By Emily Holden (@emilyhholden)
Today’s Washington Brief:
- Congress is back this week for a short pre-election season that gives lawmakers time to pass a stopgap spending bill and take part in politically charged votes before heading back to the campaign trail. E&E's Nick Juliano reports little pushback is expected on a continuing resolution to keep the government open and avoid a shutdown.
- A House Energy panel hears from state regulators on the EPA's carbon emissions proposal today at 10 a.m. We interviewed two of those regulators--from Maryland and Montana--in July. See their Q&As in our interactive database on the draft rule.
- The Senate Environment panel hears from nominees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today at 10 a.m.
Today’s Business Brief:
- NRG's large-scale carbon capture project that will sell coal plant emissions to oil producers broke ground near Houston on Friday. E&E's Nathanial Gronewold reports.
- As part of the Obama administration's Quadrennial Energy Review, the Energy Department is looking for input on how the federal government can help the electric utility industry adapt to a low-load-growth, low-carbon future. But executives differ on what they want, SNL's Corbin Hiar reports.
- Refiners and producers are stepping up a battle over oil exports, Houston Chronicle's Jennifer A. Dlouhy reports. Meanwhile, orders have surged for oilfield stabilizers used to make a light variety of crude safe for transport after a federal ruling signaled the units could help companies get around a ban on oil exports. Reuters' Kristen Hays explains.
- Cold weather is about to hit the northern U.S. Plains and drop temperatures to winter-like levels, according to Bloomberg's Brian K. Sullivan.
Today's Chart Review:
Final Energy Use of Renewable Sources for Heat is Rising Globally
from International Energy Agency
Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern):
Tuesday: International Water Resource Economics Consortium Conference @ 9 am
Tuesday: House Environment and Public Works hearing on NRC nominees @ 10 am
Tuesday: House Natural Resources hearing on endangered species and the Lesser Prairie Chicken @ 10 am
Tuesday: House Energy and Commerce hearing on state perspectives on Clean Power Plan @ 10 am
Tuesday: House Transportation hearing on environmental review and permitting for surface projects @ 10 am
Tuesday: Women's Council on Energy and the Environment talk on leadership @ 11:30 am
Tuesday: House Science hearing on Bakken crude @ 1 pm
Tuesday: House Oversight hearing on administration's treatment of whistleblowers @ 2 pm
Wednesday: NRC meeting on New Reactors Business Line @ 9:30 am
Wednesday: House Natural Resources hearing on Fish and Wildlife oversight @ 10 am
Wednesday: House Agriculture hearing on Forest Service's groundwater directive @ 10 am
Wednesday: House Natural Resources hearing on Bureau of Reclamation surface water storage @ 2 pm
Wednesday: Senate Commerce hearing on freight rail performance @ 2:30 pm
Wednesday: Atlantic Council event on Arctic Climate Change @ 6 pm
Thursday: House Natural Resources hearing on Inspector General oversight @ 9 am
Thursday: Green Living DC Expo at University of D.C.'s Van Ness campus @ 3:30 pm
Thursday: World Resources Institute briefing on shale development and water availability report @ 4 pm
17: Utilities and Infrastructure
OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES
20-21: Houston Chronicle
RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES
22: Audubon Society
1) Lawmakers return long enough to keep the lights on before returning to campaign trail
from E&E by Nick Juliano
Congress returns this week for a truncated pre-election session that will give lawmakers time to pass a stopgap spending bill and participate in a series of politically charged votes in both chambers before returning to the campaign trail. While it is not yet clear how long either chamber will remain in session, passage of a continuing resolution to keep the government open past Sept. 30 is the top item that has to be completed, and early indications are the CR will run into little resistance in either the House or the Senate, a shift from last year's drama that resulted in a 16-day government shutdown.
2) How Mary Landrieu's Race Could Derail Productivity in the Lame Duck
from National Journal by Billy House and Michael Catalini
Confusion and legislative paralysis could reign if the national results on Nov. 4 give Republicans a 50-to-49 advantage in the Senate. Whether Democrats lose control of the chamber in January—or keep it with a 50-50 split and Vice President Joe Biden's tiebreaking vote—would then depend on the results of a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana.
