Well that was a bizarre week last week… Finally, the Keystone Pipeline. While it was somewhat expected, the decision regarding Keystone sends a bad signal to the energy sector. The Administration’s major plans for new energy sources – from bringing natural gas to market to developing alternative renewable energy to enhancing the benefit of shale development – all require commitments to overcoming obstacles to new infrastructure. But the lesson of Keystone is that support for infrastructure in certain circles extends only as far as the politics of the moment.
One more final item on Keystone timing: certainly its timing prior to Paris is relevant, but perhaps more important is the pass that it gives newly-elected Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, who likely opposes Keystone but could never really say that. How will Canada respond in Paris to this favor? Maybe a good questions to ask. All right, let’s really say no more about this after reading my friend Dave Roberts’ final column on it. The only thing that may remain is the litigation that will likely follow.
In case you missed it with shiny objections of Exxon and Keystone, you may have missed an actual important issue: countries took a historic step to work together on a 2016 Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to reduce the production and consumption of harmful hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), greenhouse gases that can be up to 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change. AHRI President Steve Yurek was in Dubai ahead of negotiators and industry support helped paved the way for success.
No action in Congress this week as Members return home to Congressional districts to celebrate our veterans on Wednesday. Always a great opportunity to thank veterans for our freedoms, but in reality every day ought to be Veterans Day.
NARUC is going full bore already in Austin starting yesterday. They have Gina McCarthy in the house today. IPAA is holding its 86th annual meeting in New Orleans today and tomorrow. Finally, EPA launches its FIP rule public hearings starting in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday. They roll on next week in Denver (M, Tu), DC (W, Th) and Atlanta (Th, F). Speaking of GHGs, our friends at E&E News are featuring a new map on their Power Plan Hub focusing on which states are suing and including a chart explaining whether they are writing compliance plans. As well, the Council on Foreign Relations had a great piece from Jeff Colgan on why last week’s China Coal miscalculation really matters.
Get ready for next week as Congress returns for another busy week session before the Thanksgiving break. Expect hearings on GHG regs, climate change, Paris, the oil & gas well control rule and RFS among other items. And remember: the RFS rule is due by the end of November, but you may recall, the decision was dropped last year the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (…I’m just sayin’… ) Last week a bipartisan group of 184 House members sent a letter that calls on the EPA to set the final level for ethanol in 2016 at a level that would account for the 10% blendwall.
Finally today, there is a new NERA analysis shows EPA’s power plan comes with a hefty price tag that could approach $300 billion and raise electricity prices in each of the 47 states subject to the new regulation. The state-by-state breakdown shows consumers in 40 states could see double-digit electricity price increases, and 28 states could face electricity price spikes greater than 20%.
Call with questions…Best,
IN THE NEWS
World Leaders to Expand Montreal Protocol to Include HFCs – You may have missed it last week, but countries took a historic step to work together on a 2016 Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to reduce the production and consumption of harmful hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), greenhouse gases that can be up to 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change. Reaching agreement on this decision by the Parties will pave the way to help all countries transition to alternatives and away from HFCs. The decision charts a course for additional high-level dialogue to reach consensus on setting a timeframe for freezing and ultimately phasing down the production and consumption of HFCs. The U.S., with the HVAC industry in support, has been pushing for this for a number of years now, only to meet with determined opposition from many developing nations. The fact we now have agreement on parameters for what would be acceptable in an amendment next year is the fruit of long and serious negotiation and persuasion by the government and NGOs.
Refrigerants Industry Paved the Way for the Deal – Stephen Yurek, President & CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, was in Dubai using industry support to pave the way for the negotiations. Yurek said “AHRI has supported including HFCs in the Montreal Protocol for many years. Even as other MP signatories have debated the original North American Proposal to do so, AHRI’s member companies — including refrigerant producers and original equipment manufacturers — have proactively been researching potential alternative refrigerants to ensure that the world’s air conditioning and refrigeration equipment manufacturers will have access to appropriate refrigerants. AHRI, U.S. government agencies, and energy efficiency advocacy groups have all worked diligently for many years to ensure a phase-down of these chemicals. This collaboration is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when all parties work together in good faith to achieve a common goal.”
NERA Report Shows Tough Impacts – New analysis from NERA Economic Consulting shows EPA’s power plan comes with a hefty price tag that could approach $300 billion and raise electricity prices in each of the 47 states subject to the new regulation. Despite these enormous costs, the rule does nothing to prevent global climate change. Despite the fact that the president’s plan will have virtually no effect on climate change, NERA’s analysis shows that all of the Lower 48 states will see electricity price increases because of the rule. Consumers in 40 states could see double-digit electricity price increases, and 28 states could face electricity price spikes greater than 20 percent. The annual cost of at least $30 billion per year for the plan is three times greater than the cost of EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics rule, which the U.S. Supreme Court criticized by saying, “It is not rational … to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in … benefits.”
EWG Report Says 2nd Gen Biofuels Crowded out by Ethanol – EWG and University of California experts have released a new report that says compared to corn ethanol, biofuels from next-generation feedstocks could greatly reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. EWG measured the carbon emitted over the life cycle of ethanol made from switchgrass and from corn stover, the stalks and leaves left on fields after harvest. EWG’s analysis found that the life-cycle carbon intensity of corn stover ethanol is 96% lower than gasoline and that of switchgrass ethanol is 47% lower than gasoline.
By contrast, EPA studies show that the life-cycle carbon intensity of conventional corn ethanol is greater than gasoline. Yet current federal policy – the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, established in 2005 – strongly favors the production of corn ethanol at the expense of cleaner alternatives.
States File Suit Against New Power Plant Rule – West Virginia today led 22 other states in suing over EPA’s carbon rule for new power plants, expanding its litigation into the second of the two power plant carbon rules published last month. The suit says only that the rule – which requires new coal-fired power plants to use partial carbon capture technology to limit their emissions – oversteps EPA’s authority and is “not in accordance with law.” The Clean Air Act requires EPA to regulate new sources of pollution before existing sources, meaning that if the new plant rule is tossed out by a court, the larger Clean Power Plan goes down as well. The states involved in the suit are West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Also party to the suit are the Arizona Corporation Commission, and environmental agencies for Louisiana and North Carolina. New Jersey, which joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging EPA’s carbon rules for existing plants, did not participate in today’s filing. The new lawsuit likely will be joined with one brought against the new plant rule last month by North Dakota. Murray Energy and the Energy & Environment Legal Institute have also sued over the new plant rule.
FOIA Gadflies Connect Enviro, EPA Collaboration – New Litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has revealed more damning and highly relevant facts regarding the Clean Power Plan’s impact and connection between environmental activists and EPA staff. E&E Legal’s Chris Horner: “Collusion with green groups is the hallmark of this EPA; here it affirms these rules were plainly created clearly outside of the law, and warrant an immediate stay.” EPA’s GHG rules have already caused numerous plants to close, according to an email and XLS spreadsheet attachment sent by Sierra Club lobbyist John Coequyt to a senior EPA official and former Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) lawyer, Michael Goo. Goo was featured in a New York Times article as part of the “NRDC mafia” which made its way into government and was tasked with drafting EPA’s Options Memo. E&E Legal added internal Sierra spreadsheet’s “comments: for review and deletion” section, the group privately acknowledges that the prospect of these rules had already led to the shelving of 16 advanced coal-fired plants in 13 states, although “there is not a small chance that they [sic] company could decide to revive the proposal” if the rules were not sufficiently tight. In turn, and again recalling the Pebble Mine scandal, Goo turned to his private Yahoo email account to send draft “new source” Options language to Coequyt. All during the time that this was supposedly a purely internal EPA process. Goo emails only came to light because of a FOIA suit. Among the correspondence is an email from Coequyt stating, “Attached is a memo that I didn’t want to send in public” (hence Yahoo). That memo created a roadmap regarding existing sources, explaining the mechanics and concluding, “EPA can therefore establish a performance standard for existing plants that is not achievable.” EPA has done just that. Also at key moments in the rules’ timeline, NRDC officials David Hawkins and Dan Lashof (the latter now working for Tom Steyer’s climate advocacy empire) used Goo’s Yahoo account to provide internal NRDC analyses regarding what standards EPA might impose.
WSJ Hammers EPA Rule – In an editorial last week the Wall Street Journal hammer the EPA and President Obama over his carbon rule pointing to as 26 states and dozens of business groups that filed suits against “his takeover of the carbon economy.” The Journal says EPA has earned a stay and deserves no administrative deference because it rewrote the “definition to direct states to regulate ‘outside the fence line’ of power plants well beyond the best tech. They must not only decommission sources of carbon energy, but they must also run the green gamut from mandating a new fleet of wind and solar, building new transmission lines, creating more efficiency subsidy programs for consumers and much else.”
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
IPAA Hosts 86th Annual Meeting in New Orleans – The Independent Petroleum Association of America will host its 86th annual meeting at The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, La today and tomorrow. Speakers will include The Honorable Edward Djerejian, Alex Epstein, David Wasserman with The Cook Political Report, and John England, among others.
McCarthy to Address NARUC Meeting – The National Assn of Regulatory Utility Commissioner (NARUC) hold its 127th annual meeting today through Wednesday at the JW Marriot in Austin, Texas. Speakers will include FERC Commissioners Tony Clark, Cheryl LaFleur and Collette Honorable, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and climate official Joe Goffman, North American Electric Reliability Corp’s Thomas Coleman and our friend Larry Monroe of Southern Company.
ANS Winter Meeting to Feature NRC Chair – The American Nuclear Society is holding its winter meetings today through Thursday at the Marriott Wardman Park. NRC Chair Stephen Burns and former NH Sen Judd Gregg will speak
France Hosts Pre-COP UN Meeting – France hosts a pre-COP meeting in Paris today and tomorrow where UN Ministers will focus on issues ranging from how to mitigate climate change to providing financial aid to help poorer countries adapt to its effects after 2020. Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU’s climate and energy commissioner, will attend the pre-COP and hold meetings on the sidelines with Fabius, Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, and ministers from the Alliance of Small Island States and African Group.
AEI to Host UK Foreign Secretary on Climate Innovation – The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host as the UK’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. to discuss conservative beliefs in innovation and free markets — and how they shape his approach to the risks and opportunities of a changing climate.
USEA to Host Forum On Crude Exports – Tomorrow at Noon, the U.S. Energy Association will host Brookings expert Charles Ebinger to speak on the potential for U.S. crude oil exports. Ebinger will discuss the economic advantages of lifting the crude oil export ban as well as Keystone XL, falling oil prices, and drilling in Alaska.
Georgetown Forum Looks at Arctic, Climate – The Mortara Center for International Studies host the next meeting of the Energy and Climate Policy Research Seminar tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. at Georgetown looking at the impacts and effects of climate change in the Arctic. The energy and climate policy research seminar aims to enhance intellectual exchange among faculty and students by providing a forum to discuss research and policy topics related to the international and domestic dimensions of energy and climate change policy. Speakers will include members of the Georgetown community as well as invited faculty and practitioners from the Washington area and beyond.
Groups to Discuss Paris Climate Meeting – The U.S. Climate Action Network will host a forum tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. to discuss key issues for the UN Climate negotiations, including national commitments to cut emissions and expand clean energy, fairness and equity considerations, and initiatives to build resilience in highly vulnerable countries. Speakers will include Jose Aguto of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Oxfam America’s Heather Coleman, the NAACP’s Kathy Egland and Jake Schmidt of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
AU Symposium to Look at UN Paris Meeting – The American University Sustainable Development Law & Policy publication will hold its annual symposium on Wednesday looking at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties in Paris taking place in December of this year. This conference will be of ultimate importance in determining how to move the world forward in addressing climate change. The 195 countries that are parties to the UNFCCC committed to create a new international climate agreement by the end of COP-21. The symposium will include panels featuring leading experts on climate change, domestic environmental law, and international environmental law who will discuss various issues surrounding the negotiations. The topics will include particular focus on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, economic implications of the negotiations, the 2- degree goal and whether it is feasible, and the means for reaching the goals and purposes of the UNFCCC.
JHU to Look at Climate in Caucuses – Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. in the Rome Building, the Johns Hopkins University will host a forum that will discuss climate change in the Caucasus.
Forum Looking at Energy Project Finance Set – The Women’s Council on Energy & the Environment (WCEE), AE2C and Johns Hopkins’ SAIS program will host a lunchtime seminar on Thursday featuring Jenny Hou, a General Partner at SunEnergi Capital. Hou will provide an overview of the energy project finance decision-making process and offers insight as to why some energy projects are successful while others are not.
BPC Forum to Discuss Nuclear Waste – On Thursday at 9:00 a.m. the Bipartisan Policy Center will host a forum on novel approaches, solutions and considerations to nuclear waste. The event will focus on innovations in Korea.
Goodell to Address AU Forum – The Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, the Global Environmental Politics Program at American University’s School of International Service, American University, and Eco-Sense, American University’s student run environmental organization, is hosting a forum with Jeff Goodell on Thursday. Goodell will join Professor Paul Wapner to talk about his conversation with the President, the prospects for a climate agreement in Paris and what comes next, and his thoughts on the world’s options for avoiding catastrophic climate change.
NAS Social Carbon Cost Board to Meet – On Friday at noon, the National Academies of Science’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education – Board on Environmental Change and Society is convening the third meeting of its Committee on Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon. More on this next week.
On Friday at Noon, the Heritage Foundation will hold a forum on the movement on many college campuses urging schools to divest their endowment funds of any companies that produce fossil fuels. The protesters argue we must dramatically reduce the amount of fossil fuels used each year in order to prevent climate change. In their view, schools have a moral imperative to purge their portfolios of companies that produce such fuels. When politicians, protestors and activists attack fossil fuel companies and their profitability, it’s important to remember who owns these companies and where that money goes: to the American people, toward retirement funds and toward school endowments to build stronger institutions. Join us for a panel discussion to learn more about the problems with the push for fossil divestment and who it hurts the most. Speakers Rachelle Peterson of the National Association of Scholars, Stan Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, AFPM’s Brendan Williams and Heritage expert David Kreutzer.
CSIS Global Forum Set – CSIS’s International Security Program will hold its flagship annual Global Security Forum 2015 on Monday, November 16th.
Hudson Forum to Look at China, US Emission, Energy – Next, Monday, the Hudson Institute will host a day-long conference featuring energy policy experts from both China and the U.S. As the world’s second largest economy, China’s energy demands are growing fast. In the next fifteen years, China is projected to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest oil consumer, and Russia as the world’s second largest natural gas consumer. By 2035, China is expected to become the world’s largest energy importer, as its energy production rises 47%, while consumption rises by 60%. China’s oil import dependence is projected to rise from 60% in 2013 to 75% in 2035.
Solar Groups Look at Green Building – The SunShot Initiative, SEIA, and PVMC are hosting a Green Building Solar Summit next Monday at 1:00 p.m. that will coincide with Greenbuild Conference and Expo, which will bring thousands of architects, builders, and real estate professionals to Washington DC. The Summit will feature a mix of panels and facilitated discussion to explore critical structural, contractual and financial barriers and identify opportunities to work collaboratively to find innovative solutions and expand the commercial solar market. Elaine Ulrich, Program Manager, Soft Costs with the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, and Rhone Resch, President & CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association, will open the day with introductory remarks followed by a series of lighting talks to provide context on the trends and issues across the solar and green building communities. PVMC will also provide a preview of its 2016 Commercial Solar Initiative. The second part of the afternoon will be dedicated to engaging the commercial real estate and green building communities in discussion on innovative financing instruments. SEIA will also present its new Finance Initiative, spearheaded by the organization’s Senior Director, Project Finance, and Mike Mendelsohn.
VLS Forum to Look at CPP – Next Tuesday, the Vermont Law School’s second annual Alumni in Energy Symposium will look at EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the lawsuits challenging it. This panel will discuss the ongoing litigation related to the Clean Power Plan and likely outcomes. Speakers will include NRDC’s David Doniger, RFF’s Dallas Burtraw, former EPA General Counsel and industry Coalition legal lead Roger Martella and NYU’s Richard Revesz.
Wilson Center to Focus on Climate, Security Issues – Next Tuesday, November 17th at 3:00 p.m., the Wilson Center will release a report exploring the intersection of climate change, drivers of insecurity, and U.S. national security priorities in the Asia-Pacific region. As the United States reorients its foreign policy approach to the Asia-Pacific region, it must seriously consider the impacts of climate change, argues a new report from the Center for Climate and Security. How can the United States help improve the region’s climate resilience, and at the same time, strategically adapt to a rapidly changing security environment?
EPA CAAAC to Meet on Ozone Implementation, CPP – EPA will host a CAAAC and Air Toxics Work Group meetings on November 17th and 18th.
House Science to Dig Back Into Climate, GHG Plan – The House Science Committee will host a hearing on Wednesday November 18th on the President’s Clean Power Plan and its role in Paris negotiations.
McCarthy to Talk Energy with Bloomberg – On Wednesday, November 18th, Bloomberg will host a breakfast conversation with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, managing editors of Bloomberg Politics and hosts of “With All Due Respect” on Bloomberg Television, to discuss the future of energy and where the 2016 candidates stand. EPA’s Gina McCarthy will sit down with Mark and John for an interview about the state of energy and climate policy in America, followed by a wide-ranging panel discussion about how policy and politics intersect to shape the energy marketplace, featuring former South Carolina Republican Congressman and Executive Director of republicEn.org Bob Inglis, GE Ventures’ Senior Executive Director of Energy Ventures Colleen Calhoun, and more.
Former EPA Official to Address Climate Issues – ICF will host an Energy Breakfast on Thursday November 19th at the National Press Club to look at the Paris Climate Meeting. Starting in late November, the 21st meeting of the Council of Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will gather in Paris to deliberate on how countries can individually and collectively mitigate global climate change. Former EPA #2 Bob Perciasepe, a regular participant in these negotiations, as he handicaps the negotiations and informs us about what will be the “make or break” issues in Paris this time.
Senate Energy to Look at Well Control Rule – On Thursday, the Senate Energy Committee will hold an oversight hearing to receive testimony on the Well Control Rule and other regulations related to offshore oil and gas production. We will have more on this next week.
Forum to Look at Climate Solutions – DC Net Impact will hold a discussion on Thursday November 19th looking at how donor agencies and implementers are adapting to, and mitigating the effects of, climate change in the energy and agriculture sectors. In addition to discussing climate change, the panelists will describe their career paths and answer your questions.
Rep. Beyer to Host Climate Forum I Arlington – On Thursday, November 19th at 7:00 p.m., U.S. Rep. Don Beyer will host a forum on climate change in the auditorium of George Mason University’s Arlington campus. Panelists will include experts from government, academia and nonprofit organizations, including Megan Ceronsky of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change, EPA’s Shawn Garvin, GMU’s Mona Sarfaty and NRDC’s Aliya Haq.
THANKSGIVING – November 26
PARIS UN COP 21 Meeting – November 30th to December 11th
Transmission Forum Set – The 5th annual TransForum East, will be held December 1st and 2nd in Washington, D.C. at the Westin Georgetown. As in previous Forum events, our presenters and panelists have been hand selected by the TransmissionHub editorial team to address the most important issues facing stakeholders in the Eastern Interconnection. You can view the agenda and speaker lineup here.