Energy News for July 17, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on July 17, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 7/17/2015

By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Alex Guillén

THAT FRACKING TIMELINE: The Bureau of Land Management’s fracking regulations will stay frozen weeks longer than anticipated. The rules were already placed on hold by a federal judge weighing a challenge by four states and two industry groups, and the new delay was triggered by an extension the court gave BLM to file an administrative record that had been due next week. The agency will now have until Aug. 28 to make its filing, according to a Thursday order from the District Court of Wyoming. As the filing deadline extension go, so goes the stay. The Western Energy Alliance, one of the industry-backed plaintiffs in the suit against the regulations, is expected to have a week to file separately following BLM’s new deadline, teeing up a decision on whether to grant a preliminary injunction against the rule around mid-September, WEA spokesman Aaron Johnson said. The order:
Well, then! The Independent Petroleum Association of America, the other industry group on the case, welcomed the new order. “The government’s request proves there is no urgent reason to immediately implement the final rule before the court has adequate opportunity to resolve a number of important and legitimate legal questions,” Neal Kirby said in an email.

ME FIRST — GAO WORKING ON USEC REPORT: Auditors at the Government Accountability Office are digging through a mountain of documents related to one of your host’s biggest love-hate energy relationships of all time: USEC, the uranium enrichment company reborn last year as Centrus Energy Corp. GAO is currently cataloguing every transaction between the Energy Department and USEC after the company was peeled off from the agency and privatized in 1998. From that, analysts will assess any costs and benefits to DOE. ME’s source also says that the report is expected to be released in September.

I am Jack’s utter sense of shock: Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Sen. Ed Markey made the request.

THE SANTA BARBARA NINETY-EIGHT PERCENTERS: The Unified Command directing cleanup operations in California after the Plains All American oil spill nearly two months ago says that the effort is 98 percent complete. “The cleanup progress measure is based on assessments of dozens of sites along 96 miles of shoreline,” the late-running notice said. “Remaining cleanup work is primarily being done along the shoreline in an area near where oil flowed into the ocean through a storm drain culvert after leaking from a pipeline.” The announcement:

But maybe you missed this spill last night: Via The Globe and Mail: “A pipeline owned by Nexen Energy ULC has spilled about 31,500 barrels of oil “emulsion” in northern Alberta, the province’s energy watchdog says. The Alberta Energy Regulator said late on Thursday that it was responding to a pipeline rupture about [22 miles] southeast of Fort McMurray. Emulsion is a mixture of oil and water. The regulator said the spill has affected more than [six square miles] of land concentrated along the pipeline right-of-way.”

I STREAM, YOU STREAM, NO ONE STREAMS FOR…: It’s been a long, long, LONG time coming, but the Obama administration rolled out a new plan on Thursday to help protect Appalachian streams from mountaintop removal coal mining, drawing a quick rebuke from coal supporters that the move was yet another attempt to destroy the industry, Pro Energy’s Alex Guillén reports. The proposed rule also didn’t go as far as many green groups had hoped since it did not extend the distance a mine must be set back from nearby streams. It calls for coal mining companies to put up more money to help cover the eventual clean-up of the sites, and would require additional testing of streams near planned mines to monitor pollution levels. The rule adds to the woes of a diminished U.S. coal industry, but its immediate impact is likely to be limited, since mountaintop removal mining has declined sharply in recent years with the rise of natural gas. Alex with the deets for Pros:

TGIF, PEOPLE! T-G-I-F. I’m Darius Dixon and clearly I need to be watching “Game of Thrones” … maybe when we’re done with “House of Cards”! Oh snap! But on the TV front, if you haven’t seen Key & Peele’s Hillary Clinton anger translator, you’re missing out: And non sequitur: You’re stuck with me until Tuesday, Dear Reader, so keep sending your energy news, tips, and commentary to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

CHARTER SCHOOLS DONE RIGHT IN D.C.: 44% of D.C. public school students are enrolled in charter schools, the highest state percentage in the nation. They also score higher on tests than their peers in traditional public schools — something scholars have found mixed results determining elsewhere nationally. Read why it’s working in the latest installment in POLITICO Magazine’s What Works series:

GREAT SCOTT! With the stream buffer rule finally out, ME wanted to talk to the man who was obsessed with the regulation while he was in Congress: the now-retired Doc Hastings, the previous chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, who spent years investigating Interior’s rulemaking. “I have long felt that the administration’s war on coal was designed to shut down the coal industry,” he told ME from his home in Washington state. “This seems to be nothing more than an extension of what he said he was going to do, when he ran initially.” He said he suspects his successor, Rob Bishop, will hold hearings on the issue “sooner rather than later.” Hastings also mentioned that it was “frustrating” to see Mary Kendall — the longtime acting Interior inspector general with whom he had tangled on several issues, including the stream rule — be nominated as the permanent IG.

