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RICK PERRY: ENERGY IS A ‘WEAPON’: The energy secretary on Tuesday emphasized the importance of developing all energy resources, including coal, wind and battery storage, to ensure the U.S. is energy independent.
“Energy has been used as a weapon,” Perry said while addressing a National Clean Energy Week symposium. “We need to have the biggest arsenal.”
Perry wasn’t specific about where an energy threat would come from.
The weeklong event is hosted by the nuclear, natural gas, wind energy, solar, and the entire spectrum of industries considered to be low-emission resources.
Pro-wind energy: “No one can get in my face on renewables,” Perry said. “We have had expansive alternative energy sources,” he said about the development of wind energy in his home state of Texas.
But to make up for the intermittency of solar and wind, batteries are needed to store electricity to use when the wind isn’t blowing, Perry said.
Holy grail: “Battery storage is the holy grail of the energy world,” Perry said. “What makes us different is our technology.” Whether it’s from Ford,Toyota or Tesla’s Elon Musk, a breakthrough will eventually come through the private sector, he said.
Holy rooftops: Interior Secretary Zinke said solar energy development would be better served on rooftops rather than on public lands.
Putting solar cells on land is not the best use because that land cannot be used for purposes other than energy, he said. “We should use roof space,” Zinke told the symposium.
“I wish we had a battery.But until we do, we’re going to be on fossil fuels.”
PLEASE, NO PROTESTERS: It was clear that one of the priorities during the clean energy forum was to keep climate activists away from Perry’s and Zinke’s speeches.
Everyone entering the clean energy forum at the Reserve Officers Association was asked to open their bags, even reporters. The reason was to make sure attendees were not carrying protest signs, a security guard said.
Perry was heckled Monday while addressing the National Petroleum Council, which was meeting at a hotel in Washington. Perry said he wants the petroleum council, which is a federal advisory committee, to look at how to commercialize carbon capture technologies to make coal and other fossil energy plants cleaner.
CLEAN COAL TO THE NATIONS: On Tuesday, Perry said the goal of the administration is to export clean coal and other technologies abroad to countries such as China.
“We want to proliferate around the world,” Perry said. “We want to send that technology to China or places using inefficient forms of coal.”
Benefits of U.S. production: Zinke said it’s better environmentally to produce energy in the U.S. than in Middle East war zones, where he has seen fossil fuels used.
“It’s better to produce energy over here domestically under reasonable regulation than what you get overseas that don’t,” he said.
Navy SEAL commander: “As a SEAL I have probably been to 65 countries. And if you want to watch how not to produce energy in a responsible way, take a tour of the Middle East or Africa,” Zinke said.
“I’ve been to war, and I tell you it’s not a pretty experience. So, producing the energy here domestically by innovation, by new technology is a path forward,” he said.
All-of-the-above guy: “People ask me if I am a fossil fuel guy? No. I’m all of the above,” he said. “I don’t look at fossil fuel or alternate energy any differently. Everything should contribute,” but they have to be “competitive.”
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PERRY’S NUCLEAR VISION FOR PUERTO RICO: Perry said Tuesday that he has real sympathy for the U.S. territory after Hurricane Maria slammed the Caribbean island.
But his vision of U.S. innovation would solve the widespread power outages through the deployment of portable nuclear power plants that can be deployed anywhere in a time of crisis.
The situation in Puerto Rico is “maybe one of the most tragic events in history,” Perry said. “We are trying to get micro-generators down there,” but if small modular reactors were available, they “could serve tens of thousands … very quickly.”
That is the kind of “innovation” that the Energy Department’s national labs are developing, he told the conference.
Reactor by plane: Perry said he envisions the reactors being hauled by the military to places in need of electricity.
He failed to mention that hauling nuclear materials by plane pose some security and safety concerns, especially if the plane crashes.
But companies that are designing hot tub-sized power reactors say they act more like nuclear batteries than a standard power plant. They also say they would use safer fuels that make them safer than conventional power plants.
PR without power: Puerto Rico still has 1.6 million people without electricity, according to Tuesday’s update from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. About 3.4 million people live in the U.S. territory.
THE LOYALTY GAP: Zinke said Monday that 30 percent of his agency's employees are "not loyal" to him or Trump and he is developing a plan to overhaul the department.
