From: Morning Consult
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Morning Consult Energy: U.S. Challenges Crude Oil Export Ban With Approvals for Two Companies
Date: Wed Jun 25 12:54:23 MDT 2014


By Emily Holden (@emilyhholden)



Today’s Washington Brief:

  • The Commerce Department is allowing two companies to sell an ultralight variety of oil overseas after minimally processing it, testing a long-standing ban on crude oil exports, Houston Chronicle's Jennifer A. Dlouhy reports

  • Congressional observers doubt that Republicans will be able to block funding for the EPA's carbon rules through an appropriations fight, SNL's Corbin Hiar reports
  • The House votes today on expediting natural gas exports, and the conservative Heritage Action for America is considering the bill a "key vote," The Hill's Timothy Cama reports

  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., say they can come together on climate change despite their "different worlds," Politico Pro's Andrew Restuccia reports. The two are planning a joint floor appearance today, possibbly followed by some eventual legislation to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions while helping coal states adapt. 


Today’s Business Brief:

  • Pennsylvania is weighing a new tax on natural gas drilling, Wall Street Journal's Kris Maher reports

  • U.S. rules for crude oil rail cars could be tougher than the latest standard adopted by railroads in 2011, according to a top industry safety executive. The Transportation Department could call for thicker steel walls, thermal jackets to prevent fires and structure puncture-resistant, ends, or "heads". Reuters' Terry Wade reports

  • The second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, SunPower Corp., is offering batteries that can hold solar power until night, Bloomberg's Ehren Goossens reports

  • Houston-based CenterPoint Energy is working on an intelligent grid and the first phase is expected to be completed at the end of the year at a cost of $138 million, with the help of a $50 million grant. Bloomberg explains that the utility could control and monitor 50,000 miles of power lines using real-time data to identify and even predict outages. The system also helps the company manage load by allowing customers to time power usage to low-cost periods. 


Today's Chart Review: 


Poll: Scientific Community, Environmental Groups Get Highest Approval on Energy Issues

from Morning Consult


Among Democrats, Independents and Republicans, the scientific community had more than 60 percent approval and environmental groups had nearly 50 percent approval. Democrats in Congress and the Obama Administration were highest approved by Democrats, while Republicans in Congress and the Tea Party were highest approved by Republicans. 






Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern): 


Wednesday: American Business Conferences crude-by-rail summit in Houston @ 8:30 am 

Wednesday: FERC technical conference on real-time and day-ahead market efficiency @ 8:30 am 

Wednesday: Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners education conference @ 9 am

Wednesday: Center for Strategic and International Studies conference on Arctic cooperation @ 9 am 

Wednesday: National Defense University forum on electricity acces in sub-Sahara Africa @ 9 am 

Wednesday: House Oversight hearing on EPA management @ 9:30 am 

Wednesday: Center for Strategic and International Studies talk on energy technology report @ 10 am 

Wednesday: Environmental Law Institute talk on regulation of oil and gas underground contamination @ Noon 

Wednesday: House Natural Resources hearing on carbon soil sequestration @ 2 pm

Wednesday: Senate Energy hearing on energy and water nexus @ 2:30 pm 

Thursday: Environmental Law Institute talk on clean water @ Noon 

Thursday: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions talk on using captured carbon for oil recovery @ 2 pm





1-10: General
11-15: Oil
16-18: Natural Gas
19: Utilities and Infrastructure
20: Renewables




21: Reuters  
22: National Journal 
23: American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity 




25: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
26: SmartPlanet

27: Government Accountability Office 

28: Center for American Progress 

29: Greentech Media Research 







1) The winner of Supreme Court's latest EPA ruling? Everyone and no one

from Washington Examiner by Zack Colman


The jury's still out on whether Monday's Supreme Court ruling will have any effect on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to limit carbon emissions from power plants. Both opponents and defenders of the EPA push claimed victory in the 5-4 and 7-2 decisions on a pair of EPA permitting programs for large industrial emissions sources, a reflection of the nuanced case before the high court..."Scalia split the baby, allowing EPA to regulate big operations but preventing a great expansion in EPA authority that nobody truly wanted," said Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. "I think he did all a favor -- even the agency, which did not want to regulate ma and pa -- but just found a different legal route than the agency had found."


