Energy News for July 27, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on July 27, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 7/27/2015

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

HILLARY UNVEILS GREEN POWER VISION: Hillary Clinton last night unveiled her most detailed goals on climate change since announcing her presidential campaign, including moving the economy along “a path toward deep decarbonization by 2050” and “enough clean renewable energy to power every home in America” by 2027. Details include calling for 500 million solar panels installed by the end of her first term if she’s elected president. Clinton will speak about her climate plan today in Iowa at a Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority station.
Clinton’s campaign said her vision translates to 33 percent of power from green sources like wind, solar and geothermal electricity by 2027. And the campaign said it would exceed Tom Steyer’s mandate for 2016 presidential candidates to pledge a goal of generating 50 percent of U.S. power from carbon-free sources by 2030 if you add in nuclear power, which Steyer’s goal takes into account. Steyer, who has already fundraised for Clinton, praised her announcement as “ambitious,” with others like Sierra Club calling it “strong.”

She is also pledging to further roll out a “comprehensive” energy and climate strategy “over the next few months” that will call for reducing domestic oil use, updating energy infrastructure, ensuring “safe and responsible” fossil fuel production, improving building efficiency, and which will “protect the health and retirement security” of coal miners.

Your ME author and Hadas Gold break down her announcement:

Clinton also posted a three-minute video hitting at the climate views of several in the Republican presidential field. “It’s hard to believe there are people running for president who still refuse to accept the settled science of climate change,” she says as the video displays partial quotes from GOP candidates Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Tex Cruz, John Kasich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry.

What she still hasn’t mentioned? Whether the Keystone XL pipeline should be built.

COMPANIES MAKE $140 BILLION CLIMATE PLEDGE: Thirteen large U.S. companies will unveil new climate change pledges during an event at the White House today. The companies — which include Google, Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Wal-Mart — are committing to cut their emissions and invest in renewable energy as part of the administration’s American Business Act on Climate pledge. The announcements total at least $140 billion in new low-carbon investment, the White House said. By signing the pledge, the companies also formally threw their support behind the Paris climate change negotiations. Company executives will meet at the White House with Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials. Read more about the announcements:

TODAY’S THE DAY TO HAVE YOUR SAY: The comment period closes at midnight tonight on EPA’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for 2014 through 2016 (plus biodiesel for 2017). The agency has received at least 47,565 comments, a number that is likely to grow if biofuels advocates have anything to say about it. Fuels America, a coalition of biofuels interests, plans to deliver more than 200,000 comments to EPA’s headquarters this morning. Not to be outdone, just a half-hour later the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers will hold a press call to discuss their comments and to announce a new RFS social media campaign.

Florida man curses out EPA: ME’s search through the comment revealed just one that deployed the f-bomb (redacted for this family newsletter). Wrote a man from Port St. Lucie: “What the hell is wrong with the EPA, we have more oil available than ever and higher food prices due to Ethanol and you want to add more of that Ethanol junk???????? F— You!”

HAPPY MONDAY?: Despite any beginning-of-the-week grumpiness, please refrain from sending your host Darren Goode expletive-filled emails (looking at you, mom) and focus instead on forwarding energy news, tips, and commentary to, and follow us on Twitter @DarrenGoode, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

** A message from Earthjustice: President Obama, 1 in 6 black children suffer from asthma. That’s not a statistic. It’s a shame. Will you stand with vulnerable communities and reduce ozone pollution to levels that protect children or cave to Big Oil and their allies attempt to pollute the issue? The science is clear finalizing the most protective ozone standard. **

DOES OBAMA CLIMATE MATH ADD UP? Republicans and their conservative allies say the pledges that President Barack Obama is taking to the Paris climate change summit don’t add up. It’s simple math, they argue: the rules and regulations cited by the Obama administration in a March roadmap fall short of the pollution cuts needed to reach the president’s 2025 climate change target. The accounting-focused strategy is meant to raise doubts in foreign capitals about whether the United States can live up to its international climate commitments.

But Obama administration officials argue that their 2025 target is both ambitious and achievable — and they insist that the president’s climate agenda will set the United States on a path toward meeting the goal. They also acknowledge that the climate goals will require action by future administrations. Andrew Restuccia has the story for Pros:

SENATE ENERGY MOVES AHEAD: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski Sunday said it was unclear how long a markup Tuesday morning to consider a broad energy plan she is offering with panel ranking member Maria Cantwell would last and whether it would span over multiple days. Republican Sen. John Hoeven told ME he’s filed about 10 amendments, including dicey topics like Keystone XL, coal ash, expansion of navigable waters covered under the Clean Water Act and giving states precedent over the federal government in regulating hydraulic fracturing. But he noted he’ll save the controversial ones until there is a Senate floor debate and clear others with Murkowski before offering in committee. “Probably, because we want the vehicle to advance,” he said Sunday. Murkowski has said she’d like to avoid any poison-pill ideas for the sake of bipartisan harmony. Colorado Republican Cory Gardner said he has a couple, “hopefully none of them too controversial.” One of them, he told ME, would deal with delays in privately-run renewable energy projects that are housed on federal property.

