It was great to catch the final early morning coverage of le Tour de France for this year’s race, won by Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali. He dominated from stage 3 to win going away. The completion of the most grueling event in sports will be minor though compared to the marathon of events focused on EPA’s new GHG rules this week.
It all started this morning with a press call with EPA Administrator McCarthy and continues over the next four days. Industry, labor unions, environmental groups and activists will all be adding their 50-cents to the debate. Again, I cannot wait to see the inflatables and stroller brigades… If you want pomp and circumstance, tune into the enviro’s calls (do you really need to sit on an hour-long press call to find out what NRDC thinks about the GHG plan, I mean they wrote it). If you want to get to the heart of the matter, the substance of the policy, you know who to call… We will be fully deployed with Segal in Atlanta, Josh Zive in Denver, Holmstead and I manning the streets of DC and ERCC researcher Chris Burk heading to Steel City. The testimonies will be posted here. I can also send if you prefer that.
In addition to the showcase of the public hearings, Congress will respond with several hearings of its own regarding the GHG plan for existing plants. House Energy, Senate Environment, Senate Budget and House Science will all address the issue, with House Energy hearing from all five FERC Commissioners (or would-be Commissioner as Norman Bay has not yet been sworn in.) Here is the testimony. The hearing will shine a bright spotlight on a number of the Commissioners’ disparate views on crucial electricity reliability issues and the Administration’s Clean Power Plan and will likely be much more intriguing than the public parade down at EPA HQ. Look for Commissioners, particularly Tony Clark and Phil Moeller, to focus on the lack of significant interagency coordination on reliability in the run-up to the proposal of the EPA rule. Look also for them to cover in detail the challenges faces by state and federal energy regulators and by the RTO’s in implementing the rule without significant threats to reliability. Our crack research team has been through the testimony and has some gems if you are interested. You can reach Scott Segal at 202-828-5845
Speaking of EPA on other issues, following last week’s very public, White House-driven news cycle stories about the 2014 RFS numbers, we learned that the proposal is headed for interagency review soon, with release expected in either August or September. Last week, a number of key Midwestern Democratic Senators were briefed by White House CoS John Podesta (why he was doing it and not EPA who knows??). Regardless, one of the attendees, Sen. Al Franken was happy to talk about it with our friend Erica Martinson at POLITICO, who was fresh off a visit to Iowa. There are obviously a lot of political impacts at play here and our men in the corn fields (Segal, Washburn, et. al) are ready to help with tips, background and resources. Something to stay on top of during August for all of us.
With the VA compromise on the table, Congress is likely to wrap up the only other necessary work before the August recess: an agreement on the Highway Trust Fund. Looks like a temporary deal will win the day over not having anything. Highway funding is just too important. Also, don’t forget the 17th annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO and Policy Forum on Thursday in the Cannon Building on Capitol Hill.
Finally, our friend Dina Cappiello of AP has a good piece on coal exports that is worth a read as it discusses the global flaws in dealing with emissions country-by-country among many other things… Lots of action and lots of questions? We can help. Please feel free to call.
IN THE NEWS
RFS Coming Soon – White House advisor John Podesta met with a number of Midwestern Democratic Senators late last week to tell them EPA’s final rule outlining 2014 volumes for renewable fuels mandates will be announced soon. Some might suggest that meeting might be helpful for key candidates running in the fall mid-term elections as they head back home for the August work period. The final volume mandates were due last in November, but EPA has been unable to finalize the standards. The draft caused a ruckus among the opponents/proponents of the heavily-debated, controversial provisions. The initial proposed volumes dropped the amount of ethanol required to be blended into gasoline under the RFS for the first time. Senators attending the meeting included Sens. Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Harkin, Patty Murray, Dick Durbin, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp. And one other interested party seems to be Iowa Sen Candidate Bruce Braley. My colleagues Eric Washburn (202-412-5211)and Scott Segal (202-828-5845) can cut through the rhetoric.
