Well it was sure nice to slow down last week. While I spent most of the sun-drenched week here in DC at a lax All-American showcase my daughter was playing in, it was nice to take a deep breath and not have to check my phone. Better than me, Segal was steaming up and down the New England sea coast on the Queen Mary 2, taking a short hop up from NYC to Nova Scotia. He reports it was an awesome trip.
It was also nice to catch up on some stuff that slips through the cracks when everything is sooooo busy with day-to-day warfare. One of those things is our annual reception at the Society of Environmental Journalists event. We are starting our outreach for sponsors and helping find folks for panels. This year it is earlier than usual (September 3-7) because it is in NEW ORLEANS. There will be lots of oil and gas discussions as well as tours of natgas and offshore facilities. There will also be many discussions about the pieces of the President’s Climate plan and its legal questions. Check out the agenda here.
So…if you were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, you had a great sports weekend. (Even if you weren’t it was pretty good). Kate and William caught the first stage of le tour de France, which this year actually started in England in Leeds. The stage ended in Harrogate with a crash that forced the withdrawal of famed Brit sprinter and favorite son Mark Cavendish. The world’s most grueling sporting event rides on to London today then though Belgium/France toward Paris in three weeks. Then, in a stroke of luck, Kate/Bill just happened to land prime box seats for a brilliant Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. I hope you were able to watch the 5-set epic battle. It was one for the ages, with Djokovic finally breaking Federer in the 10th game of the 5th set after Federer fought back from a match point trailing 5-2 in the 4th set. Unbelievable tennis… All this and the World Cup Semifinals as well: Argentina v Nederland and Germany v. Brasil (without key players Neymar (injury) and Silva (cards)).
The end of the July 4th recess and the impending mid-term elections means there are only four weeks to the August recess. In that time, there are two really important things that Washington has on its plate. First is a “must-do” that addresses the highway trust fund. Lawmakers have until August 1st to come up with an agreement or risk delaying payments to states. The fund is expected to run out of money at the end of August. Especially in an election year where millions of dollars and millions of jobs are at risk, (HTF paid for $37.4 billion in road projects last year) this is likely to be the one thing that will happen.
The other item that will garner a lot of political and policy attention is the EPA’s new GHG rule for existing power plants. While both the Congress and Administration, as well as industry and enviro groups, are all positioning around the issue. We will see EPA public hearings at the end of July in Atlanta, DC, Denver and Pittsburgh. Between now and then, Congressional hearings will continue with about just about everybody digging into the issue at some point., including Friday when the House Energy subpanel continues its investigation by hearing from constitutional lawyers who will examine EPA’s authority to compel states to act on environmental matters under the constraints of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
This week, Senate Energy holds field hearing in Louisiana today, while others will focus on European energy security and funding bills. Look for the beginning s of challenges to the President’s GHG plans in the funding bills. A powerful tool used successfully in the past, it has been less successful of late. Next week on Monday, EIA holds its annual Energy Conference and NARUC will hold its summer meetings in DC.
Finally, this July 4th was the 75th anniversary of legendary Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig heartbreakingly said goodbye to baseball with his iconic “Luckiest Man” speech at Yankee Stadium in 1939. The degenerative effects of a nerve disorder, best known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), would ultimately take his life less than two years later. An important day in history that will long be remembered because of the Iron Horse’s grace, humility and resilience.
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IN THE NEWS
ERCC to Ask for EPA Comment Extension – As mentioned briefly last week, ERCC will shortly be filing with EPA its request for extension of the comment period for the rule limiting carbon emissions from existing facilities under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Of interest in the request, ERCC will note that those concerned with the timeliness of carbon policy would be better served by the comment extension request. Both the EPA and the regulated community could use the additional time to address technical and legal problems with the proposal. If these issues go unaddressed, the Agency is more likely to have a rule that will be set aside by the federal courts or collapse under its own weight due to poorly conceptualized outcomes for states, utility regulators, system operators, sister federal agencies, and others charged with ultimate implementation of the rule. Let us know if you would like a copy.
Energy To Promote More Loan Guarantees – DOE issued a loan guarantee solicitation late last week, making as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. This solicitation represents the next step in the Department’s effort to support the deployment of innovative, clean energy technologies at commercial scale in the U.S. The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market-ready. Within the solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the appropriate requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities including micro-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams; and efficiency improvements.