2) Congressional observers doubt Republicans can block funding for EPA carbon rules

from SNL by Corbin Hiar


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is using the appropriations process to wage his latest counterattack against the Obama administration's alleged "war on coal." But the Kentucky Republican's new offensive is likely to come up short, according to federal appropriations experts. "This fits into a pattern of what we think of as message politics," Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University and senior fellow at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, said in an interview. She was referring to amendments McConnell tried to offer last week to defund proposed U.S. EPA limits on planet warming carbon emissions from new and existing power plants. "At the end of the day, I'm hard-pressed to see that this particular tactic works for the minority leader," Binder said.


3) Former Treasury Chiefs Agree: Get the SEC Into the Climate Mix

from National Journal by Ben Geman 


A bipartisan pair of former Treasury secretaries want the Securities and Exchange Commission to get more aggressive with corporate America when it comes to assessing the risks of climate change. Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson—who served under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively, and who both have deep Wall Street ties—said Tuesday that the SEC should do a better job of forcing companies to disclose the economic fallout they face from climate change. Rubin said companies, in filings with regulators, should be disclosing information such as assets that may be "stranded" someday due to climate change. They also urged them to disclose the "baseline" ways climate change may affect their business and emissions they may be "accountable" for at some point.


See more detail on stranded assets from SmartPlanet. 


4) Manchin, Whitehouse seek middle ground on climate change

from Politico Pro by Andrew Restuccia 


West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin shot a bullet hole through the cap-and-trade bill, while Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has delivered 71 floor speeches calling for action on global warming. But even they can come together to find common ground on climate change, the two Democratic senators say. The pair spread that message in an interview Tuesday morning with POLITICO and were planning a joint floor appearance on the topic Tuesday evening — followed, perhaps, by some eventual legislation that could crack down on greenhouse gas emissions while helping coal-dependent states adapt.


5) Doubting Putin, Obama Prepares to Add Pressure

from New York Times by Peter Baker 


The Obama administration has drawn up plans to escalate sanctions against Russia by targeting its financial, energy and defense industries, but faces resistance from European allies hoping to avoid a broader economic clash with Moscow that would hurt their own businesses. Even as the Kremlin voices support for a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, American officials remain unconvinced that it has backed up words with deeds. Russia has moved troops back to the border and positioned heavy artillery there in what American officials consider an effort to help the separatists, who on Tuesday shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter.


6) Report: Independent producers leading growth in US oil and gas reserves

from Houston Chronicle by Ryan Holeywell


U.S. oil and gas reserves increased 9 percent last year, according to a newly released analysis, and almost all of it was due to independent producers — not major, integrated oil companies. The report by audit firm EY analyzed data reported by the 50 largest publicly traded companies based on their 2013 end-of-year reserve estimates. It analyzed proved reserves which, according to federal finance standards, are reserves that companies plan to drill within five years. U.S. oil reserves increased by 2.1 billion barrels last year to nearly 25.4 billion, according to the report. That figure marks a 52 percent increase since 2009.


7) Senate dysfunction stymies Landrieu's narrative as she battles for re-election

from E&E by Nick Juliano


Mary Landrieu just can't seem to catch a break these days. A flurry of activity last week in the Senate highlighted the limits of her Energy and Natural Resources gavel and the extent to which the Senate's poisonous political atmosphere is preventing her from scoring political wins as she struggles to persuade Louisiana voters to re-elect her. The high-profile committee vote on the Keystone XL pipeline -- which Republicans had earlier requested -- was just as quickly dismissed by some of those same Republicans as a "show vote." And even though his leadership post could depend on Landrieu's political survival, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) chuckled at the suggestion of bringing up the bill again, saying its time had passed.


8) Committee targets EPA’s ‘secret science’

from The Hill by Timothy Cama 


The House Science, Space and Technology Committee voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to disclose the data it uses to write regulations. The committee’s bill is intended to stop what Republicans said is widespread use at the EPA of “secret science” to make rules. “The EPA’s regulatory process is both hidden and flawed. It hides the data and then handpicks scientists to review it,” the panel’s chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), said in a statement.