Boiler Rules Must Move Forward – A Court ruling on Friday said EPA must begin a long-stalled process to set limits on emissions released by industrial boilers. The ruling addressed a 2006 order which required the EPA to implement standards under the Clean Air Act to cover sources responsible for producing 90% of emissions of polychlorinated biphenyls, hexachlorobenzene and polycyclic organic matter. The Council of Industrial Boiler Operators Bob Bessette or my colleague Salo Zelermyer (202-828-1718) can help if you need additional information.
Industry Groups Urge Comment Period Extension, Restarting Rule – The Partnership for a Better Energy Future sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy a letter last week identifying five high-level concerns with the proposed carbon standards for existing power plants. The areas include electricity prices/economic impacts, rule structure/scope, technological achievability, additional regulations and the process/timeline. The letter says it is clear that the rule will be disruptive to and is fundamentally incompatible with numerous practical and technical aspects of America’s electricity system. It adds that it is based on a flawed interpretation of the Clean Air Act. Finally, the letter urges additional hearings and an extension of the 120-day comment period. I can send the letter If you haven’t seen it.
New Study Confirms Shale Emissions Profile – A new Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study says natural gas derived from shale has about half the greenhouse gas output of coal. The study matches claims in the gas/coal debate and runs counter to work by anti-natgas academic Robert Howarth of Cornell, who has said shale is much worse for the climate than conventional gas. The lead author is Garvin Heath of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Op-Ed: PA Health Sect Addresses Health Claims Regarding Shale – PA Health Secretary Michael Wolf took to the Harrisburg Patriot-News recently to address Marcellus Shale-related health questions raised by some opponents of drilling. Wolf says the state Health Department has protocols for all public health inquiries and concerns that employees must follow and praised the Department’s team for taking on the challenging task of providing information and a forum for discourse on public health issues related to shale development. Wolf said they are carrying out related monitoring activities under Act 13 of 2012, working with other state resources and public health stakeholders across the state to better understand the potential effects of Marcellus Shale drilling. He cited a Marcellus Shale health outcomes study from Geisinger Health System’s Research Institute, which is a large-scale, detailed look at health histories of hundreds of thousands of patients who live near natural gas wells and facilities, as well as work with schools of public health in Pennsylvania to further understand and study the potential health impacts of drilling.
NYT Looks at Carbon Capture, Storage – Not to be outdone by his colleagues Cliff Krauss, Coral Davenport and Mike Wines who in the last week have been covering lots on the environment , the NY Times’ Henry Fountain pours out a quality piece on carbon capture, its technical challenges and it role in the coal industry of the future. The story feature both the large-scale Kemper County project expected to launch operations next year and the smaller Saskatchewan’s Boulder Dam project.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
EPA Public Meetings Set – EPA will hold public meetings in Atlanta, Denver, Washington and Pittsburgh. The Atlanta, Denver and DC meetings will be tomorrow and Wednesday, running both days. The Pittsburgh meeting will be Thursday and Friday.
Heritage Looks at EPA Rule – Late this morning, the Heritage Foundation held a forum on EPA and regulation, focusing on the climate realities and fallacies, the EPA’s war on coal, and efforts to stop the EPA’s unchecked climate change regulation. Leading off the discussion was an address by PA Rep. Mike Kelly and a panel discussion with CEI’s William Yeatman and Heritage’s David Kreutzer.
Chamber to Look at Transportation Sector, Data – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will hold a forum today at Noon to explore how data is being used in the transportation sector. the event will feature presenters from both the public and private sectors that utilize data to provide unique services, engage their customers, promote safety and efficiency, and move the world in a different and better way.
DOE to Hold Biomass Forum – DOE will hold its 7th annual conference Biomass 2014 tomorrow and Wednesday, focusing on growing the future bioeconomy. Co-hosted with Advanced Biofuels USA, this year’s conference will take place at the Washington Convention Center. As in past years, Biomass 2014 will bring together top government officials and members of Congress—with industry leaders and experts from across the bioenergy supply chain—to continue ongoing dialogue about the critical challenges and key opportunities for the industry. The event will focus on the innovative technologies, priority pathways, financing strategies, and public policies needed to grow the bioeconomy of the future.
