Energy News for April 7, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on April 7, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 4/7/2015

HOW GREEN IS CHUCK SCHUMER? Environmentalists see Harry Reid as their champion, a Senate leader who fought the nuclear industry and steered billions of dollars to solar and wind power. Chuck Schumer is a frequent lightning rod for liberals, who lament his ties to Wall Street and groaned when he said last year that fracking “has worked quite well.” Still, greens are cautiously optimistic for the dawning Schumer era in Senate Democratic leadership — pointing to reasons to think he’ll have their backs on issues like climate change, chemical safety and tighter limits on the nation’s oil and gas boom. On certain issues, some even hope he’ll be in their camp more than Reid has been. It’s all part of a growing refrain among members of the Democratic base who admire Schumer’s political skills but worry about some of his past positions that have deviated from liberal orthodoxy.
Schumer was one of just three senators to take part in the climate march that drew hundreds of thousands of activists to New York last fall, he has pushed to get toxic chemicals out of school supplies and urged for the tightening of regulations on the flammable oil trains that rumble through communities like Albany. He is also a longtime co-sponsor of a bill meant to expand EPA’s oversight of fracking — legislation that went nowhere in the Reid-led Senate. Schumer’s lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters is 91 percent, 11 points higher than Reid’s.

Not everyone is thrilled: Former Reid aide Murshed Zaheed, deputy political director of the green-minded liberal group CREDO Action, warned that “everyone, including environmentalists, should be extremely concerned about the potential leadership of a Wall Street stooge like Schumer.” Elana Schor explains:

STEYER TO SPEND BIG ON 2016: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has launched a climate change “war room” that will target Republican political candidates for their skepticism about climate science — and tie the GOP to Charles and David Koch at every opportunity. Steyer, a hedge fund founder-turned activist, has spent more than $100 million of his personal fortune over the past three years in an effort to raise the political profile of climate change, an issue that often gets little attention in candidates’ campaigns. Monday’s announcement offers the clearest signal yet that the billionaire plans to be a big player in 2016 despite his mixed record during the last election cycle. Steyer’s top strategist, Chris Lehane, declined to estimate how much the billionaire would spend this cycle, saying only that he would spend “what it takes.”

The group hopes to “localize” climate issues by focusing on how a warming planet will affect voters in those key states. It is already planning events on college campuses as well as paid radio and television advertising, according to aides, and several of its trademark attention-grabbing stunts. Andrew Restuccia explains:

NEXTGEN TO DESCEND ON RAND PAUL: Speaking of stunts, NextGen is planning to be on the ground today at Sen. Rand Paul’s expected 2016 presidential candidacy announcement in Louisville, Ky. The group will wait outside of Paul’s event as part of its “Hot Seat” campaign and ask him for his plan to address climate change … and they’ll have a lie detector on hand.

HAPPY TUESDAY. I’m your morning host, Darius Dixon, and call me sentimental, but I miss the levity that February’s llama chase brought to the world, especially when Fox News’ Shep Smith played narrator: Send your energy commentary, news, scoops and tips to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

** A message from Fuels America: After years of innovation and investment, the cellulosic biofuels industry is now deploying the lowest carbon, most innovative fuel in the world at commercial scale. A new Third Way report shows “reforming” or repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard could doom this potentially transformative sector. Find out how: **

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: After having lunch with Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama is participating in a roundtable discussion at Howard University this afternoon where he “will discuss the impacts of climate change on public health and steps the Administration is taking to reduce the health impacts of climate change on our communities,” according to the White House schedule. That roundtable is slated for 2:35 p.m.

MCCARTHY’S CLEAN WATER TOUR: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will hit up Minnesota, Texas and Illinois this week to promote the need to protect certain streams and wetlands. Tomorrow, she’s touring a water treatment plant in the twin cities with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. Then, on Thursday, McCarthy will be in Dallas to dedicate a water-efficient classroom and student garden. She wraps up the week with a trip to Chicago Friday to give an interview at The New Republic’s conference where she will argue the economic need for protecting the nation’s water sources by acting on climate change.

MARYLAND SENATE PASSES FRACKING MORATORIUM: The Maryland state Senate approved a bill last night on a 45-2 vote, to prohibit fracking in the state until October 2017. The legislation, which has to go back to the state House before it heads to Gov. Larry Hogan, also requires the promulgation of regulations on the practice by October 2016. The Maryland House passed a bill with a longer ban and required a health study. The governor hasn’t expressed an opinion on the bill. The vote had been delayed while a Senate committee reviewed the legislation.