9) WH threatens veto of House oil pipeline bill

from The Hill by Timothy Cama 


The Obama administration threatened Tuesday to veto a House bill that would remove the president’s power to review cross-border oil pipelines like Keystone XL. The North American Energy Infrastructure Act would set a 120-day deadline for the State Department to approve pipelines into Canada or Mexico to expedite the permit process. And the bill would compel the approval of any permit unless found to not be in the “public interest.”


10) U.S. Stock-Index Futures Are Little Changed Before Data



11) US challenges oil export ban with approvals for two Texas companies

from Houston Chronicle by Jennifer A. Dlouhy


The Obama administration has cleared the way for two energy companies to sell an ultralight variety of oil overseas after minimally processing it, a decision that tests the limits of a long-standing ban on exporting U.S. crude. The move, which came in private classification orders issued by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, effectively confirms that hydrocarbon known as condensate qualifies as a petroleum product once it has been processed in a distillation tower, and therefore is not barred by the 39-year-old ban on crude exports. Unlike unprocessed crude, companies can freely sell gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products overseas.


12) WTI Pares Gains as U.S. Export Ruling Seen Limited

from Bloomberg by Grant Smith and Ben Sharples 


West Texas Intermediate crude pared gains amid speculation that an Obama administration ruling on U.S. fuel exports would have limited impact on global markets. Brent’s premium narrowed as Iraq pledged to increase exports. WTI traded 0.4 percent higher in New York, trimming an earlier advance of as much as 1.4 percent. Brent declined 0.7 percent in London. The Commerce Department granted Pioneer Natural Resources Co.’s request to classify stabilized condensates as petroleum products eligible for export, the company said. Brent slipped as oil production in Iraq remained unaffected by a Sunni militant uprising and its government said it would to boost crude exports in July.


13) U.S. rules for crude tank cars may go beyond 2011 industry standard

from Reuters by Terry Wade


U.S. regulators this autumn may impose new standards for rail tank cars that carry crude oil that are tougher than the latest design adopted by railroads in 2011, a top industry safety executive said on Tuesday. The U.S. Department of Transportation has been under pressure to overhaul safety rules as it tries to respond to a recent series of fiery crude train crashes in North America and a surge in rail traffic carrying crude from shale fields to refineries...James Rader, senior vice president at Watco Industries LLC and the head of the Association of American Railroads' (AAR) tank car committee, said the Department of Transportation's measures could include thicker steel walls, thermal jackets to prevent fires and stronger, puncture-resistant, ends, or "heads".


14) China Seen Bolstering Oil Security as Stockpiles Swell to Record

from Bloomberg by Sarah Chen 


China may be bolstering its emergency crude reserves as refiners in the world’s second-largest oil consumer expanded commercial stockpiles to a record high in May. Crude inventories rose 4 percent from April, China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals, published by the official Xinhua News Agency, said in an e-mailed report today. That’s about 33.59 million metric tons, or 246.2 million barrels, the most in records going back to January 2010. Gasoline supplies also swelled to a record, climbing 0.9 percent to an estimated 7.6 million tons. 


15) GE to design, build new generation of blowout preventers

from Houston Chronicle by Collin Eaton 


Danish rig contractor Maersk Drilling is turning to GE engineers in Houston to build a new generation of deep-water blowout preventers designed to handle the highest reservoir pressures the industry has ever tackled.

The driller said Tuesday it has ordered four blowout preventers, known as BOPs in industry shorthand, and two risers from GE Oil & Gas, equipment slated to be deployed to the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere by the end of 2018. The order is the latest step in Maersk and BP’s joint plan to develop new drilling rigs and other offshore technology able to traverse deeper waters and dig into unreachable reservoirs that hold 10 billion to 20 billion barrels of oil and gas.


Natural Gas


16) Pennsylvania Weighs New Tax on Natural-Gas Drilling

from Wall Street Journal by Kris Maher 


Lawmakers facing a $1.5 billion budget gap in Pennsylvania are considering imposing a new tax on natural-gas production, one of several drilling-boom states wrestling with how much to tax the maturing industry. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has said a so-called severance tax, which drillers pay on the value of the gas taken from a well, could kill much-needed jobs. But his position recently has begun to soften.


