A special Friday note this week because we will not be available Monday as we (all of you and I) will all be at the Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) event at the Newseum at 10:30 a.m. The event will feature Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council. How often do you get to hear the President’s economic advisor tie energy security and fiscal issues together in the middle of the fiscal cliff negotiations with Congress? Speaking of Congress, Senator Lamar Alexander and Roy Blount will also participate in the event which is focused on the impact of U.S. oil dependence on the nation’s economic, fiscal, and national security outlook. SAFE will also release of its new report, “A National Strategy for Energy Security: Harnessing American Resources and Innovation” at the event which will include recommendation to the Congress and President to address the challenge. Other speakers will include Fed Ex CEO Fred Smith, Marine Corps General P.X. Kelley, former NSC head Dennis Blair, Waste Management CEO David Steiner and several other military and business leaders.
On Wednesday, The Financial Times recognized Bracewell & Giuliani among the most creative and forward-thinking law firms in the U.S., naming Bracewell a highly-commended firm in its U.S. Innovative Lawyers report. Bracewell was fourth in the category of Most Innovative U.S. Law Firms: Business of Law 2012. The award to Bracewell focused on the launch of the Policy Resolution Group (PRG), a unit that many of you on this list know and work with daily and combines legal, government relations and communications advice. The Financial Times’ U.S. Innovative Lawyers report includes unique rankings of law firms that bring fresh thinking and practices to solving business problems in America. More than 60 law firms submitted 320 entries to be included in the honors.
Finally, with yesterday’s politician open mike on Sandy in the Senate Environment Committee, I wanted to pass along one important thing that seems to be getting lost in the Chairman’s effort to create a “public record of the storm.” While it was a terrible tragedy for many in New Jersey/New York that were really impacted by it, those trying to gain political advantage on climate change (somewhat evident yesterday) seem to be forgetting an important fact: The storm and climate really aren’t related. This originally didn’t come from climate skeptics, but one of the best, climate/science reporters covering the issues over the last 15 years, former NYTimes reporter Andy Revkin. Revkin made some great points on NYT’s Dot Earth blog as the storm arrived in late October, focused on the complex connection to climate. Revkin said while some climate scientists told him the event is precisely what you’d expect following a summer in which much of the Arctic Ocean was open water, “there remains far too much natural variability in the frequency and potency of rare and powerful storms — on time scales from decades to centuries — to go beyond pointing to this event being consistent with what’s projected on a human-heated planet.” He added that the storm’s “moniker can imply this is a human-created meteorological monster, it’s just not that simple.”
Please call with questions… I look forward to seeing you at the Newseum on Monday morning.
c. (202) 997-5932
IN THE NEWS
Interior Announces First-Ever Renewable Energy Lease Sale – The Department of Interior just announced the first-ever competitive lease sales for renewable energy development in two wind energy areas (WEAs) in federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is proposing to lease 278,000 Acres offshore just off Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Virginia for wind energy. More details later today on a 4:00 p.m. call with Secretary Salazar, BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau and David Hayes.
President Signs EU Airline Bill – Much to the Chagrin of the environmental community, President Obama signed legislation exempting U.S. airlines from the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Last month, the EU postponed enactment of its system by a year as talks go to the International Civil Aviation Organization on how to cut airline emissions on a global basis, but lawmakers still wanted to pass legislation opposing what they view as a unilateral imposition of fees by the EU. The bill, written by Sens. Claire McCaskill and John Thune, was passed overwhelmingly in both Houses of Congress.
Solar Report Shows Decreasing Costs – A new report from the DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found the average cost of installing new solar systems was 11-14% lower than last year, depending on the size of the project. Even with the continued price declines, the report found, costs will have to decline even further if the solar industry is to continue to grow, especially as incentive programs begin to phase out.
LAT Story Draws More Analysis – Remember the hubbub over the LA Times’ story by Julie Cart hammering the solar industry again on county costs and disenchantment. The pushback from clean energy advocates called Cart out drew another analysis from EarthTechling analyst Pete Danko as well. Danko highlighted criticisms from blogger RL Miller that says Cart is anti-solar and is leaving out key context and important facts that counter her regular storylines. Danko said Miller’s critique took Cart to task on a number of specific points, and scored some nice hits, including that the Riverside County supervisor Cart credulously gave a platform to has received a lot of campaign cash from fossil-fuel interests, among other issues. Danko adds the problem with her work is that it is so relentlessly negative and so lacking in balance and context that the interesting and useful points she brings up are easily dismissed by solar advocates as the rantings of someone who is “anti-solar.”