3) Cold to Grip Northern U.S. Offers Preview of Coming Chill
4) Verdict: Charges Dropped on Account of Climate Change
from National Journal by Jason Plautz
When two environmental activists used a lobster boat to block a shipment of coal to a power plant, they planned to cite the urgency of climate change to justify their actions if the case went to trial. As it turns out, a Massachusetts county was one step ahead of them. Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter announced Monday that he had reached a deal to dismiss or downgrade the charges against the two activists because of the need to address climate pollution.
5) Energy execs differ over how US government can act on climate, support industry
from SNL by Corbin Hiar
The U.S. Department of Energy sought input Sept. 8 on how the federal government can help the electric utility industry adjust to a low-load-growth, low-carbon future and got widely varying responses from some of the sector's leading voices.How do we move to a 21st century infrastructure that's economical, that enables us to address our environmental challenges — such as delivering large renewables over large distances, as one example — and is resilient to an integrated set of risks?" Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz asked a small crowd of energy industry stakeholders gathered in the campus center ballroom of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He was kicking off the 12th public meeting on the Obama administration's Quadrennial Energy Review.
6) Nine countries that could hold the next Eagle Ford
from Houston Chronicle by Ryan Holeywell
The U.S. economy has enjoyed an energy renaissance thanks to technology like fracking and horizontal drilling that unlocked previously inaccessible geological formations. Some of that same technology is now poised to be used around the world to help tap tight oil and gas as well as shale formations. Around the globe, nine countries other have basins that could become the next Eagle Ford or Bakken. But each of them has their own challenges.
7) Power Plants Heading Out to Sea in Post-Fukushima Japan
from Bloomberg by Masumi Suga and Chisaki Watanabe
One of the biggest hurdles to building new power plants in Japan is finding a place that’s safe from earthquakes and tsunamis. That place may turn out to be 30 miles at sea. Sevan Marine ASA (SEVAN), a Norwegian builder of offshore oil-drilling vessels, is proposing a $1.5 billion natural gas-fired power plant that will float on a cylindrical platform bigger than a football field moored off the Japanese coast.
8) Germany to Cut Transport Emissions as It Pushes Electric Cars
11) Climate Change Will Disrupt Half of North America’s Bird Species, Study Says
from New York Times by Felicity Barringer
The Baltimore oriole will probably no longer live in Maryland, the common loon might leave Minnesota, and the trumpeter swan could be entirely gone. Those are some of the grim prospects outlined in a report released on Monday by the National Audubon Society, which found that climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct.
12) U.S. Stock-Index Futures Little Changed as Pinnacle Drops
13) With groundbreaking, large-scale carbon capture finds a home in the oil patch
from E&E by Nathanial Gronewold
The elusive dream of commercial carbon capture and storage may finally be moving closer to reality, in part thanks to the nation's crude oil boom. NRG Energy Inc. and its partner JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp. broke ground Friday on a project here that both companies believe will be one for the record books. The 50-50 venture aims to pull carbon dioxide from the waste stream coming from a coal-fired power plant just southwest of Houston and make money by selling the CO2 to nearby oil producers.
14) Refiners & producers battling over exports
from Houston Chronicle by Jennifer A. Dlouhy
The battle between oil producers and refiners over exporting U.S. crude is heating up. It started when four refiners blasted the government’s decision to green light some exports of minimally processed condensate, suggesting the private rulings ran afoul of the 1975 law that bars most U.S. crude from being sold overseas... On Monday, an association of oil producers fought back. The Independent Petroleum Association of America blasted the CRUDE refiners group for mischaracterizing the Bureau of Industry and Security’s decisions on processed condensate in “a thinly veiled effort to limit competition."
15) U.S. crude export prospects expand niche for oilfield stabilizers
from Reuters by Kristen Hays
Orders have surged for a type of oilfield equipment primarily used for to make a light variety of crude safe for pipelines, after a federal ruling signaled that the specialized units also offered a workaround for companies eager to export oil from the U.S. shale boom.