Fore! Hastings — who hasn’t been on a plane so far this year, a “very refreshing” experience — said he has spent his retirement working on his golf game. “You can’t not play on a regular basis, especially at my age, and then try to come back and expect to golf like you used to,” he said. When ME suggested he invite President Barack Obama, no stranger to the back nine, for a round, Hastings laughed and said, “He never invited me.”

** A message from The Pew Charitable Trusts: This is our last chance to protect the sage-grouse and our Western way of life. The Bureau of Land Management must include strong science-based protections in final plans for sagebrush habitat that supports wildlife like sage-grouse, elk, pronghorn, and golden eagles. Let’s keep our Western landscapes iconic: **

Wake ME up when September ends: The House Natural Resources Committee still plans to mark up Rep. Alex Mooney’s STREAM Act — but not before the August recess, according to a committee spokeswoman. Look for it this fall.

ELECTRIC CO-OP CEOS TO DROP IN ON OMB: The CEOs from five electric cooperatives have an audience with the White House Office of Management and Budget today at 9 a.m. to talk about, well, what else? The EPA’s Clean Power Plan. However, these meetings are more like speaking to a wall that squeaks every now and then rather than a conversation. Visitors offer their views while OMB staff sit poker-faced and largely stick to asking strictly clarifying questions of their visitors. Top officials are visiting from co-ops in Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arizona and Florida, and they’re planning to air concerns about the Plan’s “building blocks,” as well as their ideas about how reliability exemptions ought to work.

TSCA GLASS NOW MORE THAN HALF FULL: Sens. Tammy Baldwin, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have signed up as co-sponsors to the bipartisan rewrite of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act — bring the bill’s show of overt support to 52. The bill, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, is being led by Sens. David Vitter and Tom Udall. By comparison, support for competing TSCA reform legislation pushed by Environment and Public Works ranking member Barbara Boxer is still a quintet.

You gotta be in it to win it: Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe praised the symbolic milestone of the Vitter-Udall bill in a statement saying that he remained “committed to shepherding this legislation through to the finish line.” Caught in the Capitol Thursday, the Oklahoma Republican also said that despite the chamber’s packed schedule he was confident the bill could reach the floor during the first full week of August just before lawmakers cut out for their lengthy recess.

JEWELL, MOFFAT COUNTY OFFICIALS TO MEET ON MINES: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will meet this evening with the county commissioners of Moffat County, Colo., a sparsely populated coal-producing area that has become a vocal advocate against EPA’s carbon rules for power plants and other issues. Commissioner John Kinkaid tells ME the meeting tonight will cover the Colowyo and Trapper mines. A federal court recently ordered Interior to re-do its eight-year-old environmental assessment for the Colowyo mine. The Trapper mine wasn’t originally subject to that order because the company said almost all of its coal in the area in question had been mined, but earlier this month the company said it was mistaken. “I hope that she will be able to give us some assurances that our miners can keep working,” said Kinkaid. Jewell is also slated to speak at the Aspen Institute today at an event with former White House Council on Environmental Quality chief Mike Boots.

All work and some play: ME hears that Jewell’s trip to Colorado will also include a Saturday rafting adventure in Browns Canyon.

NUCLEAR BIZ URGES HILL NOT TO BE ‘SHORTSIGHTED’ ON 123: As the clock winds down on Congress’ window to air any potential opposition to the renewal of the U.S.-China civil nuclear agreement chatter on both sides has picked up slightly. The CASEnergy Coalition, a group funded by the nuclear industry, decided to chime in to defend the so-called 123 agreement. “Congress would be wise not to be shortsighted when it comes to the renewal of our nation’s nuclear energy trade agreement with China,” the group said in an email. “Without a renewed agreement with China, U.S. based companies will lose significant business opportunities to countries like Russia and Korea, opportunities that have historically supported tens of thousands of jobs here at home.” Where’s this coming from? On Wednesday, Sens. Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton introduced a resolution seeking to disapprove of President Barack Obama’s decision to re-up the arrangement, which otherwise expires at the end of the year. And two House Foreign Affairs subcommittees held a joint hearing on the issue Thursday.

EPA DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT A DECADE IN THE MAKING: Several groups have sued the EPA over the agency’s failure to process complaints on facility permits in minority communities that the regulator agreed to review more than a decade ago. Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of several groups across the country, including the Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping, and the Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club. Between 1995 and 2005, the EPA accepted complaints against permits for two gas-fired power plants in Pittsburg, Calif., a landfill in Tallassee, Ala., a hazardous waste facility in Chaves County, N.M., a wood-incinerator power station in Flint, Mich., and an oil-refinery expansion along the Texas Gulf Coast. Earthjustice’s clients are seeking to compel EPA, through the District Court for the Northern District of California-San Francisco/Oakland, to follow through on investigation into the environmental discrimination cases. The complaint:


— Coal Pension Plan Sues Miners Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. The Wall Street Journal:

— Oil scandal fuels speculation on Brazilian leader’s survival. The Washington Post:

— State program to provide clean energy access for millions. Capital New York:

— In Colorado, an Environmental Group Is Caught Misleadingly Listing Companies as Supporters. National Review:

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