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COAL, NUCLEAR INDUSTRIES PUSH PERRY PLAN: The coal and nuclear industries made a big, last-minute sell on why the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should approve a proposed rule from Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would prop them up, as the comment period on the proposal ended at midnight.
The Perry plan would allow the industries to be financially compensated for the reliability and resiliency their power plants provide the grid by keeping fuel onsite for months at a time and being able to generate electricity 24 hours a day without interruption.
FERC must respond to ‘catastrophic pace’: "In the last seven years, 101,000 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity has retired or has announced plans to retire," read joint comments by the National Mining Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
“This catastrophic pace of retirements has caused cascading effects throughout the coal industry and industries that support coal, like railway and barge transportation, not to mention coal-producing communities."
The coal groups argue that FERC must employ its Federal Power Act section 206 authority on guarding against unfair rates by approving the rules, explaining that renewable energy and other generators have gained unfair advantages that forced many nuclear and coal generators to retire.
‘Wrong-headed’ rule: A broad coalition of energy groups that includes everyone from the oil and natural gas industry to solar and wind is standing firmly against the Perry plan.
Major trade associations held a call Tuesday morning with reporters calling it “wrong-headed” and completely unneeded.
A solution without a problem: The coalition argued in its comments that "there is substantial evidence showing that electric systems that lack, or are transitioning to lesser reliance on, coal and nuclear resources are nonetheless operated in a manner that is both reliable and resilient.” Furthermore, any "outages caused by disruptions of fuel supply to generators appear to be virtually nonexistent."
Grid operator gives a big thumbs down: PJM Interconnection, which operates the largest of the FERC-overseen power markets, says the Perry plan is unnecessary.
"I don’t know how this proposal could be implemented without a detrimental impact on the market," Andrew Ott, the head of PJM on a call Monday previewing its comments. The Perry plan is "discriminatory" and not consistent with federal law, he said.
WHAT’S AFTER PARIS?: States and local leaders are holding a call Tuesday morning to discuss how they will be representing the U.S. on climate change at the United Nations because of President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate deal.
The “We Are Still In” coalition will lay out “the role that non-federal leaders will play at COP 23, the next round of UN climate negotiations taking place in Bonn, Germany from November 6-17,” an announcement said.
Washington state’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee led the announcement on Tuesday as a founding member of the coalition with California.
Republican mayor joins coalition: Republican Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel, Ind., formally joined the coalition Tuesday morning, with Native American tribes, five counties and 213 churches and congregations in Indiana who signed the “We Are Still In” declaration, according to a statement.
Brainard heads the National Conference of Mayors’ climate and clean energy committee and has stood against withdrawing from the Paris deal. His city is considered a model for energy efficiency.
The coalition said the Paris climate coalition doubled in size Tuesday from about 1,200 members to 2,584 signatories.
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INTERIOR PROPOSES LARGEST OIL AND GAS LEASE SALE IN US HISTORY: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Tuesday said his department is proposing the largest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the U.S.
Region-wide offer: The proposed region-wide lease sale covers 77 million acres in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
The offer is scheduled for March and includes all available unleased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf, the department said.
Part of ‘energy dominant strategy’: “In today’s low-price energy environment, providing the offshore industry access to the maximum amount of opportunities possible is part of our strategy to spur local and regional economic dynamism and job creation and a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy dominant,” Zinke said “And the economic terms proposed for this sale include a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers.”
PERRY’S FAVORITE CLEAN COAL PLANT MARKS ‘MAJOR’ MILESTONE: The world’s largest carbon capture coal-fired power plant, the Texas-based Petra Nova plant, “reached a major milestone” on Monday by capturing more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide for use in enhanced oil recovery, the Energy Department announced.
The plant is often touted by Energy Secretary Rick Perry as the model for how to make coal a clean energy resource.
SMALL MONTANA FIRM LEADS ELECTRIC REPAIRS IN PUERTO RICO: Whitefish Energy, a small Montana-based company, announced it signed a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority as the island copes with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Unusual arrangement: Instead of activating "mutual aid" arrangements with other utilities, PREPA decided to hire Whitefish, even though the agreements in Florida, Texas and many other states have helped U.S. utilities rebuild following natural disasters.
Congress probing: Some in Congress are questioning the contract. The House Natural Resources Committee is looking at it, an agency spokesman said.
Small company: The company had two full-time employees the day Hurricane Maria hit the island. Whitefish said Monday that 280 workers are now in Puerto Rico, with about 10 to 20 people joining the team each day, according to the Washington Post.
Hometown connection: Whitefish is based in Zinke’s hometown.
‘Doubts unfounded’: PREPA Executive Director Ricardo Ramos defended the contract, saying Whitefish was the first "available to arrive and they were the ones that first accepted terms and conditions for PREPA.
“The doubts that have been raised about Whitefish, from my point of view, are completely unfounded," Ramos said.
ZINKE’S TIES TO ‘SCAM PAC’ SCRUTINIZED: Zinke has helped raise money for political operatives that some conservatives accuse of misleading donors, according to Politico.