Lease Sale Produces Minimal Attention – Overshadowed by EPA’s BP announcement, Wednesday Gulf of Mexico lease sale at the Superdome (which interestingly did NOT feature an appearance from Interior Sect. Ken Salazar as the pre-election sale did) garnered $133.8 million in bids for 116 offshore blocks in the Western Gulf of Mexico. The agency received a total of 131 bids from 13 companies worth $157.6 million. The highest bid was submitted by Chevron for $17.2 million. This was the first sale under the Administration’s new 5-year plan, offering 20 million acres. The next Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale will offer 38 million acres in March. Of course, NIOA’s Randi Luthi said the level of activity in this sale will be a good indicator of industry’s confidence not only in the remaining resources of the Western Gulf of Mexico, but also in the Administration’s willingness to allow those resources to be developed in a timely fashion. Jim Noe of Hercules (713-301-6797) is a great contact to discuss the impacts of the sale. And to be expected, enviros are annoyed at the Administration for following through on the sale, bashing the President even though he was endorsed by Sierra Club, LCV and NRDC. My good Clean energy friend RL Miller was even funnier tweeting: “Black Friday, Cyber Monday, now All of the Above Wednesday.”
Hanger to Run for PA Gov – Our friend and former PA DEP head John Hanger announced that he is running for Governor of Pennsylvania, taking on first-term Republican Tom Corbett. Hanger has served Governors of both parties, joining Tom Ridge in 1993-98 as PUC Commissioner and Rendell’s environmental watchdog agency head in 2008. Hanger also founded the Powerhouse environmental group PennFuture, and has recently brandished more expert energy credentials, playing a much more aggressive middle-of-the-road, objective stance with regard to energy development. Other potential candidates include U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Rep. Joe Sestak, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, PA state Treasurer Rob McCord, former Rendell administration official Tom Wolf and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
GAO Coal Report Says Coal to Be Part of Future Mix – A new GAO report says coal will remain a major source for domestic electricity for decades to come, but will also provide a smaller share of the national energy portfolio. In a report to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, GAO said up to 18% of current coal-fired capacity could be retired by 2035 because of new environmental regulations and lower-priced natural gas. The GAO made no recommendations in the report on federal policy, however. The GAO also said that coal generation as a share of U.S. electricity will decline from about 42% last year to 38% in 2035. My colleague Scott Segal said it shows that coal is going to remain a mainstay of the U.S. economy by acknowledging how significant a role coal plays in the domestic power sector. Segal added industry has been clear that older plants with lesser pollution controls are most likely to be retired in the face of new pollution regulations and low-cost natural gas. Those plants are mostly used sporadically during peak demand periods, but play a role in keeping prices down during those spikes.
Sierra Club Wants to Block LNG Exports – As part of its none-of-the-above energy strategy (including solar and wind mind you) the Sierra Club issued a new report demanding that the Energy Department to examine and disclose the health and environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing before considering whether to move forward with exporting liquefied natural gas. Of course, there is much more to the story, including that DOE has long studied the issues and will soon release a highly-anticipated study by year’s end. Most experts see the Sierra club effort as a pre-emptive strike at a report that will not like. Our DOE and Energy export expert (say that fast three times), Salo Zelermyer can discuss (202-828-1718).
THIS WEEK’S GOINGS ON
SAFE Report to Highlight Plan to Oil Independence – On Monday, December 3rd, members of Securing America’s Future Energy’s (SAFE) Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC) will release a portfolio of policy recommendations intended to reduce U.S. dependence on oil, which the Council says is a paramount threat to the national, economic and fiscal security of America. The Council will unveil its report, “National Strategy for Energy Security: Harnessing American Resources and Innovation,” at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The Council’s recommendations will focus on three major goals: Increasing domestic production by taking full advantage of American oil and natural gas resources; Reducing domestic oil consumption through innovation and the adoption of new technologies; Invigorating initiatives in both production and consumption by reforming and streamlining the regulatory process. The report will also discuss more internationally-focused developments on the horizon which could significantly impact America’s energy security outlook. Speakers will include FedEx CEO Fred Smith, Sen. Lamar Alexander, former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Waste Management CEO David Steiner, former USMC Commandant General James Conway and former Goldman Sachs Asset Management Co-CEO Eric Schwartz.
