Energy Update: Week of July 10

Friends,

With the July 4th holiday passing, it means we had some great fireworks (especially in DC) and that the Tour de France is rolling in France.  With 9 of 21 stages complete, the riders have reached the first rest day today with 4-time champ Chris Froome racing up the Mont du Chat yesterday to expand his lead in the yellow jersey.   Lots of time and many mountains to still climb.  You can watch all the action on NBCSN every day.  It was also Super Saturday at Wimbledon with Federer, Murray, Nadal and Djokovic all looking strong on the men’s side while Kerber, Halep, Wozniacki and Venus Williams (who has already advance today to the QF with a straight set win) have all advanced to the 4th round.  The All-Star break for major League baseball also start today and not too soon for the World Champion Cubs who gave up 10 runs in the first inning in their game yesterday against the Pirates.

Interesting action at the G-20 with some limited focus on climate. On Saturday, G-20 nations reached a compromise on climate change that declared the Paris climate change agreement is “irreversible” and must be implemented “swiftly.” The U.S., on the other hand, declared its intention to pull out and forced additional language in supporting fossil fuels alongside support for renewables. And as for the soon-expected grid study from DOE, we hear it won’t likely be this week, but we are still keeping our eyes open for paper.  And speaking of energy dominance, Platts Capitol Crude addresses the subject on this week’s podcast with ClearView’s Kevin Book, looking at whether it’s hollow rhetoric and what it could mean for policy and markets going forward.

Congress returns this week to more action on healthcare.  No expected action on the just re-introduced Senate Energy legislation but Sens Murkowski and Cantwell are hopeful that they will have something passed by August recess.   There will be votes on nominations for NRC and EPA on Wednesday, as well as a House Resources hearing on oil and gas development. Also Wednesday, the full House Approps Committee marks up its Ag and Energy/Water budgets.   Finally, tomorrow, the annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency expo will be held in the Rayburn Foyer.

Off the hill, our friend Coral Davenport discusses the Paris Agreement at a forum at the Embassy of Croatia tomorrow evening and Wednesday the Women’s Energy Network is hosting CFTC Commissioner Sharon Bowen for a lunch and learn” event.  And today, the EPA is holding a public hearing on methane regulation delays which should bring out the usual suspects on both sides if the debate.

Finally, Bracewell has brought on some new energy expertise in the civil Litigation arena by hiring David A. Super to lead our civil litigation practice in Washington, D.C.  Super joins Bracewell from Baker Botts where he practiced for 27 years.   Super as new head of civil litigation in DC is a first chair trial lawyer with fantastic experience acting for companies in the energy industry, including disputes with federal regulators on many energy and environmental issues.

I’m out for most of the week in Lancaster, PA, the home of USA Field Hockey, umpiring their National Championships.  We are taking a quick break to road trip to Detroit for Metallica on Wednesday.  Anyway, I will be fully connected, so feel free to call with questions.

Best,

 

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932

 

FRANKLY SPOKEN

“AHRI encourages ratification of the Kigali Amendment, while also instituting the regulatory and tax reforms necessary to ensure predictability for manufacturers, distributors, and installers while providing incentives for consumers and businesses to replace their older, less efficient equipment with updated models.  Taken together, these steps can bring about significant energy reduction and environmental benefits.”

AHRI’s Francis Dietz following a new report by the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) that reviews HCFC/HFC regulatory frameworks, energy efficiency standards, and labeling programs in 19 countries that account for roughly 65% of global AC demand.

 

IN THE NEWS

New Study Highlights Quest for Improved AC Globally – The Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) in Washington, DC and Paris along with researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a report that addresses the hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) and hydrofluorocarbons regulatory frameworks, energy efficiency standards, and labeling programs in 19 countries that account for roughly 65% of global AC demand. The report, “Opportunities for Simultaneous Efficiency Improvement and Refrigerant Transition in Air Conditioning,” ranks the HFC transition as the single biggest climate mitigation opportunity available today.

AHRI Sees the Issue As Hugely Important – This is a hugely important transition that the HVAC industry has played a significant role in crafting with other stakeholders. As manufacturers of more than 90% of U.S. – and more than 70% of global – residential and commercial air conditioning and commercial refrigeration units, AHRI member companies are committed to producing more energy efficient products to help reduce global demand for energy, lower costs for consumers, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.  As the LBNL report indicates, there are many global opportunities to accomplish make significant progress on all those goals, beginning with ratification and implementation of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and continuing with efforts to simultaneously reduce the energy impact of AC and commercial refrigeration equipment while increasing its availability and affordability for consumers around the world.  Also important are national and regional minimum energy performance standards backed by performance certification programs, such as the AHRI Certification Program, that help assure governments, businesses, and consumers of the accuracy of stated equipment efficiency.

What About Efficiency on Units though? – AHRI’s Francis Dietz adds current AC units are already super-efficient and in fact are nearing the technological limits of efficiency.  The issue really is getting efficient units in the hands of consumers at prices they can afford.  We can accomplish that gradually through MEPS, which is already being done all over the world, but to make bigger leaps through stronger tax incentives and rebate programs to induce people to change out their old equipment for newer, more efficient models.

DOE Releases Walk-In Freezer Rule – The Department of Energy is issuing the final rule for walk-in coolers and freezers, which was held up at DOE for months. It’s set to publish in the Federal Register today. The rule, issued in December of 2016 by the outgoing Obama Administration was delayed with several others as part of a review by the new Trump Administration.  AHRI said it understood why the new administration wanted to review the walk-in coolers and freezers rule before issuing it, but are pleased it is now being issued in the form that was agreed to in the ASRAC negotiations of which AHRI and Other key efficiency and environmental stakeholders played important roles.  AHRI’s Francis Dietz: “This is one less regulatory ball in the air for our industry and our members can now move forward in preparing for the rule’s implementation.”

Refiners Send Letter to Trump on Venezuela Crude, Potential Sanctions – Given the troubling political developments in Venezuela, the American Fuel & Petrochem Assn (AFPM) is sending a letter to President Trump and other key foreign policy advisors to highlight one critical consideration: a full or partial prohibition of Venezuelan crude imports.  The refiners group says it could have a significant negative effect on U.S. refiners, consumers, and our nation’s economy.  AFPM Prez Chet Thompson: “Sanctions limiting U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude would disadvantage many U.S. refineries, particularly those in the Gulf Coast and East Coast regions, that have optimized to utilize sour crudes produced in Venezuela. Restricting the supply of crude could also impact the price that U.S. consumers and businesses pay for their fuel.”  I can forward letter if want to review.

ACI Releases Sustainability Report – The American Cleaning Institute’s (ACI) released its 4th Sustainability Report, “Foundations for Transformation,” showcases the steps the cleaning product supply chain is taking to address the industry’s core material issues.  The 2017 Report highlights the progress made by companies throughout the cleaning product supply chain to decrease the industry’s environmental footprint over the last two years.  Since its inception, ACI’s Sustainability Metrics Program has been tracking industry performance in categories including energy, water, waste and climate change/greenhouse gases, to showcase where member companies are doing well, and to highlight the areas in need of attention. The 2017 Report highlights include a 23% reduction during cleaning product formulation since 2011, an increase in renewable energy use by 46% since 2011 and a 64% of the waste from product formulation being reused or recycled in 2015.

Unions Weigh In on E15 Expansion Legislation – Following a hearing recently on legislation to allow year-round sale of E15 percent, the United Steelworkers union sent a letter Thursday to all 100 senators arguing that the RFS needs a complete overhaul rather than the modification in Sen. Deb Fischer’s bill.  A mark-up is planned for later this month.  Happy to forward letter if you need it.

Interior Pushes to Expand Drilling, Speed Permit Approvals – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday issued an order that instructs BLM to hold lease sales every quarter and establishes a 30-day approval time for oil and natural gas drilling permits. The approval time for a permit under the Obama administration was 257 days on average.  Christopher Guith at the Chamber’s Global Energy Institute said this is a much-needed change in U.S. policy, embracing America’s energy abundance and diversity instead of policies that pushed us to depend more on imported energy and exported jobs.  Guith: “The law has been pretty clear for a century–the Secretary of Interior is responsible for conducting quarterly lease sales on available BLM land and concluding the review process on an application for a permit to drill within 30 days.  The previous administration decided to ignore these legal requirements to the detriment of U.S. energy security and western jobs.  Secretary Zinke’s re-commitment to following the law is a tremendous step towards harnessing America’s status as a growing energy super-power.”

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Wilson to Host Discussion on Religion, Climate in Small Island Nations – Today at 2:00 p.m., American University and the Wilson Center will host a forum exploring climate change as a basis for outreach and collaboration in the Caribbean and the Pacific and the added value religious voices might bring to this work.  In the small island developing states (SIDS) of the Caribbean and the Pacific, faith-based leaders, community stakeholders, and national policymakers work together to address pressing concerns associated with climate change, such as ensuring livelihoods and sustainability in the face of sea-level rise and other threats. Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States for Barbados Selwin Hart will be among the speakers.

Congressional Renewable Expo Set – The 20th annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO and Policy Forum will be held tomorrow from at 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Rayburn.  Among the speakers will be Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Paul Tonko.

NYT’s Davenport to Discuss Paris at WFPG Forum – The Women’s Foreign Policy Group will host a forum tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. at the Embassy of Croatia featuring our friend Coral Davenport of the New York Times to discuss President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.  Coral NYT colleague Elisabeth Bumiller will moderate.

House Resources to Focus on Oil, Gas on OCS – The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an oversight hearing on Wednesday focused on evaluating federal offshore oil and gas development on the outer continental shelf.

Senate Committee to Vote on Nominees – The Senate Environment Committee will hold votes at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday on nominees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as EPA’s top enforcement officials.  EPW had originally slated the markup for the Wednesday before July 4th recess.  NRC nominees Annie Caputo and David Wright, and EPA nominee Susan Parker Bodine are awaiting committee approvals.

Group to Release Smarter Grid Report – Former Trump transition team member and Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure Chairman Brigham McCown will hold a press call Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. to discuss the release of Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure’s latest policy analysis, “Building a smarter electric grid: How investing in smarter electricity will energize America.”

House Appropos to Mark up Ag, Energy Budgets – The full House Appropriations Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. to markup the FY2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill and FY2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.  Later at 3:00 p.m., the House interior Funding panel will mark up the 2018 Interior budget.

Forum to Feature CFTC Commissioner – The Washington DC Chapter of the Women’s Energy Network is hosting a forum at BP featuring U.S. Commodity Future Trading Commission Commissioner Sharon Y. Bowen.  The “Lunch and Learn” even will feature Bowen discussing the day’s most critical energy issues before the CFTC, as well as sharing her experiences as a trailblazing lawyer, business woman and public servant.

Wilson to Host China Coal Transition Forum – The Wilson Center will hold a forum on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.to discuss China and its uncertain transition away from coal.  Speakers at this China Environmental Forum (CEF) event will discuss the massive reforms that are lessening the pollution and carbon emissions from China’s coal-fired power sector and the social and economic challenges. Melanie Hart (Center for America Progress) will speak on how China is transforming its coal sector to improve efficiency, reduce emissions, and reduce the nation’s dependence on coal.  Hongxia Duan and Lucy Kitson of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) will discuss the opportunities and pitfalls of such a large-scale transformation in Shanxi and the lessons China can draw from countries that have undergone the economic and social transition away from coal. Lisa Abbott (Kentuckians for the Commonwealth) will close out the discussion bringing in a comparative discussion on how her group promotes energy diversification in the Appalachians that keeps communities strong.

Forum to Look at Ukraine Energy – The Atlantic Council will hold a forum on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. on important energy reforms in Ukraine.  The Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and Global Energy Center will bring together top energy experts and policymakers to discuss the status of the Ukrainian energy sector in a series of thematic panels. The discussion will begin with a talk on the state of the hydrocarbon industry and will segue to an exchange on the development, challenges, and way forward for the electricity, coal and nuclear sectors in Ukraine.  Among the speakers will be DOE’s David Mohler.

Clean Energy Webinar Will Discuss Grid Report – On Thursday at 10:00 a.m., the Analysis Group’s Susan Tierney and Paul Hibbard will present findings from their report on market forces driving our changing electric power system, commissioned by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and AWEA.  The report was submitted to DOE to inform the Department’s upcoming review of grid issues.

 

IN THE FUTURE

RFF to host Webinar On Cali Cap/Trade – Resources for the Future and other experts will hold an interactive online panel discussion on Tuesday July 18th looking at the proposed changes to California’s cap-and-trade program, potential implications for the state’s carbon market, and the potential effects on linkage with the programs in Quebec, Ontario, and other jurisdictions that might consider linkage in the future.  Speakers include RFF’s Dallas Burtraw, James Bushnell of UCal-Davis, Stewart Elgie of the uOttawa Institute of the Environment, Jan Mazurek of the ClimateWorks Foundation Duke Nicholas Institute expert Brian Murray and Dave Sawyer of EnviroEconomics.

WCEE to Host Sustainable City Event – Next Tuesday at Noon, the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will host a forum with National Geographic’s Senior Manager of Sustainability, Susan Kolodziejczyk. Kolodziejczyk will present an interactive exploration of the intersection of urbanization and sustainability, what that means in terms of society’s choices and priorities, and examples of successful, innovative city solutions around the world.

Webinar to Focus on NJ Solar Issues – Utility Dive is hosting a webinar on Tuesday July 18th at 2:00 p.m. focused on the PSE&G approach to proactively studying and accommodating the impacts of DER on the PSE&G system.  NJ is experiencing some of the strongest solar PV growth in the U.S. NJ-based Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) takes an active role in understanding feeder and substation capacity to accommodate solar PV, and to avoid negative impacts to grid reliability, voltages, thermal capacity, flicker and more. The webinar will cover PSE&G’s method to study and accommodate the impacts of DER, in collaboration with Siemens PTI. An overview of the study and its methodologies and the distribution system at PSE&G, available DERs, challenges, the need for the study and the results.  Speakers include PSE&G’s Ahmed Mousa and Siemens PTI’s Hugo Bashualdo.

AGA to Discuss NatGas Supply – The American Gas Association (AGA) and the Potential Gas Committee (PGC) will hold a press conference on Wednesday, July 19 at 9:30 AM EDT, to release the major findings of the PGC’s year-end 2016 biennial report: Potential Supply of Natural Gas in the United. The report is expected to reveal that domestic estimates of undiscovered natural gas resources continue to grow, due largely to the existence of technologies that continue to unlock energy resources from shale and other producing formations.  Alexei V. Milkov, director of the Potential Gas Agency, Colorado School of Mines and AGA’s Chris McGill will speak.

Forum to Look at RFS – CSIS will host an update on the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard on Wednesday July 19th at 10:00 a.m.  The event will feature Harvard’s James Stock and our friend Kevin Book of ClearView, a Senior Associate of the CSIS Energy & National Security Program.

Cramer to Headline Forum on Innovation – Microsoft and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) will hold a conversation on Wednesday July 19th looking at clean innovation and why it makes business sense. The discussion will bring together stakeholders from industry, government and civil society to discuss the business drivers for innovation in clean energy and low-carbon technologies across a broad range of industries.  Keynoter will be Rep Kevin Cramer, while a panel lead by Bob Perciasepe, will explore the business drivers and challenges associated with clean innovation across multiple sectors and geographies.  These issues include growing customer demand, competitiveness concerns, cost pressures, efficiency gains and enhanced performance.

Forum to Feature BP’s Finley on Energy Report – The US Association for Energy Economics, National Capital Area Chapter (NCAC-USAEE) will host BP’s Mark Finley for its July luncheon on Friday July 21st at the Chinatown Garden.  Finley will present the just-released 2017 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Grid Evolution Summit Set – The Grid Evolution Summit is set for July 25th through 27th at the Washington Hilton.  The event, sponsored by the Smart Electric Power Alliance, will be a conversation of industry stakeholders that will determine how the electric sector evolves, modernizes the grid and better integrates distributed energy resources.  Speakers will include Rep Paul Tonko, House Energy Committee Counsels Rick Kessler and Tom Hassenboehler, PSE&G Renewable VP Courtney McCormick, Xcel’s Doug Benvento DOE’s Eric Lightner, Maryland PSC Chair Kevin Hughes, Kit Carson Electric Co-op CEO Luis Reyes and Utility Dive Editor Gavin Bade.

CSIS to Look at NAFTA Energy Issues – On Wednesday July 26th at 10:00 a.m., CSIS will hold a forum on renegotiating NAFTA, looking at energy challenges and opportunities.  The event will feature CSIS experts Dave Pumphrey and Scott Miller.

Community Solar Forum Set for Denver – The Coalition for Community Solar Access will host the first annual National Community Solar Summit in Denver on July 26 – 28.  A few highlights for Denver include energy company CEOs including Tom Matzzie of CleanChoice Energy, Jesse Grossman of Soltage, Zaid Ashai of Nexamp, Rick Hunter of Microgrid Energy and Steph Spiers of Solstice.  Other speakers include energy company leaders Hannah Masterjohn of Clean Energy Collective, Dan Hendrick of NRG Energy, Adam Altenhofen of US Bank, Adam Capage of 3 Degrees and Lori Singleton of Salt River Project.

 

Energy Update: Week of July 5

Friends,

I hope everybody enjoyed an extra day for the 4th, celebrating our freedom with fireworks, family and friends.  Here in DC, the rain seemed to hold enough just enough to get our celebrations in.

Now that basketball and hockey are complete, and baseball slides toward its Summer All-Star classic, it was a very exciting weekend of sports.  Wimbledon is now heading into its second week of the fortnight and the Tour de France has launched.  On the grass courts of the All England Club, we have already seen a major upset on the men’s side with Novak Djokovic losing to American Sam Querrey.  Federer and Murray both look strong.  On the Women’s side, both Serena and Venus Williams won quarterfinal matches this morning with the bracket lining up for a sisters final if they both continue to win out.

