In case you missed it Saturday, le Tour d’ France’s historic 100th edition kicked off Saturday to madness with a team bus getting wedged under the finishing banner that threatened the end of the first stage and two giant pile ups in the last few kilometers that knocked out the three best sprinters from a certain stage sprint finish…and that was only the first day. Tomorrow, the field heads from Corsica to mainland Southern France to start the trek to Paris. The 21 stages include two brutal mountain stages at 18 and 19 that are likely to determine race while inflicting massive pain on the peloton. Look for another update next week.
In case you didn’t notice, last week was a massive news week. There was so much going on that big things, like the President’s climate speech, hardly registered over the din of many other more important items, such as the SCOTUS cases on voter rights and DOMA. My colleagues Scott Segal (202-828-5845) and Jeff Holmstead (202-828-5852) answered tons of questions on climate, CSAPR and other things last week and remain at your beck and call.
This week is July 4th so little action in DC from a policy angle, but if you are in the Nation’s Capital for the 4th of July, you should try to make it over the Capitol Fourth on the mall. It is one of the most spectacular events of the year and crosses party, political and policy lines.
Two bits of history spark this week as well. It is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, another place close to DC that is a special place to visit. So much history, tragedy and strategery (as Will Farrell might say) makes the three epic days of Gettysburg one of the most interesting and historic battles ever. Take some time to check out many of the key issues that faced each side and why it was such a turning point in the preservation of our nation. Secondly, 60 years ago yesterday, the first Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan in 1953. Carscoops has some great facts on the ‘Vette. Boy it still looks good and I hope I’m still that fast when I hit 60!!!
Finally, with all the news last week, you may have missed this one. On Saturday morning, my colleague Josh Zive, who many of you know as a trade and campaign finance expert here at PRG, ventured onto C-Span’s Saturday Washington Journal, the call-in show that provides a forum for leading journalists and public policy makers to discuss key events and legislation. NRDC’s Bob Deans and Josh battled over climate, energy and the usual miscellaneous, less-relevant topics that C-Span callers tend to offer up. Check Out the video.
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IN THE NEWS
House Passes Offshore Energy Legislation – The House passed legislation from House Resources Chairman Doc Hastings that would allow joint energy development projects between U.S. companies and Mexico’s PEMEX Gas y Petroquímica, among other items that increase production. Our friend Khary Cauthen of API said the bill’s passage was a positive step for U.S. producers operating in the Gulf, while Jim Noe, Executive Director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition and Executive Vice President at Hercules Offshore, applauded the move, saying the legislation would boost our nation’s supplies of needed oil and gas and help us move beyond our government’s continued ambivalence about what to do with the natural resources we harbor just off our nation’s coasts. Noe: “President Obama recently reiterated support for an ‘All of the Above’ energy policy and has often voiced intent to decrease our reliance on imported energy supplies, many of which come from overseas regimes who do not share our nation’s core values. Yet Administration policy continues to ignore the full potential of our resources offshore. While over 20 percent of this country’s oil and gas production comes from the offshore, the Administration’s own 5-Year Plan for offshore development leaves approximately 85% of available areas off limits to energy exploration and production. The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act addresses this apparent contradiction, and the men and women of the Gulf energy industry stand ready to implement this proactive plan. Our nation’s economic and energy security will only benefit from optimizing available energy production today as we gradually transition to a next-generation energy portfolio. It’s time to get to work making it happen.
Climate Politics Starts – The Game is On…The advertising has started and even the President, before launching to Africa, did his Saturday Radio Address on climate change. While advertising and rhetoric is interesting, the larger questions on the policy include timetable, political and legal questions. In addition, reports say that EPA has sent the White House a new draft of its proposed greenhouse gas rule for future power plants. OMB will now review them.
Binz Nominated to FERC – Former Colorado PUC Commissioner Ron Binz was nominated to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Binz, a renewable energy proponent that served under Gov. Bill Ritter, would succeed outgoing FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. Binz could be controversial though. A report from the American Tradition Institute says Binz is a “well-known anti-coal crusader.” ATI says as Colorado PUC chair, Binz was heavily involved in pushing through the state’s “Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act,” which sought to move the state away from coal power to natural gas, only to find himself tripped up by ethical missteps revealed by his state’s Open Records Act. As a result of his involvement with the “Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act,” Binz had serious conflict-of-interest issue charges levied against him while PUC chair.
