Energy News for July 2, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on July 2, 2015

POLITICO Morning Energy for 7/2/2015

By ERIC WOLFF, with help from Alex Guillen, Darius Dixon, Darren Goode, and Nick Juliano

THE FLOOR PLAN FOR JULY: After a week of mint juleps, light beer, white wine, and whatever they drink in New Jersey, members of Congress will be back in the Capitol on Tuesday. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent out a schedule with bills he expects the House to consider this month. Among them are a Rep. Fred Upton’s “Architecture of Abundance” energy plan, the ongoing Interior and EPA appropriation, and a Food and Drug Administration bill that relies on $5.2 billion in oil sales from the strategic petroleum reserve to pay for streamlining of drug approvals. The House will also consider the REINS Act, which would require Congress to vote on every executive branch rule with an impact of more than $100 million. Considering that Congress wrote the laws that authorize every rule written by any federal agency, ME hopes Congress is aware of the possibility that the bill, if passed, could cause a damaging legal short circuit unless the legislative body is properly grounded.
ME knew it was Silent Cal: McCarthy tossed in a bit of trivia at the end of his message, asking who was the only president born on July 4. ME has one for the majority leader: Name the three presidents who all died on that date. No fair Googling it — or getting staffers to Google it.

PARIS NEGOTIATIONS GO META: Keeping 200 nations on track to negotiate a climate change deal isn’t a task for the faint-hearted, but the State Department’s Daniel Reifsnyder and his co-chair in the UN talks, Ahmed Djoghlaf of Algeria, opened up the process to let delegates insert their own priorities. Now they have an 85-page document filled with conflicting ideas — but a whole lot more buy-in from the diplomats who will be at the table. Now Reifsnyder will have to get to work to turn the working text into a more coherent blueprint ahead of December’s Paris talks. Pro’s Andrew Restuccia has the full interview with Reifsnyder.

EPA’S MCCARTHY DUCKS MERCURY MENTION AT PAPAL PANEL: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s remarks last night at a panel discussion on the pope’s environment encyclical largely steered clear of a one notable Catholic: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of Monday’s ruling against EPA’s mercury rule. McCarthy didn’t directly address the ruling, but Ralph Izzo, the chairman of the New Jersey-based utility PSEG, noted that his company was among a group of utilities that backed EPA in the mercury suit. McCarthy later told Izzo: “Your company is doing good work and you’re part of the transformation that’s going to get us there.” McCarthy also promised to move forward with EPA’s carbon rules for power plants, and said that they are “going to be a game-changer in the international setting.”

Pope vs. Polar Bears? Pope: McCarthy praised the encyclical for making climate change into something that affects people in a deeply personal way “more than polar bears in the Arctic,” drawing agreement from one man in the audience. “Amen,” he shouted, drawing laughter from the crowd. McCarthy clarified that she does, in fact, care about polar bears — “but I care about my kids more.”

The kids are all right: One panelist noted no one had brought up overpopulation, a topic she said frequently comes up at sustainability discussions, prompting McCarthy to quip: “Just gonna check that box, are you?”

IF IT’S JULY, THE CORN IS AS HIGH AS AN ELEPHANTS EYE, AND THE RFS BATTLE IS NIGH The renewable fuels community is trying to ward off multiple attempts to undermine the Renewable Fuels Standard. In Congress it faces an appropriations amendment form Rep. Barry Loudermilk which would remove all funding for RFS implementation, not to mention the bipartisan RFS Reform Act, a bill which would remove corn-based ethanol requirements. But while the industry is lobbying hard in Congress, the EPA’s RFS standard poses a far greater concern, a source tells ME, and biofuel interests are pulling out all the stops to get farmers to bury the agency in comments. Last month the National Corn Growers Association led a protest outside the EPA’s field hearing in Kansas City. Today the ethanol producers’ trade association Growth Energy goes up with a six-figure digital ad buy in Midwestern farm and agriculture publications that joins a radio series aimed at residents of the rural Midwest. The strategy will stay focused on radio and digital for the foreseeable future, the source said, as the optimal way to reach the farming constituency.

HAPPY ANTEPENULTIMATE DAY BEFORE JULY 4th! I’m Eric Wolff, and I stand with the president: Pea-free guacamole, please! Morning Energy will be dark tomorrow thanks to Independence Day (Observed). I’ll see you all on Monday, and don’t hesitate to send tips, quips, or comments to, or follow us on Twitter @ericwolff, @Morning_Energy, or @PoliticoPro.

