Energy News for June 17, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on June 17, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 6/17/2015

By ELANA SCHOR, with help from Alex Guillén

GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES: It’s been more than 48 hours since Pope Francis’ long-awaited encyclical on climate change leaked in draft form, but supporters and critics of the Catholic leader’s message continue to tussle over its impacts ahead of its formal release on Thursday.
Vice President Joe Biden hailed His Holiness’ bid to raise environmental awareness during a White House clean energy summit Tuesday, while newly declared Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he’d take a skeptical view of the encyclical during a New Hampshire town hall. “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said. “But I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

Elsewhere in the GOP camp, Rush Limbaugh said on the air Tuesday the Pope “doesn’t even disguise” his belief that “unfettered capitalism is destroying the world.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marlo Lewis today offers his own reply to His Holiness, writing that to “cast doubt on the reality of man-made climate change … is a losing strategy.” Lewis proposes a 20-part “sensible Sense of Congress resolution” that acknowledges greenhouse gases play a role in global warming but slams the current array of policy options to curb emissions as “’[cures] worse than the alleged disease.” Check it out:

RIDER RIGHT BY MY SIDE: Republicans in both chambers of Congress are using their fiscal 2016 spending bills for EPA and the Interior Department to take aim at the core elements President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda, suggesting a fierce funding fight to come. The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to vote Thursday on an Interior-EPA spending bill that includes riders stopping EPA’s emissions rules for power plants as well as its Waters of the United States regulations and Interior’s standards for fracking on federal lands. The Senate took a bit less strict of an approach to its big-ticket Clean Power Plan rider than the House did, but that may not mean much in the end, as Darren Goode and Alex Guillen report:

As the riders battle is joined, EPA chief Gina McCarthy goes on offense today with her first post on the Medium platform, plugging the economic benefits of the power plant rules:

BUSTLE IN THEIR HEDGEROW: Environmentalists fumed at the Senate Interior-EPA bill, which cuts $539 million from EPA’s 2015 enacted budget. Sierra Club legislative director Melinda Pierce lamented in a statement that the Senate’s chief appropriator for Interior-EPA, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), “appears to have done the opposite of what she promised” in February when she vowed to produce a spending blueprint that’s “not a messaging bill.”

Ahead of Thursday’s Appropriations vote, the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund is continuing a digital ad campaign targeting Sen. Mark Kirk that it launched last week, urging the politically vulnerable Illinois Republican to oppose the anti-EPA measure. Remember, House appropriators sliced $718 million from EPA’s 2015 enacted budget before approving their own version of the oft-contentious Interior-EPA funding measure on Tuesday.

OZONE BABY: Another big-ticket rider in both chambers’ bills would stop EPA from finalizing a stronger ground-level ozone standard. The committee report accompanying the House’s spending bill notes that EPA would receive funding “to address the backlog of operating permits” under its existing ozone standard of 75 parts per billion, adding that the panel “strongly urges EPA to allow States to fully implement the 2008 [75 ppb] standards before making further changes.”

The National Association of Manufacturers, a leading industry opponent of stricter standards, plans to host a panel on the issue and other regulatory debates during this weekend’s meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco.

ME FIRST — HILL DOCS CALL FOR KEEPING OZONE STANDARD: Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy has rounded up many of Congress’s GOP MD’s and other Republicans with advanced health care degrees to write to EPA chief Gina McCarthy arguing against EPA’s proposal to tighten ozone standards. They write that they are concerned EPA “is overlooking important consequences” of reducing the ozone standard. “As healthcare professionals we rely upon the most accurate health data,” the letter reads. “From this vantage, we believe that the proposal’s harm outweighs its claimed benefits and are concerned that it could ultimately undermine our constituents’ health.” They raise concerns about the science used to justify a lower standard and write that EPA should consider the health impacts of “unemployment, poverty, and reduced access to health insurance” that could arise from a tighter standard. The letter:

Prebuttal: Advocates for tightening the standard pre-emptively struck out at Cassidy’s letter, noting that a coalition of professional medical groups wrote to EPA in March to urge a stricter standard: As did some 1,000 medical professionals:

Blast from the past: Sen. John Barrasso, a signatory to Cassidy’s letter, sparred with a Johns Hopkins professor on this very issue earlier this month:

WELCOME TO WEDNESDAY’S MORNING ENERGY. I’m your guest host for the rest of the week, Elana Schor, trying not to be a fool in the rain during my first fill-in tour. Give me a hand by sending your tips, energy news and commentary to, and follow us on Twitter @eschor, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

** A message from Chevron: Can an idea work in real life? The best way to know is to try it. Chevron is proud to support Fab Labs to provide students a place to explore, design, and prototype their ideas — and become tomorrow’s engineers and scientists in the process. Learn more at **