The twist, via the Baltimore Sun: “The leading Senate opponent of a moratorium, George Edwards of Garrett County, voted for the bill after initially opposing the delay. Edwards called the bill ‘a good first step’ and said it would take at least two years for a company to get a fracking permit even if it applied now.”

HOW LONG HAS THAT EVENING TRAIN BEEN GONE: The Wall Street Journal: “The growth in oil-train shipments fueled by the U.S. energy boom has stalled in recent months, dampened by safety problems and low crude prices. The number of train cars carrying crude and other petroleum products peaked last fall, according to data from the Association of American Railroads, and began edging down. In March, oil-train traffic was down 7 percent on a year-over-year basis. Railroads have been a major beneficiary of the U.S. energy boom, as oil companies turned to trains to move crude to refineries from remote oil fields in North Dakota and other areas not served by pipelines. Rail shipments of oil have expanded from 20 million barrels in 2010 to just under 374 million barrels last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.”

PALLONE: CHRISTIE SETTLEMENT WITH EXXON MOBIL ‘AN INSULT’: New Jersey’s current longest-serving Democrat in Congress slammed the proposed $225 million refinery pollution settlement officially released yesterday. “Instead of holding ExxonMobil accountable for the extensive contamination of our state’s land and resources and fighting to ensure that New Jerseyans are rightfully compensated, the Christie Administration is letting Big Oil off the hook for this staggering environmental damage,” Pallone, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement. Pallone urged residents to use the 60-day public comment period to sound off against the deal, which would cost Exxon a fraction of the $8.9 billion that lawyers for the state had originally hoped to win.

FIORINA: FISH FANATICS ARE CAUSING CALIF. DROUGHT: Carly Fiorina is blaming liberal environmentalists for what she calls a “man-made” drought in California. “It is a man-made disaster,” Fiorina, who is “seriously considering” a run for president in 2016, told the Blaze Radio yesterday. “California is a classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology.” Republicans have blamed California’s protections for endangered species for the drought. In December, the House passed a bill to pump water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California, a move that environmentalists said would harm endangered fish species. The Obama administration threatened to veto the bill. Kendall Breitman has more:

FEDS PROPOSE PROTECTING CRAYFISH FROM COAL MINING DISCHARGE: The Fish and Wildlife Service wants to list two species of crayfish that live in Appalachian streams as endangered, in part because of coal mining’s effect on water quality in the area, according to a notice in today’s Federal Register. The proposal is in response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit seeking protection for the crustaceans, the Big Sandy crayfish and the Guyandotte River crayfish, which until recently were thought to be the same species. “Within the range of each species, water quality monitoring reports… have linked these widespread and often interrelated direct and indirect stressors to coal mining (and abandoned mine land, AML), commercial timber harvesting, residential and commercial development, roads, and sewage discharges,” FWS says. The agency is taking comment for 60 days. Federal Register:

Can’t hear enough about Appalachian crayfish? West Virginia Public Broadcasting last year ran a lengthy piece on “the World of West Virginia Crayfish Research.” And here’s a 2014 piece on the discovery of a new species (not one of the ones proposed for listing) named after the infamous Hatfield family:

CBD cheered the proposal, while the National Mining Association took a snarkier route. “Now that the administration has helped Appalachia’s crayfish it will show equal concern for Appalachia’s mining communities struggling with its regulations,” spokesman Luke Popovich emailed ME.

THE NEW WIND GUV’NORS: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad are now the new chairman and vice chairman of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition. The group says it consists of 23 Republican and Democratic governors. (Not so) Surprise: “The Governors Wind Energy Coalition has recently advocated for the Congress to extend the federal renewable energy production and investment tax credits, and for federal policies to promote transmission development to support onshore and offshore wind energy development.”


— Oregon to debate 10-year fracking moratorium. The Statesman Journal:

— Oil company drops lawsuit attempting to overturn San Benito County fracking ban. The Monterey Herald:

— Duke Energy Florida proposes $600 million in savings for customers. Tampa Bay Times:

— Utah environmentalists sue EPA to force state to require power plants to clean up. The Salt Lake Tribune:

— Siemens launches its oil and gas HQ in Houston. Houston Business Journal:

— Nevada consultant turned down in bid to join Yucca tour. Las Vegas Review-Journal:


9 a.m. — The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion titled “Mexico’s Energy Reform: Is it Still on Track?” Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street, NW.

12 p.m. — The Georgetown University holds a seminar on “Climate Risk Governance in the U.S.” Mortara Buildign, 3600 N St., NW.

1 p.m. — The Center for Strategic and International Studies holds a discussion about sustainable resilient energy infrastructure. CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, NW.

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