New NARUC President Hosts Media Briefing – New National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Philip Jones of Washington will be hosting a Media Briefing on Monday, December 3rd at NARUC’s Washington headquarters. The event will start at 12 noon and run for approximately one hour. A light lunch will be provided on a first come, first serve basis. This event will focus on energy issues. Please RSVP to NARUC Director of Communications Rob Thormeyer by Friday, if you plan on attending so they can have an accurate headcount for lunch.
Sachs to Address Sustainability GWU – George Washington University’s Institute for International Economic Policy will host Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs in its City View Room, 7th Floor, on Monday, December 3rd at 4:00 p.m. Sustainable Development is emerging as the defining challenge of our generation, and it will critically require a new kind of interaction between policy and research. The Sustainable Development Forum is a series of talks by leaders in academia and in policy which will attempt to set the research agenda for sustainable development following the Rio +20 conference. What will sustainable development entail? What are the most crucial questions we need to be asking? How should academia go about searching for answers that will actually inform real action and policy changes?
Forum to Look at Growth – The Atlantic’s Forum on Conservation, Efficiency, and Growth, taking place Tuesday, December 4th at The W Hotel in Washington, DC. The forum will feature expert discussions on corporate sustainability initiatives, and convene panels to explore how sustainable business practices influence our economy, our workforce, and America’s ability to compete in the global marketplace. Speakers will include Darryl Banks, Vice President of Energy Policy at the Center for American Progress; Beth Keck, Senior Director of Sustainability for Walmart; Kathy Loftus, Global Leader of Sustainable Engineering and Energy Management for Whole Foods; Jackie Roberts, Director of Sustainable Technologies, Climate & Air for the Environmental Defense Fund; Beth Shiroishi, Vice President, Sustainability & Philanthropy for AT&T and Michael Washburn, Vice President of Sustainability for Nestle Waters North America.
Forum to Look at 20 Years of Energy Policy Act of ’92 – The Compete Coalition will host a policy forum on Wednesday, December 5th at 8:30 a.m. at the Phoenix Park Hotel on the Energy Policy Act of 1992, commemorating the 20th Anniversary of a landmark statute. Key architects of the legislation and today’s electricity industry leaders will look back (and look ahead) at the ongoing impact of EPAct ’92 on competitive electricity markets and the benefits those markets are delivering for our nation’s electricity consumers. Speakers will include former Senators Bennett Johnston and Don Nickles, former FERC Chair and Deputy Secretary of Energy Betsy Moler, former FERC Commissioner Bill Massey, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Federico Peña and former Deputy Secretary of Energy Linda Stuntz, among others.
McAuliffe to Headline 2012 VA Renewable Meeting – Potential VA Governor candidate Terry McAuliffe will be joining the Virginia Renewable Energy Assn for its annual meeting in Richmond on December 5th.
McAuliffe has been a leading voice and entrepreneur in the Renewable Energy Industry and has recently announced his intentions to run for Governor of Virginia in 2013.
NJ Set Clean Air Act Forum – The National Journal will hold a Clean Air Act Forum on Wednesday December 5th at 8:00 a.m. to explore the promise of the Clean Air Act, its legacy after 40 years, and a look ahead to its future with the new Congress and Administration. Our friend Amy Harder will speak with former EPA Administrator and White House Climate Czar Carol Browner. , as well as moderate a panels that includes David Markarian of NextEra Energy, Delaware Air Quality Director Ali Mirzakhalili, Jerome A. Paulson of the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National Medical Center, NRDC’s John Walke and ACCCE’s Paul Bailey.
WAPA, Buick to Hold Ride, Drive – The Washington Automotive Press Assn (WAPA) and Buick will hold a Holiday Buick Encore ride-and-drive and happy hour on Wednesday, December 5th at Indigo Landing in Alexandria, VA. Buick is on pace for its best retail sales year since 2006, thanks to a product line-up that features the style, performance and technology luxury buyers expect and demand. For the 2013 model year, along with a redesigned Enclave and a new high-performing, turbo-charged model for Verano, the all-new Buick Encore luxury crossover will begin arriving in dealerships soon and we’d like you to be among the first to drive it. In addition to the ride-and-drive, Buick marketing and engineering executives including Roger McCormack, Director Buick Global Marketing will be on-hand to provide perspective on the Encore. Buick Encore is the second of four new or significantly revised Buick vehicles to be introduced in the next 12 months, and is a beautiful, quiet, comfortable 5-passenger crossover with the right balance of performance and purposeful technology. Encore also continues to expand the Buick portfolio by appealing to a whole new audience of luxury buyers as we expect the segment to grow more than a half million units by 2015.