FROM THE LAND OF THE ICE AND SNOW: The House Natural Resources Committee’s energy and mineral resources subpanel dug deeper into Arctic drilling on Tuesday, carving out some daylight between the Interior Department’s proposed safety regulations for tapping offshore Alaskan resources and a March report on the issue from the National Petroleum Council:

Led by subcommittee chief Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), the GOP warned that the Interior proposal — which, they noted, came out weeks before the NPC report — could handcuff Arctic development even as the Obama administration gives Shell the go-ahead to resume its multi-billion-dollar drilling program in the Chukchi Sea this summer. But Democrats took their own shots at the NPC report, alleging undue influence on its conclusions by oil and gas producers. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) tweeted after the gavel fell that the NPC’s findings should be taken with a “handful of salt. Probably more, now that I think of it…”

THE WAY IT OUGHTA BE: Expect to hear plenty of calls to lift the decades-old ban on U.S. crude exports when the House Small Business Committee takes up the issue today. Small businesses would reap “exceedingly significant” economic benefits from unfettered overseas oil sales, committee aides wrote in a memo on the hearing, which will feature Kenneth Medlock of Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies testifying on his March report touting the security upside of ending the export ban.

On hand to push for preservation of the export ban will be Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum. “The oil industry is waging a misinformation campaign to convince a skeptical public that an economic protection statute is no longer needed,” Slocum’s watchdog group said in a statement previewing his testimony.

If you go: The hearing will take place at 11:00 a.m. in 2360 Rayburn. Watch it here:

WHAT IS AND WHAT SHOULD NEVER BE: The unlikely green-industry alliance that’s emerged in opposition to the Obama administration’s Renewable Fuel Standard will be on display today as the Environmental Working Group joins the American Petroleum Institute, the American Motorcyclist Association, and the National Council of Chain Restaurants for a call to criticize the biofuels blending mandates that EPA unveiled last month. Expect a potential shout-out for a bill that Cassidy proposed Tuesday to repeal the RFS outright.

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME: White House spokesman Josh Earnest affirmed to reporters Wednesday that the long-running federal review of Keystone XL “is still being conducted by the State Department,” suggesting that Obama has yet to receive a formal ruling from Secretary of State John Kerry about whether the pipeline is in the national interest. Still, the executive order that governs Keystone’s vetting does not require Kerry to make that recommendation to the president in public, meaning that the pipeline remains in the same limbo it’s been since eight other federal agencies passed on their views in February.

Remember, though, that State faces a possible subpoena from House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) over its refusal to share comments and other info it received from those eight agencies with lawmakers. Asked about Chaffetz’s push for more Keystone transparency, a State spokeswoman told ME: “We have received the letter and are reviewing it.”

MEANWHILE, IN ALBERTA…: Exxon-owned Imperial Oil confirmed Tuesday that its Kearl project is set to double in capacity ahead of schedule, ultimately mining more than 100,000 barrels per day of the same heavy Canadian crude that Keystone would ship if approved. The nearly $9 billion Kearl ramp-up comes as Canadian producers grapple with a financial crunch caused by low oil prices, but underscores the viability of preserving oil sands expansion projects that were set in motion before the current downturn in crude costs.

THEY HOLD NO QUARTER: Climate activists from seven groups, led by the Rainforest Action Network, today will deliver a petition with more than a half-million signatures to the Export-Import Bank, urging it to rule out funding for a proposed expansion of Australia’s Abbot Point coal export terminal. Greens have battled the project for years, pushing more than 10 private investment banks to vow not to fund a project that could lead to the dropping of dredge material near the Great Barrier Reef.

MOVER, SHAKER: The advisory and consulting firm Berkeley Research Group has picked up Branko Terzic, a former FERC commissioner, as a managing director in its Washington office to work on a variety of energy issues. Terzic, who sat on FERC from 1990 to 1993, subsequently served as head of the Yankee Gas Services Company and spent 15 years at Deloitte. Terzic also happens to have royal connections; he is the U.S. delegate for Crown Prince Alexander, heir to the throne of what was once Yugoslavia. Terzic also serves as a member of the prince’s “Privy Council.”

HELP WANTED: The American Council on Renewable Energy launched its search for a new president and CEO with an appeal from interim chief Dan Reicher, a former assistant Secretary of Energy and Google veteran, to join the nonprofit at “a very exciting time for the renewable energy industry.” Think you’ve got the chops to score an interview? Head here.


-EPA set to track diesel pollution in Chicago’s Union Station. Tribune:

-Carnival Cruises to build the world’s biggest ships, also the first powered by liquefied natural gas. Sun-Sentinel:

-Did GOP presidential hopeful Gov. Scott Walker maintain a climate change gag order in Wisconsin? PolitiFact says False:

Tags: , , ,