As far as France, it looks like the 103rd Tour de France’s 21 stages this year will cover a total distance of 3,519 km.  The route will consist of 9 mountain stages including 4 summit finishes (Andorre Arcalis, Mont Ventoux, Finhaut-Emosson et Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc).  As usual, the crew will get only two rest days, and this year, the race will visit three neighboring countries: Spain, the Principality of Andorra and Switzerland.  The race started on Saturday in Mont-Saint-Michel and raced past Normandy to Utah Beach.  You can see the analysis of each stage here and the livestream daily here.

This week, Congress returns to action for GMO votes in the Senate and spending legislation in the House before lawmakers race to the July 15th summer break deadline.  While we have heard rumors that both houses may vote to start an energy conference, so far there has been little movement that would indicate that Democrats – especially in the Senate – are that interested.   Finally, FAA authorization must be renewed by July 15th so we are also watching that to see if it will collect additional items.

On the committee side this week, there will be a House Resources Committee hearing tomorrow on offshore leasing innovations featuring our friends Randi Luthi of NOIA and Walter Cruickshank of BOEM.  Also tomorrow, House Energy will review of EPA’s regulatory activity during the Obama Administration for the energy and industrial sectors.  EPA’s Janet McCabe will be under fire again and other panelists include NARUC President and Montana PSC Chair Travis Kavulla, former Obama DOE official Chuck McConnell and Texas Railroad Commission Chair David Porter.  On Thursday, House Energy tackles agreement targeting spent nuclear fuel disposal and House Resources is back on BLM’s planning rule redraft getting state perspectives.  Finally, a House Judiciary panel and House Budget will both look into regulations and their impact on the economy tomorrow and Thursday respectively.

While this week is slow, remember to mark your calendars for the annual EIA Energy Conference set for next Monday and Tuesday. Keynoters are Tesoro’s Greg Goff, Kinder Morgan’s Steve Kean and Dan Gardiner, Advisor to the Canadian PM.  OSTP Director John Holdren, Sen. Jeff Flake and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson will also be on the agenda.

Finally, just two weeks to the launch of the Republican Convention in Cleveland.  We are beginning to think we may have to just expect the unexpected.  It should be an interesting convention.  And just one week later, we head to Philadelphia for the Democratic Convention, which should be a little more normal.  One interesting item to watch though will be the platform fight over “Keep it in the Ground.”

 

Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932

 

FRANKLY SPOKEN

“Carlos, Tom and Elise are independent leaders that works across the aisle to protect the environment and enable the development of clean energy, which creates jobs and makes America more secure. Their continued leadership is critical to ensuring that Congress moves ahead with sensible, forward-looking legislation that promotes a diverse, affordable and reliable set of existing power sources, as well as make the necessary investments to foster innovation that will create the next generation of clean energy power.”

ClearPath Action Fund Founder and CEO Jay Faison endorsing his first House Candidates, Reps. Carlos Curbelo (FL) , Tom Reed (NY) and Elise Stefanik (NY) last week.

 

IN THE NEWS

Southern Company, AGL Resources complete merger – Southern Company and AGL Resources completed their merger late last week creating one of America’s leading energy providers.  The company now consists of 11 regulated electric and natural gas distribution companies providing service to approximately 9 million customers; operations of nearly 200,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines and more than 80,000 miles of natural gas pipelines; and generating capacity of approximately 44,000 megawatts.   The combined company serves utility customers in 9 states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Tennessee and Virginia – and has wholesale electricity generation and natural gas services, retail energy services and natural gas storage operations across the U.S.  For customers, this combination is expected to help the Southern Company system better meet their energy needs over time by improving current and future energy infrastructure development. For communities, it provides for the expansion of the company’s customer-focused business model.

ClearPath Endorses House Clean Energy Champions – ClearPath Action Fund is endorsing several conservative clean energy champions and starting digital campaign for Senators they endorse earlier this Spring.   ClearPath endorsed House members Carlos Curbelo of Florida and New York’s Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik.  ClearPath is touting their achievements starting soon with cutting-edge, six-figure digital media campaign. The campaigns, which will be run by Anthro, will include buys on many digital networks, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube and 4info. It will leverage a sophisticated microtargeting and test design strategy to segment persuadable clean energy voters by state and district.

ClearPath Starts Senate Digital Campaigns – Larger six-figure digital campaigns also began touting the clean energy records of ClearPath Action Fund’s initial congressional endorsements, Sens. Rob Portman and Kelly Ayotte. In addition to the 15-second and 30-second ads spotlighting Portman and Ayotte, voters will be driven to RobForCleanEnergy.com and KellyForCleanEnergy.com to further learn about their clean energy accomplishments.

NHTSA Releases Traffic Fatality Data Preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show a 7.7% increase in motor vehicle traffic deaths in 2015. An estimated 35,200 people died in 2015, up from the 32,675 reported fatalities in 2014. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said they are analyzing the data to determine what factors contributed to the increase in fatalities and at the same time, we are aggressively testing new safety technologies, new ways to improve driver behavior, and new ways to analyze the data we have, as we work with the entire road safety community to take this challenge head-on.  Although the data are preliminary and requires additional analysis, the early NHTSA estimate shows 9 out of 10 regions within the United States had increased traffic deaths in 2015. The most significant increases came for pedestrians and bicyclists. View the report

SAFE Says Report Underscores Need for Leadership on Autonomous Vehicles – The NTSHA announcement, combined with the recent news of a fatal crash that occurred while Tesla’s autopilot function was activated, illustrate both the importance of autonomous driving features, and the imperative need for caution when deploying these features.  “These two events are deeply interrelated. The roads are becoming much more dangerous, as distracted driving is on the rise,” said Robbie Diamond, President and CEO of Securing America’s Future Energy. “Policymakers and the private sector must work together to expedite the adoption of autonomous vehicles, which will improve roadway safety by orders of magnitude—but this technology must be deployed with caution. The fatal crash of a Tesla vehicle on autopilot is a perfect example of the fact that human beings must be carefully stewarded when introduced to a technology as game-changing as autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles.”

Driverless Cars Would Save Lives – One study conducted in Ann Arbor Michigan found that 200,000 personal vehicles could be replaced by just 18,000 shared, connected, autonomous vehicles. Opportunities like these abound across the United States, and with them, the chance to accelerate a widespread transition to alternative fuels like electricity, delinking America from the volatile global oil market and enhancing our economic and national security. In addition to the benefits for American energy security, connected, driverless cars could save 3,000 lives worldwide every day.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

House Resources to Look at Offshore Leasing Innovations – The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing tomorrow to look at Rep Garrett Graves “Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act.”  The legislation amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct offshore oil and gas lease sales through Internet-based live lease sales.  Witnesses include BOEM’s Walter Cruickshank, NOIA’s Randy Luthi, EnergyNet CEO William Britain and Jayni Hein of the NYU’s Institute for Policy Integrity.

House Energy Tackles EPA Regs – The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing tomorrow reviewing EPA’s regulatory activity during the Obama Administration energy and industrial sectors.  Testifying will be Air Office head Janet McCabe as well ND Industrial Commission Director Lynn Helms, Montana PSC Chair and NARUC head Travis Kavulla, former DOE Obama official Chuck McConnell, Texas Railroad Commission Chair David Porter and Robert Weissman of Public Citizen.

House Judiciary Panel to Host OIRA Head, Experts on Regs – The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform will hold a hearing tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. featuring OMB Office of Regulatory Affairs Administrator Howard Shelanski and four nongovernmental witnesses.   The hearing will look at the Obama regulatory impacts on jobs, wages and economic recovery.  Witnesses will include OIRA’s Howard Shelanski, former OMB/CBO official Douglas Holtz-Eakin, CEI’s Clyde Wayne Crews, GMU’s Mercatus Center VP William Beach, vice president and David Driesen, of the Syracuse University College of Law.

House Budget Panel to Also Look at Regs – Speaking of regulations, the Budget Committee will also hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday on the topic and how it fits into the budget process.  Regulation experts Crews and Beach will return to the Budget Committee and will be joined by Beach’s Mercatus colleague Patrick McLaughlin and George Washington U law expert Richard Pierce.

House Energy to Address Spent Fuel – The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will tackle Federal, state and local agreements and associated benefits for spent nuclear fuel disposal on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. The hearing is expected to examine the costs and benefits of building the Yucca Mountain repository northwest of Las Vegas. Representatives of Nye County are expected to be in attendance, as are public and private stakeholders from the Silver State.

House Resources to Look at BLM Rule Upgrade – The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold an oversight hearing on Thursday at 10:00  a.m., looking at state perspectives on BLM’s draft planning 2.0 rule. Deputy assistant secretary of land and minerals management at Interior Department Jim Lyons returns to the Hill after a battle last week in the Senate.  He will be joined by former House approps staffer Jim Ogsbury, now the executive director of the Western Governors’ Association, Utah’s Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office director Kathleen Clarke and Jeff Fontaine, the executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties.

Forum Looks at Waste Issues – Ambassador Henne Schuwer of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) will co-host a forum at 11:45 a.m. in B-369 Rayburn on waste to jumpstart the discussion on how companies and legislators can transition to a circular economy.  Representatives from both the American and Dutch private sector will address the opportunities and barriers that businesses will face when making this transition in a panel discussion, followed by a Q&A. The session will be moderated by Kevin Moss, Global Director of Business Center at the World Resources Institute.  The Trash to Treasure forum is organized under the Holland on the Hill initiative, a joint project of the Royal Netherlands Embassy, the Dutch Congressional Caucus, the Netherlands business community, and the Netherland-America Foundation.

House Science to Markup Energy Legislation – The House Committee on Science will meet to markup legislation on Thursday at 2:00 p.m.  The Committee will address the “Solar Fuels Innovation Act”, the “Electricity Storage Innovation Act”, and the “National Institute of Standards and Technology Campus Security Act.” Chairman Smith’s “Electricity Storage Innovation Act” would establish a Department of Energy research program on storing and converting electrical power into chemical energy while Rep. Steve Knight’s (R-Calif.) legislation to establish a solar fuels basic research initiative at DOE.

RFA to Hold Webinar – Our friends at the Renewable Fuels Assn will be hosting a webinar on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. on gasoline refining and blending.  The RFF has teamed up with the fuel refining experts at MathPro, Inc. to sponsor a 5-part webinar series that examines ethanol’s unique octane properties and its potential role as the octane source of choice in future fuels. The series will look at the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for ethanol-based high-octane fuels.  The next/third part will be July 28th.

Forum to Look at Asia Oil, Gas Issues – On Friday, the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will co-host NBR’s 12th annual Energy Security Workshop, “’Oil and Gas for Asia’ Revisited: Asia’s Energy Security amid Global Market Change.” The 2016 Energy Security Workshop will examine how lower prices have impacted the global oil supply and demand outlook and how this is impacting the supply security of the region’s major oil importers.  It will also look at Asia’s key supply and geopolitical uncertainties, including prospects for sustaining the region’s longer-term goal of diversifying its oil import sources geographically.  Finally, it will look at what lower oil prices might mean for LNG prices and efforts to spur natural gas consumption in Asia, reduce coal use, and advance post-Paris climate ambitions.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

Tesoro, Kinder CEOs Headline EIA Conference – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will hold its 2016 Energy Conference on July 11th and 12th in Washington, DC. This two-day event provides the opportunity to meet and network with energy analysts, decision makers, and EIA staff.  Conference session topics that may be relevant to EIA stakeholders interested in information about greenhouse gasses include: 1) Clean Power Plan: EIA, EPA, and state and regional perspectives and 2) Climate—next steps: Perspectives from the United States, Europe, and China.  Keynoters are Tesoro’s Greg Goff, Kinder Morgan’s Steve Kean and Dan Gardiner, Advisor to the Canadian PM.  OSTP Director John Holdren, Se. Jeff Flake and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson will also be on the agenda.  View the full list of speakers and sessions and register today.  Among the Panel speakers include our friends Andrew Gohn of AWEA, NREL’s Bryan Hannegan and EPA’s Joe Goffman.

Energy to Host Transportation Summit – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), will hold its first ever Sustainable Transportation Summit next Monday and Tuesday. The Summit will bring together transportation and mobility leaders to discuss the technology, policy and market innovations that hold the potential to shape the transportation system of the future. This year’s Summit will highlight progress and achievements in sustainable transportation R&D and efforts to bring new technologies to market, including the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. It will also serve as a forum to share ideas and perspectives on opportunities to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of advanced transportation technologies and smart mobility systems over the next decade.

WCEE, Bracewell to Host NY PSC Chair – The Women’s Council on Energy and Environment and Bracewell are hosting a reception for NY State Public Service Commission Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman on Monday, July 11th at 5:30 p.m.  Zibelman leads the regulatory process redesigning the state’s electricity market, called Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). Facing a $30B cost to maintain NY’s electricity grid over the next 10 years, and keenly aware of the vulnerability of the grid after Superstorm Sandy crippled Long Island and southern portions of the state, NY sought alternatives to reduce the need for new infrastructure, maximize the utilization of existing assets and encourage clean energy, and created NY REV.

EESI Holds Congressional Renewables Forum – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) holds its 19th annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo and Policy Forum on July 12th in the Cannon building.  The forum will bring together up to 50 businesses, trade associations, and government agencies to showcase renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. In every state across the country, these technologies are having a significant impact in business development and job creation in the manufacturing, transmission, power, transportation, and building sectors. The bipartisan House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus and the Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus are honorary co-hosts of the Expo.

Bioenergy Forum Set – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) will host its ninth annual conference—Bioenergy 2016: Mobilizing the Bioeconomy through Innovation. Partnering with the Clean Energy Research and Education Foundation (CEREF), this year’s conference will focus on opportunities to grow future feedstock supplies and breakthrough technology barriers to achieve a stronger bioeconomy.  Each year, approximately 600 participants attend the conference, including key stakeholders from the bioenergy industry, Congress, national laboratories, academia, and the financial community.  For more information about the program and schedule for Bioenergy 2016, please contact the Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) at Bioenergy2016@ee.doe.gov.

CSIS Papers to Look at China, Global Energy Security – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program is hosting Boston University’s Kevin Gallagher and Oklahoma’s Bo Kong on Wednesday July 13th to discuss the role of Chinese state financing in global energy development and to present findings from two of their recently published studies from the Global Economic Governance Initiative at BU. The first study authored by Dr. Gallagher, ‘Fueling Growth and Financing Risk’, examines the benefits and risks of China’s development finance in the global energy sector.  The other study led by Dr. Bo Kong, entitled ‘The Globalization of Chinese Energy Companies’, tracks the role that the Chinese state has played in helping domestic energy firms to become global household names in the industry. Edward Chow, Senior Fellow with the CSIS Energy and National Security Program, will moderate the discussion.

Shelk Headline Capacity Markets – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will hold a forum on Thursday, July 14th at 10:00 a.m. looking at the future of capacity markets.  The event will feature EPSA CEO John Shelk, the Regulatory Assistance Project’s Michael Hogan and our friend Christi Tezak of ClearView Energy Partners.  Ensuring that there is adequate electric power generation to meet established reliability standards is an imperative task for regulators. In organized wholesale markets, however, how exactly to ensure medium- to long-term resource adequacy continues to be the subject of debate and experimentation. Different jurisdictions have adopted different responses, with several markets mandating the procurement of capacity through organized capacity markets. Although the existence and operation of the capacity markets varies across jurisdictions, persistent concerns remain about the functioning and adequacy of capacity markets to ensure long-term reliability—especially in light of a rapidly changing grid with higher penetration of variable renewables and distributed energy resources. This session is part of the Electricity in Transition series from the Energy and National Security Program and will cover the basic theory behind capacity markets, discuss the pathways different jurisdictions have pursued, as well as the challenges perceived by states and market participants.

USEA to Host Alberta Energy Official – On Thursday, July 14th at 11:00 a.m., US Energy Association will host a forum featuring a discussion about the Alberta Energy Regulator.  The AER operates within the province of Alberta, Canada, and is the single provincial regulator for oil, natural gas, oil sands, and coal development within Alberta.  The AER ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.  Kirk Bailey, executive vice president of the Operations Division at AER, will speak to the AER’s transformation, highlighting critical initiatives under its purview.

ASE Forum to Look at Grid Modernization – The Alliance to Save Energy is hosting a Congressional Briefing on Thursday July 14th at Noon in the Capitol Visitors Center on the role of energy efficiency in a modernizing energy system.  The term ‘grid edge’ refers to the hardware, software and business innovations that are increasingly enabling smart, connected infrastructure to be installed at the ‘edge’ of the power grid. Depending on who you talk to, grid edge could either be the future of a modern and efficient energy system or fizzle out like so many other ambitious concepts.

USEA to Look at CCS Projects – Also on Thursday, July 14th at 2:00 p.m., the U.S. Energy Association will hold a forum on financing Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) demonstration projects.  Over two decades, more than a dozen other CCS demonstration projects came on-line.  However, there were many more projects that were announced that never came to fruition. By studying both the successful and unsuccessful projects, one can discern patterns and learn valuable lessons that can be applied to future efforts.  This presentation summarizes a study that analyzes the financing of large-scale CCS demonstration projects and reports the lessons learned.  Speaker will be MIT’s Howard Herzog.

Forum to Discuss Panama Canal Shipping Issues – The National Capital Area Chapter of the United States Association for Energy Economics will hold its next installment of its monthly lunch series on Friday July 15th at Noon in Carmines.  The forum will feature Basil Karatzas, CEO of Karatzas Maritime Advisors who will focus on the implications on energy shipping economics, including the significant effect on US LNG and petroleum shipments to Asia following the historic completion of the Panama Canal expansion and official unveiling last weekend.  Basil attended the official ceremony and recently spoke on the impact of the expansion on shipping economics at a conference in Panama.

