Energy News for June 16, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on June 16, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 6/16/2015

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

WHITE HOUSE TO TOUT GREEN INVESTMENTS: The White House today is announcing executive actions and more than $4 billion in private help to spur green energy investments. Highlights on the federal side include a new Clean Energy Impact Investment Center at the Energy Department to house information for investors and the public about federal energy and climate programs, including research from DOE and national laboratories, technical assistance and other information on early stage projects and companies. The Treasury Department is also issuing clarification to make it easier for foundations to make investments in clean energy technology companies and will set new rules involving their investments.
The private commitments include a new consortium of investors to raise $1.2 billion — climbing to a goal of $2.5 billion over five years — for clean energy investment. And the creation of a philanthropic coalition called PRIME, whose supporters include the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation. “One of the real challenges still remains kind of the gap in financing of clean energy,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told reporters Monday. “So I think this is a tremendously important development.”

Read a White House fact sheet summarizing all of the announcements:

Today’s announcement is an update to February’s launch of the Clean Energy Investment Initiative and its promise of executive action and a goal of drawing at least $2 billion from the private sector.

And it comes as the White House hosts a Clean Energy Investment Summit today. Vice President Joe Biden will wrap things up at the six-hour event, which also includes remarks from other top Obama administration officials like senior presidential advisor Brian Deese, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, and Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Dan Utech. The summit will be live streamed at starting at 9:30 a.m.

BUONGIORNO: I’m your host Darren Goode. Please send tips to Elana Schor, who is taking over ME duties for the rest of the week, at Follow us on Twitter @DarrenGoode, @eschor, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

L’AVVERTIMENTO: The White House predictably is rather unhappy with a House Republican 2016 spending plan for the Interior Department and EPA, and it fired a warning shot Monday night about the major cuts. “These shortsighted funding cuts would undermine fiscal responsibility, national conservation and environmental priorities, and economic competitiveness,” Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan wrote. The House bill totals just over $30 billion, but cuts EPA’s budget to $7.4 billion, a $718 million drop from 2015 levels.

Donovan also flagged “highly problematic ideological riders,” including provisions that would block EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for power plants and the Waters of the United States rule, as well as prevent Interior from proposing an Endangered Species Act listing for the greater sage-grouse or from issuing an updated coal mining regulation protecting streams.

Read Donovan’s letter:

House Democrats also will offer amendments to restore funding and get rid of riders when the full Appropriations Committee takes up the bill this morning. And they have a handy summary of what they perceive to be the trouble spots:

The Senate Interior-Environment Subcommittee will take up its version this afternoon. Amendments are likely to wait until the full committee marks it up potentially later this week and the bill text won’t be available until sometime in between. Something to keep in mind though: Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski has consistently promised any means necessary to overcome Interior’s rejection of a 10-mile gravel road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. And she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who has a prime seat on the subcommittee and full Appropriations Committee — are no fans of EPA regulations.

PAPA PRESS: Pope Francis will warn that it is “urgent and pressing” for the world to slash its consumption of fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, according to a leaked draft copy of the widely anticipated papal encyclical published by Italy’s L’Espresso Monday. “We know that the technology based on very polluting fossil fuels — especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser extent, gas — must be progressively and without delay replaced,” the document says. “Waiting for a full development of renewable energies that should have already started, it is justified to pursue the lesser evil or to turn to temporary solutions. However the international community has not reached suitable deals on the responsibilities of those who should bear the higher costs of the energy transition.”

And the Pope says that efforts to deny the problem or to minimize the threat will only worsen the crisis. “Many of those who have more resources and economic or political power seem focused especially on concealing problems or hiding symptoms, trying only to reduce some negative impacts of climate change. But many symptoms show that these effects will get even worse if we go ahead with the current models of production and consumption,” the draft says. “Thereby it has become urgent and pressing to develop policies to drastically reduce in the next years the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases, for example, replacing fossil fuels and developing renewable energy sources.”