Fellow PUCs Support, Denver Post Hits Binz – Binz’s nomination drew praise from NARUC President Philip Jones, PSEG chief Ralph Izzo, Xcel Energy head Ben Fowke and Colette Honorable, chairwoman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission who was also mentioned as a possible candidate to lead FERC. The Denver Post, Binz’s hometown Paper had a much different take, unloading on Binz for his state travels and ethics. According to the Denver Post, “Months before the 2010 legislative session began, [Binz] engaged in meetings with executives from the natural gas industry and Xcel Energy…By early March 2010, he was even reassuring Xcel officials on how the commission would treat cost recovery under draft language.” The Post also said that Binz as a “consumer advocate,” would only be true if you happen to believe higher energy prices are a consumer’s best friend. In an article in The Energy Daily a few years ago, and later in an interview with the Post, Binz openly advocated for higher electricity prices as part of a comprehensive climate policy.
Macfarlane, Others Approved – In the flood of news last week, you may have missed that the Senate approved NRC Chair Alison Macfarlane Thursday night, sneaking under the June 30th wire. Macfarlane, who replaced the controversial Greg Jaczko in the middle of his term, will now serve a full five-year term as chairwoman. Several others were approved in the late night session before the Senate exited, including two CPSC commissioners (who were approved without hearings) Marietta Robinson and Ann Marie Buerkle, as well as OMB’s Howard Shelanski, who will become the next administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a key reviewer of environmental regulations.
Sussman Leaving EPA – EPA senior policy counsel Bob Sussman is leaving the agency by next Monday. Sussman served as EPA assistant administrator early in the Clinton administration and was a member of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s energy and environment team during the 2008 presidential election. HE also focused on EPA for Obama’s transition team. He also was a senior fellow at The Center for American Progress.
Valero to Supply Jet Fuel to DoD – Valero Marketing and Supply Co. has been awarded a $456.4 million contract to supply aviation turbine fuel to the Department of Defense. The company is a subsidiary of San Antonio-based refining and marketing firm Valero Energy. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy at Fort Belvoir, Va., is managing the contract.
Inconsistency in Aim to Power Africa – During his trip to Africa, the President said the US will roll out a $7 billion government-backed initiative to increase access to electric power in sub-Saharan Africa. The President said the goal is to double access to electric power. There remains one small problem with his approach. Most developing country often look to coal to provide low-cost and reliable power to build up new electric grids. The President has already directed the World Bank and other international organizations to stop funding coal projects.
GOING ON THIS WEEK
NOTHING… WOOOOO-HOOOO – It’s the July 4th Summer Congressional District Work Period, or Recess as some like to call it.
Heritage to Look at Reagan Enviro, Energy Issues – The Heritage Foundation will host a forum on Monday, July 8th at 12:00 p.m. in its Lehrman Auditorium looking at Ronald Reagan’s battle with environmental extremists and why it matters today. Reagan, with his unbridled faith in American ingenuity, creativity, and know-how and his confidence in the free-enterprise system, believed the United States would “transcend” the Soviet Union. To do so, however, as President, he had to revive and revitalize an American economy reeling from a double-digit trifecta: unemployment, inflation, and interest rates. He knew the economy could not grow without reliable sources of energy that America had in abundance. The environmental movement was in its ascendancy at the time and had persuaded Congress to enact a series of well-intentioned laws that posed threats of great mischief in the hands of covetous bureaucrats, radical groups, and activist judges. As a conservationist and an environmentalist, Reagan believed in being a good steward. More than anything else, however, he believed in people. Specifically, for him, people were part of the ecology as well. That was where the split developed. The event will be hosted by Edwin Meese III and will feature author William Perry Pendley, a former member of the Reagan Administration and author of some of Reagan’s most sensible energy and environmental policies. Pendley will provide an insider’s view of how Reagan fought the new wave of anti-human environmentalists and managed to enact laws that protected nature while promoting the prosperity and freedom of man – saving the American economy in the process.