Republican Convention – Cleveland will host the Republican Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena July 18-21st.  The Republican National Committee (RNC), the convention will host approximately 2,470 delegates and 2,302 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories.

WaPo to Host Faison Energy Conversation – The Washington Post will host an Energy Conversation with ClearPath Founder Jay Faison on Tuesday July 19th at the their GOP convention HQ in Cleveland.

Pioneer CEO to Discuss Industry at CSIS – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program is hosting Scott Sheffield, Chairman and CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, on Tuesday July 19th at 1:30 p.m. to discuss developments in the U.S. onshore oil and gas industry. Mr. Sheffield has held the position of CEO for Pioneer Natural Resources since August 1997 and assumed the position of chairman of the board in August 1999. In this position Sheffield heads one of the leading producers of unconventional oil and gas in the United States. Sheffield will share his views on recent market developments and regulatory changes in the oil and gas landscape, as well as Pioneer’s strategy for addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today and in the future.

Faison, Cramer Headline POLITICO RNC Energy Forum – POLITICO will host an energy caucus live on Wednesday July 20 at 12:45 in its Hub in Cleveland.  The forum will be a deep dive discussion, featuring a variety of perspectives, about the energy policy issues facing the next president and how the candidates are resonating in battleground states.  Featured speakers will; include Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), ClearPath’s Jay Faison and Jai Chabria of Mercury, along with a few others.

Democratic Convention – A week later, the Democrats will head to Philadelphia for the 2016 Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center on July 25th – 28th.

DEM Convention Forum Set – The New Policy Institute and NDN will host a major event at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, on Tuesday, July 26th looking ahead at the future of America and American Politics.  This event will feature a dozen inspiring thought leaders who will offer their different perspectives on what is coming down the road for the US and our politics.  The event will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 204C, 200 Level Concourse, and run from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm If you would like to attend, please RSVP on our Eventbrite page today.  The event is free and open to the public.

 

Paris Climate Update: December 1

Friends,

What a way to come back from the Thanksgiving Holiday.  This week is going be crazy and may be the busiest energy/environment week of the year.  The major actions include the Paris Climate meetings already under way in France (6 hours ahead), the rollout of the RFS yesterday, energy legislation and GHG regulation action on the House floor, a slate of interesting Congressional hearings and finally the oral arguments on Friday focused on EPA’s mercury rules that were remanded by the US Supreme Court.

Let’s start with Paris…Speeches launched yesterday as world leaders converged on Paris.  The action got going with speeches, sidebar meetings between leaders, some protests gone bad and clean energy innovations initiatives.  India continues to be a thorn in the side of the talks, leaking a US “confidential note” that was shared with select countries which said the developed/developing countries distinction should be eliminated and developing countries should contribute to the Green Climate Fund.  That should make the negotiations later next week fun.  A lot more below…

The House of Representatives has a heavy energy hand this week, readying votes to undermine the GHG Regulations that were approved by the Senate prior to Thanksgiving. They will also consider other attempts to undercut the ability of U.S. negotiators to reach an international accord to address climate change in Paris related to the Green Climate Funding and Congressional Review of any agreement.   Industry groups issued a letter to all House of Representatives’ offices in support of Congressional Review Act (CRA) Resolutions to strike the EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for new and existing power plants. It is a similar Letter that was sent to Senators when they voted on similar legislation prior to Thanksgiving.  The House is expected to vote later this afternoon or this evening.

Then tomorrow, the House will move to energy legislation which will dive into bolstering energy infrastructure and promoting liquefied natural gas exports.  The legislation Is expected to get more than 70 amendments that will be handled by the Rules Committee today.  While that will get Paired down, there may be legislative action on Crude Exports, the RFS, Gene Green’s Cross-Border infrastructure Permits streamlining (in other words fixing woes that dragged down Keystone), rooftop solar and other items.

Congress isn’t only busy on the House Floor.  There are a number of important hearings this week, including this morning hearing in the House Science Committee.   held a thoughtful hearing on the pitfalls of unilateral negotiations at the Paris Climate Conference.   The other important hearing today included FERC Commissioners coming to a House Energy panel to discuss the implications of the Clean Power Plan, electric reliability and many other issues under FERC’s jurisdiction.

Finally, on Thursday The Hill will host a forum on the on the future of energy delivery and Friday oral  arguments in the DC Circuit will determine the future of EPA’s mercury rule.  With the action in Paris getting more wonky now with world leaders departing, we will likely provide you the next update on Friday.  In the meantime, should you have any questions, please call…Best,

 

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932
PARIS ROLLING

DAY TWO MORNING

President Obama Offers Departing Remarks – President Obama held a presser as he prepared to depart climate talks in Paris.  Here is a link to the briefing: http://keranews.org/post/president-obama-paris-says-hes-confident-climate-deal-will-be-reached-video

This is a brief summary of the Dec. 1st news conference at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. Please note that what follows is paraphrased and not an exact transcript:

Opening Remarks:  President Obama began by speaking on the subject of terrorism, along with the ongoing Syrian refugee issue. He proceeded to argue that climate change is a profound problem that is a threat multiplier. He further that if action now isn’t taken now, the problem will get worse. According to Obama, “this is an economic and security imperative.” The President argued that businesses and investors need certainty to create a low carbon future. He is “convinced that we are going to get big things done.” Bill Gates is an example of someone who understands that climate change is a moral imperative, but also an opportunity. His optimism and the sense that we can do what is necessary is infectious.

Question and Answer:

The following summary reflects only questions pertaining to climate change:

Q: Unrelated question regarding Syria.

A: We still need a Paris agreement, so my main focus is ensuring that the U.S. is a leader in bringing a successful agreement home. There are a number of components of it.  First, the agreement must be ambitious and must seek a low carbon global economy over the course of this century. This means that countries have put forward specific targets and that there is a mechanism with which countries are working on the targets and meeting them. There should be legally binding transparency measures, as well as periodic reviews. Countries should be allowed to update the pledges that they make. We also need a climate fund that allows developing countries to adapt and mitigate. If we hit those targets, then we will have been successful, not because the pledges alone will meet the necessary targets, but because it gets the ball rolling. Changes in say, solar technology, may make it easier to meet even higher targets. Systematically carbon emissions and the pace of climate change can be put downwards. Some of the reporting says that all of the pledges aren’t enough (estimated 2.7 C) increase in temperature. That is too high, but if we have these periodic reviews built in I believe that by sending that signal to researchers and scientists and entrepreneurs we will start hitting these targets faster and we can be even more ambitious. This may result in us meeting the 2 C target. This is not foolish optimism. I sought to double clean energy production when I came into office and our investment allowed us to meet those goals a lot quicker than expected. My expectations were exceeded in regards to solar power. The key here is to set up the structure so that we are sending signals all around the world that this is happening and that we are not turning back. The thing about human ingenuity is that it responds when it gets a strong signal about what needs to be done. The old expression that necessity is the mother of invention is particularly apt. The signal will help us to ultimately meet our goals.

Q: Are you confident that you can hold the U.S. to its commitments under existing treaties with no new vote needed?

A: We already engage in assistance to countries for adaptation, assistance and mitigation. So, this is not just one slug of funding that happens in one year. This is a multi-year commitment that is already embedded in a whole range of programs around the world. My expectation is that we will absolutely be able to meet our commitments. This is part of American leadership and part of the debate that we have to have in the U.S. more frequently. Too often leadership is defined by sending troops somewhere and that is the sole definition of leadership. Our leadership needs to be understood in a broader sense than that. When I made the announcement in Beijing, I was able to do so in part because we led domestically. Whether it is organizing a coalition that is fighting ISIL or dealing with climate change, our role is central, but on large international issues it is not sufficient, at least not if we want it to take and sustain itself.

Q: What happens if another President comes into office, say from the Republican party?

A: After a brief response to the issue, the President referred to the immense global gathering. Whoever is the next president, they will have to think that this is very important because of the emerging global consensus. That is why it is important to not project what is being said on a campaign trail, but to do what is right. The good news is that the politics is changing inside the United States as well. People should be confident that we will meet our commitments.

Q: In terms of sending that market signal you talked about today, do you see a political path back home to putting a price on carbon?

A: I have long believed that the most elegant way to drive innovation and reduce carbon emissions is to put a price on carbon. This is a classic market failure. If you open up an Econ 101 textbook, it will say that markets are very good at determining prices except that there are certain externalities that the market does not price, at least not on its own. Clean air is an example. Clear water or in this case the carbons that are being sent up. If you put a price on it, then the entire market will respond and the best investments and the smartest technologies will begin scrubbing our entire economy.  As the science around climate change is more accepted and people start realizing that even today you can put a price on the damage that climate change is doing. When you go down to Miami and see that it is flooding on high tide, there is a cost to that. Insurance companies are starting to see that in terms of how they price risk. It may be that the politics surrounding a cap-and-trade system. I am not under any illusion that this Congress will do that, but eventually it may happen. It is worth remembering that conservatives and center-right think tanks that figured out that this was a smarter way to deal with pollution than command and control. George H. W. Bush did this in regards to acid rain. More than anything, this is the main message that we want to send. Climate change is a massive problem, a generational problem and a problem by definition is just about the hardest thing for any political system to absorb. The effects are gradual and diffuse, so there isn’t a lot of constituency pressure to deal with it right away. There is the problem of the commons, you need everyone to do it.  There is a huge coordination problem and the danger of free-riders. On all these dimensions it is harder to come up with a tougher and a more consequential problem. I actually think we are going to solve this thing, in spite of that. If two years ago you mentioned that 180 countries would show up with ambitious targets, people would have said that that is a pipe dream. More R&D dollars are important, which is why the mission innovation announcement was so significant.  I am optimistic and I think we are going to solve it. The issue is the pace and how much damage is done before we are able to fully apply the brakes.  In some ways, it is akin to the problem of terrorism and the problem of terrorism and ISIL. In the immediate aftermath of a terrible attack like happened in Paris, sometimes it is natural for people to despair, but look at Paris, we can’t tear down Paris because of the demented actions of a handful of individuals. We have to be steady and continue applying pressure to the problem. Most of all, we have to push away fear and have confidence that human innovation and our values, judgements and solidarity will win out. I have been at this long enough that I have some cause for confidence. We went for a month or a month and a half where Ebola was going to kill us all. No one asks me about it anymore. We set up an entire global health security agenda that was part of American leadership to deal with Ebola, but also future pandemics. It is solvable.

Legally Binding? – One of the key remarks from the briefing was the President’s comment about legally binding portions of the agreement.  Obama stressed today that portions of the pending climate change agreement that diplomats hope to finalize here this month should be legally binding, a remark intended to tamp down tensions over the structure of the deal.  He reiterated his position that the mechanism under which countries review their domestic climate change targets should be legally binding.  But Obama’s decision to stress that position comes amid confusion and frustration from some countries toward the United States over the legal nature of any deal that emerges. While it supports making some aspects of the deal legally binding, the administration strongly opposes making the climate change targets themselves binding because that would trigger a requirement to submit the final agreement to the Senate, where its fate would be likely be rejected.

The Hard Work Launches – With the world leaders departing, the real negotiators are getting down to work with spin-off groups, focused on specific issues in the draft agreement, met to talk about issues including technology development and transfer, capacity-building and legal provisions between now and 2020, as well as the deal’s preamble. The groups met to talk about helping countries adapt to climate change and compensating them for loss and damage and reducing emissions. This afternoon and evening, there will be meetings on financial aid, transparency, how to take stock of progress, what to do before 2020, capacity-building, technology, and other general issues.

 

DAY ONE

Leaders to Arrive Early – The UN Climate Change Conference in Paris began Monday with an unprecedented Leaders Event, immediately after the official opening of the COP, where an estimated 150 Presidents, Prime Ministers and Heads of States delivered speeches. These speeches are posted on the “white pages” of the UNFCCC website as they are made available to the secretariat.  President Barack Obama made brief remarks aimed at rallying the world to reach a deal to cut greenhouse gases and sealing his environmental legacy with or without Congress’ help. In his speech, Obama quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “There is such a thing as being too late.”  “When it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us. But if we act here, now, if we place our short term interests behind the air that our children will breathe and the water our children will drink,” Obama said. “Then we will not be too late for them.”   Chinese President Xi Jinping followed Obama saying “tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind. All eyes are now on Paris.”  Jinping  also called for countries to determine their own best solutions and for an agreement that includes “global sustainable development at a high level and bring about new international cooperation featuring win-wins.”

Actions, Actions, Actions – Heads of State, Governments and others made major climate action announcements Monday and Tuesday at a series of press conferences and at a number of high-level side events.  All of the speeches and press conferences took place at the Le Bourget venue and still can be viewed on demand via webcast. Summaries of climate action announcements, with links to the official announcements posted online by governments and key stakeholders, will be made available in the UNFCCC Newsroom.  A tentative overview of press conferences, including those of Heads of State and Government, is available on the UNFCCC press page.

Still No Negotiation Observations – In the last pre-COP21 negotiating session in Bonn in October, observers from civil society, business and elsewhere were shut out of the negotiating rooms.  It was the result of the Japanese delegation, but was unopposed by the EU and U.S.  It did draw criticism from the G-77 and China group of developing countries, who argued that opening the doors would send a sign of transparency.

Obama, India’s Modi Hold Meeting – One of the biggest meetings was between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Obama.  Modi said India will fulfil its responsibilities regarding climate change when he met US President Barack Obama on the sidelines Monday.  Obama said India had to be able to grow and fight poverty, while Modi pledged to ensure development would be coupled with environmental protection.  Modi’s speech held quite a different message though saying India did not create the climate change menace but was suffering its consequences while he delivered a stern message to affluent nations, saying “those with luxury of choices should sharply reduce emissions”.  Modi: “Climate change is a major global challenge. But it is not of our making. It is the result of global warming that came from prosperity and progress of an industrial age powered by fossil fuel,” he said while inaugurating the India pavilion at the summit, toughening his country’s stand in the face of US criticism of India.  Read the Hindu Times coverage Here.

US Negotiators Note Undermines Developing Countries – Speaking of Indian Press, the Business Standard of India reported that the U.S. wants to eliminate the distinction between developing and developed countries in climate talks.  They are circulating a “confidential note” that was shared with select countries, US officials say they wants the successive round of pledges under the proposed Paris agreement to be determined independently by each country and not through a process of international negotiation.  The “non-paper” also adds the wall of differentiation between developed and developing countries should be done away and says developing countries should also contribute to the climate funds in future.  That should really set a positive tone…

India Leads Solar Alliance Effort – Indian Prime Minister Modi and French President Hollande, along with world leaders, launched the International Solar Alliance on the inaugural day of the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris. The solar alliance brings together key countries and invites over 100 solar-rich countries to propel clean energy and protect the climate. The cooperation demonstrated by both developed and developing countries in launching the solar alliance gives a head start to the collective, flexible cooperation needed to hammer out an international agreement in Paris to sustainably and effectively fight climate pollution.  Modi: “We must turn to solar to power our future.” President Hollande praised India’s leadership and called for France and others to mobilize finance and technology to achieve climate justice during the summit. The International Solar Alliance invites countries located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to join, including many African and Asian nations, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, France, China and the United States. Prime Minister Modi estimates $100 billion will be needed annually by 2020 to finance the clean power initiative. India’s National Institute of Solar Energy will lead the coordination of the solar alliance initiative for the first five years. The International Solar Alliance is part of India’s effort to advance a low-carbon economy, including domestic targets to install 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022. Prime Minister Modi also marked India’s progress, noting that India’s current installed solar energy capacity of 4 gigawatts will jump to 12 gigawatts by the end of 2016.

Key features of the International Solar Alliance

  • Collaborate on research and development of new and affordable solar energy technologies
  • Share regulatory and policy frameworks
  • Exchange best practices for solar energy development and installation
  • Promote joint efforts and programs to train a skilled workforce
  • Cooperate on common industry standards
  • Partner on attracting financial investments and creating innovative financing mechanisms

The launch of the International Solar Alliance shows the flexibility and cooperation needed at the negotiations to achieve a strong agreement to reduce global warming pollution.

Countries Commit to Clean Energy – A group of 20 countries say they will double current spending on clean energy research and development over the next five years.  President Obama, French President Hollande and other world leaders announced the new Mission Innovation initiative this morning in Paris. The 20 countries are Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Private Investors to Fund Tech Innovation – While it rolled out late last week, a separate coalition of 28 private large-scale investors also  launched a complementary effort to funnel capital into “early stage companies that have the potential of an energy future that produces near zero carbon emissions and provides everyone with affordable, reliable energy.”  The group, named the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, is spearheaded by Bill Gates and Includes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Virgin Founder Richard Branson, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Indian Business mogul Mukesh Ambani, Chinese businessman Jack Ma, Vinod Khosla Indian auto magnate Ratan Tata, HP CEO Meg Whitman, activist George Soros and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, among others.

UN Head Supports 5-Yr Climate Reviews – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says governments’ pledges to cut global warming emissions aren’t enough and should be reviewed before 2020.  Ban said he endorsed plans for reviewing targets every five years.  While more than more than 180 countries have submitted climate action plans, however, scientific analyses show that even if those plans are implemented man-made warming is likely to reach almost 3 degrees C (5.4 F), which is beyond the 2-degree C (3.6 degree F) goal of the international talks.  “It’s not enough. We have to do much more and faster to be able to contain the global temperature rise below 2 Celsius,” Ban said.  Still, he said he was encouraged by the recent progress in the climate talks, which for years have been bogged down by disputes between rich and poor countries over who should do what.  “It seems to me that all the stars are aligning,” Ban said. “I’m pretty optimistic that we will be able to have a very robust universal climate change agreement.”

