Energy News for May 6, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on May 6, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 5/6/2015

By ANDREW RESTUCCIA, with help from Alex Guillén, Darren Goode, Matt Daily and Elana Schor

CLINTON FACES KEYSTONE OPPONENTS: Hillary Clinton heads to anti-Keystone XL country today for back-to-back fundraisers in San Francisco with opponents of the pipeline project. She’ll attend an afternoon fundraiser at the home of environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer. Then she’ll head to the home of Esprit co-founder Susie Tompkins Buell in the evening. Anti-Keystone activists are organizing rallies outside both of the events — part of a campaign to encourage Clinton to oppose the pipeline. But don’t expect Clinton to break with her long-standing policy of not commenting on the project.
Both Steyer and Buell have decided to set aside their strident opposition to the project for the day, choosing instead to hobnob with a Democrat who is on their side on their biggest priority: tackling climate change. The gatherings are expected to match Clinton’s broader fundraising goals []: $2,700 per individual with a target of raking in at least $27,000 per event to become part of the campaign’s so-called “Hillstarters” fundraising program.

HAPPY WEDNESDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING ENERGY: I’m your host Andrew Restuccia, filling in for Darius Dixon one last time while he’s on vacation. You’re in luck, ME Nation, Alex Guillén will be back at the helm of this humble tipsheet for the rest of the week. Fill his inbox with tips, news and Battlestar Galactica conspiracy theories: Follow us on Twitter @alexcguillen @AndrewRestuccia, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

WAITING FOR A PHMSA CHIEF: Who will President Barack Obama nominate to head the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration? Your Morning Energy host and Elana Schor explain that it’s been more than 200 days since the agency — which is charged with protecting the public from the risks of transporting fossil fuels by rail and pipeline — has had a permanent leader. While the White House is eyeing several candidates, Democrats in Congress are getting antsy. Read our story for an exclusive look at the state of play:

— Inspector general auditing PHMSA: The Transportation Department’s inspector general has initiated an audit of PHMSA’s pipeline and hazmat safety programs at the request of House Transportation ranking member Peter DeFazio. In announcing the audit, the IG notes that DeFazio was concerned about how long it took PHMSA to issue a much-anticipated rule strengthening standards for transporting crude by rail, as well as other legislative mandates. The IG says its objectives will be to evaluate PHMSA’s progress on congressional mandates and recommendations from other safety bodies since 2005, its process for implementing those mandates, and “efforts to coordinate and address operating administrations’ safety concerns.” Read the IG’s announcement:

— ICYMI, here’s POLITICO’s investigation into PHMSA’s efforts to regulate the country’s 2.6-million-mile pipeline system:

BIG CHANGES IN ALBERTA: Tuesday’s election has brought big changes to Keystone-loving Alberta, Canada’s government. The Alberta New Democratic Party wrested power from the Progressive Conservative Party, according to projections. The Wall Street Journal explains the energy implications: And Maclean’s outlines the NDP’s energy platform:

HOLDREN HEADING TO NEBRASKA: John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s top science advisor, will travel to Nebraska today to meet with students and scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who are “conducting leading-edge work to develop actionable climate science,” according to an administration official. The trip will mark the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s National Climate Assessment, which explained how global warming will affect various regions of the United States. “Dr. Holdren’s visit to UNL will recognize work being done at the regional-level to better understand and address localized climate-change impacts and highlight ways that the Obama Administration is continuing to facilitate such efforts by providing the nation with rigorous scientific information about climate change,” the official said.

OXFAM SUIT OVER DISCLOSURE RULE IN COURT TODAY: A federal district court judge in Massachusetts will hear oral arguments this afternoon in Oxfam America’s lawsuit seeking to force the SEC to finish writing a Dodd-Frank rule requiring energy and mining companies to disclose payments made to foreign nations. The so-called Section 1504 rule, meant to increase transparency and protect human rights, has a contentious history. The SEC’s first version was tossed out by the D.C. District Court in 2013 following a challenge from the oil industry, and the agency has been dragging its heels on issuing a new rule.

Third time’s the charm? Oxfam notes that the SEC has twice pushed back its ETA for the rule just since litigation began, and wants the judge to order the SEC to finalize a new rule within four months. The SEC argues that Dodd-Frank has forced it to tackle an “unprecedented” number of rulemakings and that Oxfam’s proposed schedule is “neither realistic nor consistent with the Commission’s duty to protect investors and the markets.” The agency said in a March filing that may not propose a new rule until spring 2016. The hearing before Judge Denise J. Casper, an Obama appointee, takes place at 2 p.m. in Boston.

EIA SAYS CRUDE EXPORTS MIGHT NOT LIFT PRODUCTION: Under the most bullish scenario for domestic oil where output growth tops 7 million barrels per day by 2025, removing the crude export ban would not increase U.S. crude production, the Energy Information Administration said today in the latest in a series of hotly anticipated analyses. EIA’s new study, compiled by Dallas-based firm Turner Mason, found that removing the export ban in a high-production scenario would generate an additional $8.7 billion in refinery investments by 2025. Yet lower domestic oil prices in a high-producing, export-constrained industry would prompt similar production increases thanks to the viability of hydroskimmers that distill and process crude in a more minimal fashion than full-scale refineries, according to EIA. Under a low-performing, export ban-constrained scenario, the study found that crude production would rise by 3.5 million barrels per day — less than half the 7.2 million-barrel increase estimated for both versions of the high-performing scenario. Read more:

CARPER SAYS HE’LL MEND FRIENDSHIP WITH BOXER: Sen. Tom Carper walked back his recent comments that his three-decade-old friendship with Senate Environment and Public Works ranking member Barbara Boxer had “basically ended” over their disagreements on federal oversight of dangerous chemicals. “Phoenix rises from the ashes and we’re going to be buds again sooner rather than later,” he told POLITICO today. “For a while, it was rough going. And I think it was probably true for a couple of others of our colleagues. And my hope is that as time goes by we’ll settle down and get back to the friendship that we’ve enjoyed for years.” Carper told Bloomberg BNA [] last week his friendship with Boxer had “basically ended” over Carper’s backing of a bipartisan bill for the first significant update to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Carper was the first EPW Democrat to sign on to the bill from Sens. Tom Udall and David Vitter, which later was updated and won the support of three more EPW Democrats. Boxer is a leading critic of the bill.

OCCIDENTAL NAMES NEW CEO: Occidental Petroleum Corp. added some much-needed gender balance to the energy industry on Tuesday when it named Vicki Hollub as its chief executive. “Ms. Hollub has nearly 35 years of experience in the oil and gas industry and held a number of other roles at Occidental,” The Wall Street Journal explains. More here:


— The New York Times examines the push in South Dakota to stop Keystone XL:

— Canada’s heavy crude is a hot commodity. The Globe and Mail:

— “A British-based litigation-finance firm has pulled out of a controversial oil pollution case against Chevron, again raising questions about a new market in which outside investors seek to share in lawsuit recoveries.” Bloomberg:

— Vox’s David Roberts says Bernie Sanders probably can’t push Hillary Clinton to the left on climate change. Vox:

— Al Gore says Iowa could help shape the national conversation about climate change. The Des Moines Register:

— “The United States must redirect spending from wasteful solar power tax credits and prepare the electricity grid for large-scale solar energy use if the industry is to play a significant role in lowering carbon emissions, a report led by MIT researchers said on Tuesday.” Reuters:

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