By Emily Holden (@emilyhholden)
Today’s Washington Brief:
- Protests over the Obama administration's plan to slash carbon emissions 30 percent between 2005 and 2030 have been fierce. But at least 10 states have already made cuts that big between 2005 and 2012, New York Times reports.
- Morning Consult has an interactive map to show how each of the EPA's four options for meeting emissions requirements might look state-by-state.
- An updated State Department analysis increased its predictions of how many deaths might occur from oil-by-rail accidents if the Keystone XL pipeline is not built, New York Times' Coral Davenport reports.
- Energy companies are giving more to Republicans to help them win a U.S. Senate majority and counter the president's environmental agenda, Bloomberg reports.
Today’s Business Brief:
- As oil and gas production have surged, U.S. energy security is at a 25-year high. The U.S. produced enough energy to support 84 percent of its needs in 2013, up from a low of 69 percent in 2005, Houston Chronicle's Simone Sebastian reports.
- Reuters reports that only a fraction of liquefied natural gas export projects around the world might be completed.
Today's Chart Review:
EPA Targets: How Hard Will Your State Have to Work? (Interactive Map)
from Morning Consult by Emily Holden
The Obama administration’s proposed carbon emissions rule offers four options for reaching individual state targets and describes how much a state might rely on each method. To make things easier to understand, Morning Consult prepared an interactive map that demonstrates how big of a change each option would require if states followed the EPA’s guidance exactly. Click here for the interactive version.
Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern):
Monday: Brookings Institutiton talk on disclosing natural resource payments to foreign countries @ 4 pm
Monday: House Energy markup of manufacturing legislation @ 4 pm
Tuesday: FERC/DOE conference on reliability of the bulk power system @ 8:45 am
Tuesday: House Appropriations markup of energy and water bill @ 8:45 am
Tuesday: House Natural Resources hearing on early detection of earthquakes @ 10 am
Tuesday: Capitol Hill Ocean Week begins with keynote from Podesta @ 10 am
Tuesday: House Energy markup of manufacturing legislation @ 10 am
Tuesday: Heritage Foundation talk on Western land management @ 11 am
Tuesday: USEA presentation on CCS and offshore storage @ 2 pm
Tuesday: EESI/WIRES talk on grid resilience, gas-electric coordination, new business models @ 2:30 pm
Tuesday: Senate Environment hearing on superfund cleanups @ 2:30 pm
Tuesday: CSIS talk on lifting the ban on crude oil exports @ 3 pm
Wednesday: America's Wetland Foundation briefing on Mississippi River sustainability @ 8:30 am
Wednesday: House Transportation hearing on Clean Water Act jurisdiction @ 10 am
Wednesday: CSIS talk on energy policy @ 10 am
Wednesday: House Foreign Affairs hearing on energy priorities in Middle East/North Africa @ 10 am
Wednesday: National Marine Sanctuary Foundation talk on energy evolution at Newseum @ 3 pm
Thursday: House Natural Resources hearing on American energy jobs @ 9:30 am
Thursday: Brookings Institution talk on Japanese energy future @ 10:30 am
Thursday: Sens. Heitkamp, Barrasso speak at Natural Gas Roundtable luncheon @ Noon
Thursday: U.S. Energy Association forum on efficiency at National Press Club @ 1 pm
Friday: U.S. Energy Association forum on efficiency at National Press Club @ 7:30 am
16-18: Natural Gas
19: Utilities and Infrastructure
OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES
25: New York Times
26: Washington Post
27: Wall Street Journal
RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES
28: State Department
29: Norman Bay for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
1) In Some States, Emissions Cuts Defy Skeptics
from New York Times by Justin Gillis and Michael Wines
The cries of protest have been fierce, warning that President Obama’s plan to cut greenhouse gases from power plants will bring soaring electricity bills and even plunge the nation into blackouts. By the time the administration is finished, one prominent critic said, “millions of Americans will be freezing in the dark.”
