- Oil & Gas Journal: U.S. oil, gas M&A rose in Q2, report finds
- Associated Press: States call for federal suspension of power plant rules
- National Journal: Republicans Set Up Their Attack on Obama’s Climate Plan
- Christian Science Monitor: Will the Clean Power Plan make every state look more like California?
By ANDREW RESTUCCIA, with Alex Guillén, Darius Dixon, Darren Goode & Elana Schor
IT’S DEBATE DAY: The Republican presidential candidates will descend on Cleveland tonight for the first GOP debate of the 2016 campaign. The 10 candidates with the highest recent poll numbers (Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich) will take the main stage at 9 p.m. Eastern, while the rest of the candidates will have a separate forum at 5 p.m. We’ll be watching for all things energy policy, including the usual nods toward building Keystone XL and expanding oil drilling, and digs at President Barack Obama’s climate agenda.
HERE’S WHAT ME WOULD ASK: ME is under no illusion that energy will take center stage at the debate. But if we had it our way, here’s what we’d ask the candidates:
— How many of you think climate change is a hoax? If so, what evidence can you point to to support that position and why do you know better than most climate scientists?
— How specifically would you go about dismantling Obama’s climate regulations? Given that the Supreme Court has compelled the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, what would your alternative be?
— If diplomats succeed in reaching an international climate change deal later this year, would you ignore those commitments as president?
— Would you support dismantling the federal EPA and delegating its responsibilities to individual states, as Gov. Walker has suggested?
— If President Barack Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline, would you encourage its developer to resubmit an application as soon as you take office, so your administration can approve it?
— Do you support lifting the ban on crude oil exports? How would you respond if, as some critics warn, ending the crude export ban results in a gasoline price spike?
— Do you believe that fossil fuels receive any subsidies in the tax code? If so, how many would you support repealing? (Be specific.) If not, why not?
— What is your position on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project? And if not Yucca, where should the nation put its nuclear waste?
HOW DO YOU TELL THE GOP CANDIDATES APART? It’s no secret that the 17 Republican candidates have nearly identical positions on a number of issues (see Keystone). But Timothy Noah explains that they have some big policy disagreements on everything from ethanol to education. His story: http://politico.pro/1MND54O
THE OTHER DEBATE: Canada is having its own debate tonight with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau, New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. The debate starts at 8 p.m. and you can watch it here: http://bit.ly/1fKhnjk
HAPPY RECESS AND WELCOME TO MORNING ENERGY! I’m your temporary host, Andrew Restuccia. I’ll be filling in on ME duty until Monday. I can’t stop watching this rap [http://bit.ly/1IXN8nr] about Obama’s climate plan in the style of Drake. Send your news, tips and commentary to firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow us on Twitter @AndrewRestuccia @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.
SENATE APPROVES PHMSA CHIEF, DOE NOMINEES: Just before the Senate left for its August recess, lawmakers confirmed Marie Therese Dominguez to lead the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The pipeline regulator has been without a permanent leader since October, when former Administrator Cynthia Quarterman stepped down. For DOE, the Senate approved Monica Regalbuto for assistant secretary for environmental management and Jonathan Elkind for assistant secretary of international affairs. Both were approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the last Congress but couldn’t previously get floor time. The Senate also approved Joyce Connery and Joseph Hamilton as board members to the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board. The appointment of the two DNFSB members will bring the leadership of the agency to full strength, allowing it to still be able to achieve a quorum if Obama’s nominee for the NRC, Jessie Hill Roberson, is confirmed for her next post.
REPUBLICANS APPROVE BILL REPEALING CLIMATE RULES AFTER DEMS WALK OUT: Senate Republicans on Wednesday advanced a bill to repeal the Obama administration’s power plant carbon rules. Environment & Public Works Republicans gathered in the Mansfield Room off the Senate floor and voted to advance the bill, after Democrats walked out of a markup this morning, a committee spokeswoman said. Democrats opposed plans to vote on a separate EPA pesticides bill that has not been discussed at a hearing. Republicans had to wait until all 11 GOP committee members were present to reach a quorum. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s ARENA Act, S. 1324, would repeal the power plants carbon rules Obama unveiled on Monday, and introduces more stringent requirements for writing new regulations.
