Energy News for May 14, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on May 14, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 5/14/2015

By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Alex Guillén, Elana Schor, Darren Goode and Andrew Restuccia

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T KILL THE CLIMATE RULE, well, just keep trying. Freshman Sen. Shelley Moore Capito — with the backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — introduced a bill yesterday that would repeal the EPA’s proposed rules for new, existing and modified power plants, and subject any future regulations to a bevy of requirements, Pro’s Andrew Restuccia reports. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the bill’s lone Democrat among 26 co-sponsors, told reporters that he’s confident that five other Democrats — the minimum that would be needed to pass the bill if every Republican supports the legislation — will join up. The bill seems unlikely to reach the 67 votes necessary to override President Barack Obama’s probable veto. Still, the legislation is notable because it is the Republican Senate’s main legislative vehicle for dismantling the EPA’s climate regulations.
Priorities: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe plans to move the bill quickly and said it “is going to go down as probably the most significant thing we will do in the Environment and Public Works Committee this year.” Andrew has more for Pros:

LET’S TSCA OVER LUNCH: The Environment and Economy panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is slated to markup a bill at noon today that would update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act and has broad support in both parties. But that doesn’t mean that it’s won over some public health advocates. The bill “falls short of what is needed to redress decades of neglect under a weak federal policy that resulted in a legacy of malfeasance by the chemical industry,” Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said. It has “an untested and ambiguous safety standard that fails to definitively exclude consideration of costs” from decisions on whether to regulate high-priority chemicals, “fails to set tough deadlines” for final action or provide resources to quickly review the most dangerous chemicals, Cook said. Andy Igrejas, national campaign director for Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, blogged ( similar concerns and said that the bill “is a significant step toward a version of TSCA reform that can enjoy broad support. It’s not there yet, however.” Top Democrats and Republicans on the subcommittee and full Energy and Commerce panel are backing the bill. The markup will happen in Rayburn 2123.

HAPPY NEXT-BEST-THING-TO-FRIDAY: I’m Darius Dixon, and not to get too mopey on you, Dear Reader, but we’re hoping for speedy recovery for those who got hurt in this week’s crazy Amtrak derailment. Even though the platform exit at New York Penn Station is at the front of the train, I’m not sure I’ll be sitting up there anytime soon. Send your energy news, tips and commentary to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

** A message from the Nuclear Energy Institute: What’s at stake if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the Export-Import Bank? Thousands of American jobs lost. Diminished U.S. energy and national security power and influence across the globe. And it would amount to unilateral trade disarmament, conceding billions of dollars to other nations. Learn more at **

SENATE ENERGY BILL POW WOW, PART II: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today is holding its second hearing in chairwoman Lisa Murkowski’s effort to stitch together comprehensive energy legislation this year. The panel has lined up nearly two dozen bills ( in order to discuss the energy infrastructure title of her package. Everything from Sen. Maria Cantwell’s measure to fund grid-scale power storage tech to Sen. Bill Cassidy’s two-pager amending mineral leasing law on rights-of-way through national parks. If you go: Dirksen 366 at 10 a.m.

TODAY’S FERC MEETING: The commission will take up a proposed rulemaking from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. that would require operators of the bulk power system to assess the grid’s vulnerability to geomagnetic disturbances. NERC proposed the 2,072-page standard in January amid growing concerns about the potential havoc a strong solar storm could have on the electric grid. However, there has been some technical disagreement about just how to set a benchmark for measuring geomagnetic storms, with NERC proposing using the most severe geomagnetic disturbance expected to occur in a 100-year period. FERC will also consider a lengthy series of Order No. 1000 compliance filings. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. at FERC HQ: 888 First St. NE. Webcast:

The real excitement will be provided by anti-fracking protestors, who have vowed to show up and perform non-violent protests at today’s meeting, which was moved up by a week to avoid major protests long planned to take place next week. FERC irked local environmentalists and citizens groups earlier this month when it declined to revisit its approval of Dominion’s plans to export LNG from the Cove Point site in Maryland. The groups have already sued over the matter in the D.C. Circuit, but expect them to continue berating FERC as a “rubber stamp” for the energy industry.

ME FIRST — D.C.’S LARGEST COMMERCIAL SOLAR INSTALL LIGHTS UP: The owners of the Millennium Building, at K and 19th St. NW, and Direct Energy Solar are plugging in a new 30 kW rooftop solar installation this morning. The building, owned by The Tower Companies, will boast the largest solar photovoltaic installation on a commercial office building in the District. D.C. currently has a renewable portfolio standard that aims to get 20 percent of electricity from sources like wind and solar by 2020, while 2.5 percent will have to come from solar by 2023. The unveiling starts at 10 a.m.

WEDNESDAY SCHOOL: Sen. Susan Collins said that she thinks Pope Francis’ encyclical next month on climate change and environmental stewardship “will have an impact on public policy,” after a closed-door briefing she co-hosted with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse yesterday afternoon. “It is significant when the pope issues an encyclical, it’s an official teaching of the church, not just a letter or something of lesser import,” she added. Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, who participated in the meeting, didn’t know what the encyclical would say, according to Sen. Jim Risch, who also attended. Nevertheless, Whitehouse said, “I think the engagement of the church in this is extremely helpful and extremely constructive.”