17) Heritage urges ‘yes’ votes on gas exports

from The Hill by Timothy Cama 


The conservative Heritage Action for America has identified the House bill to expedite liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications as a “key vote” and is urging representatives to approve it. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) would require the Energy Department to decide within 30 days whether to approve an LNG export permit, starting when an environmental review is completed. A vote on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday.


18) Natural gas boom yielding big benefits, Congress told

from Houston Chronicle by Jennifer A. Dlouhy 


The rapid growth in domestic natural gas production is sending benefits rippling across the U.S. economy, business leaders and an energy expert told Congress on Tuesday. The uplift — including lower energy bills, increased jobs and economic growth — extends well beyond the oil patch, Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of the research firm IHS, told the House and Senate’s Joint Economic Committee. “Because of the nature of the supply chains across the economy, we see a great impact on states that don’t have significant shale gas or oil activity,” Yergin said. About a quarter of the 2.1 million jobs supported by unconventional natural gas and oil activity are located in non-producing states, he added.



Utilities and Infrastructure


19) Crumbling U.S. Grid Gets Jolt Driving Smart Houston Power




20) SunPower Offers Batteries to Hold Solar Power Until Night

from Bloomberg by Ehren Goossens 


SunPower Corp. (SPWR), the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, is offering energy-storage systems to California homeowners that will power houses at night with electricity generated from sunlight during the day. The company is testing systems that combine rooftop solar panels with battery storage in new homes built by KB Home (KBH), San Jose, California-based SunPower said in a statement today. Such systems will reduce consumers’ reliance on electric utilities and the grid, cutting power bills and providing electricity during blackouts, Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said yesterday in an interview.



A message from Southern Company:


Energy is an essential part of every facet of our lives. At Southern Company, we believe a comprehensive, common-sense national energy policy is needed for America to achieve energy security and ensure clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for everyone. Visit our website and follow us on Twitter.





21) Energy scare good for oil stocks in the short term

from Reuters by John Wasik 


Despite the incendiary conflict in Iraq that last week sent the benchmark price of Brent crude oil to more than $115 a barrel, a nine-month high, U.S. stock markets largely shrugged off the oil threat, hitting record closing highs last week. For investors, a new energy crisis in the Middle East presents something of an opportunity, albeit a fragile, short-term one. Energy production has become much more geographically diverse, particularly in the United States. That lessens the severity of a Mideast production shortfall while boosting the long-term prospects of investment in fossil-fuel companies.


22) Republicans Are Screaming for Action on Global Warming, But Only From the Stands

from National Journal by Ben Geman 


...Opposition to carbon regulations or carbon pricing is, if anything, more powerful than it was a few years ago, when Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham negotiated a climate proposal with then-Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman (although Graham ultimately abandoned the talks). Republican Sen. John McCain coauthored cap-and-trade bills several times during the 2000s, but he's no longer pushing the idea. It's too early to say whether more GOP ex-officials will speak up, or whether they could have any sway on Capitol Hill. Lately, Republicans are indeed becoming more engaged on climate change, but not in the way that activists might hope.


23) Six Major Myths About EPA's Proposed Carbon Regulations 

from American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity


The proposal will have practically no effect on global climate change. Here is the main reason why the proposal will not prevent global climate change: U.S. power plants are responsible for a small fraction (4 percent) of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.1 EPA’s proposal will reduce global GHG emissions by a tiny amount (less than 1 percent) at a cost, according to EPA, of $4.2 billion to $8.8 billion per year.


24) Unlocking America's Energy Potential through MLPs



A recent report by ICF International revealed that the United States and Canada will require a total of $641 billion – or nearly $30 billion per year – in natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids infrastructure investment by 2035. This figure reflects investments needed to construct pipelines and other infrastructure in areas like the Marcellus and Eagle Ford shale gas plays, which are areas that have yet to be fully connected to existing infrastructure. While this level of infrastructure investment might seem difficult to realize in this economic climate, in reality, it is very much possible to meet these needs through private financing tools that already exist. Capital investments in the midstream energy sector have traditionally funded the build-out of pipeline networks, and as America continues to increase its oil and natural gas output, private investment in infrastructure is thriving – and master limited partnerships (MLPs) are a key catalyst.