McConnell to Leaders: Key GHG Initiative on Shaky Legal Ground – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell writes in the Washington Post that global leaders shouldn’t work with President Obama in Paris based on a domestic energy plan “that is likely illegal … and that his successor could do away with in a few months’ time.”

House Leader McCarthy Challenge Obama on Energy View – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy also published an article in Reuters. He argues that President Obama’s rhetoric “is blind to the true story of American energy.” Please see a copy of McCarthy’s op-ed here.

Downplaying Results – Several reports have said shown the White House and other world leaders downplaying outcomes for the Paris conference talks saying the success of a global treaty being negotiated by world leaders over the next few weeks won’t be determined instantly, but will take years to change course.  Only in about 2030 will it be possible to look back and determine whether Paris 2015 was the turning point that world leaders are so avidly seeking here. Will all the world’s nations live up to the pledges they brought? Will they do even more? And will emissions, at long last, be heading down? Statements like these are meant to put a gloss on the widely acknowledged reality that the formal emission pledges received so far are inadequate. Those pledges — by  more than 180 countries accounting for at least 95 percent of global emissions – don’t come close to putting the world on a path toward holding global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Security Risks? Terrorism v. Climate – The White House wants no part of the “terrorism” versus “climate change” threat ranking game despite repeatedly making the argument.  Republicans have long pounded top Democrats—including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Bernie Sanders—for deeming climate change a danger on par with (or ahead of) terrorist attacks, saying their statements underscore a failure to take groups such as ISIS seriously.  But when deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes was repeatedly asked on Monday how the two stack up, he refused the premise. “They are both critically important, and we have to do both at the same time,” Rhodes said. “They pose different threats. Obviously there is an immediate threat from terrorism that has to be dealt with to protect the American people, to protect our allies and partners, and to root out the cancer of terrorist networks that we see not just in Iraq and Syria but in different parts of the world. I think over the long-term, clearly we see the potential for climate change to pose severe risks to the entire world.”

Countries Urge a Carbon Price – Leaders from China, Germany, Mexico, Canada and Ethiopia joined French officials yesterday evening and promised to  impose a price on carbon. France’s energy transition law, passed over the summer, sets an example by putting the price of carbon on a trajectory to hit €56 ($59.50) per ton in 2020 and €100 ($106) in 2030, the energy minister noted. Carbon pricing will be a divisive issue in the talks.

 

BACKGROUND

Who’s Going – The U.N. expects the COP-21 to draw some 10,000 government representatives to the Le Bourget conference center in a northeastern Parisian suburb, plus 7,000 observers per week and 3,000 journalists.  Just Last week, more than 1,000 other reporters were cut from the list of accredited media.  We will be in contact with several industry people on the ground in Paris and will be happy to provide you their thoughts and posit your questions to them.    President Obama arrived Sunday and Just departed this afternoon.  Other cabinet members attending: Sect of State Kerry, Interior’s Sally Jewell, DOE’s Moniz, Ag Sect Vilsack, EPA’s Gina McCarthy and NOAA Admin Sullivan.  California Governor Jerry brown and Washington state Governor Jay Inslee are attending.

Congress – Several members of Congress will be attending, mostly near the end of the conference.  Much is still up in the air because the impending budget deadline on December 10th that will require Congressional action/votes.  On the Senate Side there are rumors that Sen. Inhofe will make an appearance at the near the end of week 2.  On the D Side, Whitehouse, Cardin, Markey and Schatz are planning to attend.  Right now, Pelosi and Whitfield are leading the respective delegations.  On the Republican side Jim Sensenbrenner, Pete Olsen and several other E&C members are expected to go to Paris.   Key Senate EPW Staffer  Mandy Gunasekara and House E&C staffers Tom Hassenboehler and Mary Neumayr will also expected to be attending the conference.

Others Attending – Among those attending the main conference are 20 Sierra Club staff members or volunteers, including executive director Michael Brune and 12 from the World Resources Institute, led by Jennifer Morgan. Main Keystone opponent Bill McKibben is going, along with Britain’s Lord Nicholas Stern and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former finance minister of Nigeria.

Washington business groups seem to have a smaller presence. There is a large group going with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, including:

– Lisa Jacobson, Business Council for Sustainable Energy

– Kelly Speakes-Backman Alliance to Save Energy

– Kathryn Clay American Gas Association

– Thad Hill CEO of Calpine

– Dan Chartier Corn Refiners Association

– Dan Delurey Demand Response & Smart Grid Coalition

– Nanette Lockwood Ingersoll Rand

– Grady Crosby Johnson Controls

– Tony Earley CEO PG&E

– Rhone Resch CEO Solar Energy Industry Association

 

We have heard of only a handful of other D.C.-based business folks who say they will be there. They include:

– Howard Feldman, American Petroleum Institute

– Art Lee,  Chevron

– Eric Holdsworth, Edison Electric Institute

– Susan Mathiascheck, Nuclear Energy Institute

– Gene Trisko, United Mineworkers

– Stephen Eule, Institute for 21st Century Energy at U.S. Chamber of Commerce

 

Think Tanks – There will be a bunch of think tanks going but I will report on the number of conservative groups.  CEI will have several people in the second week including climate meeting veterans Myron Ebell, Chris Horner and Harlan Watson.  Climate gadfly Marc Morano and Craig Rucker of CFACT will be holding science Conference on December 7th at the Hotel California (where they will be livin’ it up) and the following day, the will premier Morano’s documentary,Climate Hustle.   Heritage Foundation treaty expert Steve Groves will also be in Paris.  Finally, RFF has a great blog from Brian Flannery and Ray Kopp that raises key questions.

Eule Interview with Bloomberg – Steve Eule, who first attended the Milan COP meeting in 2003 as an official in the Bush administration, talked to Bloomberg about what to expect. Eule said there are very few opportunities to lobby or influence what is going on. Every morning at 9 a.m. there’s a business briefing for groups from all over the world. That’s a great way to find out what is happening, he says, because “a lot of businesses are a lot tighter with their governments (than the U.S.) and they get the skinny.”

“There are a lot of really boring hours, but when it starts to be crunch time, the meetings go behind closed doors,” he said. “Then the rumor mill takes over.”

And don’t expect to take a long tour of the Louvre. “Nobody wants to leave because they are afraid they are going to miss something,” Eule said. “I see the hotel room, the Metro and the venue and that’s about it.”

Security Is High – France is deploying  11,000 additional police during the climate meetings to ensure security for two weeks. The location of the COP-21 conference center Le Bourget is just a few miles from the Stade de France in St. Denis, where a terrorist exploded a bomb on November 13th.   France said it will deploy 2,800 police and gendarmes on the conference site itself. Some 8,000 police will be deployed on France’s borders to temporarily re-implement border controls that ended in 1995 with the EU Schengen Area’s creation.

Pre-Conference Protests Go Bad – French riot police fired tear gas at activists protesting as part of global climate demonstrations yesterday.  About 200 protesters, some wearing masks, fought with police on a street leading to the Place de la Republique. Paris police chief Michel Cadot told reporters that some demonstrators hurled glass bottles and memorial candles at police. Demonstrators in France were warned not to gather amid the state of emergency enacted after the Paris attacks. But more than 4,500 people formed a human chain around midday.  Almost 200 people were arrested using the state of emergency rules.  French President Hollande said “everything will be done” to keep violent protesters away from the conference. Some protesters were undeterred by the criticism, chanting, “a state of emergency is a police state.”

Side Events Will Go On – Despite French officials canceling an outdoor climate march due to security concerns in the aftermath of the terror attacks, French and UN officials announced that indoor events organized by civil society during international global warming negotiations in Paris can proceed. One of those events will be NEXT Thursday, December 10th 3:00 p.m.  Business Side Event in Room 5 which will offer business perspectives on INDCs.  Business groups in Europe, the U.S. and developing nations will discuss implications for domestic and global outcomes from policy, as well as market changes in trade & investment.  They will also present experiences with business engagement in developing INDCs and recommend ways to involve business in assessment and /improvement.  Another event will be held TOMORROW at 2:00 p.m. at the UNESCO building (125 avenue de Suffren, 75007 Paris) featuring NRECA’s Martin Lowery.  Lowery will join cooperative representatives from Germany and France in Paris to discuss the cooperatives’ contribution to developing renewables and increasing energy efficiency at an event sponsored by the International Cooperative Alliance.

 

KEY ISSUES TO FOCUS ON

Some Key Points – There are several key points to keep on your agenda as you listen to the discussions, reporting and other items related to the Paris Climate meeting.  There will be a lot of symbolism and hype and focusing on these key points will allow you to get to the heart of the key issues:

1) Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – The Paris agreement is anticipated to be a bottom-up treaty, with each country setting goals based on their unique national circumstances. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, will form the basis of the country-specific commitments under the new UN climate treaty. It is also expected that periodic review of these commitments will be instituted along with measuring, reporting, and verification to ensure the integrity and ambition of the commitments.  While may seem to be making INDCs, there are many questions as to whether countries will live up to these commitments.  Even the US commitment is being questions by experts as not adding up to the 26-28% reduction.

2) Green Climate Fund – Financing issues are among the most controversial in Paris, and they could easily derail any agreement. Many developing country INDCs are conditioned on financial support and technology transfer.  The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was proposed at COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009, refined in subsequent meetings, and became operational in 2014. GCF aims to provide support to developing country efforts to reduce their GHG emissions and to adapt climate change.  However, this breaks down, it is clear that a significant portion of the expected funds—certainly tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars over many years—would be coming from public sources and would have to be appropriated by Congress.

3) Intellectual property – Developing countries have used this provision deftly to justify their attempts to weaken intellectual property rights (IPR) protections, ostensibly to remove the supposed “barriers” to technology transfer raised by IPR. Compulsory licensing and a fund supported by developed countries to buy down IP are two of many proposals being bruited. IPR serve as a fundamental catalyst of innovation, and study after study has shown that it is not a barrier to technology transfer. A weakened IPR regime such as that being proposed above would provide precious little incentive for companies to invest in advanced technologies if after years of research and development and millions or even billions of dollars invested, their inventions could be expropriated outright by companies in developing countries and manufactured and sold around the world at reduced cost. Under such a circumstance, some of the most innovative companies in the developed world would simply abandon the development of advanced energy technologies.

4) Technology Transfer – Tied to INDCs and the Green Fund, Technology Transfer is one fundamental issue that could bridge the gap.  It frankly is a better way to move toward a positive goal transforming our energy economy:  engage developing countries with advanced technology transfer to help them grow their economies more efficiently and cleanly.  Rather than going to Paris and trying to shame everyone into doing, this approach could be an important way to move forward.  In fact, we are already doing in many ways.  Look at the Clean Coal, Solar and offshore wind technologies that have struggled to catch on here in the US.  While we have struggled, developing nations, specifically China, have looked for these opportunities even without the promise of billions in funds (that will likely not ever come).

5) Verification – An issue that does not receive the attention it deserves is measuring, reporting, and verification of climate policies. As things stand now, the system of MRV that is likely to come out of Paris will focus not on whether a country meets its emissions goal, but on whether it implements the policies and measures designed to meet its goal. In other words, MRV is more about process than results. MRV will be especially challenging in developing countries. Transparency is a key to open markets and planning, and businesses will be reticent to invest in developing economies without assurances that its investments in emission reduction and offset projects are real and that government activities in support of INDCs have integrity.

6) Binding Legal Commitments Or Non-binding Political Agreement – In a recently interview, Secretary of State John Kerry said recently the Paris agreement is “definitively not going to be a treaty.” While it has not been finalized, we can already say that the Paris Agreement will be a multilateral international agreement that will include almost every country in the world. In testimony last week, Hofstra Constitutional Law Professor Julian Ku said If the outcome of the Paris Conference is to make these promises to reduce emissions legally binding, it is my view that the Paris Agreement must be submitted to the Senate for approval as a treaty under Article II.  This will continue to be a contentious point of negotiating among parties and one that US Senators will be watching Closely.  Last week, Senator Barrasso and Inhofe said the any funding for climate initiatives would be tied to Senate review.

 

OTHER IMPORTANT ISSUES

House Members Weigh In On Green Climate Fund – I mentioned the recent letter from Barrasso and Inhofe on the Green Climate Fund.  Last week, more than 100 House members released a letter expressing opposition to Obama’s pledge of $3 billion to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, calling the president’s move “unilateral” and arguing Congress should have oversight. The debate over the fund is one of several expected to arise as Obama tries to implement a potential deal from Paris.

Two Names to Remember – It is likely Poland’s new conservative government will be a skunk at the Paris Climate Garden Party next week.  Reports are they is threatening to veto a deal at the Paris climate summit, making clear its determination to protect the country’s large coal industry. Poland’s previous center-right government also fought to dilute EU emissions reductions goals, defending the coal that supplies the bulk of the country’s electricity and accounts for thousands of politically sensitive jobs. The Law and Justice Party (PiS), which this year took control of both the presidency and the parliament, is an even more ferocious defender of Polish coal than its predecessor. Two names to keep an eye on are new Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, a coal miner’s daughter from the country’s industrial heartland.

China Tops for Clean Energy – China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon pollution, continues to hold the top position as the best developing country in which to invest in clean energy in a study by Climatescope, a research project whose partners include Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the U.K. Department for International Development. The nation scored highest for a second consecutive year in an analysis of 55 emerging market nations including South Africa, Uruguay and Kenya that mapped important progress in the area.

ClearView on the Paris Negotiations – Our friend Kevin Book of ClearView Energy release a report on the talks saying it appears that a main goal of the talks is forging a durable agreement with five-year review periods. In the absence of specific funding commitments from developed nations and transparency measures for all parties, Book says the talks could produce a weak deal. Topics that could slow negotiations down include the questions of how to apply “common but differentiated responsibilities” to the many provisions of an agreement and whether to include “loss and damage” in the deal at all. Even with a durable agreement, economic reversals, international security incidents and other surprises can still overcome best intentions, making the attainment of voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals somewhat tenuous. Future fossil fuel consumption is likely to depend on the implementation of those goals, and our analysis of third-party global energy outlooks found a wide divergence among reports. Coal consumption projections, for example, ranged from a 28% decline by 2030 to an increase of 43%. All of the estimates that we compiled show a growth in natural gas consumption by 2030.

Dueling Polls – There are two new polls out today that underscore why polling on this subject (as well as other environmental subject is always suspect).  A new Washington Post-ABC News poll says the number of people who believe climate change is a serious problem facing the United States is declining.  The poll shows 63% of those surveyed say climate change is a serious problem facing the country, down from 69% in June. 52% say climate change is a “very serious” problem, down from 57%. About 47% believe the government should do more to deal with global warming, down from 61% in 2008. The poll found 51% of people say there is “a lot of disagreement among scientists” over the existence of global warming, down 11% from 2008. About 43% say scientists agree with one another.  Meanwhile, a New York Times/CBS News poll says Americans support the United States joining an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming, but on this and other climate-related questions, opinion divides sharply along partisan lines.  The poll says 66% of Americans support the United States joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but a slim majority of Republicans remain opposed.  63% of Americans — including a bare majority of Republicans — said they would support domestic policy limiting carbon emissions from power plants.  Again, this seems suspect when you look further into the polling: When considering policies to reduce carbon emissions, Americans generally favor regulating business activity more than taxing consumers. The poll found broad support for capping power plant emissions. Half of all Americans said they thought the government should take steps to restrict drilling, logging and mining on public lands, compared with 45% who opposed such restrictions. Support for limiting mineral extraction on public lands rose to 58% among Democrats.  But just one in five Americans favored increasing taxes on electricity as a way to fight global warming; six in 10 were strongly opposed, including 49% of Democrats. And support was not much higher for increasing gasoline taxes, at 36% overall.

Mayor Call for Strong Climate Plan – Last week more than 60 mayors and California Governor Jerry Brown (D) called on the U.S. to take strong action during the Paris conference. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and dozens of others representing smaller localities made their case to President Obama.

RFA Says Biofuels Reduce GHGs – Biofuels consumed under the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) have reduced U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 354 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent since 2008, according to a new analysis conducted by California-based Life Cycle Associates. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which sponsored the study, said the findings have important implications for both the pending final rule for 2014–2016 RFS volumes and upcoming global climate talks in Paris.

EWG says RFA Fudges Numbers – A study released by the Renewable Fuels Association makes the bogus claim that the use of corn ethanol as a vehicle fuel reduced emissions by 240 million tons of carbon dioxide since 2008.  EWG’s Emily Cassidy says study after study has shown that widespread use of corn ethanol has proved to be a disaster for the climate. The federal mandate to blend corn ethanol into gasoline has led to the destruction of millions of acres of grasslands and wetlands to suit higher demands for corn for ethanol productions.

Obama Rolls Out Reg Agenda – Prior to the Thanksgiving week and the Paris Climate negotiations, the White House rolled out its fall 2015 regulatory agenda.  It is not the first time the President’s regulatory releases, required by law, came out under the cover of holidays:

  • Fall 2012  –  December 21 (Friday before Christmas)
  • Spring 2013  –  July 3 (day before Independence Day)
  • Fall 2013  –  November 27 (day before Thanksgiving)
  • Spring 2014  –  May 23 (Friday before Memorial Day weekend)
  • Fall 2014  –  December 22 (three days before Christmas)
  • Spring 2015  –  May 21 (Thursday before Memorial Day weekend)

 

The agenda includes over 2,000 regulations are now being written. Of these, 144 are deemed “economically significant”—that is, expected to cost Americans $100 million or more each.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

PARIS UN COP 21 Meeting –  November 30th  to December 11th

House Floor Debate Launches on Resolution of Disapproval – House Republicans are hoping to send President Obama measures blocking the centerpiece of his climate change agenda as administration officials gather in Paris for the start of international climate talks.   The House will vote on two resolutions tomorrow through the Congressional Review Act that would kill U.S. EPA’s carbon rules for power plants. H.J. Res. 71 would block the agency’s rule to lower carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, while H.J. Res. 72 would eliminate the Clean Power Plan for existing power plants.  Before the Thanksgiving break, the Senate approved both resolutions on 52-46 votes.  The White House will veto both resolutions because they would “undermine the public health protections of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and stop critical U.S. efforts to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.”  But congressional opponents of Obama’s climate change agenda plan to use the effort to undermine the President’s plan in Paris by undermining his signature compliance measure.

