shimkus on a six-member trip to the site next Thursday. GOP Reps. Cresent Hardy and Mark Amodei will attend the visit. Hardy, a freshman, wrote in the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month that he was open to using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository if it meant Nevada could get a lot of federal money out of the arrangement. Two other Republicans, Reps. Bob Latta of Ohio and Dan Newhouse of Washington state, also plan to attend. Newhouse was elected last year to Doc Hastings’ congressional district, which includes the Hanford nuclear site, home to a large amount of defense waste originally slated for Yucca Mountain. One Democrat plans to attend: Rep. Jerry McNerney. And seriously, the state does have some great geology.

DOE ABANDONS PLANS FOR WATER HEATER WAIVERS: An Energy Department decision to drop a proposed waiver system for upcoming water heater efficiency standards has left utilities and environmental groups scratching their heads, an industry source tells ME. In 2010, DOE put out water heater conservation standards that will go into effect April 16. But utilities had a problem: Electric resistance water heaters — used in some demand response programs — couldn’t meet the new standards, and they said heat pump water heaters that could meet the standards wouldn’t work with demand response programs. Lawmakers are close to passing a fix that would allow for the manufacture of electric heaters so long as they were used in demand response programs. But in a Federal Register notice today, DOE announced that it is dropping its plan for a stopgap waiver process because two Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reports released last month indicate that heat pump water heaters can work with demand response programs. That’s got some people hopping mad: One utility source told ME his reaction was “unprintable in any publication.” FR notice:

Time is of the essence for supporters of the compromise legislation because the new standards take effect in less than two weeks. The Senate last month approved a small efficiency bill that included language exempting electric heaters used in demand response programs from the standards. Whether that bill can pass the House and secure the president’s signature before April 16 is unclear. Lawmakers return to Washington on April 13, and the House could theoretically vote on the Senate bill as early as that day. But even that scenario gives Obama little time to sign the bill before April 16. Odds are good the House will take action at some point; a similar version of the bill was approved by the chamber last year, but was blocked in the Senate by the now-retired Tom Coburn.

BUT PUMPS ARE A GO: DOE published draft efficiency standards for commercial and industrial pumps — think irrigation and water treatment facilities — and folks seem to get along in part because it was “DOE-led negotiated rulemaking,” NRDC says: A public meeting on the proposal is set for April 29. A final rule is expected by the end of the year.

LAWMAKERS DEMAND OSM DOCS ON STREAM RULE: House Natural Resources Republicans yesterday asked Interior’s Office of Surface Mining to hand over documents related to its rewrite of the stream buffer zone rule. The proposed coal mining regulation is being reviewed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The lawmakers say OSM hasn’t allowed states enough participation in crafting the long-delayed rule, a NEPA requirement. “Consistently failing to include cooperating agencies throughout the EIS drafting process — and then making a disingenuous offer to ‘update’ the states after the rule has already been submitted to [OMB] — is grossly insufficient and does not satisfy OSM’s legal obligations as the lead agency,” they write:


— Federal judge rejects EPA’s ‘lack of jurisdiction’ argument in Murray Energy suit. The West Virginia State Journal:

— The petrochemical industry has billions in projects on tap, but not enough workers to build them. Fuel Fix:

— Arizona Public Service Co. asks to raise solar fees. The Arizona Republic:

— Source: U.S readies emergency oil train safety measures. Reuters:

— Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s first version officially ends after 7-year run. Pacific Business News:

— Net metering to be considered in Mississippi next week. Desoto Times Tribune:

— NRC proposes $17K fine for shuttered Kewaunee nuclear power plant. The Associated Press:

— Permit delays blamed for dismal California oil rig count. Reuters:

— Why Corporate America is reluctant to take a stand on climate action. The Guardian:

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