Energy News for August 20, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on August 20, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 8/20/2015


REID SEES ‘COMPROMISE’ ON CRUDE EXPORTS: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told POLITICO Wednesday that he sees room for a deal on the effort to lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports in an interview that also saw him break with President Barack Obama on Arctic drilling.

Reid was careful not to choose a side in the fierce debate over ending the decades-old export ban, saying that both those in favor and those opposed to exporting U.S.-produced crude oil have made some compelling arguments.
He instead made the case that lawmakers “have to work out some sort of compromise” on the issue. “We should sit down and work something out with those who are so focused on exporting it and those who are focused on not exporting it and come up with a deal,” he said. The full story, from Andrew Restuccia:

MEANWHILE, IN THE MARKETS … : While Reid spoke, oil prices were swinging to six-year lows thanks to a selloff prompted by new data showing U.S. oil stockpiles on the rise. Futures for the benchmark domestic crude oil ended Wednesday at barely above $40, and market watchers began speculating about a fall into the $30s before the current swoon is over. All of which means that the political optics are right where crude export backers want them to be ahead of a House vote on easing the ban that Republicans have slated for next month.

HAPPY THURSDAY and welcome to Morning Energy, where we plan to justify repeated viewings of Mad Max: Fury Road as research into the consequences of resources scarcity. Since we can’t buy the movie just yet, keep us busy by sending in news, tips, and commentary to And follow us on Twitter @eschor, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

KXL-ESQUE PROTEST TO TARGET ENBRIDGE PIPELINE: Environmental groups are touting details of a protest action planned for next week dubbed “Midwest Unrest” [] that aims to pressure the Obama administration over its approval for the expansion of a 570,000-barrel-per-day heavy oil pipeline that crosses from Canada to Wisconsin. The State Department cleared Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper project to transport extra crude across the border without the broad environmental review that Keystone XL got, giving greens an opening to delay its approval, and activists plan to push for more scrutiny of the pipeline expansion on Tuesday.

A release from Oil Change International, Energy Action Coalition and two other groups said “young people and allies from across the Midwest will gather” in front of Secretary of State John Kerry’s home in Washington to protest both the Clipper and the administration’s approval of Shell’s bid to drill in the Arctic.

One year ago this week: Darren Goode reported on the first emergence of the Alberta Clipper flap.

SENATORS ASK EPA IG TO INVESTIGATE SPECIFIC ISSUES IN ANIMAS SPILL: The six senators from Colorado, Utah and New Mexico are asking EPA’s inspector general to take a careful look at 13 specific issues regarding the Animas River spill. EPA’s IG is conducting a preliminary inquiry, but the lawmakers want to ensure that getting answers will help prevent similar accidents in the future. Among other things, the bipartisan group of senators ask the IG to describe the expertise of workers at the mine site; determine EPA’s legal obligations and describe whether it met them; look at the delay in informing local officials; and say whether EPA should have studied the pressure of the trapped water before opening the mine. Read:

Spill was on purpose, lawmakers allege: Echoing a conspiracy theory that has floated around the internet since last week, two state legislators from Utah say EPA may have caused the spill on purpose in order to force the area to be designated a Superfund site. The region had long resisted a Superfund designation for fear it would kill recreational tourism. More from the Salt Lake Tribune, which notes that the lawmakers have no evidence the spill was deliberate and that such a scheme would almost certainly bring criminal charges:

“In terms of audacity, this ridiculous conspiracy claim ranks next to the moon landing and the President’s birth certificate both being fake,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison told ME. She noted that EPA “will take responsibility to ensure it is cleaned up” and that the Interior Department is conducting an independent investigation.