House Science to Look at Climate Meeting – The full House Committee on Science will hold a hearing tomorrow on the pitfalls of unilateral negotiations at the Paris Climate Change Conference.  The hearing is a second hearing that is raising doubts about the international climate talks and its outcomes.  “The so-called Clean Power Plan will cost billions of dollars, cause financial hardship for American families and diminish the competitiveness of American industry around the world,” Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said at that hearing.  Witnesses will be Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Andrew Grossman of Baker & Hostetler and climate gadfly Dr. Bjørn Lomborg.

FERC Commissioners To Visit House Energy Panel – The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing focused on FERC.  Witnesses will include FERC Commissioners Bay, LaFleur, Clark and Honorable.  The clean power plan and electric reliability will be a major part of the discussion.

Senate Foreign Relations to Hold Hearing on Energy Nominee – The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will meet tomorrow to consider several nominations including Amos Hochstein appointment to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources.

Panel to Look at Offshore Wind in the U.S.  – The Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) will hold a panel discussion tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. looking at offshore wind in the U.S.  CELI and panelists from the U.S. Department of the Interior, EDF Renewable Energy, and the American Wind Energy Association, will hold a discussion on the potential benefits of and challenges facing offshore wind.  The panel will feature Interior’s Joshua Kaplowitz, EDF Renewable’s Doug Copeland and AWEA’s  Hannah Hunt.

Atlantic Council CEO Series Continues with GDF Suez’s Smati – The Atlantic Council will continue its CEO Series with a discussion on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. on the future of power markets and energy technology with Zin Smati, the President and CEO of GDF SUEZ Energy North America. As Chief Executive of GDF SUEZ Energy North America, Zin Smati is tasked with navigating his company through an era of profound change in the world of energy. He brings his perspective to the Atlantic Council to discuss the sweeping energy transition now underway and to assess the future of power markets and energy technology.

NASA’s Chief Scientist Helping Countries Build Climate Resilience – Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Georgetown University will host NASA scientist Ellen Stofan, who will discuss NASA’s International Programs and how they are using data to help countries develop climate resilience. Stofan was appointed NASA chief scientist on August 25, 2013, serving as principal advisor to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency’s science programs and science-related strategic planning and investments.

RFF to Look at Vehicle Fleet, Regs – Resources for the Future will hold a First Wednesday Seminar on where panelists will analyze some of the emerging information, including consumer demand for fuel economy and how lower gasoline prices can affect future fuel savings from the regulations. Manufacturer responses will also be discussed, including how the production of different vehicle sizes and types can affect regulatory compliance strategies, and how the new markets for emissions and fuel economy credits are developing.  Speakers will include RFF fellows Virginia McConnell and Joshua Linn, as well as Chris Knittel of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at MIT and Gopal Duleep of H-D Systems.

Forum to Look at Barriers to Renewables – On Thursday at 2:00 p.m. in 334 Cannon, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) will host a briefing discussing how all levels of governments in the European Union and United States can expand collaboration on renewable electricity market penetration to meet energy, economic, and environmental needs. The briefing will feature an upcoming report by CCS, funded by the European Union Delegation to the United States, which examines high-priority common challenges and opportunities in the renewable energy sector that are prime candidates for new or enhanced forms of transatlantic collaboration at the regional and Member State/U.S. state levels. Attendees will be invited to provide comments and input for the report; join us to discuss how enhanced transatlantic cooperation can help set the stage for new investments and technologies through greater thought leadership, information sharing, technical assistance, and collaboration.

Mercury Case Arguments Set – The DC Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments to determine the future of EPA’s mercury rule on Friday at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse.  Judges Garland, Judith Rogers and Kavanaugh will hear the case, the same panel of judges who initially upheld the mercury rule 2-1.  EPA has suggested remanding the rule without vacating it so it can fix the problem identified by the Supreme Court that it should have considered the cost of regulating when issuing an initial “appropriate and necessary” finding.  Late last week, EPA proposed a fix using data collected during the implementation of the rule, and says it can finalize the new finding by next spring.  Opponents say the court should make EPA start from scratch, arguing that if the initial “appropriate and necessary” finding was improper then the entire rule must be trashed.

Energy Update: Week of November 30

Friends,

What a way to come back from the Thanksgiving Holiday.  This week is going be crazy and may be the busiest energy/environment week of the year.  The major actions include the Paris Climate meetings already under way this morning in France (6 hours ahead), the rollout of the RFS today at 3pm, energy legislation and GHG regulation action on the House floor, a slate of interesting Congressional hearings and finally some good off-the-hill events.

Let’s start with Paris…Speeches launched this morning as world leaders converged yesterday and the action gets going with speeches, sidebar meetings between leaders, some protests gone bad and clean energy innovations initiatives.  On the dark side, India continues to be a thorn in the side of the talks, leaking a US a “confidential note” that was shared with select countries which said the developed/developing Countries distinction should be eliminated and Developing countries should contribute to the Green Climate Fund.  That should make the negotiations later next week fun.  A Lot more below…

Today in the next hour or so (3:00 p.m. is the latest), EPA releases its controversial new RFS mandates, and however they come down, you can expect all hell to break loose.  While our guys expect a slight upward adjustment based on EIA’s recalculation of the size of the gasoline pool, I have included some resources below that can help you when the details arrive.

The House of Representatives has a heavy energy hand this week, readying votes to undermine the GHG Regulations that were approved by the Senate prior to Thanksgiving. They will also consider other attempts to undercut the ability of U.S. negotiators to reach an international accord to address climate change in Paris related to the Green Climate Funding and Congressional Review of any agreement.   Then the House will move to energy legislation which will dive into bolstering energy infrastructure and promoting liquefied natural gas exports.  The legislation is expected to get more than 70 amendments that will be handled by the Rules Committee today.  While that will get paired down, there may be legislative action on crude exports, the RFS, Gene Green’s Cross-Border infrastructure Permits streamlining (in other words fixing woes that dragged down Keystone), rooftop solar and other items.   That floor action starts Wednesday.

Congress isn’t only busy on the House Floor.  There are a number of important hearings this week as well, starting tomorrow when the Senate Energy Committee looks at Interior’s well-control rule and the House Science Committee tackles the pitfalls of unilateral negotiations at the Paris Climate Conference.   Other important hearings include FERC Commissioners coming to a House Energy panel, the nuclear waste fund and nuclear innovation legislation.

Finally, there are several great events off the hill including CSIS hosting  IEA’s Fatih Birol to present the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2015 today, an Atlantic Council CEO event Wednesday featuring GDF Suez CEO Zin Smati, a forum Thursday hosted by The Hill on the future of energy delivery and Friday oral  arguments in the DC Circuit to determine the future of EPA’s mercury rule (Holmstead can Help here).
Call with questions…Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932
PARIS ROLLING

Who’s Going – The U.N. expects the COP-21 to draw some 10,000 government representatives to the Le Bourget conference center in a northeastern Parisian suburb, plus 7,000 observers per week and 3,000 journalists.  Just Last week, more than 1,000 other reporters were cut from the list of accredited media.  We will be in contact with several industry people on the ground in Paris and will be happy to provide you their thoughts and posit your questions to them.    President Obama will attend Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Other cabinet members attending: Sect of State Kerry, DOE’s Moniz, Ag Sect Vilsack, EPA’s Gina McCarthy and NOAA Admin Sullivan.

Congress – Several members of Congress will be attending, mostly near the end of the conference.  Much is still up in the air because the impending budget deadline on December 10th that will require Congressional action/votes.  On the Senate Side there are rumors that Sen. Inhofe will make an appearance at the near the end of week 2.  On the D Side, Whitehouse, Cardin, Markey and Schatz are planning to attend.  Right now, Pelosi and Whitfield are leading the respective delegations.  On the Republican side Jim Sensenbrenner, Pete Olsen and several other E&C members are expected to go to Paris.   Key Senate EPW Staffer  Mandy Gunasekara and House E&C staffers Tom Hassenboehler and Mary Neumayr will also expected to be attending the conference.

Others Attending – Among those attending the main conference are 20 Sierra Club staff members or volunteers, including executive director Michael Brune and 12 from the World Resources Institute, led by Jennifer Morgan. Main Keystone opponent Bill McKibben is going, along with Britain’s Lord Nicholas Stern and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former finance minister of Nigeria.

Washington business groups seem to have a smaller presence. There is a large group going with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, including:

– Lisa Jacobson, Business Council for Sustainable Energy

– Kelly Speakes-Backman Alliance to Save Energy

– Kathryn Clay American Gas Association

– Thad Hill CEO of Calpine

– Dan Chartier Corn Refiners Association

– Dan Delurey Demand Response & Smart Grid Coalition

– Nanette Lockwood Ingersoll Rand

– Grady Crosby Johnson Controls

– Tony Earley CEO PG&E

– Rhone Resch CEO Solar Energy Industry Association

We have heard of only a handful of other D.C.-based business folks who say they will be there. They include:

– Howard Feldman, American Petroleum Institute

– Art Lee,  Chevron

– Eric Holdsworth, Edison Electric Institute

– Susan Mathiascheck, Nuclear Energy Institute

– Gene Trisko, United Mineworkers

– Stephen Eule, Institute for 21st Century Energy at U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Think Tanks – There will be a bunch of think tanks going but I will report on the number of conservative groups.  CEI will have several people in the second week including climate meeting veterans Myron Ebell, Chris Horner and Harlan Watson.  Climate gadfly Marc Morano and Craig Rucker of CFACT will be holding science Conference on December 7th at the Hotel California (where they will be livin’ it up) and the following day, the will premier Morano’s documentary,Climate Hustle.   Heritage Foundation treaty expert Steve Groves will also be in Paris.  Finally, RFF has a great blog from Brian Flannery and Ray Kopp that raises key questions.

Eule Interview with Bloomberg – Steve Eule, who first attended the Milan COP meeting in 2003 as an official in the Bush administration, talked to Bloomberg about what to expect. Eule said there are very few opportunities to lobby or influence what is going on. Every morning at 9 a.m. there’s a business briefing for groups from all over the world. That’s a great way to find out what is happening, he says, because “a lot of businesses are a lot tighter with their governments (than the U.S.) and they get the skinny.”

“There are a lot of really boring hours, but when it starts to be crunch time, the meetings go behind closed doors,” he said. “Then the rumor mill takes over.”

And don’t expect to take a long tour of the Louvre. “Nobody wants to leave because they are afraid they are going to miss something,” Eule said. “I see the hotel room, the Metro and the venue and that’s about it.”

Security Is High – France is deploying  11,000 additional police during the climate meetings to ensure security for two weeks. The location of the COP-21 conference center Le Bourget is just a few miles from the Stade de France in St. Denis, where a terrorist exploded a bomb on November 13th.   France said it will deploy 2,800 police and gendarmes on the conference site itself. Some 8,000 police will be deployed on France’s borders to temporarily re-implement border controls that ended in 1995 with the EU Schengen Area’s creation.

Pre-Conference Protests Go Bad – French riot police fired tear gas at activists protesting as part of global climate demonstrations yesterday.  About 200 protesters, some wearing masks, fought with police on a street leading to the Place de la Republique. Paris police chief Michel Cadot told reporters that some demonstrators hurled glass bottles and memorial candles at police. Demonstrators in France were warned not to gather amid the state of emergency enacted after the Paris attacks. But more than 4,500 people formed a human chain around midday.  Almost 200 people were arrested using the state of emergency rules.  French President Hollande said “everything will be done” to keep violent protesters away from the conference. Some protesters were undeterred by the criticism, chanting, “a state of emergency is a police state.”

Side Events Will Go On – Despite French officials canceling an outdoor climate march due to security concerns in the aftermath of the terror attacks, French and UN officials announced that indoor events organized by civil society during international global warming negotiations in Paris can proceed. One of those events will be NEXT Thursday, December 10th 3:00 p.m.  Business Side Event in Room 5 which will offer business perspectives on INDCs.  Business groups in Europe, the U.S. and developing nations will discuss implications for domestic and global outcomes from policy, as well as market changes in trade & investment.  They will also present experiences with business engagement in developing INDCs and recommend ways to involve business in assessment and /improvement.

Some Key Points – There are several key points to keep on your agenda as you listen to the discussions, reporting and other items related to the Paris Climate meeting.  There will be a lot of symbolism and hype and focusing on these key Points will allow you to get to the heart of the key issues:

  • Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – The Paris agreement is anticipated to be a bottom-up treaty, with each country setting goals based on their unique national circumstances. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, will form the basis of the country-specific commitments under the new UN climate treaty. It is also expected that periodic review of these commitments will be instituted along with measuring, reporting, and verification to ensure the integrity and ambition of the commitments.  While may seem to be making INDCs, there are many questions as to whether countries will live up to these commitments.  Even the US commitment is being questions by experts as not adding up to the 26-28% reduction.
  • Green Climate Fund – Financing issues are among the most controversial in Paris, and they could easily derail any agreement. Many developing country INDCs are conditioned on financial support and technology transfer.  The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was proposed at COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009, refined in subsequent meetings, and became operational in 2014. GCF aims to provide support to developing country efforts to reduce their GHG emissions and to adapt climate change.  However, this breaks down, it is clear that a significant portion of the expected funds—certainly tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars over many years—would be coming from public sources and would have to be appropriated by Congress.
  • Intellectual property – Developing countries have used this provision deftly to justify their attempts to weaken intellectual property rights (IPR) protections, ostensibly to remove the supposed “barriers” to technology transfer raised by IPR. Compulsory licensing and a fund supported by developed countries to buy down IP are two of many proposals being bruited. IPR serve as a fundamental catalyst of innovation, and study after study has shown that it is not a barrier to technology transfer. A weakened IPR regime such as that being proposed above would provide precious little incentive for companies to invest in advanced technologies if after years of research and development and millions or even billions of dollars invested, their inventions could be expropriated outright by companies in developing countries and manufactured and sold around the world at reduced cost. Under such a circumstance, some of the most innovative companies in the developed world would simply abandon the development of advanced energy technologies.
  • Technology Transfer – Tied to INDCs and the Green Fund, Technology Transfer is one fundamental issue that could bridge the gap.  It frankly is a better way to move toward a positive goal transforming our energy economy:  engage developing countries with advanced technology transfer to help them grow their economies more efficiently and cleanly.  Rather than going to Paris and trying to shame everyone into doing, this approach could be an important way to move forward.  In fact, we are already doing in many ways.  Look at the Clean Coal, Solar and offshore wind technologies that have struggled to catch on here in the US.  While we have struggled, developing nations, specifically China, have looked for these opportunities even without the promise of billions in funds (that will likely not ever come).
  • Verification – An issue that does not receive the attention it deserves is measuring, reporting, and verification of climate policies. As things stand now, the system of MRV that is likely to come out of Paris will focus not on whether a country meets its emissions goal, but on whether it implements the policies and measures designed to meet its goal. In other words, MRV is more about process than results. MRV will be especially challenging in developing countries. Transparency is a key to open markets and planning, and businesses will be reticent to invest in developing economies without assurances that its investments in emission reduction and offset projects are real and that government activities in support of INDCs have integrity.
  • Binding Legal Commitments Or Non-binding Political Agreement – In a recently interview, Secretary of State John Kerry said recently the Paris agreement is “definitively not going to be a treaty.” While it has not been finalized, we can already say that the Paris Agreement will be a multilateral international agreement that will include almost every country in the world. In testimony last week, Hofstra Constitutional Law Professor Julian Ku said If the outcome of the Paris Conference is to make these promises to reduce emissions legally binding, it is my view that the Paris Agreement must be submitted to the Senate for approval as a treaty under Article II.  This will continue to be a contentious point of negotiating among parties and one that US Senators will be watching Closely.  Last week, Senator Barrasso and Inhofe said the any funding for climate initiatives would be tied to Senate review.

House Members Weigh In On Green Climate Fund – I mentioned the recent letter from Barrasso and Inhofe on the Green Climate Fund.  Last week, more than 100 House members released a letter expressing opposition to Obama’s pledge of $3 billion to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, calling the president’s move “unilateral” and arguing Congress should have oversight. The debate over the fund is one of several expected to arise as Obama tries to implement a potential deal from Paris.

Two Names to Remember – It is likely Poland’s new conservative government will be a skunk at the Paris Climate Garden Party next week.  Reports are they is threatening to veto a deal at the Paris climate summit, making clear its determination to protect the country’s large coal industry. Poland’s previous center-right government also fought to dilute EU emissions reductions goals, defending the coal that supplies the bulk of the country’s electricity and accounts for thousands of politically sensitive jobs. The Law and Justice Party (PiS), which this year took control of both the presidency and the parliament, is an even more ferocious defender of Polish coal than its predecessor. Two names to keep an eye on are new Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, a coal miner’s daughter from the country’s industrial heartland.

China Tops for Clean Energy – China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon pollution, continues to hold the top position as the best developing country in which to invest in clean energy in a study by Climatescope, a research project whose partners include Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the U.K. Department for International Development. The nation scored highest for a second consecutive year in an analysis of 55 emerging market nations including South Africa, Uruguay and Kenya that mapped important progress in the area.

