Energy News for June 12, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on June 12, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 6/12/2015

By DARREN GOODE, with help from Elana Schor and Alex Guillén

BREATHE IN THE AIR: EPA air chief Janet McCabe will tangle with Republicans at a House Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing this morning over the agency’s proposed toughening of ground-level ozone restrictions. “The science clearly tells us that exposure to sufficiently elevated ozone levels poses a real threat to our health, especially to growing children, older Americans, those of us with heart or lung conditions, and those who are active or work outside,” McCabe says in her prepared testimony. EPA’s proposal in November to lower the existing 75 parts per billion standard enacted in 2008 down to between 65-70 ppb “is designed to better protect children and families from the health effects of ozone pollution,” she says. EPA is also seeking comment on leaving the current standard in place or lowering it further, down to 60 ppb. The agency has received more than 430,000 comments during the 90-day public comment period and is working toward finalizing the rule by Oct. 1 as required by a court order, McCabe says. Read her full testimony:
House Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone will also rail against “dubious and grossly inflated estimates of the projected costs” by critics who “fail to consider any of the benefits.” His prepared opening statement:

The main beef Republicans and other critics have is the hundreds or more of counties that would violate the tougher standard, many of whom still struggle to meet the current standard that was just fully implemented this year. Penalties for noncomplying areas may include loss of federal highway dollars and restrictions on growth, manufacturing and construction, not to mention tougher permitting and pollution control requirements. Read a backgrounder from committee Republicans:

ON THAT NOTE: Twenty-six of 44 state agencies that submitted public comments to EPA cited concern over meeting the new standard, according to a survey released Thursday by the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies. Also 24 state agencies cited limitations to Clean Air Act tools highlighted by EPA that are meant to provide regulatory relief in meeting the ozone requirements. Read the full survey:

And the Center for Regulatory Solutions, a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, has a new online effort to analyze and criticize EPA’s proposal:

If you go to Friday’s 9:30 a.m. hearing: 2123 Rayburn

UP NEXT: The Energy and Power and Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittees will have a joint hearing next Tuesday on the argued impact of the proposal on manufacturers.

OH MY: A “wanted” poster featuring EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at a dinner Thursday night hosted by the libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute:

WISH YOU WERE HERE: I’m your host Darren Goode and after helping to oversee 11 toddlers for three hours Thursday morning I’ve come to the conclusion that preschool and primary school educators are the most unheralded heroes of our time. Doing ME is like a resort vacation. So please send tips to Follow us on Twitter @DarrenGoode, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

** A message from United Technologies: We are names you know, including Carrier, Otis, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and UTC Aerospace Systems. With over $4.7 billion a year in R&D investments, United Technologies drives innovation and supports the US economy and jobs. Learn more at **

ME SNEAK PEEK: MCKIBBEN LEVELS WITH HILLARY: One day after he published an open letter to President Obama on how to cement a climate change legacy before leaving office, co-founder Bill McKibben fires off another missive today to the woman who hopes to succeed him. And the veteran New Yorker writer doesn’t mince words, telling Hillary Clinton that “it’s worth thinking about why many serious environmentalists currently distrust you” and bluntly stating that “you were terrible on Keystone.” McKibben also takes on what he calls “the monumental failure that was the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009,” the pro-natural gas record of Clinton’s State Department, and the nagging sense that climate is “not your issue, and never has been.” The full piece runs this morning at Grist.

THE DIVISION BELL: A House fast-track trade package is still on tap today after an unusually cooperative effort between House GOP leaders and the White House secured a tight 217-212 win on an initial procedural move Thursday. That win came after eight Democrats gave their support near the very end of a vote scheduled for 15 minutes but which lasted more than 35 minutes. That Democratic support was crucial given opposition by about three dozen Republicans and 178 Democrats.

House Democrats are mainly revolting against drawing money from Medicare to pay for job training and other assistance to workers put out of jobs because of trade deals known as Trade Adjustment Assistance. But they have also complained about late language House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan added to a customs bill that would not allow the White House to negotiate climate change language through trade deals. The language was added at the behest of longtime climate skeptic and former House Science Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, as the New York Times first reported, but is seen as unlikely to put new Democratic ‘no’ votes in play, given the already-entrenched lobbying efforts on both sides.

