Energy News for June 23, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on June 23, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 6/23/2015

By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Eric Wolff

THE WHITE HOUSE’S CLIMATE/HEALTH PARTY: The White House is continuing to press the impacts of climate change on human health with a summit this afternoon that is one of a number of activities going on to highlight the second birthday of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan this Thursday. White House senior advisor Brian Deese, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other administration officials plan to speak at the summit but Obama won’t be one of them. The president will only be there in (electronic) spirit, with someone pressing play on a video statement from the commander-in-chief. “At the Summit, participants will discuss creative and cost effective solutions to slow the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided,” according to a White House statement, and will “also act as an anchor to stimulate a national dialogue on climate change and public health, and will be broadcast digitally to regional events hosted across the country.” The event starts at 12:30 p.m. in the White House South Court Auditorium. The program will also be livestreamed at
HOLD ONTO YOUR SHIRTS, CLIMATE POLICY CRITICS: Obama’s climate agenda hasn’t won him many friends in the fossil fuel industry but the administration certainly isn’t angling to ease up on the regulatory gas pedal anytime soon, Pro’s Andrew Restuccia reports. “Obama jaunted into his second term with a renewed desire to take action on climate change. But, having been burned by a first-term push to pass cap-and-trade legislation, he knew Congress had no appetite for the issue… Two years later, scarcely a week goes by without the administration unveiling a new climate change initiative.” Andrew has more for Pros:

TSCA GOES FOR HOUSE: The House’s rewrite of the Toxic Substances Control Act, which cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee with no opposition earlier this month, is set to come to a floor vote tonight under a suspension of the rules maneuver. The suspensions calendar is typically reserved for noncontroversial legislation and requires a two-thirds majority of those present in the chamber for passage in exchange for speedy processing. The vote series starts at 6:30 p.m. and the TSCA bill is the second on a list of 14 pieces of legislation.

AND WITH THIS RULE…: The House Rules Committee is scheduled to frame the debate around two energy measures, the $30 billion fiscal 2016 Interior-EPA spending bill and Rep. Ed Whitfield’s Ratepayer Protection Act. The Interior-EPA appropriations bill, as with most spending bills, is likely to get some kind of open rule, and seems likely to hit the floor on Thursday. Whitfield’s bill, H.R. 2024, which may reach the full House on Wednesday, would essentially put EPA’s final carbon rule for existing power plants on hold until the courts have finished legal reviews of the rule. It would also exempt any state from the rule whose governor, in consultation with state regulators and officials, determines the rule would hurt ratepayers or threaten reliability. The Rules Committee meets at 5 p.m. today in H-313 in the Capitol.

HAPPY TUESDAY! I’m Darius Dixon and I’ll admit that one of the things I miss about Japan — other than the food, of course — is just how frowned upon littering is. Tossing your garbage every which way is pretty uncivilized, in my humble opinion. That said, I don’t really expect Americans to rinse every spot their dogs pee on, which really is a thing people do in Tokyo. Send your energy news, tips and commentary to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

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MURKOWSKI: IF SANCTIONS ON IRAN GO, SO SHOULD THE U.S. OIL EXPORT BAN: With the next deadline approaching in the multiparty talks around Iran’s nuclear program, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski is out with a new report today pressing her latest argument for lifting the U.S. crude oil export ban. “Connecting the dots between these matters leads to one inescapable conclusion: the U.S. should not lift sanctions on Iranian oil while maintaining its prohibition on exports of American oil,” the report states. “The specter of an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program has brought to the fore a great geopolitical irony: lifting sanctions will boost Iranian oil exports at a time when federal law and regulations generally prohibit American oil exports.” The bulk of the report is in the first nine pages, while the remaining 24 pages consist of letters from the Congressional Research Service and appendices summarizing Iran-related U.S. laws. The report:

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 60% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. The industry also supports more than 100,000 jobs nationally and provides critical tax revenue locally for roads, schools and other public priorities. Learn more at **

THE FIRST BIG VOTES ON TRADE THIS WEEK COMES TODAY: The Senate is slated to vote around 11 a.m. today on whether to limit debate on a House-passed trade promotion authority bill to 30 hours. If that gets 60 votes, the Senate is expected to vote late Wednesday afternoon on the actual trade promotion authority bill. Should it get a majority Wednesday, it’ll go to the White House for Obama’s signature. After today’s cloture vote on trade promotion authority, the chamber will vote on a similar cloture motion to cut off debate for trade preferences legislation and Trade Adjustment Assistance.

…AND THE PRO-TRADE CROWD IS FEELING OPTIMISTIC: Via POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim: “Trade proponents appear to have the momentum heading into Tuesday’s decisive Senate vote on President Barack Obama’s bid for expanded powers to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. …But the Senate on Tuesday is voting only on so-called Trade Promotion Authority, not the workers aid, which is known as Trade Adjustment Assistance. …Organized by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who is threatening to vote no, a group of pro-trade Democrats huddled for a strategy session in the Capitol on Monday evening. Most emerged tight-lipped, but several Democrats said that the vote is likely to succeed on Tuesday morning.” More from Burgess and Seung Min:

REID PRESSES MCCONNELL FOR EX-IM VOTE BEFORE RECESS: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, on the floor Monday, urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on renewing the charter of the U.S. Export-Import Bank before it expires on June 30, arguing it would pass with broad bipartisan support. Reid accused his Republican counterpart of “manufacturing” a crisis by allowing the Ex-Im Bank to come so close to expiration without making a serious move to renew it. At this point it’s largely assumed that the bank’s charter will lapse for a few weeks.

