Energy News for July 6, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on July 6, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 7/6/2015

By ERIC WOLFF, with help from Alex Guillén and Darren Goode

THEY’RE BACK, AND THEY’RE READY TO MAKE SOME POLICY: Members of Congress return from their local Fourth of July celebrations to see what kind of colorful noises they can make here in D.C. Perhaps the biggest boom will come from the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which will get the legislative wheels turning to lift the 40-year-old crude oil export ban, while the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will contemplate the implications of the Paris climate talks on domestic policy.
— The House: On Wednesday, House Rules will discuss rules for the 21st Century Cures Act, which might not obviously have energy implications, except for the provision to fund drug approval streamlining by selling off part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Also on Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management will question the Homeland Security Department’s “misplaced focus on climate change.” On Thursday, the Energy and Commerce Committee will be first out of the gate to discuss lifting the crude oil export ban. The committee will take up the challenges of double negatives and whether to lift the ban when they consider H.R. 702, “Legislation to Prohibit Restrictions on the Export of Crude Oil.” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will have a moment on the hot seat when she testifies before the House Space, Science, and Technology, the latest committee to press the case on EPA overreach.

— The Senate: On Wednesday the Environment and Public Works Committee will discuss the effects of the Paris climate talks on domestic policy. As Pro’s Andrew Restuccia reported on Thursday, the panel will feature a former climate counsel for the Sierra Club speaking on the invitation of House Republicans. Bookbinder is expected to argue that the administration cannot meet its stated 2025 reduction goal with its current plan. The rest of the Senate Committees appear to be light on energy issues, though the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will consider modifications to a Yakima River Basin project on Tuesday and will discuss development on federal lands on Thursday.

RENEWABLE FUELS FIGHT LOUDERMILK: The renewable fuels industry, as represented by 25 industry associations, fuel companies, and agriculture interests, will transmit a letter today urging members of Congress to reject proposals that “amend, repeal, defund, or otherwise modify or interfere with the Renewable Fuel Standard” including — and especially — the amendment from Rep. Barry Loudermilk that would defund the RFS []. The letter compares renewable fuel favorably to gasoline on environmental measures and says breaks the oil monopoly on gasoline. The letter says that in 2013, 33 percent of the petroleum consumed in the United States came from foreign sources, the lowest level since 1985.

Not mentioned in the letter: Nontraditional oil extraction methods cranked up domestic oil production in recent years, maybe potentially possibly another contributor to U.S.’ reduced dependence on foreign oil.

2016 note: Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley came out strong for increasing the amount of ethanol in fuel at an Iowa campaign stop on Thursday.

FAISON TRIES TO GREEN THE GOP: Jay Faison, the Charlotte-based conservative who has pledged [] a $175 million campaign to get Republicans more engaged in addressing climate change, has separately given more than $800,000 in personal contributions to GOP candidates this year, according to an update provided to POLITICO. That includes $500,000 to New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is up for reelection in 2016 and been at times a moderate voice on environmental regulations. Faison has also given $100,000 to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Super PAC as the South Carolinian has pledged as part of his presidential run to get Republicans to have a better defined green platform. Faison has also given $50,000 to the Super PAC of Jeb Bush, who is seen as a top-tier GOP presidential contender that could be a moderate voice on the environment. Also receiving unspecified donations from Faison this year are the Senate Leadership Fund set up by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; the National Republican Senatorial Committee; the National Republican Congressional Committee; and Reps. Bob Dold and Carlos Curbelo.

SIERRA CLUB HITS KIRKLAND: The Sierra Club will continue to try to punish Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois for his votes against the EPA’s carbon rule for power plants with a five-figure ad buy. The organization will launch a week-long newspaper and digital ad campaign with a full-page ad in the Daily Herald, Chicago suburban daily. Kirk is up for reelection in 2016 and is thought to be vulnerable.