McCONNELL PRAISES ANTI-CARBON RULE BILL, BUT NO PLANS FOR FLOOR TIME YET: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised EPW Republicans for passing their bill attacking the administration’s carbon regulations, saying it “would go a long way towards rolling back the EPA’s punishing climate rules.” But a spokesman said there have been no scheduling announcements beyond Iran and cybersecurity, which the Senate was slated to vote on yesterday but punted until after the August recess. Republicans may not have the votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster. McConnell also hinted at forthcoming challenges to the EPA rule via a Congressional Review Act vote and through appropriations. Republicans lack support to overcome a presidential veto.
** A message from Green for All: The Clean Power Plan lets us all breathe easier. It cuts carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent and is the greatest action the U.S. has ever taken in the fight against climate change. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/1SoO34t **
EDF JOINS TWITTER FIGHT OVER CLIMATE: Democrats and their allies in the environmental movement are ratcheting up their efforts to assert that Republican critics of Obama’s climate regulations have no solutions of their own. The Environmental Defense Fund pounced Wednesday on Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, for suggesting that bipartisan energy legislation is one alternative to the climate regulations. Dillon said in a tweet earlier this week that that the energy package “reduces #emissions w/o costing taxpayers.” EDF President Fred Krupp responded via Twitter [http://bit.ly/1T4pHrQ] on Wednesday: “show us the data on how energy bill reduces emissions & helps meet GHG targets. I’m eager to see the Energy Committee’s analysis.” Asked for a response, Dillon said in an email to ME that the bill “promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as natural gas — all of which have proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Best of all, Sen. Murkowski’s bipartisan energy bill does this without imposing higher energy costs on American families or endangering the reliability of the electric grid.” But Dillon did not say exactly how much the energy bill, which has not yet come up on the floor, would cut emissions.
MEANWHILE, MURKOWSKI TOUTS ENERGY BILL: Soon after Democrats bashed Republicans for not having a plan to tackle climate change, Murkowski used a Wednesday press conference to highlight her committee’s energy bill. “So we are back to work. We are allowing the committees to work. We are building legislation that is good for the country and good for governance,” she said.
SIXTEEN STATES WANT EPA TO STAY CLIMATE RULE: Sixteen states on Wednesday asked EPA to stay its own rule from taking effect until litigation over the regulation is finished. The states, led by West Virginia, argue that they will have to “expend enormous public resources and to put aside sovereign priorities to prepare State Plans of unprecedented scope and complexity” unless EPA immediately puts the rule on ice. EPA can issue a stay of its own regulations via the Administrative Procedure Act, but is unlikely to do so. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday that the administration had no plans to issue a stay requested that day by the National Mining Association. Read what the states have to say: http://bit.ly/1W21U02
TEXAS TOAST: Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the grid operator that oversees about 90 percent of the state’s power needs, hit a new all-time hourly demand record yesterday. Between 4 and 5 p.m. Wednesday, Texans were pulling 68,459 MW from the grid — 154 MW higher than the previous record, set on Aug. 3, 2011. And the fun isn’t over for ERCOT: “With temperatures expected to continue to rise [Thursday] and Friday, we likely will see even higher demand the remainder of the week,” ERCOT COO Brad Jones said in a statement. “ERCOT will continue to monitor system conditions closely to determine whether voluntary conservation is needed by consumers to maintain overall reliability and protect the grid.” ERCOT meteorologist Chris Coleman predicts temperatures throughout the region will remain in the triple digits through early next week.
— ERCOT reported that wind generation contributed about 2,500 MW during yesterday’s peak. As of July 31, ERCOT had 13,424 MW of installed wind capacity, the council told ME, so nearly 19 percent of the region’s wind was pumping out juice at the time.
OBAMA NOMINATES MURRAY TO HEAD DOE’S SCIENCE OFFICE: Obama has nominated physics professor and former Harvard engineering school dean Cherry Murray to head the Energy Department’s Science Office, the White House announced Wednesday. Murray sits on Ernest Moniz’s Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, and she is on a nine-member congressionally created commission to review the DOE national labs. She was appointed to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling in 2010. Murray is also an alum of Bell Labs.
— “California Fire, Aided by Drought, Defies Tactics to Defeat It,” The New York Times reports: http://nyti.ms/1M6eiHC
— Under proposed federal rules, it would be harder to swim with manatees in Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports: http://bit.ly/1T5bJ9c
— Vox looks at Donald Trump’s views on climate change: http://bit.ly/1P7sS1I
— The Times reports on Qatar and liquefied natural gas: http://nyti.ms/1IYjiix
— Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday “acknowledged a link between Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm and wastewater disposal wells used by the energy industry,” according to the The Oklahoman: http://bit.ly/1Hrw7KRTags: climate, energy, gas, oil