Cape Wind Completes First Loan Guarantee Step – Speaking of Loan Guarantees, DOE also has taken the first step toward issuing a $150 million loan guarantee to support the construction of the Cape Wind offshore wind project with a conditional commitment to Cape Wind Associates, LLC. If constructed, the project would be the first commercial-scale offshore wind facility in the U.S., with a capacity of more than 360 megawatts (MW) of clean energy off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. DOE will continue to monitor the project’s development and work to reach final agreement before closing the loan guarantee. Under the proposed financing structure for the Cape Wind project, DOE would be part of a group of public and private lenders. This co-lending arrangement will help build private sector experience with offshore wind projects in the U.S. while reducing taxpayer exposure.
Sharks in CA, NJ Waters Remind – Shark are all over the news this week with incidents in New Jersey and California getting most of the attention. It reminds me though that our friend and Washington Post Environmental/White House report Juliet Eilperin has written about sharks many times including her recent book Demon Fish: Travels through the Hidden World of Sharks. The book is a history of sharks role in society from thousands of years ago to today. She looks at man’s current impact and the Shark fin trade as well.
NYT Gems in Recent Days – The New York Times rolled out two excellent articles over the July 4th weekend. On the 4th, our friend Coral Davenport and Michael Barbaro highlighted Tom Steyer and his lingering investments in Coal and the impacts they are still having despite his divestment rhetoric. NYT cites the investment in a major coal facility in Australia funded by Farallon where they made bundles Of cash. Then Sunday, Coral highlighted the influence of NRDC in actually pretty much writing the President’s climate proposal. The very same environment community that hammered my friend Jeff Holmstead over President Bush’s Clean skies program and industry influence, pretty much willingly recognizes their key role in the President’s plan.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Forum Focused on Mexican Energy Issues – The CSIS Energy and National Security and Americas Programs will host a forum today at 1:30 p.m. featuring Jesus Reyes Heroles, Former General Director of Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) and Executive President of Grupo de Economistas y Asociados, Pedro Haas, Senior Adviser at McKinsey & Co and Ed Morse, Head of Commodities Research at Citigroup, to discuss the recently introduced reforms to the Mexican Oil and Gas sector, the likely path forward, the implications for PEMEX and the resultant impacts on world oil markets. Ambassador Medina Mora, Mexican Ambassador to the United States, will provide introductory remarks. Guy Caruso, Senior Adviser at CSIS, will moderate. Despite its position as the world’s 9th largest producer of oil and the third-largest in the Western Hemisphere, Mexico has been plagued by consistent declines in production. At the end of 2013, Mexico approved historic legislation that would end the ban on private sector participation in the Mexican energy sector. These reforms promise to address many of the obstacles that have led to the country’s declining oil production. Before the reforms can take effect, however, the Mexican Legislature must pass secondary laws that focus on the fiscal regime, especially important will be the exploration and production contracts.
Senate Energy to Hold Field Hearing on Offshore Drilling – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources hold a field hearing in Lafayette, Louisiana today at 2:30 p.m. on drilling on the outer continental shelf at the Cajundome Conference Center. Witnesses will include BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank, EIA’s Adam Sieminski, Shell’s Kent Satterlee, LLOG Exploration’s Joe Leimkuhler, Aries Marine CEO Court Ramsay and Port Fourchon executive director Chett Chiasson.
Senate Foreign Relations to Look at European Energy Security – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs will convene a hearing tomorrow on European energy security. Witnesses will include State Department officials Amos Hochstein and Hoyt Yee.
IEA Chief to Discuss Gas Market Report – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host a forum tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. featuring Anne-Sophie Corbeau, who will present the IEA’s Medium-Term Gas Market Report. The annual report, which gives a detailed analysis and five-year projections of natural gas demand, supply and trade developments, sees global demand rising by 2.2% per year by the end of the forecast period, compared with the 2.4% rate projected in last year’s outlook. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) will meet much of this demand, with new pipelines also playing a role. The Medium-Term Gas Market Report is part of a series of annual reports the IEA devotes to each of the main primary energy sources: oil, gas, coal, renewable energy and – as of last year – energy efficiency.
House to Mark Interior Funding Bill – The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will meet Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. in B-308 Rayburn to markup the FY 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. Our Man Ed Krenik is on the action if you need information.