ClearView on the Paris Negotiations – Our friend Kevin Book of ClearView Energy release a report on the talks saying it appears that a main goal of the talks is forging a durable agreement with five-year review periods. In the absence of specific funding commitments from developed nations and transparency measures for all parties, Book says the talks could produce a weak deal. Topics that could slow negotiations down include the questions of how to apply “common but differentiated responsibilities” to the many provisions of an agreement and whether to include “loss and damage” in the deal at all. Even with a durable agreement, economic reversals, international security incidents and other surprises can still overcome best intentions, making the attainment of voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals somewhat tenuous. Future fossil fuel consumption is likely to depend on the implementation of those goals, and our analysis of third-party global energy outlooks found a wide divergence among reports. Coal consumption projections, for example, ranged from a 28% decline by 2030 to an increase of 43%. All of the estimates that we compiled show a growth in natural gas consumption by 2030.

Dueling Polls – There are two new polls out today that underscore why polling on this subject (as well as other environmental subject is always suspect).  A new Washington Post-ABC News poll says the number of people who believe climate change is a serious problem facing the United States is declining.  The poll shows 63% of those surveyed say climate change is a serious problem facing the country, down from 69% in June. 52% say climate change is a “very serious” problem, down from 57%. About 47% believe the government should do more to deal with global warming, down from 61% in 2008. The poll found 51% of people say there is “a lot of disagreement among scientists” over the existence of global warming, down 11% from 2008. About 43% say scientists agree with one another.  Meanwhile, a New York Times/CBS News poll says Americans support the United States joining an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming, but on this and other climate-related questions, opinion divides sharply along partisan lines.  The poll says 66% of Americans support the United States joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but a slim majority of Republicans remain opposed.  63% of Americans — including a bare majority of Republicans — said they would support domestic policy limiting carbon emissions from power plants.  Again, this seems suspect when you look further into the polling: When considering policies to reduce carbon emissions, Americans generally (shockingly) favor regulating business activity more than taxing consumers. The poll found broad support for capping power plant emissions. Half of all Americans said they thought the government should take steps to restrict drilling, logging and mining on public lands, compared with 45% who opposed such restrictions. Support for limiting mineral extraction on public lands rose to 58% among Democrats.  But just one in five Americans favored increasing taxes on electricity as a way to fight global warming; six in 10 were strongly opposed, including 49% of Democrats. And support was not much higher for increasing gasoline taxes, at 36% overall.

DAY ONE

Leaders to Arrive Early – The UN Climate Change Conference in Paris began today with an unprecedented Leaders Event, immediately after the official opening of the COP, where an estimated 150 Presidents, Prime Ministers and Heads of States delivered speeches. These speeches are posted on the “white pages” of the UNFCCC website as they are made available to the secretariat.  President Barack Obama made brief remarks aimed at rallying the world to reach a deal to cut greenhouse gases and sealing his environmental legacy with or without Congress’ help. In his speech, Obama quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “There is such a thing as being too late.”  “When it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us. But if we act here, now, if we place our short term interests behind the air that our children will breathe and the water our children will drink,” Obama said. “Then we will not be too late for them.”   Chinese President Xi Jinping followed Obama saying “tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind. All eyes are now on Paris.”  Jinping  also called for countries to determine their own best solutions and for an agreement that includes “global sustainable development at a high level and bring about new international cooperation featuring win-wins.”

Actions, Actions, Actions – Heads of State, Governments and others are expected to make major climate action announcements today at a series of press conferences and at a number of high-level side events.  All of the speeches and press conferences which take place at the Le Bourget venue can be viewed live and on demand via webcast. Summaries of climate action announcements, with links to the official announcements posted online by governments and key stakeholders, will be made available in the UNFCCC Newsroom.  A tentative overview of press conferences, including those of Heads of State and Government, is available on the UNFCCC press page.

Obama, India’s Modi Hold Meeting – One of the biggest meetings was between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Obama.  Modi said India will fulfil its responsibilities regarding climate change when he met US President Barack Obama on the sidelines today.   Obama said India had to be able to grow and fight poverty, while Modi pledged to ensure development would be coupled with environmental protection.  Modi’s speech held quite a different message though saying India did not create the climate change menace but was suffering its consequences while he delivered a stern message to affluent nations, saying “those with luxury of choices should sharply reduce emissions”.  Modi: “Climate change is a major global challenge. But it is not of our making. It is the result of global warming that came from prosperity and progress of an industrial age powered by fossil fuel,” he said while inaugurating the India pavilion at the summit, toughening his country’s stand in the face of US criticism of India.  Read the Hindu Times coverage Here.

US Negotiators Note Undermines Developing Countries – Speaking of Indian Press, the Business Standard of India reported that the U.S. wants to eliminate the distinction between developing and developed countries in climate talks.  They are circulating a “confidential note” that was shared with select countries, US officials say they wants the successive round of pledges under the proposed Paris agreement to be determined independently by each country and not through a process of international negotiation.  The “non-paper” also adds the wall of differentiation between developed and developing countries should be done away and says developing countries should also contribute to the climate funds in future.  That should really set a positive tone…

Countries Commit to Clean Energy – A group of 20 countries say they will double current spending on clean energy research and development over the next five years.  President Obama, French President Hollande and other world leaders announced the new Mission Innovation initiative this morning in Paris. The 20 countries are Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Private Investors to Fund Tech Innovation – While it rolled out late last week, a separate coalition of 28 private large-scale investors also are launching a complementary effort to funnel capital into “early stage companies that have the potential of an energy future that produces near zero carbon emissions and provides everyone with affordable, reliable energy.”  The group, named the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, is spearheaded by Bill Gates and Includes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Virgin Founder Richard Branson, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Indian Business mogul Mukesh Ambani, Chinese businessman Jack Ma, Vinod Khosla Indian auto magnate Ratan Tata, HP CEO Meg Whitman, activist George Soros and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, among others.

Staying in Touch – I will be monitoring activities and providing resources for those in Paris as well as those covering from Afar.  Again, IF YOU WILL BE IN PARIS , please let me know so I can add you to my list of resources in Paris.  Please feel free to stay in touch.

RFS OUT TODAY

EPA Rolls out RFS this Afternoon – EPA will release final mandates for the RFS program for 2014 and 2015 (retroactively) through 2016, and set final biodiesel mandates through 2017 today at 3:00 p.m.  The EPA is expected to make its announcement sometime around 2:45  Our guys  expect a slight upward adjustment based on EIA’s recalculation of the size of the gasoline pool.  EPA proposed a 15.93 billion gallon topline mandate for 2014; 16.30 billion gallons for 2015; and 17.40 billion gallons for 2016. Advanced biofuel mandates proposed were 2.68 billion gallons for 2014; 2.90 billion gallons for 2015; and 3.40 billion gallons for 2016. This equates to 13.25, 13.40 and 14.00 billion gallons for each year’s implicit conventional corn ethanol numbers. 2017’s biodiesel number as proposed was 1.90 billion gallons.

Who Can Help You Get it – There are a number of great resources to discuss the RFS issue:

1) Talk to Scott Segal, one of the best and most savvy RFS experts in town: 202-262-5845; scott.segal@bgllp.com

2) Have a conversation with Environmental Working Group expert Scott Faber or one of the experts on his team.  You can reach Faber at (202) 939-9127 (direct); (202) 384-4280 (cell) or sfaber@ewg.org

3) Talk to Stephen Brown of Tesoro, also one of the best and most savvy industry RFS experts in town: 202-744-5578; stephen.h.brown@tsocorp.com

4) Another great resource for comments are energy analysts like Jim Lucier: 202-548-0072; james.lucier@capalphadc.com, and Kevin Book: 202-506-5744; book@CVEnergy.com, who have previewed the decision and I am certain will have pieces out after EPA’s final move.

Advertising, Advertising – the Ads have been  rolling across all your platforms. In dueling TV ads, foes of the federal ethanol mandate claim that it “doubles greenhouse gas emissions,” while the ethanol lobby says that “the oil industry is lying” and the mandate will lead to lower emissions.  In fact, the scientific jury is still out on whether requirements to blend ethanol with gasoline lead to the lower carbon emissions that Congress intended when it made those requirements law. Fact Check has the details.

The Latest From RFA – Biofuels consumed under the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) have reduced U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 354 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent since 2008, according to a new analysis conducted by California-based Life Cycle Associates. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which sponsored the study, said the findings have important implications for both the pending final rule for 2014–2016 RFS volumes and upcoming global climate talks in Paris.

EWG Says RFA Fudges Numbers – A study released by the Renewable Fuels Association makes the bogus claim that the use of corn ethanol as a vehicle fuel reduced emissions by 240 million tons of carbon dioxide since 2008.  EWG’s Emily Cassidy says study after study has shown that widespread use of corn ethanol has proved to be a disaster for the climate. The federal mandate to blend corn ethanol into gasoline has led to the destruction of millions of acres of grasslands and wetlands to suit higher demands for corn for ethanol productions.
IN THE NEWS

Obama Rolls Out Reg Agenda – Prior to the Thanksgiving week and the Paris Climate negotiations, the White House rolled out its fall 2015 regulatory agenda.  It is not the first time the President’s regulatory releases, required by law, came out under the cover of holidays:

  • Fall 2012  –  December 21 (Friday before Christmas)
  • Spring 2013  –  July 3 (day before Independence Day)
  • Fall 2013  –  November 27 (day before Thanksgiving)
  • Spring 2014  –  May 23 (Friday before Memorial Day weekend)
  • Fall 2014  –  December 22 (three days before Christmas)
  • Spring 2015  –  May 21 (Thursday before Memorial Day weekend)

The agenda includes over 2,000 regulations are now being written. Of these, 144 are deemed “economically significant”—that is, expected to cost Americans $100 million or more each.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

PARIS UN COP 21 Meeting –  November 30th  to December 11th

IEA Outlook Discussed at CSIS – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director at the International Energy Agency to present the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2015 today at 1:00 p.m. The presentation will include updated projections for the evolution of the global energy system to 2040, based on the latest data and market developments, as well as detailed insights on the prospects for fossil fuels, renewables, the power sector and energy efficiency and analysis on trends in CO2 emissions and fossil-fuel and renewable energy subsidies.   In addition, the WEO 2015 includes in-depth analysis on several key issues including the implications of a lower oil price future, India’s energy sector, on the competitive position of fast-growing renewable energy technologies in different markets, new analysis of energy efficiency policies, and unconventional gas with a particular focus on China.

Bank Report to Look at Latin America Infrastructure – Today at 2:00 p.m., the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, China Development Bank, and others will discuss ways to provide billions in finance for much-needed transportation, energy, water, sanitation, and other projects throughout the region in recent years.  In their newest report, Fei Yuan and Kevin Gallagher of Boston University’s Global Economic Governance Initiative’s (GEGI) compare development bank commitments to “green” finance in Latin America. Although some institutions have made great strides in promoting sustainable development in Latin America, much more will need to be done to scale up green finance and to adequately safeguard both green and conventional development projects.

Forum to Look at Indonesia, Energy – Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. in B-338 Rayburn, the National Bureau of Asia Research will hold a forum on Indonesia and its energy issues. Indonesia’s successful democratic transition and strong economy have made the country a major political and economic power in both Southeast Asia and the broader region. Indonesia is now a key strategic and economic partner for the United States, as well as Japan and other countries in Asia, and has played an increasingly important role in shaping the future of the Asia-Pacific.

Senate Energy to Look at Well Control Rule – The Senate Energy Committee  will hold an oversight hearing tomorrow on the Well Control Rule and other regulations related to offshore oil and gas production.  Witnesses will include Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at the Department of the Interior; Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute; Mark Rockel, principal consultant of Ramboll Environ; and Jackie Savitz, vice president of U.S. oceans at Oceana.

FERC Commissioners To Visit House Energy Panel – The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing focused on FERC.  Witnesses will include FERC Commissioners Bay, LaFleur, Clark and Honorable.

House Science to Look at Climate Meeting – The full House Committee on Science will hold a hearing tomorrow on the pitfalls of unilateral negotiations at the Paris Climate Change Conference.  Witnesses will be Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Andrew Grossman of Baker & Hostetler and climate gadfly Dr. Bjørn Lomborg.

DC Bar Panel to Look at Fracking Rule  Case – Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., the D.C. Bar will hold a forum on the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming decision to prevent enforcement of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recently issued hydraulic fracturing rule. BLM issued the rule in March, attempting to exert jurisdiction over hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. The district court’s decision prohibits the BLM from implementing the new rule while litigation over the rule’s legality is pending. The lawsuit, filed shortly after BLM issued the hydraulic fracturing rule, was originally brought by the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance. The lawsuit now includes challenges from four states—Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado, and Utah—and the Ute Indian Tribe.  This panel will discuss the impact of the court’s decision and their thoughts regarding future developments in the case.  Richard McNeer of Interior will speak.

Senate Foreign Relations to Hold Hearing on Energy Nominee – The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will meet tomorrow to consider several nominations including Amos Hochstein appointment to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources.

Transmission Forum Set – The 5th  annual TransForum East, will be held today and tomorrow 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.

Panel to Look at Offshore Wind in the U.S.  – The Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) will hold a panel discussion tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. looking at offshore wind in the U.S.  CELI and panelists from the U.S. Department of the Interior, EDF Renewable Energy, and the American Wind Energy Association, will hold a discussion on the potential benefits of and challenges facing offshore wind.  The panel will feature Interior’s Joshua Kaplowitz, EDF Renewable’s Doug Copeland and AWEA’s  Hannah Hunt.

Atlantic Council CEO Series Continues with GDF Suez’s Smati – The Atlantic Council will continue its CEO Series with a discussion on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. on the future of power markets and energy technology with Zin Smati, the President and CEO of GDF SUEZ Energy North America. As Chief Executive of GDF SUEZ Energy North America, Zin Smati is tasked with navigating his company through an era of profound change in the world of energy. He brings his perspective to the Atlantic Council to discuss the sweeping energy transition now underway and to assess the future of power markets and energy technology.

NASA’s Chief Scientist Helping Countries Build Climate Resilience – Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Georgetown University will host NASA scientist Ellen Stofan, who will discuss NASA’s International Programs and how they are using data to help countries develop climate resilience. Stofan was appointed NASA chief scientist on August 25, 2013, serving as principal advisor to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency’s science programs and science-related strategic planning and investments.

RFF to Look at Vehicle Fleet, Regs – Resources for the Future will hold a First Wednesday Seminar on where panelists will analyze some of the emerging information, including consumer demand for fuel economy and how lower gasoline prices can affect future fuel savings from the regulations. Manufacturer responses will also be discussed, including how the production of different vehicle sizes and types can affect regulatory compliance strategies, and how the new markets for emissions and fuel economy credits are developing.  Speakers will include RFF fellows Virginia McConnell and Joshua Linn, as well as Chris Knittel of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at MIT and Gopal Duleep of H-D Systems.

Southern Company Holiday Party – Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. Union Station.

Hill Hosts Policy Discussion on Microgrid Technology – On Thursday at 8:00 a.m. at The Newseum, The Hill hosts a discussion on the future of energy delivery. Policymakers, researchers, and technology and energy industry experts will discuss the value of microgrids in the event of a natural disaster or homeland security threat, how microgrids allow for integration of alternative energy sources, and what policy and regulatory reforms are necessary to facilitate the integration of microgrids into the larger power supply system.  Speakers will include Sens. Martin Heinrich and Lisa Murkowski, as well as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy & Environment Katherine Hammack and others.

House Energy Panel to Look at Nuclear Waste Fund – The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will hold a hearing on Thursday focused on the nuclear waste fund.  The hearing will look at budgetary, funding and scoring issues.

House to Look at Nuclear Innovation Act – The House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. on the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act.  Witnesses will include John Kotek, Acting Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Energy at DOE.  Others will include UT’s Dale Klein and Venrock’s Ray Rothrock.

Forum to Look at Barriers to Renewables – On Thursday at 2:00 p.m. in 334 Cannon, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) will host a briefing discussing how all levels of governments in the European Union and United States can expand collaboration on renewable electricity market penetration to meet energy, economic, and environmental needs. The briefing will feature an upcoming report by CCS, funded by the European Union Delegation to the United States, which examines high-priority common challenges and opportunities in the renewable energy sector that are prime candidates for new or enhanced forms of transatlantic collaboration at the regional and Member State/U.S. state levels. Attendees will be invited to provide comments and input for the report; join us to discuss how enhanced transatlantic cooperation can help set the stage for new investments and technologies through greater thought leadership, information sharing, technical assistance, and collaboration.

Mercury Case Arguments Set – The DC Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments to determine the future of EPA’s mercury rule on Friday at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse.  Judges Garland, Judith Rogers and Kavanaugh will hear the case, the same panel of judges who initially upheld the mercury rule 2-1.  EPA has suggested remanding the rule without vacating it so it can fix the problem identified by the Supreme Court that it should have considered the cost of regulating when issuing an initial “appropriate and necessary” finding.  Late last week, EPA proposed a fix using data collected during the implementation of the rule, and says it can finalize the new finding by next spring.  Opponents say the court should make EPA start from scratch, arguing that if the initial “appropriate and necessary” finding was improper then the entire rule must be trashed.

Clean Energy Leaders Honored – On Friday evening at Bier Baron, Leaders in Energy will honor Four Generations of leadership in clean energy and sustainability.  They will recognize leaders from World War II (1927-1945), Baby Boomer (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980), and Millennial (1981-2000) generations who exemplify leadership in the energy and sustainability arena. Leaders from each generation will discuss “Leading Through Adversity,” our theme. .  Shira Harrington, Founder and CEO of Purposeful Hire is the keynote speaker for this event. She will explore the changing world of work and the impact multi-generations are having on the workforce. Building on the understanding of what makes each generation unique, Shira will highlight how the four generations can embrace what they have in common to work together to create a more sustainable world.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

NJ Event to Look at Grid – National Journal LIVE will hold a forum on December 8th on powering the 21st Century and making the grid work for all consumers.    The event will explore Washington’s role in encouraging energy innovation, the future of the grid and how best to ensure the benefits of new power generation methods are sustainable and extended to all communities.  The nation’s policy makers, innovators, stakeholders and thought leaders will conduct a robust conversation about grid modernization and the future of American energy.  Speakers will include North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, CORE’s Todd Foley, Opower’s  Jim Kapsis, RFF’s Phil Sharp, DOE’s Karen Wayland and several more.