NTSB PULLS TEAM FROM WASH. PIPELINE BLAST SITE: The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday recalled an investigative team it had sent to the scene of a natural gas pipeline explosion that took down much of a Motel 6 Tuesday night in Bremerton, Wash. The blast along the pipeline, operated by Cascade Natural Gas, left one worker with serious injuries and two people unaccounted for as of Wednesday, but no bodies were found in the wreckage. NTSB’s team departed, however, when local officials notified them of damage to a gas meter before the leak that caused the blast, taking the incident out from their potential jurisdiction. More from Bremerton, from the Seattle Times:

** A message from The Sierra Club: Love Clean Air? You’ll love the Clean Power Plan. Nearly 70 percent of Americans support it, and 8 million submitted favorable comments. We’re going @BeyondCoal toward a clean energy economy that means cleaner air, healthier families, and new jobs. #ActOnClimate = #GoodForAmerica: **

FEEL-GOOD PICS OF THE DAY: Responders to the May oil spill from a broken pipeline on California’s iconic Refugio beach yesterday released a series of photos of successfully rehabilitated animals getting released back into the wild. This elephant seal melted our cold Fourth Estate heart: And this sea lion looks ready to return to the ocean:

CHINA’S CO2 COULD BE OVERSTATED BY 14%: That’s the conclusion of a study published Wednesday in Nature, the authors of which found that Chinese coal may actually be emitting less greenhouse gas due to lower quality and inefficient combustion. Underscoring the difficulty of accurately measuring China’s climate change contributions, however, the study also concluded that Beijing lowballed estimates of its overall energy use by 10 percent between 2000 and 2012. Read the full study: and NYT coverage:

CLINTON ‘GETTING IMPATIENT’ ON KEYSTONE: Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton caught the eye of some anti-Keystone XL activists yesterday by saying that she might end her longtime silence on the heavy oil pipeline. “I feel at some point a decision needs to be made,” she told the Associated Press hours after making headlines for breaking with President Obama over Arctic drilling. “And I’m not comfortable saying, you know, ‘I have to keep my opinion to myself’ given the fact that I was involved in it.” Check out her comments, via AP:

COURT NIXES CONSOLIDATION BID BY EPA’S CARBON-REG CRITICS: A federal court today stymied an effort by opponents of EPA’s carbon regulations to have their lawsuit over the final rule heard by a panel of three Republican-appointed judges. Judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from 15 states, led by West Virginia, to link their Aug. 13 plea to put the rule on hold during litigation with their previous legal challenge to the proposed rule, which the trio of judges tossed out in June as premature. More from Alex Guillen:

Make that 16 states: South Carolina yesterday asked to join the 15 states trying to get EPA’s rule put on hold. The other states follow the doctrine of “the more, the merrier,” so it looks like the Palmetto State will get in on the action as well.

DOE REPPED AT NUCLEAR REACTOR MAKER CONFERENCE: NuScale Power, which last year inked a $200-million-plus deal with the Department of Energy to build up capacity for its small modular reactor, will host DOE undersecretary for science and energy Lynn Orr today at the kickoff of a conference on the technology behind and applications of its nuclear modules. The two-day event will take place at company headquarters in Corvallis, Ore.

MOON-SHOT STUDY — 450B TONS OF UNBURNT CO2 ON FEDERAL LAND: The total volume of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases represented by federal lands that have not yet been leased for private development is as high as 450 billion tons, according to a study released Wednesday by the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth. The report’s eye-popping estimate of the emissions that could come from new drilling on federal land, both onshore and offshore, is likely to propel fresh calls from environmentalists for their champions in Washington to pull back sharply on new leasing. Notably, more than 25 percent of the yet-to-be-leased carbon the study counts comes from oil shale, an unconventional resource whose commercial viability is still highly questionable. Dig into the study:


Canadian oil sands producers struggle in low-price environment. WSJ:

Soros warms up to coal as costs plummet. Fox News:

For Latinos, the environment may be as important an issue as immigration. NPR:

Pentagon to spent $2 million on sage-grouse protection. AP:

Activist snaps up abandoned coal mines for the unthinkable price of $0.00. Bloomberg:

California’s fight for economic growth as water supply dwindles. NYT:

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