Links to ‘scam’ artist: The Interior secretary, who was formerly a Republican congressman from Montana, has donated to groups linked to Scott Mackenzie. Mackenzie runs a Virgin Islands GOP political action committee that hosted Zinke at a fundraiser in March.
Conservatives distance themselves: Many Republicans have stopped associating with Mackenzie, Politico says, because critics say he operates “scam pacs” that generate small donations from conservative voters, and spend the money on overhead and consultants. Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a lawsuit accusing Mackenzie and others of running a “national fundraising scam.”
Probing Zinke’s political behavior: But Zinke has continued his relationship with firms linked to Mackenzie. The revelations come as Zinke is facing investigations by the Interior Department’s internal watchdog and the independent Office of Special Counsel for actions that seem to mix politics and official business.
GAO: TRUMP SHOULD ADDRESS ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE: The Trump administration should craft a climate risk assessment based on the economic harm global warming creates, the Government Accountability Office recommends in a new report.
The report, made public Tuesday, cites recent scientific studies showing the costs of extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, are likely to increase as the events become more common and intense because of climate change.
Rising costs: Over the last decade, according to the Office of Budget and Management, the federal government has incurred direct costs of more than $350 billion because of extreme weather and fire events, including $205 billion for domestic disaster response and relief; $90 billion for crop and flood insurance; $34 billion for wildland fire management; and $28 billion for maintenance and repairs to federal facilities and federally managed lands, infrastructure, and waterways.
The federal government this year alone has spent $300 billion to respond to the most expensive year for wildfires on record, on top of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
“Climate change impacts are already costing the federal government money, and these costs will likely increase over time as the climate continues to change," the GAO report says.
Trump overturning climate policy: The recommendations come as the Trump administration has overturned Obama-era guidance asking federal agencies to prepare for the effects of climate change.
Senators demand action: Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican, requested GAO undertake the study.
NORWEGIAN ENERGY GIANT NAMES WIND PROJECT IN EMPIRE STATE: Norway’s oil and gas company, Statoil, on Tuesday announced the name of its large offshore wind farm off the coast of Long Island, N.Y.
"The name Empire Wind captures the pivotal role that this important project will play in helping New York achieve its ambitious renewable energy goal" of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, said Statoil's project director, Christer af Geijerstam. "Empire Wind also speaks to the leading role that New York state is taking in advancing the deployment of offshore wind technology in North America."
Geijerstam said he wants to build up the wind energy supply chain in the U.S. to create jobs and expand the United States’ clean energy economy.
Statoil is also a major supporter of the Paris Agreement. Its commitment to the deal is the first item on its website. “The answers to the climate challenge aren’t black and white. To satisfy the world’s growing demand for energy, we’re exploring for oil and gas at the same time as we’re investing in renewables. That’s not a contradiction in terms; both of them are necessary within the Paris Agreement.”
CONSERVATIVE CLEAN ENERGY GURU JOINS BIPARTISAN THINK TANK: Jay Faison, the founder and CEO of the conservative ClearPath Foundation, joined the American Energy Innovation Council on Tuesday with Wanda Austin, CEO of the Aerospace Corporation.
Faison’s ClearPath group has been lobbying hard over the last year to carve out a conservative clean energy policy that includes natural gas, hydropower, clean coal technology and energy innovation.
Faison will take those priorities to the Bipartisan Policy Council’s American Energy Innovation Council to promote energy innovation among business leaders, Congress and the Energy Department to “build broad bipartisan support for sustained public and private investments in innovation,” according to a statement.
United under innovation: “In this contentious political environment, investment in innovation is one of the few issues that unites leaders across the political spectrum,” said Jason Grumet, head of the Bipartisan Policy Council.
Help work across the aisle: “Jay and Wanda’s substantive expertise, commitment to a strong economy and clean environment and intense pragmatism will be essential as AEIC continues to work across the aisle to advance sound national policy," Grumet said.
Secret sauce: "Innovation is America’s secret sauce, and in no area is this more important than energy. The Department of Energy has had a hand in developing nearly every major energy technology we have today,” Faison said. “We can’t take our contributions for granted as other nations, particularly China, are pulling ahead of us."
CHAMBER TRACKING REG ROLLBACK: The Chamber of Commerce’s energy policy arm and the law firm Beveridge and Diamond launched a new website that tracks the progress of Trump’s regulatory rollback.
The Energy Tracker will “help follow key regulatory, judicial, and legislative developments” as the Trump administration moves forward with its “ambitious energy and environmental reform agenda,” the Chamber and the law firm announced Monday.
“The user-friendly Energy Tracker contains a sortable database of federal energy and environmental actions tracked by date, agency, topic, and issue area,” according to a joint press release.
Ten months of rapid change: “Given the rapid pace that the administration has been working over the past 10 months, we believe there is a need for an objective clearinghouse of regulatory actions,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Global Energy Institute. “This tool will be valuable for businesses, policymakers, stakeholders, journalists, and anyone else who would like to keep track of regulatory, legal, and policy actions on energy and environment.”
EPA CANCELLATION OF CLIMATE SPEECH PROMPTS PROTEST: The EPA's decision to prevent its own scientists from speaking about climate change at a conference in Rhode Island Monday prompted protests and criticism from lawmakers and activists who said it's just the latest effort by the Trump administration to downplay global warming.