Forum to Look at Carbon, Efficiencies – On Thursday at noon in our building at 2000 K Street (Oppenheimer on the 8th Floor), the Wharton DC Green Business Forum will host Jeff Erikson, Director of Global Projects, Carbon War Room for a discussion of current events. The Carbon War Room (CWR) accelerates the adoption of business solutions that reduce carbon emissions at gigaton scale and advance the low-carbon economy. They focus on addressing the barriers that reinforce the status quo and prevent capital from flowing to sustainable solutions with compelling returns.
House Science to Look at Fusion Energy – On Friday at 9:00 a.m., the House Science, Space & Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing on fusion energy. Witnesses will include GAO’s Frank Rusco, DOE’s Pat Dehmer, ITER Council Chair Robert Iotti and Ned Sauthoff, U.S. ITER Project Director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
House Energy to Look at Fed, State Enviro Policy Implementation – Also Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee panel on Environment and the Economy continues its investigation of the new GHG rule with a hearing on Constitutional Considerations and States vs. Federal environmental policy implementation.
Forum to Look at Transportation Future – The Center for American Progress will hold a forum on Friday at 10:00 a.m. looking at the future of transportation technology. A technological revolution is coming to transportation that will forever change both how we travel and how we pay for our travel. Nationwide, 117,000 active highway and public transportation projects and 700,000 workers rely on funding from the Highway Trust Fund. Yet, the U.S. Department of Transportation projects that the fund will run out of money in late July 2014. Since 2008, Congress has backfilled the fund with $54 billion in general tax revenues with another $170 billion needed in order to keep the fund solvent over the next 10 years. New vehicle technology platforms will allow states and the federal government to charge drivers for every mile they drive rather than how much fuel they consume. The forum will look at what this new technology means for privacy, roadway congestion, and safety. The Keynote speaker will be Rep. Earl Blumenauer, with other speakers including Robert D. Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s Leo McCloskey, Sen. Tom Carper transportation policy advisor Colin Peppard and Joshua Schank of the Eno Center for Transportation.
Enviro Groups to Host Anti-NatGas Rally – The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is hosting a national rally to stop natural gas exports at Cove Point on Sunday on the National Mall.
NARUC Summer Meetings Set – The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Summer Committee Meetings, one of three conferences NARUC holds each year, will take place at the Omni Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas, from July 13-16. The meeting will feature discussions on the top regulatory challenges across all utility sectors—water, electricity, natural gas, and telecommunications. Panels will tackle the latest developments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark greenhouse gas-emissions proposals, Liquefied Natural Gas exports, Internet neutrality and the transition from traditional telephone service to IP-based networks. Featured speakers include Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur, FERC Commissioner Tony Clark, Federal Communications Commission Member Mignon Clyburn, Environmental Protection Agency Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Administrator Cynthia Quarterman, Duke Energy President, CEO Lynn Good, Luminant CEO Mark McFarland, and many more.
EIA Energy Conference to Feature Upton – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will hold its 2014 EIA Energy Conference on July 14th and 15th. The EIA Energy Conference has become a premier forum for addressing energy issues in the United States and around the world. This event will bring together thought leaders from industry, government, and academia to discuss current and future challenges facing domestic and international energy markets and policymakers. The conference will feature keynote speakers including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton, IEA Director Maria van der Hoeven and IHS Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin, among many others.
EPA to Host Clif Bar, Steelcase to Discuss Supply Chain Sustainability – EPA’s Green Power Partnership (GPP) will host a webinar on July 15th at 1:00 p.m. on supply chain sustainability and green power use. The session will focus on supply chain sustainability efforts, including ways to engage suppliers to use green power. Carbon management within the supply chain is becoming essential to an organization’s overall carbon reduction strategy, and encouraging suppliers to use green power for their own operations can lead to impressive results. For companies and organizations looking to take the next step in their green power strategies, supply chain engagement can be an excellent way to achieve substantial environmental benefits. This webinar will feature EPA Green Power Partners Clif Bar & Company and Steelcase. Speakers include EPA’s Mollie Lemon, Clif Bar’s Elysa Hammond and Steelcase’s John DeAngelis. You also may recall our friend Keely Wachs who formally worked with us at Brightsource Energy worked at Clif Bar.