More than 40 green groups Thursday wrote to House lawmakers to oppose the package, slamming President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority as “particularly inappropriate for” trade pacts that could have sweeping environmental consequences. The greens’ letter, signed by groups from the Sierra Club to the League of Conservation Voters to the more left-leaning Center for Biological Diversity and, does not touch on the last-minute Ryan language on the customs bill. Read the letter:

AIRLINES FACE SMOOTHER CLIMATE RIDE: Airlines look to be on a much smoother path than the power and other sectors facing major challenges in meeting new carbon pollution rules. For one, the Obama administration intends to tie carbon limits from aircraft to the global emissions regime that the International Civil Aviation Organization is developing — a priority for airlines looking to avoid a patchwork of regulations. Alex Guillén and Kathryn Wolfe explain for Pros:

U.S. CALLS BONN ‘PRODUCTIVE’: A senior U.S. official described as “productive” the interim climate change negotiations that wrapped up Thursday in Bonn, Germany. ‎“We are at a place where all issues have been placed on the table,” the official said. “It’s relatively early for countries to discard proposals they feel are meaningful.” The comments come at the end of 11 days of talks where diplomats made limited progress in paring down the negotiating text, but agreed to allow the United Nations co-chairs to streamline the document and present it in late July. Andrew Restuccia has more for Pros:

ETHANOL USES EPA AGAINST EPA: Corn ethanol advocates still steamed over EPA’s proposed scaling back of the annual gasoline blending requirement are pointing to new ammunition in the form of the agency’s own May analysis posted online Wednesday noting that a spike in the price of so-called Renewable Identification Numbers in 2013 didn’t affect the price consumers paid at the pump. It’s an argument ethanol folks have long made to argue that the so-called blend wall — the point in which mandates exceed the amount of ethanol that can be easily blended with gasoline — can be busted without affecting consumers. But they said EPA’s own recognition gives new life to their effort to get the agency to boost their proposed blending requirements for 2014 through 2016. “These are not new ideas. But I think this is a case where the messenger is as important as the message,” Geoff Cooper, senior vice president at the Renewable Fuels Association, told reporters. “But unfortunately, the agency seems to have a bad case of schizophrenia” in proposing annual blending mandates that “completely cuts the RIN mechanism off at the knees” and holds levels below which Congress prescribed a decade ago.

Perhaps muddying the argument is that EPA’s analysis indicates that the agency has “not conducted a comprehensive analysis to address the question of whether or not a causal relationship between RIN prices and retail gasoline prices could be observed.” Rather, EPA “is aware, however, of others who have directly explored this issue,” including an analysis released by the Renewable Fuels Association. Earlier in the assessment, EPA does say that the agency “did not see, nor would we expect to see, a corresponding net increase in the overall retail price of transportation fuels across the entire fuel pool” because the RIN price is not an additional cost but rather a transfer payment between parties that blend biofuels and those that produce or import petroleum-based fuels are required to use to show compliance to the blending mandates. Read the full May 14 assessment written by EPA’s Dallas Burkholder:

WOT’S…UH THE DEAL?: Stephen Brown, vice president and counsel for federal government affairs at oil refiner Tesoro, had this to say via email about the assessment: “Digesting 31 pages is kind of challenging and I want my fuels and trading folks to look at as well. … However, I think ‘convoluted’ is the best way to characterize this body of work at the present.”

NOT NOW JOHN: Ethanol backers will make their case directly to EPA at a June 25 public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas. But they say they will struggle to do so in the three minutes each person will have to testify. “So we may not even get our throats cleared,” Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said.

ONE OF THESE DAYS: Any opportunity to put the Senate on record regarding the lifting of the 40-year crude oil export ban will have to wait at least until next week. Amendments offered by pro-exports Sen. John Cornyn and export-skeptic Sen. Ed Markey are still pending to a defense authorization bill that has been sluggishly proceeding on the Senate floor.

I’M OUT: Cheers to Wilderness Society communications manager Neil Shader, who is leaving D.C. for Harrisburg, Pa., to become press secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection on June 22.

POST-SANTA BARBARA PIPELINE SAFETY PETITION DRAWS 140,000+: An online petition for stronger federal pipeline safety regulations launched after last month’s beachfront oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif., has drawn more than 140,000 signatures, the advocacy group behind it said on Thursday. Care2, which bills itself as “a community of 28 million standing together for good,” specifically aimed the petition at the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, seeking stronger standards from the regulator:


— Court rejects rehearing for Mississippi Power’s Kemper rate case. The Sun Herald:

— Gasoline industry wrestles with biofuel law’s unintended consequences. Wall Street Journal:

— Hydraulic fracturing supporters fire back with BuzzFeed-style website. Fuel Fix:

Tags: , , ,