Woolsey to Address JHU Forum on Energy – The Johns Hopkins SAIS program will host a forum on Monday, July 8th at 6:30 p.m. featuring Ambassador R. James Woolsey, a former Director of Central Intelligence, in its Nitze Building – Kenney Herter Auditorium. While our investment in alternative energy resources is improving, the US continues to be dependent on oil. Our need to import oil greatly impacts our foreign policy decisions and national security. Woolsey will share his views on how our dependence on oil, both domestic and foreign, affects our national security, and the potential for our energy policies to change in pursuit of smarter investment in energy alternatives.
Wind Hill Meeting Training Set – AWEA will sponsor its wind power on Capitol Hill event on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 9th and 10th. The Wind Power on Capitol Hill event is designed to develop participants’ advocacy skills. Through a familiarization with current federal energy policy issues on Capitol Hill, the event offers training from advocacy experts on how to effectively communicate with Congressional offices. The event shares specific techniques on work with member of Congress and arms participants with answers to tough questions, to prepare for effective and productive Hill meetings. Speakers will include FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff, White House CEQ expert Jon Powers, Texas PUC Chair Donna Nelson and Cal PUC Commissioner Catherine Sandoval, among many others.
ICF Webinar to Look at NGLs – ICF International will host an energy webinar on Tuesday July 9th at 11:30 a.m. on assessing the value of natural gas liquids. During the webinar, ICF expert Mike Sloan will discuss ICF’s long-term outlook on natural gas liquids markets and address the continual issues facing the NGL industry, including risks associated with major new investments, markets likely to face the most risk, and where the winners and losers are likely to be located.
Forum to Look at Transmission 101 – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute and WIRES (Working group for Investment in Reliable and Economic electric Systems) will host a briefing on Tuesday, July 9th at 2:00 p.m. in 2212 Rayburn about the operational basics of high-voltage transmission to help facilitate your understanding of the complex economic and policy challenges facing the grid in the 21st century. Transmission issues are a major concern for federal and state policymakers as well as your constituents. By delving into the grid’s operation and the interstate markets for bulk power it supports, the briefing is designed to provide a foundation for discussions about cost responsibility, land use issues, transmission planning, integration of variable renewable energy resources, and other issues that are becoming more important to the future of the power industry. Speakers for this event include: FERC Director of Policy Development Jeff Dennis, Jay Caspary of the Southwest Power Pool, Clean Line Energy Partners Wayne Galli and former FERC Chairman Jim Hoecker.
Forum to Tackle Reduce Plutonium Stockpiles – The Carnegie Endowment’s Nuclear Policy Program will convene a special briefing and discussion on Tuesday, July 9th at 2:00 p.m. to look at the controversial effort to reduce plutonium stockpiles. Panelists will discuss the program’s objectives and its difficulties, as well as options for minimizing plutonium that are now being explored. Speakers include Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith from the Center for Public Integrity, who have recently published four articles on this topic, and Frank von Hippel of Princeton University. The single most costly U.S. nonproliferation program currently underway faces a cloudy future in Washington. The Obama administration has proposed to halve planned spending for a U.S. plutonium disposition program that was crafted in negotiations with Russia and has been blessed by three U.S. presidents. DOE has begun studying alternatives, creating uncertainty about the future of a $7.7 billion nuclear fuel factory in South Carolina that lies at the U.S. end of the bargain. Lawmakers who wish to keep the project alive held up Ernest Moniz’s confirmation as energy secretary for a month and have threatened to block other nominations unless it proceeds.
Wyden, Upton Headline ACCF Speaker Events – The American Council on Capital Formation (ACCF) will hold a summer economic speaker series starting Tuesday, July 9th at 8:00 a.m. when Senate Energy Chair Ron Wyden will speak to the group at Johnny’s Half Shell. Other speakers will include Rand Paul on Tuesday, July 16th and House Energy & Commerce Chair Fred Upton on July 25th.
Demand Response Meetings Set – The National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid will be held on Tuesday-Thursday, July 9 – 11th at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, focuses on the business and policy aspects of demand response and its enabling technologies and applications. It devotes an entire day to roundtable discussions featuring experts in demand response and smart grid, who discuss with each other and with the audience the latest trends, issues, and business developments.