Yet cuts on the scale Mr. Obama is calling for — a 30 percent reduction in emissions from the nation’s electricity industry by 2030 — have already been accomplished in parts of the country. At least 10 states cut their emissions by that amount or more between 2005 and 2012, and several other states were well on their way, almost two decades before Mr. Obama’s clock for the nation runs out. That does not mean these states are off the hook under the Obama plan unveiled this week — they will probably be expected to cut more to help achieve the overall national goal — but their strides so far have not brought economic ruin.
2) EPA Targets: How Hard Will Your State Have to Work? (Interactive Map)
from Morning Consult by Emily Holden
The Obama administration’s climate plan seeks to cut nationwide carbon emissions from the power sector 17 percent by 2030, but it sets widely different targets for the states. The proposed rule offers four options for reaching the goals and describes how much a state might rely on each method. But just how much states will actually have to change their current power sources within these four different options has been difficult to gauge. To make things easier to understand, Morning Consult prepared an interactive map that demonstrates how big of a change each option would require if states followed the EPA’s guidance exactly. For example, Delaware would have to decrease electricity production from coal-fired plants 89 percent. Ohio would need to increase its share of green energy production 1000 percent, from 1 percent to 11 percent by 2030.
3) Questions of Jurisdiction, Responsibility May Foreshadow Legal Trouble for New EPA Power Plant Rule
from E&E by Nathanael Massey
U.S. EPA's proposed rule for power plant carbon gives states wide latitude in controlling their emissions, embracing fuel switching, renewable energy and energy efficiency as building blocks on the path to carbon reduction. Given the pervasiveness of carbon dioxide as the result of modern power generation, that "all of the above" approach will be needed to meet the agency's stringent reduction targets, experts say.
At the same time, they caution, the approach may prove to be the rule's legal Achilles' heel.
4) Southeast Carbon Market Could be a Struggle, but Groundwork is There
from E&E by Kristi E. Swartz
Some Southeast utilities share the same parent company. They also are interconnected through power lines and cooperate with regional planning. Most are heavily regulated, investor-owned utilities that were once dominated by coal. They share boundaries and have common political, cultural and social attitudes. Whether any of that boils down to the Southeast forming a regional carbon market to comply with U.S. EPA's proposed greenhouse emission requirements is unclear, however.
5) Former EPA Officials Work Power Plant Rule Outside of Agency
from E&E by Kevin Bogardus
U.S. EPA officials who have left the agency may have as much sway over its new power plant rule as those still employed there. In a review of Office of Management and Budget meeting records, Greenwire found more than a half-dozen former EPA officials have worked to influence the regulation on behalf of outside interests. Ex-agency honchos are representing clients of all stripes -- environmental groups, energy companies and utilities -- as EPA works to finalize its rule designed to reduce carbon pollution.
5) Podesta Confident EPA Carbon Rule Will Survive Next President
from Politico Pro by Darren Goode
White House counselor John Podesta is “fairly confident” that proposed EPA greenhouse gas restrictions can survive scrutiny under the next president — and that Democrats can campaign on the climate change issue in races this year. “People can try to roll it back,” Podesta told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor and America’s Natural Gas Alliance. “I’m fairly confident. Of course, I’m fairly confident that we’ll have a president that will embrace the cause of tackling climate change and reducing emissions.”
6) Texas Cash-From-Carbon Program Lures Climate Skeptics
from Bloomberg by Mark Drajem
At an aging cement plant in San Antonio, entrepreneur Joe Jones is trying to turn fighting climate change into a money-making venture. Instead of letting carbon dioxide escape from the plant and contribute to global warming, Jones’s Skyonic Corp. is spending $128 million to convert the gas into baking soda and hydrochloric acid that can be sold to the cattle and oil industries.
7) US Energy Security Reaches Highest Level in a Quarter Century
from Houston Chronicle by Simone Sebastian
The United States produced enough energy to satisfy 84 percent of its needs in 2013, a rapid climb from its historic low in 2005, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The nation produced 81.7 quadrillion British thermal units of energy last year and consumed 97.5 quadrillion, the highest ratio since 1987. The nation’s energy output rose rose 18 percent from 2005 to 2013, as a surge in oil and gas production offset declines in coal. Meanwhile , total energy Americans used fell 2.7 percent during that period. The nation’s ability to meet its own energy needs hit an all-time low in 2005, when the amount of energy produced domestically met just 69 percent of demand.