Utility Execs Looking at Storage – The 2015 U.S. Energy Storage Summit will be Held in December 8th and 9th in San Francisco.  Utility speakers will offer presentations, case studies, and panel sessions on the status and technology of energy storage.  Our friend Stephen Lacey will be among those leading the discussion.

Bloomberg Reception Honors Hess Book – Bloomberg will host a reception on Wednesday, December 9th at 6:00 p.m. congratulating our friends Tina Davis and Jessica Resnick-Ault on the publication of their new book, Hess: The Last Oil Baron, published by Bloomberg Press and John Wiley & Sons.  It will Be at the Bloomberg offices in NYC on Lexington Avenue.

FERC’S Clark to Address ICF Breakfast – ICF will host FERC Commissioner Tony Clark at its December 10th Energy Breakfast at the National Press Club.   Clark will discuss FERC’s cutting-edge energy agenda. Among other items, FERC’s Clark will discuss current priorities and critical issues like the electric system reliability, particularly in light of the EPA’s final Clean Power Plan, capacity performance issues, with new programs in the PJM and New England, the role of demand response and the case now filed at the Supreme Court and other key issues.

CSIS to Look at EV Charging Infrastructure – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host a panel discussion on Tuesday, December 15th looking at electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including the role that utilities could play in financing, owning, and operating this infrastructure. Sarah Ladislaw, Director and Senior Fellow with the CSIS Energy and National Security Program, will provide introductory remarks.

 

Energy Update Week of July 16

Friends, 

I hope everybody survived our third Friday 13th of the year.   This is the anomaly when we have three Friday the 13ths without having a Feb/March repeat (as it is a leap year).  It only happens every 28 years.  So it was an extra special Friday.

Just in case you want an update, Hannah closed out the National Club Lacrosse Championship losing in the Quarter Finals to their arch-rival, despite leading most of the game unfortunately.  As for Adam, his team took third place at Hershey.  He only allowed 7 goals in three games, but was suspended by me for disrespecting his mother on Sunday morning prior to leaving the hotel for the semi-final game, which is why his team had to play for third.  A good lesson for him though.   So done with lacrosse for now…at least until tryouts for next year in August.

In other action, the Tour de France closes this week after yesterday’s shocking act of sabotage on the race.  Someone threw tacks onto the road just before the peloton passed during the 14th stage which caused several riders to blow tires.  But leaders show the ultimate sportsmanship by slowing down until all riders who were disadvantaged could regroup.  BTW, USA Basketball (Women and Men) is at the Verizon Center Tonight in DC to play (more like beat down) Brazil.  This is the last tune up before the London Olympics which starts at the end of the month.

Speaking of the Olympics, Congress is pretty mad over Team USA gear being made in China.  I don’t care what the Olympic Committee’s rationale is, who made that decision and didn’t think it would be a big story?  I mean these are the guys who renamed “French” Fries, “Freedom” Fries after the France wouldn’t let us fly over their air space.   At least Congress finally agrees on something other than trying to make a bee-line for the August recess.  Three busy weeks to go though starting this week with action on the House Floor on spending bills and expanding drilling as well as a slate of hearings.

Our friends Jim Noe (713-301-6797) and Lori LeBlanc (985-448-4485) can address your questions about the new opportunities for drilling, while my colleague Ed Krenik (202-828-5877) is happy to discuss any spending legislation issues.

Tomorrow, Senate Energy looks at cybersecurity and the electric grid while House Energy continues its look at alternative fuels.  On Wednesday, bankrupt solar execs from Abound return (I say return because they were there in June but managed to avoid getting questions from the committee for some reason ) to discuss their troubles, or maybe not if they plead the 5th.  Thursday has Senate hearings on climate impacts on Native Americans and a tax hearing on manufacturing impacts.  Also, there will be another hearing on Friday in House Resources on Helium reserves for (not just because of clown balloons, but rather) health care and other industrial applications. 

We’ll also try to keep tabs on the reschedule of today’s Duke CEO Jim Rogers speech to the National Press Club.  I kind of expected this to be postponed after last week’s proceedings at the NC PUC regarding the recently closed Duke-Progress merger.

Call with questions…

Frank Maisano
(202) 828-5864
C. (202) 997-5932

IN THE NEWS

Chamber Report on EPA Haze Rule Hits Sue, Settle Strategy – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report Friday criticizing EPA’s regional haze program and the agency’s alleged attempt to usurp state authority through the courts (eg, “sue and settle” litigation), arguing its true motive is to put the coal industry out of business. The report says federally-imposed,  stricter emissions controls will 10 to 20 times more than the technology the states would otherwise have used.  Already, EPA has used this litigation approach to impose almost $375 million in annual costs on six coal-fired power plants in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. It has similarly proposed $24 million in annual costs on a coal-fired power plant in Nebraska. Earthjustice has already disputed the findings as “distorting” EPA’s use of litigation. 

Maryland Gov Visits Clean Currents – Maryland’s governor Martin O’Malley stopped by Clean Currents’ new Silver Spring headquarters last week heralding the company as “innovative” and a green industry success story.   The Governor took the opportunity to address issues with our regional power grid, following the devastating storm and subsequent widespread power outages.  He also discussed the pressing need to advance a vibrant clean energy economy in Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the U.S.  O’Malley has been a leading advocate for renewable energy since entering office in 2007, setting a goal of producing 20 percent of Maryland’s electricity from in-state renewable sources by 2022.  He has also embarked upon an ambitious green agenda, setting a target to create 100,000 new green jobs in Maryland by 2015, reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, and reduce per capita energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015.  The Governor also congratulated Clean Currents on graduating from The Rockville Innovation Center, a small-business incubator, and moving into a much expanded office space in downtown Silver Spring.  “We’re honored that the Governor selected Clean Currents as the venue for his remarks on clean energy and the clean economy.  The Governor’s recognition of the work we have been doing in the Mid-Atlantic region validates our dedication to providing residents and businesses in the region with the highest quality affordable green energy options,” said Gary Skulnik, President and Co-Founder of Clean Currents.

Refiners Join With Wildlife Habitat Council – The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that establishes a strategic partnership between the two organizations. Through the agreement, the groups have agreed to seek joint projects that result in progress toward the mutual goals of the two organizations.  The agreement establishes a framework for cooperation between the two organizations, including engaging in and demonstrating corporate leadership, establishing a joint awards program, and encouraging industry managers’ participation and community involvement in restoration projects. It also provides opportunities for each group to participate and make presentations at the other’s workshops, conferences and meetings.   WHC and AFPM recognize the special and complementary capabilities and resources of their respective organizations, projects, and partners for addressing these concerns and recognize the importance of building a strong partnership in order to achieve the goals of this MOU. “WHC values our partnership with American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. This agreement reinforces industry’s commitment to voluntary efforts that curb the global loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, including involvement through conservation education and community engagement,” said Robert Johnson, WHC President.

THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK:

CSIS to Host IEA Technology Experts –The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host Ambassador Richard H. Jones, Deputy Executive Director and Dr. Markus Wrake, Senior Energy Analyst and ETP Project Lead, International Energy Agency (IEA) to present the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.  Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 (ETP 2012) looks at how technologies– from electric vehicles to smart grids– can make a decisive difference in achieving the objective of limiting the global temperature rise to 2°C and enhancing energy security.  ETP 2012 presents scenarios and strategies to 2050, with the aim of guiding decision makers on energy trends and what needs to be done to build a clean, secure and competitive energy future.

ACORE Transportation Conference Set – The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) will convene First Transportation and Renewable Energy Industry Forum tomorrow where business and industry leaders from across the energy spectrum and modes of transportation to discuss the challenges and opportunities to expanding the renewable transportation market. This is the first in a series of forums that will highlight the opportunities and challenges the country faces as it moves toward a 21st century transportation system sourced by renewable energy. Speakers will include Arun Banskota of NRG Energy, Toyota’s William Chernicoff, Doug Durante of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition and Catherine Dunwoody of California Fuel Cell, as well as out media friends  Warren Brown of the Washington Post, Keith Johnson of the Wall Street Journal and John Siciliano of Clean Energy Report.

Senate Energy to Tackle Cyber Attacks, Grid – The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. to examine the status of action taken to ensure that the electric grid is protected from cyber attacks.  Witnessed will include FERC’s  Joseph McClelland, GAO’s Gregory Wilshusen, North American Electric Reliability Corporation CEO Gerry Cauley and Ohio PUC Chair Todd Snitchler. 

WAPA to Host Honda Exec – The Washington Automotive Press Assn  (WAPA) will hold its July luncheon tomorrow at Noon at the National Press Club featuring Honda Motors Rick Schostek.  Schostek, senior vice president of Honda of America Mfg will present on how the company bucked conventional wisdom and embarked on a dream that sparked significant innovations in American manufacturing. Schostek also will explain how Honda’s North American responsibilities have blossomed into global capabilities for manufacturing, research, development and engineering – with more than 20 million domestic vehicles built along the way. 

EPA to Hold PM Public Hearings – EPA will hold two public hearings on tomorrow in Philadelphia and Thursday in Sacramento to discuss the proposed updates to the national air quality standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5). A federal court ruling required EPA to update the standards based on best available science. The proposed updates, which meet that requirement, build on steps already taken by EPA to reduce pollution in communities across the country.

House Energy Panel Continues Alternative Fuels Hearing with EIA, EPA, DOE – The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power continues its American Energy Initiative hearing on federal government perspectives regarding alternative fuels and vehicles tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.  Last week, the committee had a food fight between industries over ethanol and other alternative fuels policy.  This week, the witness list include government officials including EIA’s Howard Gruenspecht, EPA’s Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality Margo Oge and DOE’s Kathleen Hogan. 

DOE Webinar to Look at Landfill Gas Projects – The Energy Department will present a live webinar tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. looking at community Renewable Energy success stories featuring landfill gas-to-energy projects. The session will highlight both the challenges and benefits of developing successful community landfill gas-to-energy projects at the Prairie View Recycling and Disposal Facility in Will County, Illinois, and the Perdido Landfill Gas-to-Electricity Project in Escambia County, Florida.

Abound Bankruptcy to be Discussed at Hearing – The House Government Oversight will hold a hearing featuring Abound executives on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the bankruptcy.  Abound filed bankruptcy recently, planned to shut down and lay off 125 employees.  Interestingly though, the Abound CEO was before the Committee in June, but received no questions from the Committee, who at the time was focused on others. Witnesses will include Abound CEO Craig Witsoe, Abound Chairman of the Board Tom Tiller, DOE Loan Program Office acting Executive Director David Frantz and former Loan Program Office Executive Director Jonathan Silver.

RFF Seminar to Look at Emissions Taxes – Resources for the Future will hold an RFF Academic Seminar on Wednesday at Noon featuring presents Jay Coggins of the University of Minnesota, looking at emissions taxes.  The function describing the benefits to abatement is dual to an underlying dose-response function that relates health outcomes to pollution levels. Recent articles by a few health scientists have found strictly concave dose-response functions for fine particulates. In these articles, the first unit of dose is the most damaging, the last unit of abatement (taking us to zero concentration) the most valuable. The dual benefit function must be strictly convex and so marginal benefits to abatement must be upward sloping. We compare quantity and price instruments in this setting, discovering that identifying the optimal price policy can be surprisingly difficult from a technical perspective. A quantity policy is never strictly preferred to a price policy. The level of uncertainty plays a central role that appears to have escaped notice until now, and the optimal emissions tax is sometimes discontinuous in the level of uncertainty.

Forum to Look at Grid Security – Energy Central holds a webinar, beginning at noon, on new approaches to Grid Security on the vulnerabilities of the power grid to computer viruses and cyber-attack.  Participants include Terry Jarrett, regulator with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Committee on Critical Infrastructure; Terry Boston, president and CEO of PJM Interconnections; and Gerry Cauley, president and CEO of North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

House Ways/Means to Look at Manufacturing Tax Issues – The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing in Thursday at 9:30 a.m. on business tax issues currently facing U.S. manufacturing companies, and will examine how comprehensive tax reform could improve the ability of manufacturers to contribute to job creation and economic growth, including U.S.-based public and closely held companies as well as foreign-owned U.S. manufacturers.  The hearing will examine how the current tax system affects U.S. manufacturers, including U.S.-based public and closely held companies as well as foreign-owned U.S. manufacturers, and how comprehensive tax reform might affect their ability to expand and create jobs.  Among the witnesses will be Air Liquide’s tax expert Hugh Spinks, as well as others from 3M, Ford and Corning.

Senate Indian Affairs to Look at Climate, Treaty Rights – The Senate Special Committee on Indian Affairs will hold an oversight hearing on Thursday at 2:15 p.m. to examine climate change, focusing on impacts on treaty rights, traditional lifestyles, and tribal homelands.

House Resources to Look at Helium Reserves –  The House Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Friday at 9:30 a.m. on a helium shortage that could soon intensify with the federal government’s underground stockpile near Amarillo, Texas.   Helium is used by wind turbine and semiconductor manufacturers, as well as in health applications.  Industry and government officials told the Senate Energy Committee last month that inaction could cause a shortage.  Our friend David Joyner of Air Liquide testified at the Senate and will be on-hand again Friday.

THE WEEKS AHEAD:

NARUC Summer Conference Set for Portland – The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners returns to Portland, Ore., this summer with a loaded agenda and stellar keynote speakers. NARUC’s 2012 Summer Committee Meetings, July 22-25, will focus on the top challenges facing the utility sector, including smart-grid issues, universal service reform, hydraulic fracturing, new environmental rules, and much more.  Featured speakers at the meeting include University of Colorado School of Law Dean Philip J. Weiser, Environmental Defense Fund General Counsel Vickie Patton, QEP Resources President and CEO Charles Stanley, American Water President and CEO Jeff Sterba, FERC and EPA representatives.  Topics under discussion include: Bridging the Hydraulic Fracturing Divide; A Marriage of Convenience: Can Utilities and Wireless Companies Keep the Lights on; EPA Regulations: Are They Moving America Beyond Coal; Electricity and Gas Interpendencies; cyber security; gas pipeline safety; utility infrastructure costs; and much more.  The NARUC-Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Joint Forum on Reliability and the Environment will meet Wednesday, July 25, and the NARUC-FERC Collaborative on Smart Response will be meeting on Sunday.

Williams CEO to Speak at NatGas Roundtable – The Natural Gas Roundtable will host Alan Armstrong, President and Chief Executive Officer of Williams, as its next guest speaker Tuesday, July 24  at 12:30 p.m. at the University Club.        

Panel to Look at Defense Clean Tech – The New Democrat Network will hold a forum on Wednesday, July 25th at Noon to look at Department of Defense clean energy issues.  The Obama Administration’s push for next generation energy technology at the Department of Defense has ignited a congressional debate on the role of DOD in the promotion of clean technology. To take a more in-depth look at this ongoing debate,  Jon Powers, Federal Environmental Executive for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will lead a panel from the government and the private sector in a spirited debate on the impact of the DOD’s investment in next generation energy technology.  Panelists include DOD’s Dr. Jeff Marqusee, Digital Sun’s Jeff Weiss and DOE’s Holmes Hummel.  

Senate Energy to Look at Water Use – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a hearing on Wednesday, July 25 to examine the role of water use efficiency and its impact on energy use.

Chamber to Host Canadian Officials on Partnership Opportunities – The National Chamber Foundation of the US Chamber of Commerce is present the next installment of the Business Horizon Series on Tuesday July 31st at 9:00 a.m.  focused on Canada and partnership growth and opportunity.  Canada is a vital economic partner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. From the Keystone XL pipeline to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, America’s relationship with its northern neighbor covers a number of today’s important issues. Canada is also advancing its economy thanks to key reforms made in prior years. Understanding the past decisions informing Canada’s competitiveness today is an important part of building a relationship for growth well into the future.  Speakers will include Rob Merrifield, Member of Parliament for Yellowhead and Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade and Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Texas Superconference Set – The 24th edition of the annual Texas Environmental Superconference, one of the most entertaining and informative of environmental conferences, will be held on Thursday and Friday – August 2nd and 3rd in Austin at the Four Seasons Hotel.   This year’s conference is entitled “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”   The August 1st Wednesday evening session, entitled “How the West Was Won!” will be a primer on Practical Aspects of Environmental Litigation and will be held at the San Jacinto Center, 98 San Jacinto Boulevard, adjacent to the Four Seasons.

Reid Clean Energy Summit Set for August Recess – The 5th annual National Clean Energy Summit will once again bring together clean energy visionaries and leaders, public officials, business executives and entrepreneurs, investors, students, and the media to discuss how to empower the public with tools to promote the clean energy economy; increasing jobs and our energy independence. The day-long clean energy summit will be hosted by Center for American Progress, Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. National Clean Energy Summit 5.0: The Power of Choice will focus on empowering individuals, governments, and businesses with the ability to choose clean energy.  The conference will highlight energy options and how the freedom to make clean energy choices can improve the quality of life, save consumers money, and grow the economy.  The more the public, business, and government understand the immense benefits of clean energy, the more likely they are to support and adopt policies to bring that future here sooner.  There has never been a more important time for the nation to better enable investment in clean energy.  Bringing clean energy options in-line with a smarter electricity grid, while increasing the amount of solar, wind, and geothermal energy from projects in Nevada and the West, can give power to new industries and markets that will also simultaneously create new jobs and help rebuild our economy.  The Summit will also discuss why we must invest in the research, development, deployment, and commercialization of new clean tech products to make us competitive in the $7 trillion global clean energy market.  ONE FINAL NOTE:  The event in Las Vegas is only 40 minutes away from BrightSource’s Ivanpah Project, so there is the likelihood that there will be a site visit available.  More on this as we get closer.    