"I got 30 percent of the crew that's not loyal to the flag," Zinke said in remarks to the National Petroleum Council.
Pirate captain: He compared his agency to a pirate ship that seizes "a prized ship at sea and only the captain and the first mate row over" to complete the mission.
‘Huge’ overhaul: Zinke went on to discuss a forthcoming "huge" plan to restructure the agency away from Washington and to the states to speed up oil and natural gas permitting.
"I really can't change the culture without changing the structure," Zinke said. "The president wants it yesterday," he said, referring to the administration's desire to speed up the energy permitting process. "We have to do it by the law."
Endangered species: He also said the Endangered Species Act has been "abused" by environmental groups and bureaucrats alike, which has stalled development.
The designation of animal species granted protections under the law must be less arbitrary, Zinke said.
"There is no off-ramp" for species to be taken off the endangered list, once it is determined that a species numbers are adequate and it has recovered, he said.
FRACKING IS DIVINE: Zinke described the oil drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as proof of divine love, as well as humor.
"Fracking is proof that God's got a good sense of humor and he loves us," Zinke told the National Petroleum Council.
But the statement had no context and it was not clear exactly what Zinke was trying to say.
GREEN JOBS CAMPAIGN TARGETS DEMS: A green jobs coalition is rallying outside Sen. Tom Carper’s local office in Delaware Tuesday morning, asking why he hasn’t signed onto the “Millions of Jobs” coalition’s set of principles for building infrastructure.
The rally will be used by environmental groups, labor unions and citizen groups to urge the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to accept their set of principles over those proposed by the Trump administration to support infrastructure development.
“Trump’s plan is a giveaway of public assets such as roads and bridges to Wall Street investors, who would be allowed to impose higher tolls (aka ‘#TrumpTolls’) and user fees while cutting service,” the coalition said.
The desire for public buy-in: Although it wouldn’t be a stretch for Carper to endorse such a set of principles, it is interesting that the groups want public buy-in from senators.
The rally will stress that placing Delaware’s water infrastructure development in the hands of large multinational companies has increased rates and hurt consumers.
Ten principles: The rally will be used to get Carper to sign onto the group’s principles while rejecting the Trump plan.
The coalition wants senators to embrace what it calls “21st century clean-energy jobs,” which would include jobs in the solar and renewable energy sectors.
Another of the 10 principles promises not to “weaken or repeal existing rules and laws protecting our environment,” while also protecting worker safety, wages and equity hiring practices.
The principles prioritize “resilient infrastructure” that can withstand natural disasters, cyber and physical attacks.
FRACKING’S CLIMATE SOLUTION: Exxon Mobil's announcement Monday that its XTO Energy subsidiary would cut methane emissions came the same day that oil and natural gas groups submitted comments urging the Trump administration's quick elimination of a 2015 federal rule mandating the emission cuts.
Climate solved without regulation: “Our companies have already demonstrated that even without the implementation of the 2015 federal rule, we play a part in the solution to reducing carbon emissions," said Barry Russell, president and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America in comments submitted late Monday, hours after Exxon’s announcement.
The comments were submitted in response to the Interior Department’s proposal to repeal Obama-era methane regulations for drillers.
30-year lows: "Under the strong environmental leadership of state regulators, clean-burning natural gas, unlocked by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, has helped the United States cut its carbon emissions to near 30-year lows,” Russell said.
Carbon dioxide is one greenhouse gas emission blamed by many scientists for causing global warming. Methane is another one.
COURTING COINCIDENCE: Is it a coincidence that Exxon Mobil announced its methane plan just days after the industry claimed victory over federal methane regulations in appeals court?
Probably, said one industry official. Exxon likely had its plan in the making for some time before the court decision last week.
Nevertheless, the industry has argued for years that its own standards and practices are just as good, if not better, for cutting methane than those coming from Washington and that federal enforcement would be duplicative and burdensome.
Waste of time: “Last week, the [10th] Circuit Court dismissed the environmental groups’ appeal, determining it to be a waste of judicial time and resources given the Trump administration’s clear intent to revoke the rule,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance, in comments submitted to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management.