Nuclear Status Report Released – The Heinrich Böll Foundation will hold a press briefing tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. on the new World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014. There will also be a lunch open to all at Noon. Plummeting natural gas prices, sovereign debt crisis, increasing costs and improved economic conditions for renewable energy sources have created a challenging global environment for nuclear power. Contrary to the widespread perception – that we are seeing a global renaissance in nuclear power – this industry is actually in decline. The report provides a vital reality check to the current situation of the global nuclear industry as well as identifying important global nuclear trends, in particular with its renewable energy competitors. This year’s report features an in-depth reassessment of the nuclear power sector in Japan post-Fukushima: all of the Japanese reactors are currently shut down, dramatically reducing the number of operating reactors in the world. Time to adjust world nuclear statistics to industrial reality. Mycle Schneider, lead author of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report, is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), based at Princeton University, and a laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. He is the Coordinator of the Seoul International Energy Advisory Council (SIEAC). He has advised the French Environment Minister, the Belgian Minister for Energy and Sustainable Development as well as the German Environment Ministry, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and others. Mycle has given evidence or held briefings at parliaments in 14 countries and given lectures at twenty universities and engineering schools in ten countries. He is a frequent speaker at renowned international energy events.
FERC Commissioners to Testify on GHG Rule – The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. featuring FERC Commissioners and their perspectives on questions about EPA’s proposed clean power plan and other grid reliability challenges. All five FERC Commissioners will testify despite that new Commissioner Norman Bay has not been sworn in yet.
Senate Budget Looks at Climate Economic Impacts – The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the economic and budget impacts of climate change. Witnesses will include Mindy Lubber of Ceres, GAO’s Alfredo Gomez, CNA Military Advisory Board Executive Director and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security) Sherri Goodman, NERA’s David Montgomery and climate gadfly Bjorn Lomborg.
Senate Commerce Panel to Look at Gulf Restoration – The Senate Committee on Commerce’s panel on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. on the progress and challenges in Gulf Restoration post-Deepwater Horizon. The hearing continues the Committee’s oversight of restoration efforts following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The hearing will seek to assess the ongoing implementation of the 2012 RESTORE Act, and will also touch upon implementation of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, building upon the Committee’s June 2013 hearing, “Gulf Restoration: A Progress Report Three Years After the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.” Witnesses from the Department of Commerce, Gulf states, and other stakeholders will testify on both the progress made and the challenges faced in Gulf Coast restoration over the last year.
McCabe to Speak at NatGas Roundtable – The Natural Gas Roundtable will host Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, at its luncheon tomorrow. McCabe will present an overview of the EPA’s Proposed Clean Power Plan. Immediately following lunch, the Natural Gas Roundtable will host the Washington, DC premier of the film “Breaking Free: How the U.S. is Reducing its Carbon Footprint while Increasing its GDP.” The director of the film, Robin Bossert, will be available to provide background and answer audience questions.
Forum to Look at Climate National Security –Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will hold a forum on Climate Change and national security. The briefing will focus on the key recommendations and consensus points that emerged from June 4th discussion on the topic and highlight the next steps for action. Speakers will include Craig Gannett of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, former White House official Alice Hill, Ian Kraucunas of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, King County, WA Council Chair Larry Phillips and Jonathan White, Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy and Director of the Navy’s Task Force Climate Change.
Senate Enviro Panel to Look at Climate Threats – The Senate Environment panel on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety will hold a hearing tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. examining the threats posed by climate change. Witnesses will include Carl Hedde of Munich Reinsurance, Broward Co Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, Bill Mook of the Mook Sea Farm, Bjorn Lomborg and Ray Keating of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Senate Energy to Look at Energy Development on Public Lands – The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. to examine breaking the logjam at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), focusing on ways to more efficiently process permits for energy production on Federal lands, and understanding the obstacles in permitting more energy projects on Federal lands, including S.279, the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013, to promote the development of renewable energy on public land, and S.2440, the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014, to expand and extend the program to improve permit coordination by the Bureau of Land Management.
House Science to Look at GHG Rule – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. the House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the legal foundation for EPA’s carbon plan. Witnesses will include Bracewell’s Jeff Holmstead, former DOE fossil office head for President Obama Charles McConnell (now at Rice University) and Mass DEQ Commissioner David Cash.