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THE ENCYCLICAL THIEF: L’Espresso leaked a draft 192-page copy of the encyclical the Vatican is officially releasing Thursday, not only greatly agitating the Vatican but most non-Italian speaking Western journalists as well. A Vatican official told Bloomberg that the magazine committed a “heinous act” in breaking an embargo set for noon Thursday. Read the draft encyclical and news article, in Italian:

Andy Revkin at the New York Times does a nice summation of some of the major themes in the draft, complete with lots of English translation and helpful links:

That includes an account by The Guardian, which notes that while Francis acknowledges some natural causes of climate change, human activity is a driving factor. “Humanity is called to take note of the need for changes in lifestyle and changes in methods of production and consumption to combat this warming, or at least the human causes that produce and accentuate it,” Francis wrote, according to the Guardian. “Numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases … given off above all because of human activity.”

JEB PROMISES ‘ENERGY SECURITY’: Jeb Bush promised to achieve “energy security” in the U.S. in his speech Monday officially announcing his bid for the GOP presidential nomination. “With North American resources and American ingenuity we can finally achieve energy security for this nation and with presidential leadership we can make it happen within five years,” Bush said at Miami Dade College.

SOUND FAMILIAR?: Bush’s goal of achieving “energy security” is perhaps even less clear than Mitt Romney’s promise in the 2012 presidential campaign to achieve “energy independence” by 2020. Romney’s plan included things like approving the Keystone XL pipeline and opening up new offshore areas for oil and gas drilling, starting with off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas. Bush has embraced Keystone XL and hydraulic fracturing, while fighting off even his brother’s administration on drilling off Florida’s coastline, as Andrew Restuccia astutely noted back in March:

EPA REFERENCE. SALUTE!: Bush also reiterated an earlier promise to do away with Obama administration EPA regulations. “What the IRS, EPA and the entire bureaucracy have done with overregulation, we can undo by act of Congress and order of the president,” he said. “Federal regulation has gone far past the consent of the governed. It is time to start making rules for the rulemakers.”

SHELL GETS WILDLIFE HARASSMENT PERMIT: The National Marine Fisheries Service Monday cleared Shell to disturb thousands of whales, seals and other Alaskan wildlife while conducting overflights for its expected return to the Arctic this summer. The permit is one of only a few hurdles that remain before the company can commence an Alaska offshore drilling program that has sparked open combat between green groups and the Obama administration. Environmentalists at the Alaska Wilderness League decried the permit, which came hours after activists sought to stop Shell’s Polar Pioneer rig from leaving Puget Sound.

N.Y. ENERGY PLAN PUNTED: Hours before it was to be released on Monday, New York state officials abruptly pulled a major state energy plan that has been years in the making, our friends at Capitol New York report: The plan, which business and environmental groups are watching closely, was supposed to be released after approval at the Energy Planning Board meeting at 1 p.m., but was delayed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority until June 25 “due to scheduling issues,” according to NYSERDA spokeswoman Kate Muller. The plan could determine the direction of the state’s energy sector for decades and lead to billions of dollars of investment in the field.

IOWA LAWMAKERS WANT RFS HEARING: Iowa’s congressional delegation wants EPA to hold a public hearing on its proposed 2014-2016 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes in their state, which produced almost 3.8 billion gallons of ethanol and 230 million gallons of biodiesel in 2013. “Iowa industry leaders, farmers, retailer and consumers are well positioned to provide valuable information and substantive feedback on how the proposed RVOs will negatively impact the agricultural and biofuels industries, consumer choice at the pump, and future investments in 2nd generation renewable fuels and infrastructure,” write the Iowa lawmakers, who are critical of EPA’s multiyear proposal. EPA already plans on a public hearing in Kansas City on June 25. The Iowa letter:

BIODIESEL COMES TO TOWN: About 120 biodiesel industry representatives representing 30 states are hitting Capitol Hill today to shore up more support for increasing annual biodiesel blending mandates EPA has proposed under the RFS from 2014 through 2017. “We want lawmakers to see first-hand how these issues are playing out in their states and districts,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board.

LA DOLCE VITA: Tony Jackson is the new communications director for the pro-ethanol Renewable Fuels Association. He’s been director of external affairs for the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency and was previously counsel at the House Agriculture Committee. He’s got a law degree from Boston College and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s in journalism from Penn State University.


— Energy industry is gassing down. Wall Street Journal:

—A thirsty Colorado battles over the destiny of its raindrops. N.Y. Times:

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