8) Texas, North Dakota Tell Happier Shale Tales Than California
from Houston Chronicle by Collin Eaton
Two weeks after government officials all but demolished California’s shale-oil reserve estimate, Houston oil analysts offered a more optimistic view of plays in Texas and North Dakota. Oil producers eventually could drain 21 billion barrels of crude out of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota — nearly three times the government’s estimate of recoverable reserves in the region, Wood Mackenzie analyst Jonathan Garrett said during a media briefing by the energy research firm this week in Houston.
9) Energy Industry Places Big Bets on Republican Senate Victory
10) As A State Wrangles, Its Coast is Swept Out to Sea
from National Journal by Jason Plautz
...John Barry, as part of a board appointed by the state to study flood protection after Hurricane Katrina, helped engineer a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies, seeking damages that would help pay for a plan to mitigate Louisiana's eroding coastline. The suit charges that the companies' activites contributed to the coastline shrinking and they should pay to restore the state's natural flood protection...Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has vowed to kill the suit, making it a priority for this legislative term. "We're not going to allow a single levee board that has been hijacked by a group of trial lawyers to determine flood protection, coastal restoration and economic repercussions for the entire state of Louisiana," he said last summer. A flurry of bills emerged to kill the suit, but the one that passed would retroactively bar the flood board's contracts with the lawyers. It effectively kills the suit, but allows ones filed by parishes to move forward.
11) U.S. Stock Futures Decline After S&P 500 Reaches Record
12) Report Finds Higher Risks if Oil Line Is Not Built
from New York Times by Coral Davenport
If the Keystone XL pipeline is not built — and more oil from the Canadian oil sands is moved by rail — there could be hundreds more deaths and thousands more injuries than expected over the course of a decade, according to an updated State Department analysis of the contested project that was released Friday...The initial study noted that without the pipeline, companies would simply move the oil by rail, and an addendum concluded that the alternative could contribute to 700 injuries and 92 deaths over 10 years. Friday’s updated report raised those numbers more than fourfold, concluding that rail transport could lead to 2,947 injuries and 434 deaths over a decade.
13) History of Gasoline and Oil Exports Murky
from Houston Chronicle by Jennifer A. Dlouhy
As oil companies clamor to export crude, they may look to the government’s 1981 decision to green-light overseas gasoline sales for guidance. There’s just one problem: The government records underpinning that move are missing in action. Analysts at the research firm IHS and staff for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee so far have only been able to unearth a couple of documents from the time, when an interagency government task force examined the issue. The actual report from that panel has been purged, according to the Commerce Department. Any other records from the “Task Force on Export Control of Refined Petroleum Products” also have not been located.
14) World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes
Even as the North American shale revolution propels U.S. production to a three-decade peak, supply in other parts of the world is faltering. A battle for political control in Libya, pipeline attacks in Iraq and prolonged sanctions against Iran are preventing those nations from reviving output. While U.S. crude inventories rose to a record in April, restrictions on exports are keeping those supplies in the country, tempering forecasts that global oil prices will decline this year.
15) Rail Company Requests Secrecy from New York on Oil Trains
from Politico Pro by Scott Waldman
CSX has asked the state not to disclose to the public the routes of oil trains now moving through the state even though an emergency federal order requires them to do so. Railroad companies across the country are under an emergency federal order to inform local responders where they are transporting crude oil. CSX and other railroad companies are now asking states not to reveal oil train volumes and routing information to the general public. Washington state officials have refused a nondisclosure request from rail companies and Oregon officials have not decided whether or not they will comply. New York is “reviewing” the request for secrecy, said Peter Cutler, deputy commissioner of public affairs for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
16) House to vote on natural gas export, pipeline bills
from The Hill by Timothy Cama
The House will vote this month on bills aimed at speeding up the Obama administration’s processes for applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) and build cross-border pipelines like Keystone XL. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the House will vote on the bills the week of June 23 as part of the GOP’s efforts “to lessen the cost of gasoline and energy and put more money back into the pockets of everyday Americans.” Cantor announced the schedule Friday in a memo to Republicans.