Boustany to Discuss LNG Exports at CSIS – The Center for Strategic & International Studies Energy and National Security Program and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Studies will host a discussion on Wednesday, July 10th at 8:30 a.m. on expanding U.S. trade markets and liquefied natural gas exports. The U.S. will soon become an exporter of liquefied natural gas into global markets. In addition to potentially changing the global energy map, liquefied natural gas exports will add to the shale gas revolution’s stimulus for the US economy, reduce trade deficits, and provide new sources of revenue to all levels of government. Rapidly growing Asian economies will need energy of all types creating a major opportunity for US gas exporters to provide clean natural gas and deepen the commercial relationship between our country and the Asian region. Congressman Charles Boustany will discuss his state’s efforts to expand energy exports and the importance of the Asian region to the North American gas market. He will be joined by CSIS experts Ambassador Karl Inderfurth, and Sarah O. Ladislaw, Co-director and Senior Fellow in the Energy and Security Program.
DOE to Discuss Solar Financing – The Energy Department will present a live webcast on Wednesday, July 10th at 2:00 p.m. looking at innovation and success in solar financing. The webcast will feature recent developments in solar project financing and customer acquisition models. The discussion will include an overview of recent developments in third-party solar financing, community shared solar, bulk purchasing, and Clean Local Energy Accessible Now/feed-in-tariff programs.
CSIS Discussion to Look at Intelligent Transportation Systems – On Wednesday, July 10th at 3:00 p.m., the Center for Strategic and International Studies will host James A. Lewis, CSIS scholar, and Dr. Hiroyuki Watanabe, Chairman of the ITS World Congress, for a conversation on the ways rapid investment in intelligent transport systems (ITS) and global trends in urban transformation are driving an exciting new era for economic development. The USA, Japan and Europe stand at the doorstep of new industries and jobs, disruptive technologies, environmental improvement, and enhanced community resilience. Later this year, over 90 nations will be represented at the 20th ITS World Congress in Tokyo, Japan. Detroit, Michigan and Bordeaux, France will host the 2014 and 2015 World Congress, respectively.
State Dept Expert to Address Economists – The National Economists Club will host conversation with the State Department’s Jennifer Harris on Thursday, July 11th at Noon at the Chinatown Garden Restaurant. Harris is a member of the Policy Planning Staff at State and is responsible for global markets, geo-economic issues and energy security. Prior to joining Policy Planning, Jennifer was a five-year member of the National Intelligence Council, where she helped to produce National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) and the NIC’s Global Trends 2025 Report. A Truman and a Rhodes Scholar, she holds degrees in Economics and International Relations from Wake Forest University (B.A.) and Oxford University (M.Phil), and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
Forum to Look at Military Biofuel Benefits –On Friday, July 12th, the National Capital Chapter of the National Assn for Energy Economics will hold a discussion with Dr. Joel Yudken to discuss his recent study assessing the economic consequences of military’s investment and purchase of advanced biofuels to meet its goal of replacing petroleum-based fuels with alternative fuels over the next decade. He will also speak on the state of the advanced biofuels market, the economic impact of advanced biofuels investments and the challenges the industry will face in its ability to reach commercial scale production.
Senate Energy on Fuels – The Senate Energy Committee is expected to hold a hearing on gasoline issues on July 16th. More details on this next week when We may know More about witnesses, etc.
NACo Conference Set For Ft Worth – The National Assn of Counties will hold its 78th Annual Conference and Exposition on July 19th in Fort Worth, TX. The Annual Conference provides county officials with the opportunity to vote on the National Association of Counties’ (NACo’s) policies related to federal legislation and regulation; elect officers; network with colleagues; learn about innovative county programs; find out about issues impacting counties across the country; and view products and services from participating companies and exhibitors.
NARUC Summer Meetings Focus on Cyber, Broadband, Climate, Safety Policies – Cyber security, broadband adoption, climate policy, pipeline safety, and much more will take center stage during the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Summer Committee Meetings July 21-24 in Denver. The meetings will bring in federal and State policymakers, industry officials, consumer advocates, and many critical stakeholders to the Denver Sheraton Downtown. The agenda, still under development, is available online. Topics under discussion include: measuring cybersecurity; national broadband policies; integration of renewable energy; addressing climate mitigation and adaption; electricity and gas interdependencies; and much more. Featured speakers include Federal Communications Commission member Jessica Rosenworcel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator Larry Strickling, Xcel Energy Chairman, President, and CEO Ben Fowke, and Questar Chairman, President, and CEO Ron Jibson. A complete list of speakers confirmed to date is available online.