‘Science Trump’s silence’: Protesters wearing tape over their mouths and holding signs gathered outside the event, the State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed program. One sign read, "Science Trump's Silence." Another said, "Un-gag EPA."
What EPA did: The EPA abruptly canceled the speaking appearances of three agency scientists who had contributed substantial material to a 400-page report that was released at the event about the health of the Narragansett Bay, the largest estuary in New England.
The report has a strong emphasis on climate change.
EPA’s defense: The EPA said the scientists were allowed to attend the event, but not speak at it, because "it is not an EPA conference."
EPA’s involvement: The EPA funds 28 state-based estuary programs, including the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. It gives about $600,000 annually to the program.
EPA PLANS TO REPEAL EMISSIONS STANDARDS FOR TRUCK COMPONENTS: The EPA recently provided notice it is seeking to repeal an Obama administration rule aimed at limiting emissions from truck components.
Questioning EPA’s authority: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in August that he would re-examine the rule “in light of the significant issues raised” and see whether it is allowed under the agency’s authority under Clean Air Act.
What the rule did: The Obama administration rule, which has been embraced by the trucking industry, applies emissions standards now used for heavy-duty trucks to new truck components called gliders and trailers. The EPA had estimated that requiring new gliders and trailers to be used in 2017 alone would prevent between 350 and 1,600 premature deaths over the lifetime of the vehicles.
Meeting with the opposition: Pruitt met in May with officials from Fitzgerald Truck Sales, the nation’s largest manufacturer of gliders and the leading opponent of the rule, the Washington Post reported.
Trucking industry support: Supporters of the rule include the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, the American Trucking Associations and the Truck Rental and Leasing Association.
GOP SENATORS INTRODUCE WILDFIRE PREVENTION BILL: Republican senators introduced a bill Monday aimed at preventing wildfires.
Quicker action: The bill would make it easier to to allow for forest managers to more quickly thin forests. The process removes trees to reduce the density of forests, shrinking the fuel load for wildfires. Specifically the bill would limit the responsibility of the Forest Service to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service, create certain exclusions from environmental review for wood and brush removal, and streamline environmental reviews for certain restoration projects.
‘Cut red tape’: “State and local forest managers need the flexibility to remove trees and dead wood that fuel these terrible fires,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a co-sponsor of the bill. “Our bill will provide common-sense tools and cut unnecessary red tape. We must act quickly to address the risk these fires pose to both people and wildlife.”
Other sponsors of the legislation, called the Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2017, include Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, John Thune, R-S.D., and Steve Daines, R-Mont.
Differing proposals: The bill differs from a narrower bipartisan proposal introduced last week intended to be a compromise between competing factions in Congress who are weighing how to help fund wildfire response while imposing forest management changes that can prevent fires from starting.
Consensus needed: The urgency for consensus is great, as 2017 has been the most expensive year ever for fighting wildfires. Wildfires in Northern California this month killed more than 40 people and burned over 200,000 acres.
EPA RECOGNIZES COMPANIES FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN TRANSPORTATION: The EPA on Monday recognized freight carriers, logistics companies and shippers that have made gains in energy efficiency through using cleaner technology.
The winners: Winners of the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership were announced at the 2017 American Trucking Associations Annual Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla. The recognized companies include Gap, Home Depot, McDonalds and Walmart.
Reuters South Korea to resume building two new nuclear reactors, but scraps plans for 6 others
Associated Press Five years after Superstorm Sandy, the lessons haven't sunk in
Bloomberg Rise in earthquakes near Texas oil fields prompts new monitoring
Washington Post New York City’s ability to withstand hurricanes could hinge on the state of the Antarctic ice sheet
Reuters IEA: Southeast Asia oil demand will grow until at least 2040
Salon Bill Nye on his climate change education efforts: “I am a failure”
TUESDAY, OCT. 24
10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a joint subcommittee hearing on "Regulatory Reform Task Forces Check-In."
11 a.m., Teleconference, States and others looking to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement hold a press conference to announce new growth in the “We Are Still In” coalition. They will explain the role that non-federal leaders will play at COP 23, the next round of U.N. climate negotiations being held in Bonn, Germany from Nov. 6-17.
1 p.m., Capitol. President Trump addresses Republican weekly policy lunch to discuss the fall legislative agenda.
All day, New York. Financing U.S. Power conference held at the Crowne Plaza Times Square in Manhattan, Oct. 24-25, focuses on investment in the electric generation industry.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 25
10 a.m., 1324 Longworth. House Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on "Empowering State Based Management Solutions for Greater Sage Grouse Recovery."
10 a.m., 406 Dirksen. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on the "Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2017."
10 a.m., 406 Dirksen. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a meeting to vote on the following nominees: Michael Dourson to be EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention; William Wehrum to be EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation; Matthew Leopold to be EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of General Counsel; David Ross to be EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Water; Paul Trombino III to be administrator for the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation; Jeffery Baran to be a reappointed member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
THURSDAY, OCT. 26
10 a.m., 366 Dirksen. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on "Examining Cyber Technology and Energy Infrastructure."