THE SENATE, IN OTHER BUSINESS: The Budget and the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committees are holding a joint hearing at 10 a.m. today about regulatory reform, “the true cost of regulations,” explore the possibility of a “regulatory budget,” and discuss how other countries address regulatory issues. At 2 p.m., a subpanel of the Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a hearing to study the electricity price impacts of the EPA’s forthcoming carbon regulations. Later this afternoon, Sen. John Barrasso is presiding over a joint Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on American energy exports.

MORE CHATTING WITH CHINA: The seventh U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the sixth Consultation on People-to-People Exchange kicks off today in Washington and climate change is on the agenda. An event titled “Act on Climate: S&ED Celebration of Energy and Environment Cooperation,” which is open to the press, is slated to begin at 10 a.m. at the State Department, according to an agency statement. A closed joint session on climate change is slated for 10:50 a.m. but there will be two press briefings right after that meeting: One with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, and a second, immediately following Moniz and McCarthy, with State’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern. You can’t have too much fun in Foggy Bottom, can you?

ME FIRST — CLIMATE ACTION CHECK-OFF: Obama’s Climate Action Plan turns two years old on Thursday and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is marking the occasion with a new progress report today. The 18-page report says that the White House has taken at least “initial government action related to every item in the plan,” flagging movement on energy efficiency standards, methane releases and power plant emissions in particular. As other groups have recently stated, C2ES argues that cutting greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 is doable “if the United States continues on the course of action established in the first two years of the plan.” Still, hitting a 26 percent to 28 percent reduction by 2025 would require more tools than Obama’s current plan. Overall, the report is a solid checklist of the administration’s climate policies thus far. The report:

OILIES LUBE UP FOR 2016: The American Petroleum Institute is hosting an event in downtown D.C. today to unveil its “Vote-4-Energy” strategy for the 2016 election cycle. API president Jack Gerard will also release a study conducted by Wood Mackenzie that forecasts the economy in 2035 under “pro-development” policies, like lifting the crude oil export ban, and “regulatory constraining” policies, such as PHMSA’s oil tanker safety proposal and EPA’s proposed smog reduction plan. Afterwards, a panel will discuss an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy, but your host is hard-pressed to think many sparks will fly since Gerard himself will be moderating the chat.

If you go: St. Regis Hotel, 923 16th St., NW. Doors open at 8:30 a.m.

NO THRESHOLD DEBATE: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will start taking comments today on whether the agency should open up a rulemaking to reevaluate the age-old linear no-threshold model, the idea that there’s no “safe” level of radiation. According to a Federal Register notice, the agency received three petitions earlier this year seeking to replace the so-called LNT with the radiation hormesis model, which argues that “exposure of the human body to low levels of ionizing radiation is beneficial and protects the human body against deleterious effects of high levels of radiation.” One of the petitions came from a UCLA oncologist who argued that there “has never been scientifically valid support” for the LNT since it was recommended in 1956. Anti-nuclear activists sometimes cite the LNT as a way of arguing power reactors are inherently a danger to the public.

On that note, your host has a confession to make: While I’m not necessarily on board with the “benefits” of low-level radiation just yet, I’ve never bought into the linear no-threshold model. It just seems hard for me to believe that every exposure to radiation — no matter how small — could be directly correlated to a meaningful cancer risk for a species that developed on a planet flush with low-level radiation, natural environmental exposure and the constant zing of cosmic rays. I’m gonna keep eating bananas even though they’re naturally rich in beta radiation-emitting potassium! The NRC is taking public comments through Sept. 7. The FR notice:

BREAKING LAB: Jill Hruby, a Sandia national lab employee and manager for 32 years, will elevate to the site’s top job — the first woman to ascend to the directorship of any of the three Energy Department weapons labs. Since 2010, she’s been working at Sandia’s New Mexico site as vice president of the Energy, Nonproliferation and High Consequence Security Division as well as in the International, Homeland Security and Nuclear Security Program Management Unit. Her predecessor, Paul Hommert, is retiring July 16 after about 15 years of running Sandia. Hruby earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and the University of California at Berkeley.


— Why the Saudis Are Going Solar. The Atlantic:

— Cheap Energy Poised to Shake Up Pipeline Industry. The Wall Street Journal:

— Taking the U.S. to 100 Percent Renewable Energy State by State. IEEE Spectrum:

— Mexico plans $10 billion in energy infrastructure projects, including pipeline from Texas. The Associated Press:

— Toshiba Still Struggles With Fukushima Impact. The Wall Street Journal:

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