The short-short list of items for Tuesday’s business meeting also includes the nomination of Jonathan Elkind to be assistant Energy secretary for international affairs. A longer list of potential items includes Murkowski’s OPENS Act, which would lift the U.S. crude oil export ban, expand lease sales and revenue sharing for coastal Alaska development, Gulf of Mexico drilling, and offshore exploration for the southern Atlantic.

PORTMAN EFFICIENCY VOTE UPCOMING?: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) also told ME he wants — and thinks he will get — a vote at Tuesday’s meeting on his bipartisan energy efficiency bill with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The Murkowski-Cantwell energy plan already includes much of that bill, but Portman wants a separate vote “because that’ll help in case the bigger bill gets bogged down,” he said.

MURKOWSKI MOVES TO TAKE OUT SPR PAYFOR: ME has learned that Murkowski has filed two amendments to the Senate highway bill as part of her opposition to an estimated $9 billion spending offset requiring the sale of 101 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve from 2018 through 2025. One amendment seeks to define how the reserve could be drawn down. Her broader energy bill with Cantwell would authorize SPR funds to go toward improving the reserve itself as well as “non-reserve projects needed to enhance the energy security of the United States.” Murkowski said Sunday that she was talking to Cantwell and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) about amendments addressing the payfor and that she would oppose the highway bill “if the vote were held right now” because of it.

A second amendment she has filed would add an alternative spending offset to impose an eight-cent per-barrel oil spill liability tax on heavy Canadian crude — such as the oil sands-based crude that would be carried by Keystone XL. That is estimated to raise $1.6 billion and a veto-proof majority of the Senate is on record in favor of closing the so-called “tar sands loophole.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted Sunday he may allow more amendments before moving to close off debate.

ME FIRST — MURKOWSKI DROPS NEW SPR REPORT: Murkowski is stepping up her campaign “in defense” of the petroleum reserve with a new staff report that puts the size of the proposed 101-million-barrel SPR sale in the highway bill in context by comparing it with previous releases from the stockpile for national-security reasons, test sales, and other purposes. That includes well more than the 58.9 million barrels via aggregated sales responding to Operation Desert Storm, Hurricane Katrina and the Libyan civil war. A sale of 101 million barrels today would be the equivalent of 60 percent of all SPR drawdowns since the reserve was created in 1975. Read the full report:

STILL TIME TO ARGUE: The Senate inched closer to approving their six-year transportation bill this week with a rare Sunday session to vote on unrelated amendments repealing Obamacare and reviving the Export-Import Bank (including language addressing the Obama administration’s controversial restrictions on coal financing by prohibiting discrimination against any energy sources). But even if the upper chamber does approve the bill, the House’s preference for a five-month extension of current law funding all but ensures Congress will send Obama a short-term patch rather than a multi-year reauthorization before lawmakers leave for the summer. House lawmakers go on their break after this week. McConnell has included a two-month extension as a potential option.

ME FIRST —REPORT: LIFTING EXPORT BAN RAISES FUEL COSTS: A new report argues that lifting the U.S. crude export ban would increase domestic crude oil by $3 a barrel and raise gasoline prices at the pump as much as around 14 cents a gallon. “Allowing exports of crude would escalate U.S. crude prices to parity with world prices, with U.S. Gulf Coast gasoline prices returning to their historical premium of $0.034 per gallon versus European gasoline prices, according to the report from industry consultant firm Stancil & Co. Gasoline prices would rise “$0.084 to $0.145 per gallon from today’s price level,” it argues. The report was commissioned by Monroe Energy, which runs Delta Airlines’ Pennsylvania oil refinery, and the CRUDE Coalition, a coalition of refiners fighting the lifting of the export ban. Read the report: And appendix:

SENATE OIL EXPORT HEARING SET: Murkowski and representatives from United Steelworkers and the American Enterprise Institute are among the witnesses at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday morning on lifting the oil export ban.

IN TODAY’S FEDERAL REGISTER — STREAM RULE: The Interior Department’s proposed stream rule is in today’s Federal Register, kicking off a 60-day comment period. It’s over 1,200 pages long, so you better get reading: Don’t forget, EPA plans to hold public hearings on the proposal starting in September in in Charleston, W.Va.; Denver; Lexington, Ky.; Pittsburgh; and St. Louis.

THE MAG-OH-HELL-NO-LIA STATE: Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant last week said in a letter to EPA that he may not write a state implementation plan for the agency’s carbon rules for power plants, joining several other states that have either vowed not to comply or hinted at it. “The flaws inherent in EPA’s proposal make the development of responsible SIPs unworkable for states, including Mississippi,” Bryant wrote. “One of my most important duties as Governor is to secure reliable access to affordable electricity for Mississippians. I am deeply concerned that the current form of EPA’s proposal could prevent me from fulfilling this duty.” Read:


— Hillary Clinton is calling for a 700% increase in solar power. Is that realistic? Vox:

— Indian energy institute replaces director accused of sexual harassment. New York Times:

— David Jenkins: Proposed clean water rule follow’s Baker’s vision of stewardship. Knoxville News Sentinel:

— Column: Boulder’s Stratus Consulting and the jungle crooks. Denver Post:

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