Forum to Look at Venezuela Oil – The Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center will host a discussion on Wednesday July 16th on Latin American energy and the future of Petrocaribe. The huge Venezuelan oil subsidy enters its 10th year, and continues to provide Caracas with political support from its closest neighbors – but at what cost to the region? Given Venezuela’s economic demise, will Petrocaribe continue delivering into the future? Now is the moment to examine energy alternatives for the Caribbean and Central America. This event will launch the Atlantic Council’s new report, “Uncertain Energy: The Caribbean’s Gamble with Venezuela,” authored by Arsht Center Senior Nonresident Energy Fellow David L. Goldwyn and his associate, Cory R. Gill.
WCEE To Discuss Electricity Market Status – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment will hold a Brown-bag Luncheon on Wednesday July 16th at Noon focused on electricity markets. The brown bag discussion will highlight the different perspectives on the constantly evolving wholesale electricity markets and the challenges that face market participants when the perceptions of what is “right” and “wrong” behavior change. The discussion will cover what market operators tend to expect from market participants related to compliance with the market’s rules, interacting with market monitors, transparency in FERC’s Enforcement philosophy and processes, the role of trading companies in the wholesale power markets and the impact of unclear market rules and enforcement procedures on infrastructure investment and market participation. Speakers will be Vince Duane, Vice President and General Counsel of PJM Interconnection and Kevin Gates of the Powhatan Energy Fund.
McCabe to Address ICF Energy Breakfast – ICF hosts its July Energy Breakfast on Thursday July 17th at the National Press Club featuring EPA Air Administrator Janet McCabe. McCabe will discuss EPA’s newly released Existing Source Performance Standards (ESPS) regulations for power plants. The discussion will focus on how the regulations affect states, regions, companies and customers as well as are the benefits worth the costs.
Forum to Look at SCOTUS Decisions on Air Rules – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) and Air and Waste Management Assn (AWMA) will hold a forum on Thursday, July 17th to look at an industry view of recent Supreme Court Decisions on Air Rules. The forum will look at the Supreme Court decisions on the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the GHG PSD Rule. CSAPR applies to air emissions from electric generation facilities that EPA determined has impact across state lines; the GHG PSD rule applies to all industry and if upheld, EPA can lower the trigger threshold to cover more facilities. EPA’s exercise of authority for both rules are likely to have broader implications for industry for other air pollution issues. Roger Martella, former General Counsel of EPA and partner at Sidley Austin LLP, and Linda Kelly, Vice President and General Counsel for the National Association of Manufacturers, will share their views on the Supreme Court decisions and the implications for industry. Clara Maria Poffenberger will serve as moderator.
Group to Host Forum, Social – The Leaders in Energy and the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) will co-hosted professional networking Happy Hour on Thursday July 17th at 6:00 p.m. at the Bier Baron Tavern with a focus on new economic and energy paradigms. The event will focus on steady state economics questioning how consumption and economic growth impact essential ecosystems and ecological limits and feature noted author and founder of CASSE, Dr. Brian Czech. How sustainable are current economic policies which promote economic growth and consumption? Reports indicate that we currently consume the equivalent of 1.5 planets and, at current rates, this will increase to 2 planets by 2030. The problem is…we only have one planet. Some visionaries are calling for a new paradigm designated as “Steady State Economics” that will promote policies and mechanisms for an economy that thrives within ecological bounds and is more equitable for all. In his book, “Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and the Steady State Solution,” Dr. Brian Czech marries economics, biology, and political science in a brilliant account of why we need to rethink growth.
EPA Public Meetings Set – EPA will Hold public Meetings in Atlanta, Denver, Washington and Pittsburgh. The Atlanta and Denver meeting will be on July 29th while DC will be July 30 and Pittsburgh on July 31st.
Annual Congressional Renewable Expo Set – The 17th annual Congressional Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency EXPO + Forum will be held Thursday – July 31 (9:30 am – 4:30 pm) in the Cannon House Office building in cooperation with the House and Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucuses.
Press Club to Host Nigerian President – The National Press Club will host Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan at a NPC luncheon on July 31st to talk about the prospects of Africa’s largest oil producer. More here and as we get closer.
TX Enviro Superconference Set for Austin – The 26th annual Texas Environmental Superconference will be held on Thursday and Friday on August 7th and 8th at the Four Seasons. Several Bracewell attorneys will be speaking on panels on the many speakers, including Lowell Rothschild, Rich Alonso and Tim Wilkins. TCEQ’s Bryan Shaw and EPA’s Ron Curry will also speak.