RFF Panel to Look at Markets, Enviro Regs – Resources for the Future will hold its December First Wednesday Seminar on Wednesday December 5th at 12:45 p.m. looking at markets for environmental regulations. Over the past 60 years, environmental economists have pioneered the idea of market-based approaches to solving environmental problems. Regulators have implemented market-based programs for air pollution, water pollution, land management, and other environmental policy problems at local, state, federal, and—in the case of greenhouse gas regulation—international levels. Some applications hew more closely than others to ideal market-based policy design, as defined by economic theory, and programs have met with varying degrees of success. As part of RFF’s Resources 2020 lecture series—our 60th anniversary exploration of how economic inquiry can address future environmental challenges—panelists at this seminar will discuss what we can learn from successful and unsuccessful applications of market-based policy and its desirability, feasibility, and design in the future. The panel includes RFF experts on environmental markets for air, water, and land, as well as leaders in the policy community with diverse experience on these issues, including former Clinton OMB Director Sally Katzen, NRDC’s David Doniger, former Bush 41 White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray and RFF experts Dallas Burtraw, Art Fraas, Margaret Walls and Leonard Shabman.
German Chamber Sets Wind Energy Conference – For the 5th time since 2007, the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest is bringing a delegation of German wind energy companies to Chicago for the German American Wind Energy Business Conference. This conference on December 5th will provide attendees with the chance to learn about the wind technology innovations and supply chain and service practices that German manufacturers use to stay competitive. Current wind energy opportunities and programs in Illinois will also be addressed. Attending the conference provides an excellent opportunity to connect with the German wind energy delegation companies to discuss business and partnership opportunities.
Forum to Look at Iranian Oil – The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center will host a discussion on Wednesday, December 5th at 2:00 p.m. entitled “Can the World Live Without Iranian Oil,” with Sara Vakhshouri, president of SVB Energy International; and Denise Natali, Minerva Chair, Institute of National Strategic Studies, National Defense University. Over the past year, Iranian oil production and exports have declined drastically to levels last seen at the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Yet the price of oil has remained relatively constant at around $100 per barrel or lower. Increasing oil production in neighboring Iraq and new discoveries in the United States and elsewhere, coupled with sluggish demand, raise the question of whether the world can live without Iranian oil and what that means for Iran’s ability to pursue a provocative nuclear program. The Iran Task Force, co-chaired by Atlantic Council Chairman Senator Chuck Hagel and Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, seeks to perform a comprehensive analysis of Iran’s internal political landscape, its role in the region and globally, and any basis for an improved relationship with the West.
Transmission Conference to Look at New Year, Agenda – Energy Central and TransmissionHub will host a symposium on December 5th in Washington, DC to Look at Transmission policy in the new year. TransForum East is the second of three regional gatherings of key industry decision makers that Energy Central kicked off in April 2012 with TransForum Texas. It is an event focused just on the Eastern Interconnection. I will speak on the “Implications of the 2012 Presidential Election on Electric Power Policy,” at 2:00 p.m. Other speakers include Trans-Elect/AWC CEO Bob Mitchell, Michael Skelly of Clean Line Energy and many others.
Houston Conference to Look at Regional Wind Issues – AWEA holds its Southwest Regional Wind Energy Summit on December 5th and 6th in Houston at the Hyatt Regency. The conference will provide a comprehensive view of all critical aspects of wind energy in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) regions of the United States, and delve deep into the most important present and forecasted issues facing wind energy development in these regions. Former Bush Administration official Jimmy Glotfelty will chair the event and speakers include former FERC Chair Pat Wood, SPP’s Carl Monroe and EDF Renewables CEO Gabriel Alonso.
Commerce to Host Webinar on Exporting Renewable Technology – The Department of Commerce/Commercial Service is holding a webinar on Thursday December 6th looking at export finance for Renewable Energy Technologies. This webinar will feature an update of USG export finance programs (Ex-Im, OPIC,TDA) for renewable energy technologies as well as export finance best practices from a private-sector perspective. Speakers include Craig O’Connor of the , Ex-Im Bank of the United States, Brian O’Hanlon of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Andrea Lupo of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and Ed Sappin of the Willowbrook Company.