17) Only a Fraction of Big Gas Export Projects Will Be Built - Shell
from Reuters by Henning Gloystein
Only a fraction of the natural gas export projects being developed around the globe will become reality as high costs and weakening gas prices torpedo those that until recently promised huge returns on investment. Large natural gas field discoveries on and offshore have prompted several countries to plan liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, including in North America, Australia, East Africa and the east Mediterranean. But high development costs and low profit margins in the gas sector mean most of these will fail, Royal Dutch Shell's director of projects and technology told Reuters in an interview.
18) Cheniere's Sabine Pass on Schedule to Fulfill LNG Export Contracts by 2015
from Natural Gas Intelligence by Jamison Cocklin
A top Cheniere Energy Inc. executive said Thursday that construction of two trains at the company's Sabine Pass liquefaction and export terminal in Louisiana is about 65% complete, putting the project on track to fulfill some of its obligations with overseas customers by late 2015...Although 17 projects have filed applications with the Department of Energy (DOE) to export domestically produced liquified natural gas (LNG) to non-free trade agreement (FTA) countries, just seven have been approved to do so, and only one that is actually under construction, Sabine Pass, has approval from FERC to site and operate its facility.
Utilities and Infrastructure
19) Obama's Pick to Lead FERC Fends Off Critics, Piques More Questions
from E&E by Hannah Northey
President Obama's pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shot back at critics -- and tried to soothe Republican skeptics -- in documents submitted this week to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee defending his handling of mergers and enforcement cases. But while Norman Bay appears to have found allies on the panel of 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans, at least one top GOP member said his answers raise more questions. At issue are responses from Bay, who as head of FERC's enforcement division has been seen as a tough cop in overseeing Wall Street giants, to questions that members of the Senate committee raised during his confirmation hearing last month.
20) Though Not Quietly, Kentucky Moves to Cut Reliance on Coal
from New York Times by Trip Gabriel
...Here in coal country, the reaction from politicians and the coal industry to President Obama’s climate plan has been swift and close to apocalyptic. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, called the proposed rule “a dagger in the heart of the American middle class.” His Democratic opponent in a fierce Senate race this year, Alison Lundergan Grimes, matched his outrage, accusing the president of “targeting Kentucky coal with pie-in-the-sky regulations that are impossible to achieve.” But beyond the campaign rhetoric, even here in Kentucky, which ranks No. 1 in the nation in carbon emissions per unit of electricity produced from all sources, others more quietly are saying that doom may not be at hand.
21) Staffers at Nuclear Regulatory Commission Report Backlash After Dissent
from Government Executive by Douglas P. Guarino
Seventy-five percent of Nuclear Regulatory Commission employees who participated in an internal survey said they received poor performance reviews after registering formal objections to agency decisions, a report made public Wednesday says. For employees that object to policy, technical or administrative statements contained in agency documents working their way up the NRC management chain for approval, the agency has a formal "non-concurrence" process meant to ensure that the concerns of those staffers are heard. According to the survey, which was conducted last year by the NRC Office of Enforcement, many of those surveyed about their own experience submitting formal objections through the program believed there had been negative consequences to doing so.
22) Wind Power on Tap to Help Texas Meet Carbon Reduction Goals
from Star Telegram by Jim Fuquay
You might say Texas has a running start in the race to slash carbon emissions in electricity generation, a pursuit spurred by last week’s proposed EPA regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.
Already the No. 1 wind power state, Texas is on pace to increase wind capacity by close to 70 percent in just two years. Between that and the continued additions of natural gas-fired generation, several energy analysts say they expect the state to be able to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed goal of cutting its rate of carbon dioxide emissions by 39 percent by the year 2030.