** A message from Fuels America: Working men and women in the heartland sent a clear message to the EPA last week: The Renewable Fuel Standard is working for Rural America, supporting over 850,000 jobs and strengthening rural economies. EPA, don’t choose foreign oil over American workers. The RFS works for Rural America: **

THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is suing the EPA over its proposed carbon rule for power plants. Pruitt claims the proposed rule is already causing economic harm to his state, and that the agency does not have the authority, etc., etc. If this song sounds familiar, it’s because the argument is not so different from the one the D.C. Circuit chose not to consider last month. The court never reached the legal arguments in West Virginia v. EPA, because it did not wish to opine before the rule was finalized. Oklahoma was a part of that case, so surely Pruitt knows what’s going to happen to his new complaint, especially with a final rule expected in August.

BIOMASS GETS BIPARTISAN PUSH: Maine Republican Susan Collins and Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley led a letter Wednesday from 46 senators asking the head of EPA, and the Departments of Agriculture and Energy to “remove any uncertainties and contradictions through a clear, unambiguous message that forest bioenergy is part of the nation’s energy future.” They emphasized more recognition of the “carbon neutrality” of biomass. While EPA’s forthcoming greenhouse gas rules for power plants wasn’t specified in the letter, that’s especially where biomass backers want to ensure recognition in helping states meet their targets. Read the letter:

NO SYMPATHY FOR THE DIABLO: The NRC plans to develop and publish an environmental impact statement for the proposed license renewal of PG&E’s controversial Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, the agency announced Wednesday. The California facility has been heavily scrutinized by the San Francisco Chronicle and environmental groups as regulators have permitted it to continue operating, despite the discovery of more fault lines over its operating lifetime. Regulators have prioritized updating the plant’s earthquake hazard studies but have insisted the reactors are safe to operate. The NRC scheduled two public meetings in California for Aug. 5 to discuss the EIS process, and will take comments through the end of August. An agency licensing board is also scheduled to hear oral arguments next Thursday concerning two separate legal issues at Diablo Canyon. The first session will discuss the license renewal process for the plant, while the second will delve into the argument that the NRC issued a “de facto” license amendment to the plant by allowing it operate without holding hearings to discuss more recent seismic information.

EXXON TASTES THE RAINBOW: Oil behemoth Exxon Mobil has long drawn criticism for its stance against protections for gay and lesbian employees. When Exxon bought Mobil in 1999, it immediately rescinded Mobil’s protections for gay employees and same-sex partner benefits. The company has been the target of gay action campaigns. But, as the New York Times reports, the company has started to turn a corner, allowing an internal Pride group in 2008, and then extending rights benefits to same-sex spouses in 2014.

PORTMAN: KEEP BUREAUCRATS AWAY FROM THE BBQ: Sen. Rob Portman says EPA is wasting taxpayer money with a grant aimed at reducing particulate matter emissions from outdoor grills. The Ohio Republican, who is among the most endangered Senate incumbents ahead of next year’s election, highlighted the $15,000 grant in a release time to coincide with the upcoming holiday weekend. “Ohioans celebrating our nation’s independence this 4th of July should be able to grill in peace,” Portman said. “The EPA doesn’t need to use taxpayer dollars to tell us how to safely grill a cheeseburger.”

SOLAR PLANE AVOIDS GETTING TOO CLOSE TO SUN, SET FOR HAWAIIAN LANDING TOMORROW: Solar Impulse, the zero-fuel, solar-powered plane, is set to complete its crossing from Nagoya to Hawaii tomorrow. When it lands, Solar Impulse will have spent five days in the air at speeds that would be safe in a residential neighborhood, around 29 miles per hour. The plane is making a round-the-world transit over 13 separate flights. Its solar cells power the plane and charge batteries all day, and batteries keep the propellers turning all night. Five days to cross half the Pacific is awfully slow, but flying with no fuel for that long is kind of an astonishing feat.


— Canada’s Carbon Emissions Rules Sparks Hopes For Keystone.

— Marijuana-growing spikes Denver electric demand, challenges clean-power plan. Denver Post:

— Germany to shut down coal-fired plants, extend power grid. Reuters:

— Missouri panel rejects plan for multistate wind power line. AP:

— Puerto Rico power company avoids default with $415m bond payment. The Guardian:

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