EPA’s Perciasepe to Go to House Small Biz – On Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., the House Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing on whether EPA is meeting its small business obligations. The purpose of the hearing is to examine EPA’s compliance with renewable fuels law in relation to the agency’s recent rule makings. EPA’s Bob Perciasepe will testify.
Annual Congressional Renewable Expo Set – The 17th annual Congressional Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency EXPO + Forum will be held Thursday in the Cannon House Office building in cooperation with the House and Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucuses.
CANCELLED Press Club to Host Nigerian President – The National Press Club event hosting Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan at a NPC luncheon on July 31st has been cancelled because of scheduling conflicts. Jonathan was to discuss the prospects of Africa’s largest oil producer.
USEA to Look at Carbon Scrubbing – The United States Energy Association will hold a forum on Tuesday August 5th at 2:00 p.m. looking at technology options for scrubbing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. The forum will feature a discussion of the technical and economic hurdles that need to be overcome, Dr. Klaus Lackner will consider the policy implications of air capture in the current climate change debate. Capture of carbon dioxide from ambient air renders emissions from any source reversible and it defines the cost of unauthorized emissions. Rather than dwelling on the possibility that air capture could motivate a delay in action, the presentation will focus on the ability of air capture to create negative emissions, which the recent IPCC report considers necessary. Finally, Dr. Lackner will outline different pathways for development and implementation of air capture technologies.
DOE to Host Webinar on “National Energy Literacy” – Next Tuesday, August 5th at 3:00 p.m., the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy respectfully invites you to join a virtual town hall featuring ongoing national, local and new media efforts from across the country in utilizing the Department of Energy’s Energy Literacy Framework to address one of our nations’ biggest national challenges, “Energy Illiteracy. The purpose of the webinar is to share ongoing energy educational materials and literacy efforts from across the country and how to engage diverse learners in energy. The webinar will include rapid fire sessions to showcase energy literacy efforts and resources for teachers and STEM professionals.
TX Enviro Superconference Set for Austin – The 26th annual Texas Environmental Superconference will be held on Thursday and Friday, August 7th and 8th, at the Four Seasons. Several Bracewell attorneys will be speaking on panels with speakers including Lowell Rothschild, Rich Alonso and Tim Wilkins. TCEQ’s Bryan Shaw and EPA’s Ron Curry will also speak.
SEJ Conference Set for NOLA – On September 3-7, the Society of Environmental Journalists will hold its annual Meeting in New Orleans. Usually later in October, this year the conference comes in early September due to scheduling and availability. Nonetheless, it will be a great time and feature all the usual events, including the famous Bracewell reception on Thursday night. Tours will include natgas drilling, chemical corridor, offshore drilling, marshlands and many other tours. Look for broad panel discussions on the EPA’s GHG rules as well as lots of other great stuff.
Reid Clean Energy Summit Set – Harry Reid’s 7th annual National Clean Energy Summit will bring together clean energy visionaries and leaders, public officials, business executives, energy policy experts, entrepreneurs, investors, citizens, and students, to discuss empowering Americans to develop our massive clean energy supplies, secure greater energy independence, and create jobs. The day-long clean energy summit will be cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Reid, the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Giuliani, Segal Headline Shale Law Conference – The Institute for Energy Law and the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation (EMLF) the 5th Law of Shale Plays Conference on September 4 – 5th in Pittsburgh at the Omni Hotel. My colleagues Jason Hutt and Lowell Rothschild are among the speakers. The event will also feature a keynote conversation with former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, hosted by PRG’s Scott Segal. Other speakers include Cabot’s Kevin Cunningham, Baker Hughes’ Will Marsh and SW Energy’s Mark Boling.
Richardson, Perino, Ridge to Headline Shale Insight Conference – The Marcellus Shale Coalition will hold SHALE INSIGHT 2014 on September 23 – 25 in Pittsburgh focusing on shale development, featuring some of the most prominent industry and government leaders. The event will feature three days of pre-conference workshops, technical and public affairs insight sessions, major keynote addresses, and a dynamic exhibit hall featuring all the major shale players. Speakers will include former Energy Secretary and NM Governor Bill Richardson, former PA Gov and first Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House Press Secretary and Fox News Personality Dana Perino, XTO President Randy Cleveland and many more.