16) Oil Spill Penalty Will Hurt, but Not Cripple, BP
from New York Times by Clifford Krauss
BP fought long and hard to avoid the defeat it suffered in court on Thursday when a federal judge ruled that the oil company was chiefly responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, opening the door to new civil penalties that could potentially amount to $18 billion. But analysts say that it could be years before the company pays any of those penalties and that they could turn out to be as low as $8 billion to $10 billion. And with the company expecting cash flow of $30 billion to $31 billion this year, the environmental payments will be stiff but not impossible to make.
Utilities and Infrastructure
17) Duke Energy rate hikes go before NC Supreme Court
from Charlotte Observer by Bruce Henderson
Attorney General Roy Cooper’s staff argued before the N.C. Supreme Court on Monday that two Duke Energy rate increases were granted without full analysis of their impact on customers. Cooper is challenging the N.C. Utilities Commission over separate rate increases it granted Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves the Charlotte area, in 2011 and 2013. In the 2011 case, the commission allowed Duke to hike rates 7.2 percent, or about $7 a month for residential customers. Cooper, who’s considered a likely candidate for governor in 2016, appealed. The high court last year ordered the Utilities Commission to reconsider the case. When the commission confirmed its original findings, Cooper appealed again.
18) With solar prices down, developers race to beat tax-credit deadline
from SNL by Michael Copley
With system prices down on average between about 2.5% and 5% from the first quarter, solar companies continued grabbing U.S. market share in the second quarter, as developers — particularly those with utility-scale portfolios — raced to beat a scheduled reduction of the federal investment tax credit at the end of 2016.
A message from Southern Company:
By developing the full portfolio of energy resources – new nuclear, 21st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency – Southern Company is diversifying our energy resources for the benefit of customers. By limiting dependence on any one fuel source, we mitigate risk and deliver customer value, now and in the future. To learn more about Southern Company’s development of the full portfolio of energy resources visit our website and follow us on Twitter.
OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES
19) One More Reason for a Carbon Tax
Both sides of this debate base their predictions on reams of data, as two articles in Bloomberg Markets explain. But the disagreement reflects great uncertainty about how much accessible shale oil and gas remains underground -- and how much that supply will influence prices in the years ahead. This uncertainty affects more than just the fortunes of drillers and traders. It can also hinder the development of renewable power.
20) Tax Dodge
from Houston Chronicle
What's wrong with this picture: A Fortune 500 company with $1,000-an-hour lawyers and expensive appraisal consultants suing a public school system that serves at-risk kids? Marathon Petroleum Corp. is the most recent in a string of petrochemical companies to use a legal tax loophole to seek a lower property appraisal and, thus, lower its tax bill. If Marathon is successful, Texas City Independent School District will have to repay to the company millions of dollars - funds that would otherwise have gone toward educating students.
21) Offshore is next target for enviromentalists
from Houston Chronicle by Richard S. Levick
Not long ago it was the Keystone XL Pipeline in the crosshairs. Then it was hydraulic fracturing. Now that these campaigns have, at least in part, come to a successful conclusion, we’re seeing the bull’s eye moving toward offshore drilling. The signs are apparent in activists’ social and digital media activity, which has evolved into the lynchpin of environmental grassroots mobilization efforts.
A message from Southern Company:
What’s the best recipe for clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy? A diverse mix of resources and Southern Company is developing the full portfolio through energy innovation. Electricity enhances the quality of life for all Americans so we are doing more, managing nearly $2 billion a year in research and development. Learn more about our innovative approach to energy on our website and follow us on Twitter.
RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES
22) Audubon Climate Report
from Audubon Society
Of the 588 North American bird species Audubon studied, more than half are likely to be in trouble. Our models indicate that 314 species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080. Of the 314 species at risk from global warming, 126 of them are classified as climate endangered. These birds are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050. The other 188 species are classified as climate threatened and expected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace.