Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day Weekend. It was a last bit of quiet before the final Congressional push and mid-term campaign season jumps into full swing. While we return to action this week, a majority of the focus is on the SCOTUS nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. While we are usually out of these issues, Kavanaugh has been active on the DC Circuit on environmental cases and expect some members (and enviro groups) to question him on environment and energy issues including standing, federal regulation and other issues.
On the budget/funding side, real negotiations on conference bills are expected to pick up now that the House is back. The “minibus” Energy-Water package should be ready fairly quickly with another four-bill spending package that includes the $35.8 billion Interior and Environment title underway as well. And House and Senate Farm bill negotiators begin a push to bridge difference there starting tomorrow. We have our eyes on things related to ethanol policy there.
I also know many of you (going through Pruitt withdrawals) will focus on today’s security IG report. While that is fun, Chik-fil-a catnip, it is important to remember that Andrew Wheeler is running a very different operation at EPA. We can continue to discuss the upcoming fuel economy hearings, the ACE rule, last week’s mercury decision and any other action at EPA. Jeff and Scott are available. Who knows, maybe there’ll be another Trump book today that will take away all the attention!!!
Not many events this week but on Thursday morning at AJAX DC, The Hill in collaboration with the Bipartisan Policy Center will convene policymakers, business leaders and advocacy groups to examine the issues that are motivating greater climate collaboration and consider the substance and politics behind these initiatives.
Finally, I hope you will take in the action at the US Open this upcoming weekend. There is some great tennis being played. NFL launches on Thursday. Call with questions. Best,
c. (202) 997-5932
“Kigali gets us everything we want and everything we’ve been advocating for a long time—a unified, negotiated decision on phasedowns [of HFCs] instead of prohibitions. U.S. ratification of the global deal offers the greatest level of certainty for the market writ large.”
Caroline Davidson-Hood, general counsel for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute following EPA’s decision to not request that SCOTUS take an HFC case and its relation to the need for the Kigali Amendment to eliminate HFCs.
“Some people wake-up each morning wondering if what they do makes a difference for their country. No one at DOE does. We protect, innovate and continue to explore the boundaries of knowledge. It impresses me to no end what the people in this Department accomplish, and it’s a pleasure to salute you today for the outstanding work that you do.”
DOE Secretary Perry at the Honor Awards and Presidential Rank Awards ceremony at DOE Headquarters.
ON THE POD
Bracewell Trade Export Talks NAFTA on Cap Crude Looks – The Platts Capitol Crude podcast focuses on trade and NAFTA today featuring my Bracewell colleague Josh Zive. The US/Mexico trade deal appears to include a provision the US oil and gas industry sees as critical to protecting investments in the newly opened Mexican upstream. Zive discusses the still-unfolding agreement, what it means in the context of the Mexican energy reforms, the striking absence of Canada, and the deal’s chances in the US Congress.
SAFE Head Addresses AV Opportunities in WSJ Response – Securing America’s Future Energy CEO Robbie Diamond said in a letter to the Wall Street Journal that passing the AV policy legislation and enabling a bipartisan federal self-driving framework would benefit the nearly 20 million disabled Americans, in addition to retirees, who experience daily barriers to transportation and the opportunities it provides. Diamond wrote: “Delaying the passage of critical self-driving legislation not only will derail these much-needed benefits, but prolong the status quo of rising death tolls on U.S. roads. In 2017, 40,100 people died from vehicle accidents, a 6% increase from 2015. As data show, 94% of crashes are due either wholly or in part to driver error; the lifesaving potential of self-driving cars is both obvious and significant.”
IN THE NEWS
EPA Reconsiders Mercury Rule – Late last week, EPA told media outlets it will reconsider a rule that restricts mercury and toxic air emissions from power plants. In 2015, the Supreme Court rejected the previous EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of its version the Mercury rule, contending EPA didn’t properly account for industry’s compliance costs. My colleague Jeff Holmstead served as EPA air office head from 2000-2005 said he is not surprised that EPA is reopening the Obama EPA’s finding that it was “appropriate and necessary” to regulate power plants under section 112 of the Act. Holmstead says the Supreme Court already rejected the original Obama finding because EPA refused to consider the cost of those regulations, and several justices also expressed skepticism about the argument that the Obama EPA made to support its second finding, which the current EPA is now reviewing. Holmstead: “Even if EPA does ultimately reverse the Obama “appropriate and necessary” finding, this doesn’t mean that the MATS rule will go away. EPA would have to go through another, separate rulemaking process to eliminate the MATS rule, and I don’t think that anyone is talking about doing that. It would serve no purpose because the power sector has already spent billions of dollars to bring all their plants into compliance.”
EPA Changes Mind on SCOTUS Cert for HFC Case – You may have seen that EPA reversed course on asking the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that overturned a rule that regulated a global warming-inducing coolant. EPA revisited the issue and asked SCOTUS to not grant cert on Honeywell v. Mexichem Fluor, saying yesterday that the D.C. Circuit was correct in June when it limited the government’s authority to use Section 612(c) of the Clean Air Act to regulate HFCs, which do not harm the ozone layer but do contribute to climate change. Former EPA air office head Jeff Holmstead and longtime HVAC rep Scott Segal (and my Bracewell colleagues) recently filed a brief urging the SCOTUS to take the case. On behalf of five major HVACR companies (Lennox, Carrier, Nortek, Rheem & Ingersoll Rand), Holmstead and Segal asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court decision that blocked EPA implementation of HFC reductions using its SNAP program, saying the decision creates a regulatory mess that EPA has been unable to fix almost a year after the decision was handed down. Unless the Supreme Court steps in, the result will be an extended period of regulatory uncertainty, almost certainly including years of litigation challenging the new rule that EPA ultimately develops to implement a confusing D.C. Circuit decision that was wrongly decided. The companies filing the brief are the leading U.S. manufacturers of HVACR equipment. Together with another manufacturer filing its own amicus brief, they account for well over 75% of the residential and commercial air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment that is manufactured and sold in North America.
How Does that Relate to Montreal/Kigali – As It relates to the Montreal Protocol, it is important to note while a few conservative groups urged the President to block the effort, there is a wide swath of business and conservative groups that think the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol should sent to the Senate for ratification. Here are a few things:
- A recent economic analysis for the White House showed significant jobs gains
- 13 Republican Senators (mostly conservatives) urged the President to submit it to the Senate
- 34 HVACR Manufacturing CEOs urged support for the agreement
- 3 conservative taxpayers groups (ACCF, Americans for Tax Reform and FreedomWorks) suggested Trump support Kigali because of global competitiveness advantages.
- All of this occurs after a lawsuit by 11 states against EPA over implementing over HFC reductions. These same AGs also filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to take the case.
A legal fight over the EPA guidance raises concerns about avenues for regulations to change, even as the industry continues to advocate for U.S. participation in a 2016 global deal to phase down HFCs called the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. If you questions, please feel to reach out. I’m sure Holmstead, former White House advisor David Banks at ACCF and/or Steve Yurek at AHRI would be happy to discuss.
ECOS Chief to Head EPA Chemical Office – President Donald Trump has nominated Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, a longtime environmental attorney and current head of EPA’s New England office, to head the agency’s chemicals and pesticides office. Of course, his previous pick – Michael Dourson – was withdraw after significant controversies.
Harder, Campbell, Kenderdine EPIC Fellows – The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) announced that veteran energy reporter Amy Harder will be its inaugural Visiting Fellow in Journalism for the 2018-2019 academic year. Harder, an energy reporter for Axios, will moderate a series of events and share her expertise with students and the broader campus community through workshops and public discussions. EPIC will also have McKie Campbell, former staff director of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Melanie Kenderdine, former director of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis and Energy Counselor to the Secretary, as 2018-2019 Visiting Fellows in Policy Practice. Campbell and Kenderdine will share their perspectives and expertise in a series of events, workshops and public discussions, as well as serve as resources for students and the Institute.
Perry Honors DOE Employees – DOE held its annual Secretary’s Honor Awards and Presidential Rank Awards ceremony at DOE Headquarters. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry spoke at the event, recognizing the outstanding achievements of individuals and teams who have gone above and beyond in fulfilling DOE’s mission and serving the Nation. In total, 775 employees across DOE and the federal government were recognized both individually and in teams for their hard work and dedication to public service. Some of the achievements include 2017 Hurricane season emergency response; standing up of NNSA’s Center for Excellence in Cyber Threat Intelligence to heighten cybersecurity efforts; strengthened nonproliferation efforts and revitalization of the domestic nuclear industry. In addition, ten DOE Senior Executive Service members were recognized for receiving Presidential Rank Awards in 2017. Two executives received the highest honor, the Distinguished Rank Award, and eight executives received the Meritorious Rank Award.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
DOE Hosts Grid Workshop – DOE’s Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI) is holding a peer review today through Friday at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel. During this event, a portfolio of grid modernization activities across 13 programs will be reviewed, including seven recently awarded Resilient Distribution Systems projects. The comprehensive review will look at the projects at a program level, provide lessons learned, and share best practices. A poster session will provide an opportunity for attendees to talk with the researchers and learn more about the over 80 projects in the portfolio. In addition, a dedicated session will discuss the 11 Pioneer Partnership Projects that ended earlier this year.
Farm Bill Conference Meeting Set – Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in the Kennedy Caucus Room – Room 325, the Senate Committee on Agriculture has announced a conference meeting on the Farm Bill.
Forum to Discuss Nuclear – The U.S. Nuclear Industry Council, with support from DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, is hosting a bipartisan, education presentation tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. featuring Members of Congress, Hill staff and industry regarding the US nuclear fleet, its jobs, exports, and clean energy leadership. Speakers include Reps. Roger Marshall and Joe Wilson; Southern’s Mike Riith and many more. Lunch will be served, including “Atomic Wings.”
Report on Great Lakes Green Infrastructure Released – The Great Lakes Commission and Northeast Midwest Institute hold a briefing and report launch on tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. for “Great Lakes Regional Green Infrastructure Policy Analysis: Addressing Barriers to Implementation.” Speakers will include GLC Program Director Victoria Pebbles, Gary Belan of American Rivers and Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative President John Dickert.
Conservative Clean Energy Conference Set – The Young Conservatives for Energy Reform & Christian Coalition is hosting its annual Conservative Clean Energy Summit at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill tomorrow through Friday.
Hill, BPC Forum to Look at Resiliency – The Hill in collaboration with the Bipartisan Policy Center will convene policymakers, business leaders and advocacy groups on Thursday morning at AJAX DC to examine the issues that are motivating greater climate collaboration and consider the substance and politics behind these initiatives. The risks to resiliency posed by extreme weather are prompting U.S. cities, states, and businesses to take action, even as the issue continues to polarize many leaders in the nation’s capital. Speakers include Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, IBEW’s Donnie Colston, API’s Kyle Isakower, Pepco’s Melissa Lavinson, Brian Pallasch of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Glenn Prickett of The Nature Conservancy.
AEI look s Paris Climate Agreement – On Thursday at 9:30 a.m. AEI, hosts a forum on the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change. Experts and representatives from international organizations and academia will provide their perspectives on whether carbon pricing can work, what sorts of carbon prices countries might need, trade-offs with other mitigation policies, and the current state of carbon pricing. Panelists will also discuss evidence on the health benefits from reducing fossil fuel use and how the overall architecture of the Paris agreement might be improved. Speakers include Harvard’s Joe Aldy, RFF’s Maureen Cropper and Ian Parry of the International Monetary Fund.
Duke’s Nicholas Institute to Host State Carbon Trading Forum – On Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Duke in DC’s Nicholas Institute will host a forum on states and carbon trading. The forum will look at the nuts and bolts of linking State Programs. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort of nine Northeast and MidAtlantic states to cap and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants through a market-based, emissions trading program.
Danish to Discuss ACE Rule – On Thursday at 2:00 p.m., the United States Energy Association holds a forum on the proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. ACE would replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP), which EPA is proposing to repeal (in a separate rulemaking) on the grounds that the CPP exceeded the agency’s authority under the CAA. Guest speaker Kyle Danish will discuss the implications of the rule.
IN THE FUTURE
WAPA, DTF Forum to Highlight Diesel Issues – Next Monday at 11:30 a.m. at Engine Co 12 in NW DC, the Washington Automotive Press Association and the Diesel Technology Forum host a lunch to look at the true ‘state of diesel’ in the U.S. automotive market. Speakers include GM’s Global Diesel Executive Director, Pierpaolo Antonioli and GM’s Regional Chief, Engineer, Mike Siegrist. You will also hear the very latest IHS Markit diesel vehicles-in-use data for the United States; and get details about new research on the benefits of new-technology diesel pickup trucks.
JHU to Feature Rockefeller Foundation President – The Johns Hopkins University SAIS and the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP) host a forum next Monday at 12:30 pm in its Kenney Herter Auditorium featuring Dean Vali Nasr and a conversation on affordable and clean energy with the President of the Rockefeller Foundation, Rajiv Shah.
Forum to Look at Southern Gas Corridor – The Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center hosts a conversation about the Southern Gas Corridor and European energy security next Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. In the wake of new developments in constructing and completing the Southern Gas Corridor, a key priority project for European energy security, our expert panel will discuss the progress already made, challenges still ahead, and opportunities for the future.
WCEE to Host Forum to Highlight Women in Energy Stories – Next Tuesday starting at 6:00 p.m., the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment’s (WCEE) Career Building Section hosts a reception and discussion at USEA about challenges and opportunities for women working in energy. Our friends Vicky Bailey and Sheila Slocum Hollis will share their expertise on overcoming obstacles, discuss skills required for convening stakeholders, and bring examples of leading towards practical solutions for the real world.
Climate Summit Set for SF – The Global Climate Action Summit will be held in San Francisco on Wednesday September 12th through Friday September 14th. The forum will bring leaders and people together from around the world to support action on climate change. It will also feature action by states, regions, cities, companies, investors and citizens with respect to climate action. It will also be a launchpad for deeper worldwide commitments and accelerated action from countries—supported by all sectors of society—that can put the globe on track to prevent dangerous climate change and realize the historic Paris Agreement. States and regions, cities, businesses and investors are leading the charge on pushing down global emissions by 2020, setting the stage to reach net zero emissions by midcentury. Speakers include Gov. Jerry Brown, UNFCCC head Patricia Espinosa, Michael Bloomberg and many more.
Electric Cars on Display on National Mall – National Drive Electric Week launches in Washington on Sunday, September 16th with events from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm on the National Mall near National Gallery of Art (7th Street, NW). At the event, you will learn about electric vehicles and see the latest models on the National Mall.
Forum to Look at Carbon Tax – On Monday, September 17th at 1:30 p.m. in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, Plant Oil Powered Diesel, Inc. is hosting a panel discussion on the carbon tax, featuring industry, environmentalist and citizen views. More on the panelists as we get closer next week.
CSIS Hosts Trade Reps – On Monday September 17th, the CSIS Scholl Chair in International Business is hosting a conversation with six former United States Trade Representatives, who will share wisdom from their own experience and discuss the current global trading system, its institutions, and the prospects for trade in these challenging times. Speakers include Bill Brock, Carla Hills, Micky Kantor, Charlene Barshefsky, Susan Schwab and Ron Kirk.
CAFE Public Hearing Set for CA, MI, PA – NHTSA and EPA will hold three public hearings on the revisions to the fuels economy standard. The hearing will occur on Sept 25th in Fresno, Sept 26th in Dearborn MI, and Sept 27th in Pittsburgh.
Border Energy Forum Set for San Antonio – The North American Development Bank (NADB) will host the XXIII Border Energy Forum in San Antonio on September 26th and 27th at the Hilton San Antonio. This forum brings together local and state officials, private sector developers, academics, large commercial users, and energy experts from the U.S. and Mexico. NADB’s unique position as the only U.S.-Mexico binational development bank, has provided the Bank the opportunity to be involved in some of the most relevant clean energy projects developed in the last five years in the region. NADB has financed close to $1.5 billion for 35 projects with total costs of $5.2 billion. Roughly, 2,548 MW of new generation capacity is being installed along the border. The forum will center the dialogue on energy prosperity, innovation, financing, the future of energy markets, and crossborder opportunities along the U.S.-Mexico border, and how to continue building partnerships to advance both countries energy goals that ultimately improve economic development and protect the environment.
SEJ in Flint – The Society of Environmental Journalism holds its annual conference on October 3-6th in Flint. Of course, Bracewell hosts its annual event on Thursday October 4th.