TOMKAT TO HOST SIERRA CLUB SHINDIG: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, are hosting the Sierra Club’s second annual “Trail Blazers Ball” tonight at the City View at Metreon in San Francisco alongside the environmental group’s executive director, Michael Brune. The event will honor director Darren Aronofsky and Kevin de León, a Democrat who is president pro tempore of the California State Senate.

PEBBLE ROLLING INTO THE NINTH CIRCUIT: One of the lawsuits brought against EPA by the developers of the planned Pebble Mine in Alaska will make its way to the Ninth Circuit today. Judges William Cameron Canby, Jr., Jay S. Bybee and Paul J. Watford are in Anchorage today to hear Pebble’s appeal related to EPA’s proposed mining restrictions in the Bristol Bay region, where the gold and copper mine would be located. A lower court judge ruled that a February 2014 letter from EPA to the developers on the proposed restrictions did not count as a “final agency action” that can be challenged in court, but Pebble is hoping to persuade the Ninth Circuit that EPA has already made up its mind about its authority to consider vetoing a permit that has not yet been requested. EPA argues that the suit is premature, but also that the CWA gives EPA authority to specify areas that cannot be used for mining discharge, as it is considering in this case.

NO SCIENCE FOR YOU! If you tuned into yesterday’s House Rules Committee meeting hoping to see a rule shake out on the Science Committee’s COMPETES Act reauthorization bill, you found yourself at a loss. The Rules panel spent the whole time on the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act and pushed off COMPETES. Sorry science wonks! When it eventually does come up, don’t expect it to be all smiles and rainbows. Science Chairman Smith’s bill has no Democratic co-sponsors and came out a week before it had a full committee markup, skipping the hearing process entirely. While the National Science Foundation, the Energy Department’s Science office would see funding increases, DOE renewable energy programs are way down. Professional science organizations, like the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geophysical Union, have also shunned the bill. The Rules Committee plans to take up the bill next week and 43 amendments have been filed: Stay tuned for the day and time.

OMB FINISHES REVIEW OF PROPOSED DEHUMIDIFIER RULE: The White House’s Office of Management and Budget on Monday finished its review of DOE’s proposed efficiency standards for residential dehumidifiers after starting a review last November. This is one of a phalanx of new or updated efficiency standards DOE is pushing through. While talking about dehumidifier standards may seem to suck all the air out of the room, the impact isn’t small; DOE says previous standards that took full effect in 2012 will save $4.7 billion from 2012 through 2036. It’s not yet clear when the rule may be proposed, or what’s in it. The administration’s most recent regulatory agenda from last fall indicated the rule would be finished by January 2016. DOE faces a statutory deadline to update the standards by March 2017 if such an update is called for.

— Assistant Energy Secretary Steven Wright had no comment on when DOE expects to move on an efficiency rule for when a humidifier and a dehumidifier are left in the same room to fight it out.

EPA HR GOES FROM HOOKS TO BROOKS: The president will nominate Karl Brooks, a former EPA regional administrator, for the agency’s top human resources post, the White House says. Brooks, currently the deputy assistant administrator in EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, was EPA’s Midwest region administrator from 2010 until earlier this year. EPA’s previous HR chief, Craig Hooks, left last year after 26 years at the agency following scrutiny over fraudster John Beale. Hooks is now AT&T’s director of environmental site management.

— The White House also plans to reappoint Fran Ulmer to chair the Arctic Research Commission, a spot she’s held since 2011. In 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry appointed her advisor for Arctic Science and Policy, which expires in 2017. Ulmer had also been appointed to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling in 2010. Her other career highlights include serving as chancellor of the University of Alaska- Anchorage from 2007 to 2011, lieutenant governor of Alaska for eight years, and several years in the state legislature.

NUCLEAR MEETING TO HIT CRITICAL MASS: The last day of the Nuclear Energy Institute’s annual industry meeting wraps up today. It’s a half-day affair but the lineup includes EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, and E&C subcommittee chairman John Shimkus and former FBI director Robert Mueller. Former NRC Commissioner William Magwood, who now leads the Nuclear Energy Agency in Paris, will also speak. NEI’s top lobbyist Alex Flint kicks the day off at 8 a.m. The program:

BISHOP VS. NEPA ON THE HORIZON: Be prepared for a legislative push from House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop to take aim at the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s draft guidance for federal agencies on considering greenhouse gas emissions while conducting National Environmental Policy Act reviews of major projects. CEQ chief Christy Goldfuss defended the non-binding guidance yesterday under questioning from the Utah Republican and others on the committee, likening it to a “calorie count on a box of cereal” that doesn’t require agencies to choose the lowest-emissions alternative during NEPA reviews, but Bishop was unmoved. “Imposing upon federal agencies a de facto requirement to measure the immeasurable is a mockery of the law,” Bishop said in a statement.


— New York state releases final fracking document. Capital New York:

— Japan Struggles to Find Balanced Energy Strategy. The Wall Street Journal:

— Iowa landowner claims he was offered prostitute by oil pipeline company rep. KCRG:

— Apple, A123 Strike Deal in Employee-Poaching Lawsuit. The Wall Street Journal:

— Idaho nuclear scientists say fuel rods can be safely studied. The Associated Press:

— Vermont energy bill shifts focus to renewables, electricity. Burlington Free Press:

— Jeb Bush opposed to Yucca, Carson open to it. KSNV News3LV:

— Why Toyota wants to make your next car run on hydrogen. The Washington Post:

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