23) Wind Farm Project Faces Delay Over Tax Credit Uncertainty
from The Daily Republic by Chris Mueller
Construction of a $110 million to $120 million wind farm near Tripp is being delayed at least six to eight weeks because of investors' uncertainty in the wind industry's production tax credit. Roland Jurgens, a senior project manager with Carstensen Energy, of Chokio, Minn., said Thursday the first 22 turbines are still expected to be built by the end of the year, and another 21 turbines should be done by early next year. That's despite a delay caused by investors uncertain how the Internal Revenue Service will apply its guidelines for projects still trying to qualify for the industry's production tax credit, a large federal subsidy that allows developers to lower their tax bill by 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour during a project's first 10 years.
24) US EPA Extends 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard Compliance Deadline to September 30
from Platts by Herman Wang
The US Environmental Protection Agency Friday said it was extending its compliance deadline for the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard to September 30. Refiners and obligated parties originally had until June 30 to demonstrate compliance with the 2013 RFS, which mandated 16.55 billion gallons of biofuels, including 2.75 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, be blended into US transportation fuels. But the EPA on Friday said that with its lateness in issuing the 2014 standard, it recognized the need to extend the 2013 compliance deadline, so that obligated parties can plan for how many 2013 Renewable Identification Numbers to carry over for 2014 compliance.
OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES
25) Obama on Obama on Climate
from New York Times by Thomas L. Friedman
When it comes to dealing with the world’s climate and energy challenges I have a simple rule: change America, change the world. If America raises its clean energy standards, not only will others follow — others who have hid behind our inaction — we’ll also stimulate our industry to invent more of the clean air, clean power and energy efficiency systems, and move them down the cost curve faster, so U.S. companies will be leaders in this next great global industry and American consumers will be the first to benefit. That is why the new Environmental Protection Agency rules President Obama proposed last week to curb carbon emissions from power plants are so pivotal.
26) The Rhetoric of Obama’s Climate Plan vs. Reality
from Washington Post by Robert J. Samuelson
The truth is that, love it or hate it, the president’s plan would only modestly cut greenhouse-gas emissions, mostly carbon dioxide (CO2), from current levels. Assuming no major glitches — a big assumption — the economic effect would be muted. It wouldn’t be a huge net job creator or destroyer. It wouldn’t catapult “renewables” (solar, wind) into major electricity sources. The proposal’s real significance is that, if blessed by the courts, it would create a complex and costly regulatory apparatus that, in the future, might govern much of the U.S. economy.
27) Shale Gas Is America's Geopolitical Trump Card
from Wall Street Journal by Joseph Nye
The shale revolution has a number of implications for American foreign policy. Shale-energy production boosts the economy and produces more jobs. Reducing imports helps the balance of payments. New tax revenues ease government budgets. Cheaper energy makes industry more competitive internationally, particularly energy-intensive industries like petrochemicals, aluminum, steel and others.
RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES
28) Keystone XL Project—Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
from State Department
Subsequent to completion of the rail incident analysis, the Department identified that the data obtained for the analysis from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) online safety data and statistics query system were incomplete due to an error in the search parameters used. As a result, the rail analysis was based on 40.6% of the 2002 to 2012 available incident data recorded on the FRA database. Therefore, Figures 5.1.3-17 through 20 and Figure 5.3.3-3 underreport the injury and fatality incident frequency, and the projected 49 annual injuries and 6 fatalities for the rail scenario as reported in the Executive Summary and in Sections 126.96.36.199, 5.1.3, and 5.3.3 are underestimated. Using a full annual incident dataset for the 10-year period, the number of reported injuries increases from 700 to 2,947 and fatalities increase from 92 to 434.
New York Times's Coral Davenport reports on the document here.
29) Response from FERC Nominee Norman Bay to Questions from Senate Energy Committee
from Norman Bay for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
In a 65-page document, FERC Nominee Norman Bay responds to questions from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about his handling of mergers and enforcement cases. E&E has more.