Panel to Look at Carbon Tax, Fiscal Cliff – Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies will hold a Panel on Thursday, December 6th at 5:00 p.m. in its Rome Auditorium, #806 looking at Carbon prices and the fiscal cliff. With the looming threat of the ‘fiscal cliff,’ and effects of super-storm Sandy, there is renewed talk in policy circles of the benefits of putting a price on carbon, as a means of dealing with the federal deficit while tackling climate change. Leading experts about the viability of carbon market mechanisms throughout North America, like the Western Climate Initiative involving Québec and California will discuss the realities of a federal clean energy standard and the application of a national carbon tax in the context of simultaneously addressing emissions reductions and fiscal constraints. Panelists include Brookings Adele Morris, Richard Caperton of the Center for American Progress and Manik Roy of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. This event will be held in collaboration with the Québec Government Office in Washington, the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Québec in Montréal (Chair Raoul-Dandurand).
Panel to Look at National Security, Election Coverage – The National Security and New Media Journalism Project will present its National Security and New Media Conference panel and Mightier Pen Award Luncheon on Tuesday, December 11th at the Union League Club in New York. The Project was established to provide professional development for the next generation of national security journalists in an objective environment informed by the burgeoning opportunities of the new Media. It will honor Monica Crowley of FOX News. Panels prior to lunch will discuss new media, national security and the election. Panelists will include Rich Miniter of Forbes Magazine, former Washington Times security expert Bill Gertz and NRO Columnists Andrew McCarthy, among others.
Chamber Foundation to Look at Fiscal Challenges, States Efforts – The National Chamber Foundation will hold a forum on the tough decisions of our fiscal challenge on December 11th at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This event will highlight a report by the State Budget Crisis Task Force, co-chaired by Richard Ravitch, former lieutenant governor of New York, and Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve Board chair. The report examines six major fiscal threats to states across the nation: Medicaid, federal deficit reduction, underfunded retirement, taxes, local government fiscal stress, and state budget laws and practices. In addition, gubernatorial chiefs of staff from WI, CO, OK and VA will discuss how their states are balancing the need for fiscal responsibility while investing in a strong economic future. A federal panel featuring Joseph A. Califano and Chamber President Tom Donohue will then facilitate a robust discussion on the challenges facing our country and answer the looming question of what we can do to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Annual POWER-GEN Conference Tackles Key Issues – The annual POWER-GEN Conference will be held in Orlando, Florida on December 11-13 at the Orange County Convention Center. Nearly 200 industry experts will present new solutions and innovations for the future in 36 conference sessions broken up in 12 tracks. Click here to download the Conference-at-a-Glance PDF. The conference sessions are organized into multiple concurrent session tracks including industry trends / competitive power generation, environmental issues, emissions control, fossil technologies, gas turbine technologies, on-site power and plant performance. There will also be separate Tracks on Nuclear, Renewable and Geothermal power.
RFF to Host Geoengineering Lecture – Resources for the Future will continue its 60th anniversary Resources 2020 Nobel Laureate lecture series on Thursday, December 13th featuring Thomas Schelling, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, who will discuss Geoengineering and some gentle experimentation.
Forum to Look at Disaster Preparedness – The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation will hold a session of the CSIS-Pennington Family Foundation Series on Community Resilience Toward More Effective Disaster Philanthropy on Thursday, December 13th at 5:30 p.m. that will be an on-the-record panel discussion exploring how to move toward more effective disaster philanthropy. Following a natural disaster, philanthropy plays a vital role in aiding affected communities and can have an equally critical role in building long term community resilience. As private entities, philanthropists can operate with flexibility across sectors and creativity that generates unique contributions across the lifecycle of disasters—from preparedness to recovery. The panel will feature Dr. David Abramson of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Wal-Mart’s Steve Dozier, Bob Ottenhoff of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, USAID’s Tony Pipa and Joe Ruiz of the UPS Foundation Humanitarian Relief Program.
Chamber to Host Farm Innovation Forum – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation will co-host a program on Wednesday, December 19th highlighting the innovations and emerging opportunities that today’s agriculture industry are presenting. This program will identify many of the latest innovations and advances in agriculture and show how America’s agriculture community continues to feed an ever growing global population while at the same time supporting American job creation and competitiveness. Speakers include USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Secretary, Chamber President Tom Donohue, former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings (current President of the National Chamber Foundation), Peter Klein of the University of Missouri, AEI’s Nick Schulz, John Deere FarmSight Director Jerry Roell and Blake Hurst of the Missouri Farm Bureau.