Energy News for August 21, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on August 21, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 8/21/2015

By ELANA SCHOR, with help from Alex Guillén

CAP REPORT MAPS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF OIL EXPORTS: The House GOP is teeing up a vote to end the four-decade-old crude export ban as soon as next month. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told POLITICO earlier this week that he would be open to cutting a deal on overseas shipments of the shale oil that’s crowding U.S. stockpiles and driving prices to six-year lows. But that doesn’t mean greens and liberals are going to let the export ban go down without a fight, as evidenced by a report out today from the left-leaning Center for American Progress. The research outlines potential harms posed by unrestricted crude exports, from land loss to carbon emissions to the safety risks associated with increased production and transportation.
“The lack of precise, independent, and credible estimates of the market and production effects of allowing more U.S. crude oil exports makes it difficult to predict the proposal’s full environmental costs,” CAP’s Matt Lee-Ashley and Alison Cassady write in their paper. “Yet, it is imperative that Congress analyze and understand these costs if it is to fully and fairly debate potential changes to U.S. crude oil export policy.” Your first look is here:

On the opposite side of Washington’s think tank divide, the Heritage Foundation late yesterday released a new paper calling for another earth-shaking change in oil policy, the dismantling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and use of the proceeds to reduce the deficit:

HAPPY FRIDAY from Morning Energy, where we never could get the hang of Thursdays but always have a towel ready for interstellar hitchhiking emergencies. Keep us prepared by sending news, tips and commentary to And follow us on Twitter @eschor, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICANS WARM TO EPA REGS: That was among the “notable” findings of a Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday that also found Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) ahead of potential Democratic reelection challengers despite low favorability ratings. EPA’s Clean Power Plan scored 63 percent support overall to 29 percent opposition, with Republicans breaking for the emissions rules by a margin of 49 percent to 44 percent. Check out the full poll:

But they’ve got few fans in Texas, where Attorney General Ken Paxton yesterday asked EPA to stay its Clean Power Plan, joining 15 other states that made the same request two weeks ago. Paxton tells EPA in a letter that the rule will restructure his state’s electric market and that the rule is beyond EPA’s authority and expertise. The administration has indicated it has no plan to stay its own rule, and at least 16 states are already seeking a judicial block. Paxton’s letter:

UCS SNAGS DOE REPORT ON ITS PLUTONIUM PICKLE: The 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium that the Department of Energy has slated for conversion to mixed-oxide fuel at a still-in-progress Savannah River facility in South Carolina could be more safely and cheaply stored at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, according to an internal DOE report released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The advocacy group is urging DOE to “down-blend” the fuel by adding inert material and sending it to the New Mexico waste facility. Take a look at the full report, prepared for DOE by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

GINA TAKES JAPAN: EPA chief Gina McCarthy is headed to Japan next week for a meeting with the nation’s Environment Ministry and a tea with women environmental leaders, followed by a discussion on an international treaty on mercury pollution signed two years ago, a visit to the site of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and a meeting on climate action with business leaders:’

** 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: **

WEEKEND WARM & FUZZY: Forget “The Hangover” — the California Department of Fish and Wildlife spotted a real wolf pack Thursday. The San Mateo County Times on wolves’ new comeback in the state:

NAVY’S CHEERFUL & SUNNY DISPOSITION: The Navy announced Thursday that it has signed a deal to build a 210-megawatt solar facility that it described as the biggest purchase of renewable energy ever made by an arm of the federal government. Set for completion next year, the project is set to run 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations using more than 650,000 solar panels. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has vowed to stay ahead of schedule on his service’s share of a 2009 congressional requirement that the military generate or buy one-quarter of its total energy from renewable sources by 2025.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE: The Interior Department has assigned its Bureau of Reclamation to lead the department’s independent review of EPA’s Animas River spill. The bureau maintains hundreds of dams, reservoirs, hydropower plants and recreation areas in Western states, and its Technical Service Center in Lakewood, Colo., will be a tent pole for the inquiry in consultation with other Interior agencies and the Army Corps of Engineers. “Reclamation is already active in the watershed and understands the issues,” said Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor, himself the former USBR commissioner. Interior expects to deliver its final report by late October. The 5,000-employee USBR is headed by Estevan López, who spent more than a decade as director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and was formerly an engineer at the New Mexico Public Utility Commission.

PRO-BIOFUELS GROUP SUES EPA OVER EMISSIONS STUDY DOCS: The Urban Air Initiative, a pro-biofuels group, took EPA to court this week because the agency allegedly has failed to release a number of documents related to a gasoline emissions study. UIA argues that the study in question, which EPA wrote with assistance from Chevron and other oil and auto interests, erroneously concludes that increasing ethanol blends will increase emissions. Ethanol reduces such emissions, UIA says, meaning that the study’s conclusion is “a direct result of the composition of the … study’s unrealistic test fuels.” The group says that six months after making its FOIA request, EPA has released 3 documents out of an estimated 36,000. The suit:

INTERIOR IG DINGS CLIMATE SCIENCE CENTERS OVER GRANT MANAGEMENT: The eight regional Climate Science Centers run and funded by the U.S. Geological Survey need better oversight of millions of dollars in financial awards, Interior’s inspector general says in a new report. The IG looked at 48 grants and cooperative agreements at four CSCs totaling $13.7 million and identified management and oversight issues that “if uncorrected, could place public funds at risk and raise questions about whether funds are being used appropriately and spending is transparent.” The IG issued a series of recommendations, including that USGS ensure money is handed out following proper public notice and competition; scale back sole-source awards; and create an extra review process for award files. USGS did not agree with all of the recommendations, and some remain unresolved. Read:

GREENS’ VERDICT — GROUSE MOSTLY UNHARMED: Current sage grouse protection plans have resulted in an uptick in populations of the quirky bird across Wyoming, with the exception of a uranium mine located in a “core area” for the species that heralded a sharp decrease in population, the green group Wild Earth Guardians reported in a Thursday case study. The report comes as Western lawmakers seek to balance conservation of the grouse’s western habitat with oil and gas development. Read the complete case study:

THEY’RE DOWN WITH MLP: Outdoor groups are holding an 11 a.m. call today to laud Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze for releasing a draft Master Leasing Plan aimed at helping to balance recreational activities with oil and gas development as well as other land uses in the area of Moab, Utah. Two other MLPs for Utah communities are now in the works. The White House’s initial announcement on Moab, ICYMI:

INHOFE QUESTIONS EPA ON WOTUS JURISDICTION: Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) on Thursday pressed EPA and the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works to clarify the extent to which it plans to apply the Clean Water Act clarification known popularly as ‘the WOTUS rule.’ Inhofe warned the two against applying the new rule to regulate “land where streams and wetlands may have existed long before” the CWA’s passage, such as sewer and stormwater systems build over existing streams. Read his letter to the agencies:


— All that talk of momentum on crude exports from the recent U.S.-Mexico oil swap? Just talk, analysts say. Houston Chronicle:

— Climate wonks focus on economics. They need to pay more attention to politics. Vox:

— Millions of dollars in BP oil spill settlement money are flowing far from the Gulf Coast. AP:

— Arch Coal bucks the sell-off trend in its sector. MarketWatch:

— Before the Animas River spill, another EPA contractor was involved in another toxic spill. Fox News:

—How cheap oil will hurt Iran’s comeback. CNN Money:

— NOAA launches probe into whale deaths. E2Wire:

— Schumer calls for renewables tax-credit extension during a trip to SolarCity facility. Buffalo News:

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