A message from Southern Company:


“The challenge of developing a comprehensive, consistent, common-sense national energy policy is not a Democrat challenge. It’s not a Republican challenge. It’s an American challenge – one that calls upon us to work together to reach an American solution.”
-Thomas A. Fanning, Chairman, President and CEO, Southern Company





25) President Obama's Climate Action Plan: One Year Later

from Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

One year after President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, the administration has made marked progress in its initial implementation. The plan, announced June 25, 2013, outlines 75 goals in three  areas: cutting carbon pollution in the United States, preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change, and leading international efforts to address climate change. The administration has made at least some progress on most of the plan’s 75 goals; many of the specific tasks outlined have been completed. In several key areas, the administration has taken important first steps, but it is too early to gauge their success or ultimate impact. 


26) Why the Potential for a Trillion Dollar Carbon Bubble Grows Bigger Every Day 

from SmartPlanet by Chris Nelder 


The concept of stranded assets was born in July 2011 when the UK-based non-profit Carbon Tracker published its initial report, "Unburnable Carbon - Are the world's financial markets carrying a carbon bubble?" It offered some straightforward math for us to consider: To limit planetary warming to 2°C, the world cannot exceed 886 Gt (gigatons) of CO2 emissions from 2000 to 2050. Subtracting the emissions from 2000 through 2010 left a budget of 565 Gt. But the reserves of the world's private and public companies and governments amount to 2795 Gt of potential emissions. Therefore, only 20 percent of the remaining reserves can be burned through 2050 to achieve the desired result. After allowing state entities (nationally owned fossil fuel producers) to maintain a normal share of global production, the 20 percent rule would also apply to the world's top 100 listed coal companies and the top 100 listed oil and gas companies; only 149 of the 745 Gt on their balance sheets could be consumed. That puts the combined market value of those 200 companies -- $7.42 trillion in February 2011 -- at risk of "impairment" should the world enact policies to stay under the safe warming limit. The investment community heard this warning loud and clear, and began considering its exposure. 


27) Advanced Nuclear Reactor Research: DOE Supports Multiple Technologies, but Actions Needed to Ensure a Prototype Is Built

from Government Accountability Office 


Many representatives that GAO talked to from the nuclear power industry and the National Academy of Sciences agree with NE's approach, saying that current policies on controlling greenhouse gas emissions and disposing of nuclear waste do not make a compelling case for choosing a reactor technology to develop. However, others GAO talked to are critical of some of the reactor technologies NE chooses to research, citing economic and technological challenges.


28) Subsidy Phase-Out and Reform Catalyst Bonds: A New Tool to Tackle Fossil-Fuel Subsidies

from Center for American Progress


Current levels of public and private investment cover only a fraction of what is needed to decarbonize the economy, expand energy access, and adapt to unavoidable climatic changes. Yet, perversely, countries spend more on fossil-fuel subsidies that drive climate change than they spend trying to combat it. The scale of these subsidies is vast. Worldwide, countries provide some $480 billion to $630 billion every year in fossil-fuel consumption subsidies, and more than $100 billion every year in production subsidies. According to the International Energy Agency, or IEA, for every $1 spent subsidizing renewable energy globally, $6 is spent subsidizing fossil fuels.


29) U.S. Residential Solar Financing 2014-2018

from Greentech Media Research 

2013 was both a year of tremendous growth and the start of an important transition for the US residential solar market. Year-over-year growth in the residential sector (60%) outpaced the overall U.S. market (41%) for the first time, driven by an increase in the availability of third-party financing and the rapid expansion of established market leaders.

This 35-page update to our 2013 report explores key trends in the residential solar market, including:

  • Changes to the competitive landscape, primarily due to mergers and acquisitions, new business models, and market entrants.
  • The resurgence of direct ownership as a result of lower system costs, changing consumer preferences, and broader financing options offered by the industry’s leading players.
  • A combination of more investors entering the market and the introduction of new, innovative financing vehicles that have already helped lower the cost of capital and will continue to do so.