MOMS AGAINST METHANE: The Moms Clean Air Force will go up with a mid-five figure buy of digital ads today targeting the D.C. area, as part of a coordinated attempt to get the EPA to create tough methane and carbon pollution rules. The video ads, which will play for about a week, use high tech cameras to show methane and benzene emissions from smokestacks and pipes. On Tuesday the group will conduct a “Play-in” on the Upper Senate Park with puppets, hula hoops and crafts, all in the name of calling for action on climate change. The group also hopes some members of Congress will speak. ME hadn’t planned on going, but if there’s going to be hula hoops…

HAPPY MONDAY! I’m your host, Eric Wolff, and I’d be willing to bet the on the superiority of amateur fireworks displays in D.C. neighborhoods against the choreographed presentations of any town with a population under 100,000. The scene on the streets of Petworth between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Independence Day was surreal. Congress is back tomorrow, so send your tips, quips, and comments to, and follow us on Twitter @ericwolff, @Morning_Energy, and @PoliticoPro.

EPA SENDS MODEL FEDERAL PLAN FOR CARBON RULE TO OMB: In a sign that the administration is inching closer to releasing its Clean Power Plan, EPA on Thursday sent its proposed federal implementation plan for its power plant carbon rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The FIP will serve as another model for states to consider when building their own plan — but it also offers states that refuse to take action a glimpse of what EPA may impose if they don’t play along. Though EPA would have to tailor individual FIPs for each state that doesn’t comply, the model FIP will give an idea of precisely what actions EPA is willing to take. At stake could be significant amounts of money; observers expect EPA’s model plan won’t be as flexible or expansive as options left up to states that cooperate, such as joining a regional effort. The administration projects it will release the proposed rule next month, around the time it is slated to finalize the carbon rules themselves. A final model FIP would come in August 2016. Each state will have one to three years to submit their implantation plans, though expected legal challenges may put the rule on ice for some time.

But wait, there’s more: EPA has also sent its final effluent limitations guidelines to OMB ahead of the Sept. 30 consent-decree deadline to roll out the regulation. The rule covers water discharges from fossil fuel and nuclear power plants to target pollutants such as mercury, arsenic and selenium. EPA’s 2013 proposal — the ELG was long tied up with EPA’s now-finalized coal ash rule — laid out several options for the final rule ranging from relatively light regulation to stringent standards. EPA estimated its proposed rule would reduce pollutants by 470 million to 2.62 billion pounds per year and cost between $185 million and $954 million annually, depending on the final choice.

CARBON RULE SUIT IS GONNA BE MOOT: It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s newly filed lawsuit challenging EPA’s carbon rules for power plants will get very far. Judge Claire Eagan of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma on Thursday ordered Pruitt to file a brief explaining why he thinks she has jurisdiction to hear a suit against a proposed rule (federal judges in Nebraska and the D.C. Circuit previously concluded they did not have that ability). Eagan told Oklahoma to file that brief by July 16. EPA then has until Aug. 6 to reply and Oklahoma’s final brief is due Aug. 20 — meaning Eagan isn’t likely to rule on whether the suit can even move forward until September, let alone potentially considering the merits of the case. As EPA watchers know, the agency is expected to finalize the rule sometime in August, which would make this lawsuit instantly moot.

MOVER, SHAKER: Troy Lyons has been appointed manager of Government Affairs for oil and gas producer Hess Corp. Lyons was previously a BP lobbyist, and he worked for former Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and George Allen, and in the George W. Bush administration.

WHOA, GAS PRICES: ME doesn’t drive often, which may explain why the fall in gas prices is still surprising. People who ventured forth this holiday weekend in their cars had to be happy. Nationally, a gallon of regular was down 24 percent from this time last year to $2.67, according to AAA.


— Obama’s Renewable-Energy Fantasy. Wall Street Journal:

— Nation’s renewable energy consumption highest since the 1930s. Deseret News:

— Energy Dept. loan chief leaves a shored-up office. USA Today:

—Russia Seen as Biggest Oil-Market Loser When Iran Comes Back. Bloomberg:

—Oil Falls Sharply After Greece Referendum. WSJ:

— Coal ash worries run deep near shuttered Robeson County plant http. Fay Observer:

Tags: , , ,