“We urge BLM to move forward swiftly with this rulemaking to finally put this ill-conceived rule to bed,” she said.
TRUMP ENERGY NOMINEES GET HEARING: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday morning is holding confirmation hearings for two important Trump nominees for the Department of Energy.
The nominees are: The committee heard testimony for Steven Winberg to be assistant energy secretary for fossil energy and Bruce Walker's selection to be assistant energy secretary for electricity, delivery and energy reliability.
What they would do: Walker, if confirmed, would be charged with modernizing and protecting the electric grid and helping it recover from supply disruptions. Winberg’s job would require him to lead fossil fuel research, license natural gas exports and manage America’s strategic petroleum reserve. Winberg said the U.S. has “quite a bit of headroom” to escalate exports of natural gas, even as producers face low prices. “We’ve got numerous drilling rigs sitting idle,” he said.
Their resumes: Winberg led research and development for Consol Energy and was a member of the Energy Department’s National Coal Council, while Walker worked at National Grid and Consolidated Edison.
High expectations: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the committee’s chairwoman, said she expects the nominees to take a “balanced” approach to their jobs. “I encourage the nominees to work with the administration and Congress to increase access to energy, make it more affordable and continue to improve environmental performance,” she said.
Seeking ‘greater balance’: Murkowski expressed concern that the Office of Fossil Energy has overly focused on climate change in recent years.
“The Office of Fossil Energy has focused on the environmental aspects of fuels in recent years, but its mission is supposed to be wider than that. I am looking for greater balance in this area,” she said.
Positive reception from Democrats: Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington., the committee’s top Democrat, said she was “favorably impressed” with Walker and complimented Winberg for his “extensive experience” with research and development of clean coal and carbon capture technology.
Call for action: Murkowski said her committee has voted to advance nine Trump nominees, including three for the Department of Energy, four for the Interior Department and two nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The full Senate has yet to vote on any of the nominations.
“We do need to get moving on nominees,” Murkowski said. “Secretaries Perry and Zinke need their teams in place. FERC needs a full complement of commissioners.”
Wall Street Journal Turkish president threatens to cut of Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil supply after independence vote
Bloomberg How shale oil ghost towns in Texas are coping with price collapse
Reuters Britain opens first subsidy-free solar power farm
Associated Press Minnesota begins public hearings on $6.5 billion pipeline expansion
Houston Chronicle Permian Basin could yield 70 billion oil barrels in coming decades, study says
Washington Post An Antarctic glacier loses 100 square-mile iceberg, an ongoing retreat blamed on global warming
TUESDAY, SEPT. 26
8 a.m.-3 p.m., 1 Constitution Ave., Capitol Hill, Clean Energy Week.
Sept. 26-27. DoubleTree Crystal City, 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, Va., The Energy Department’s Office of Science holds a meeting of the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee on scientific priorities within the field of advanced scientific computing research.
Sept. 26-28, 2777 South Crystal Drive, Arlington, Va. The EPA holds a meeting of the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest System Advisory Board.
2 p.m., 1334 Longworth. House Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on three bills on tribal recognition.
7 p.m., 1 Second St. NE, Energy Secretary Rick Perry addresses Accelerating Energy Innovation in America event at the Florida House in Washington. He will discuss the Energy Department’s continued efforts to maintain energy security and reliability through innovative research and development.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 27
Sept. 27-28, 2850 S. Potomac Ave., Arlington, Va.
The EPA holds a meeting of the Science Advisory Board Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee to receive a briefing from the EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment on the content and presentation of assessment products to be released at early stages of development of draft assessments.
10 a.m., 406 Dirksen. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing called “Hearing on Forest Management to Mitigate Wildfires: Legislative Solutions.”
2 p.m., 366 Dirksen. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s subcommittee on national parks will hold an oversight hearing on “Encouraging the Next Generation to Visit National Parks.”
THURSDAY, SEPT. 28
4 p.m., teleconference
The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration holds a meeting by teleconference of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee to potentially approve recommendations to the commerce secretary informing of actions to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.
TUESDAY, OCT. 3
10 a.m., 1334 Longworth. The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Lands holds a hearing on a bill to promote innovative approaches to outdoor recreation on federal land and to open up opportunities for collaboration with non-federal partners, and for other purposes.