Geothermal Energy Group to Host Summit – The Geothermal Energy Assn will hold its second annual National Geothermal Summit on Tuesday, August 7th and Wednesday, August 8th in Sacramento, CA. This event brings together companies and individuals in the geothermal industry with experts, government officials and other key decision makers. Topics covered will include reducing the risks of geothermal exploration and drilling, utility experience with geothermal power, streamlining NEPA and project planning and permitting and improving incentives for geothermal power.  

 

Energy Update Week of July 9

Friends, 

What a great week away from the rough and tumble of the Congressional schedule…  With all the hot weather, I feel like I should have suffered more.  It was tough sledding from my new “Mike Scanlon” Memorial office in Dewey Beach.  (A beach chair, iPad, cell phone w/ear piece and some SPF 15)   But see, as I return to the area, I ordered temperatures to immediately drop to the 80s.

I always love having a holiday in the middle of the week, so I spent the entire time running/riding between the Dewey/Rehoboth/Ocean City and two lacrosse tournaments.  Only two more tournaments (one in Hershey, PA with a visit to the park, yeah) to go this weekend, then we’re on to fall sports.   Have some good pictures on Facebook if you care to look. 

Also, for those of you headed to tonight’s second Coldplay show at Verizon, you’re in for a treat.  My wife dragged me there last night to see the first show and it was very good.  It was no Iron Maiden show, but I definitely enjoyed it. 

Lots going on this week as Congress returns to the action, most of it politics, politics, politics.  Would you expect anything else?  Speaking of that, the BRT hosts a Presidential Energy preview Wednesday at the  Newseum on featuring our friends Dan Reicher (on behalf of The President) and Linda Stuntz (on behalf of Romney), while tomorrow WCEE hosts a 2012 election breakfast forum on energy featuring my colleagues Dee Martin and Lisa Jaeger.  Also, our friend Steve Levine  moderates an oil reserves forum on Thursday featuring EIA’s Adam Sieminski, Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations, former Shell CEO John Hofmeister, and PFC Energy’s Robin West, among others.

Key hearings this week include House Energy Commerce hearings on alternative vehicles, the EPA RINs Programs Fraud and loan guarantee failure legislation sponsored by Cliff Stearns, as well as a Senate Energy on remediation issues in the NPR-Alaska and House Oversight on overly burdensome regulations.

The Manhattan Institute’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment launched its Power and Growth Initiative this morning with a new study that highlights U.S. potential to become the world’s energy export leader. My colleagues Scott Segal (202-828-5845) and Salo Zelermyer (202-828-1718) are experts on the energy exports subject matter and would be happy to help.

Finally today, NARUC, the National Assn of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the National Assn of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) kick off a two-day forum at the Renaissance Washington to address state energy and clean air issues.  Speakers on the agenda include FERC’s Jon Wellinghoff, EPA’s Gina McCarthy, DOE’s Pat Hoffman and CEQ’s Nancy Sutley, among many other state officials.  

The Tour de France rolls on into week two after a quick, but mountainous 97-mile ride (the shortest stage of the tour) into Switzerland, and speaking of France, our friends at Alstom did a great job hosting the French Golf Open over the weekend.   Across the channel, the London Olympics are just weeks away, and we got a great London preview this week as Roger Federer closed out his 17th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.  Serena Williams had a great Championship taking the Women’s singles title as well as joining sister Venus to capture the double’s title.  Finally, MLB Home Run Contest tonight and All-Star game tomorrow, with the National’s Bryce Harper now also on the team. 

Frank Maisano
(202) 828-5864
C. (202) 997-5932

IN THE NEWS

Manhattan Institute Study Says US Can Become World Power With Energy Exports – The Manhattan Institute’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment launched its Power and Growth Initiative today with a new study that highlights U.S. potential to become the world’s energy export leader. The report, Unleashing the North American Energy Colossus: Hydrocarbons Can Fuel Growth and Prosperity by Mark Mills, MI adjunct fellow and coauthor of The Bottomless Well, says that we can now move beyond the old goal of energy “independence” and embrace an energy export policy. Mills claims that hydrocarbon energy exports can spur economic recovery, a manufacturing revival, and even balanced budgets—if the United States adopts the right policies, and accelerates trends that have already started.  In the first of two new reports (the second to be released in the fall), Mills demonstrates how energy exports can be the key to economic recovery and a manufacturing revival—and even a balanced federal budget—if we only adopt regulatory policies that unleash the full potential of our hydrocarbon resources.  My colleagues Scott Segal (202-828-5845) and Salo Zelermyer (202-828-1718) are experts on the energy exports subject matter and would be happy to help.

Corn Prices, Slow Demand Jamming Ethanol – Ethanol makers are cutting production, and some are temporarily idling plants in the Midwest, as corn prices skyrocket and demand for gasoline falls because people are driving less. Valero temporarily idled plants in Nebraska and Indiana because of costs issues.  Each ethanol plant buys corn from farms within a 50-mile radius, and when the local price of corn is too high because of increasing drought conditions, it caused the production was halted.   Our friend Bill Day told AP that he expects the slowdown to be temporary. Day said the Valero has the 60 employees at each plant doing maintenance projects and keeping the facilities in a state where they can be restarted quickly once market conditions improve.

Interior Says We’re Creating Jobs – A new report from the Department of the Interior released today says the activities of the agency contributed $385 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than two million jobs in 2011.  How convenient that it comes out now just before the election in which jobs are an important issue and one in which the President has been under constant attack because of the slow economy.  The report, The Department of the Interior’s Economic Contributions, highlights the impacts of the Department’s broad mission, including land and water management; energy and mineral development on public lands; encouraging tourism and outdoor recreation at national parks, monuments and refuges; wildlife conservation, hunting and fishing; support for American Indian tribal communities and Insular Areas; and scientific research and innovation.  It was prepared by Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis.  Our friend Lori LeBlanc (985-448-4485) of the Gulf Economic Survival Team can help give you a broader perspective of how much better we might have done if Interior would have issued permit faster.

PTC Concern Forces Gamesa Layoffs at Wind Facilities – Another negative result of the political inaction on the wind PTC, Gamesa  announced it is laying off 165 workers at its nacelle and blade manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania citing low demand.  The company furloughed 92 employees at its nacelle plant and 73 workers at its blade facility.  The furloughs are temporary because e it is expected that the lack of demand is temporary due to the PTC renewal, and they will last for 10 weeks from early September.  Shockingly, that puts it into mid-November when Congress is widely expected to renew the PTC in a year-end budget deal. 

THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK:

State Agency Assns Hold Clean Air Conference – Today and Tomorrow, NARUC, the National Assn of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the national Assn of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) will hold a forum at the Renaissance Washington to look at state energy and clean air issues.  Speakers on the agenda include FERC’s Jon Wellinghoff, EPA’s Gina McCarthy, DOE’s Pat Hoffman and CEQ’s Nancy Sutley, among many other state officials.  

House Energy to Look at Alt Vehicles – The House Energy and Commerce Subpanel on Energy will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. to look at the potential benefits and economic/technological obstacles of alternative transportation energy sources, including biofuels, electricity, natural gas and methanol. That will include discussion of not only what infrastructure and supply is needed to promote alternatives but also the impact on fuel costs and the economy.  Witnesses will include API’s Jack Gerard, RFA’s Bob Dinneen, Gulf CEO Joseph Petrowski, American Tradition Institute Executive Director Thomas Tanton, Advanced Biofuels Association President Michael McAdams, Truman National Security Project Vice President Michael Breen, Methanol Institute Executive Director Gregory Dolan, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers VP Shane Karr, Flex Fuel U.S. CEO Donald Althoff, ANGA’s Tom Hassenboehler and EDTA Chair MaryAnn Wright.

Brazil Infrastructure Challenges Discussed – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute and the Brazil-U.S. Business Council will hold a forum at 10:30 a.m. in its 6th Floor Boardroom looking at a private sector perspective on Brazil’s energy and infrastructure challenge.  The execution of ambitious state and federal plans to expand energy and infrastructure capacity is at the center of Brazil’s current challenge to achieve higher and sustainable rates of economic growth. The State of São Paulo, which is home to the bulk of the country’s private sector companies and produces a third of Brazil’s GDP is at the center of the effort.  The Roundtable Discussion will feature with Carlos Cavalcanti, director of energy and infrastructure at the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo.  Cavalcanti will provide an overview of energy and infrastructure markets and policy in Brazil, including infrastructure integration in South America, the impact of the sustainability agenda, and implications of these issues on Brazilian foreign policy. Carlos Cavalcanti is the director of FIESP’s infrastructure department, which includes FIESP’s energy portfolio. He is also the vice president of FIESP’s Councils on Infrastructure and International Trade.

BP Exec to Look at Alt Energy – The Atlantic Council’s Energy and Environment Program will host a discussion with BP Alternative Energy CEO Katrina Landis tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.  Future demand projections indicate that alternative energy sources will play an ever-growing role in the US and world energy mix. Recognizing the benefits of a diverse future energy mix, BP has made aggressive moves into the alternative energy sector, investing approximately $7 billion since 2005. However, renewable energy currently accounts for only 3.4 percent of US energy production (according to the International Energy Agency). As such, the future of renewable energy production and its role in the electric power portfolio remains an open question. As a leader of one of the world’s largest renewable energy investors, Katrina Landis is uniquely able to provide insight into industry thinking and future direction of the US energy mix.

WCEE’s OpinionShapers Roundtable Features B&G Expert – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will be hosting a roundtable discussion on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. looking at the 2012 Election Year and what women in energy and environment need to know.  The event will be featuring speakers Dee Martin, a Partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, (who will be posing as the Republican on the panel so please feel free to tease her about this) and Christine Warnke, Senior Government Affairs Advisor at Hogan Lovells LLP.  LATE News:  My colleague Lisa Jaeger former EPA General Counsel under Bush 43 will be joining Dee on the Republican side.

IEA to Roll Out Mid-Term Energy, Gas Report – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host a forum on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. featuring Didier Houssin, Anne-Sophie Corbeau, and Michael Waldron of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to present the IEA’s Medium-Term Natural Gas Report 2012 along with its new annual publication, the Medium-Term Renewable Energy Report.   This new annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012, provides a key benchmark in renewable energy markets. The first edition focuses on renewable electricity. It assesses the current state of play of renewable energy, identifies the main drivers and barriers to deployment and projects renewable electricity capacity and generation through 2017. Starting with an in-depth analysis of key country-level markets, the report examines the prospects for renewable energy finance and provides a global outlook for each renewable electricity technology. The report analyses enablers and barriers to renewable energy deployment in detail, examining larger electricity market issues that have implications for renewable development, including country-level demand projections, anticipated changes in conventional generating capacity and power system integration.  The Medium-Term Gas Market Report reviews how gas markets met the challenges of 2011, from the consequences of the Fukushima incident to the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa to a further deteriorating economy. It gives detailed gas supply, demand and trade forecasts up to 2017, by region as well as for key countries. Amid a fragile economy and widely diverging regional gas prices, the report provides an in-depth look at future changes in trade patterns as markets absorb a second wave of LNG supply. While investigating many of today’s crucial questions, the Medium-Term Gas Market Report tests the upper limit of gas demand in the United States, analyses European gas consumption’s struggle to recover, and assesses the potential of new suppliers.

House Energy Panel to Look at RINs Fraud Issue – The House Energy panel on Oversight will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., looking at the recent fraud cases in the EPA RINs program.   The program has been clouded by controversy for months and last week a federal jury found a Maryland man guilty of selling $9 million worth of fake renewable fuel credits. The program required oil and biofuels industries to buy the credits to satisfy requirements that they are blending a certain percentage of biofuels into the transportation fuel supply.  My Colleague Salo Zelermyer (202-828-1718) is expert in the matter and would be helpful if you have questions.

Business Roundtable To Host Presidential Campaign Debate on Energy Future – The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of leading U.S. companies, will host an on-the-record energy debate on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. at the Newseum with representatives from President Obama’s and Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaigns. Debate topics will include hydraulic fracturing, LNG exports, nuclear power and the Keystone XL pipeline, among others pressing issues.  Experts will include update friends, former Clinton DOE official and Google exec Dan Reicher (now at Stanford) and former Bush DOE official Linda Gillespie Stuntz of Stuntz, Davis & Staffier.   The event will be moderated by Gerald Seib, Washington Editor of The Wall Street Journal

Forum to Discuss Future Oil Reserves, Policy – The New America Foundation will hold a forum on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. scrutinizing a potential new golden age of oil, and what it could mean for the next president.  Less than a year ago, industry experts were warning of a world of oil scarcity and the prospect of resource war among nations fighting for their share of a short global supply. Now, new projections have energy analysts heralding a future of cheap, abundant oil, with the possibility of energy independence for North America. If the new narrative turns out to be true, it could have a profound effect on the feasibility of alternative energy and how we view climate change; it could also fundamentally reshape the geopolitical landscape. Are the projections valid, or the product of aspiration? If we have entered a new golden age of fossil fuels, how will it influence politics at home and abroad?  Our friend, Steve Levine and Susan Glasser will lead a group of panels featuring  EIA’s Adam Sieminski, Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations, CSIS’s Edward Chow, former Shell CEO John Hofmeister, Citigroup’s Edward Morse and PFC Energy’s Robin West.

Wilson Forum to Look at Arctic Energy – The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will host an event on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. focused on understanding the forces driving the increase in exploration. A panel of Arctic oil and gas industry professionals will reveal what new techniques and technologies are allowing this unprecedented activity. In addition, Arctic experts will examine what nations can do to protect the environment, increase production, and ensure international cooperation.  As ice continues to melt in the Arctic, previously inaccessible and undiscovered resources are becoming available to the world. Driven by ever increasing energy demands, exploration of the Arctic has exploded in recent years. As the competition for these resources has increased, new partnerships and rivalries have begun to emerge at the Northern Pole.  Speakers include Jim Slutz of the Canada Institute, Zachary Hamilla, of the Office of Naval Intelligence and PFC Energy’s  Julia Nanay, among others. 

Senate Energy to Look at Wells in Alaska –The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. to discuss federal efforts to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.  Witnesses will include BLM leaders in Alaska and several others. 

House Energy to Look at Solyndra Legislation – The House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on Thursday to consider the “Smart Energy Act,” introduced by Reps. Charles Bass and Jim Matheson, as well as the “No More Solyndras Act,” from Rep. Cliff Stearns. 

Senate Environment to Look at Lead Impacts on Development – The Senate Environment will hold a hearing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the effects of lead poisoning on childhood development.

THE WEEKS AHEAD:

Duke CEO to Address Press Club – The National Press Club will host Jim Rogers, chief executive officer of Duke Energy on Monday, July 16th to look at the future of the electric-utility industry.  Rogers, of course has recently come under scrutiny over the recently closed Duke-Progress merger and the ousting of planned CEO Bill Johnson. 

CSIS to Host IEA Technology Experts –The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host Ambassador Richard H. Jones, Deputy Executive Director and Dr. Markus Wrake, Senior Energy Analyst and ETP Project Lead, International Energy Agency (IEA) to present the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 on Tuesday, July 17th at 9:30 a.m.  Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 (ETP 2012) looks at how technologies– from electric vehicles to smart grids– can make a decisive difference in achieving the objective of limiting the global temperature rise to 2°C and enhancing energy security.  ETP 2012 presents scenarios and strategies to 2050, with the aim of guiding decision makers on energy trends and what needs to be done to build a clean, secure and competitive energy future.

ACORE Transportation Conference Set – The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) will convene First Transportation and Renewable Energy Industry Forum on July 17th where business and industry leaders from across the energy spectrum and modes of transportation to discuss the challenges and opportunities to expanding the renewable transportation market. This is the first in a series of forums that will highlight the opportunities and challenges the country faces as it moves toward a 21st century transportation system sourced by renewable energy. Speakers will include Arun Banskota of NRG Energy, Toyota’s William Chernicoff, Doug Durante of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition and Catherine Dunwoody of California Fuel Cell, as well as out media friends  Warren Brown of the Washington Post, Keith Johnson of the Wall Street Journal and John Siciliano of Clean Energy Report.

WAPA to Host Honda Exec – The Washington Automotive Press Assn  (WAPA) will hold its July luncheon on Tuesday, July 17 at Noon at the National Press Club featuring Honda Motors Rick Schostek.  Schostek, senior vice president of Honda of America Mfg will present on how the company bucked conventional wisdom and embarked on a dream that sparked significant innovations in American manufacturing. Schostek also will explain how Honda’s North American responsibilities have blossomed into global capabilities for manufacturing, research, development and engineering – with more than 20 million domestic vehicles built along the way. 

EPA to Hold PM Public Hearings – EPA will hold two public hearings on Tuesday, July 17th in Philadelphia and Thursday, July 19th in Sacramento) to discuss the proposed updates to the national air quality standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5). A federal court ruling required EPA to update the standards based on best available science. The proposed updates, which meet that requirement, build on steps already taken by EPA to reduce pollution in communities across the country.

DOE Webinar to Look at Landfill Gas Projects – The Energy Department will present a live webinar Tuesday, July 17th at 3:00 p.m. looking at community Renewable Energy success stories featuring landfill gas-to-energy projects. The session will highlight both the challenges and benefits of developing successful community landfill gas-to-energy projects at the Prairie View Recycling and Disposal Facility in Will County, Illinois, and the Perdido Landfill Gas-to-Electricity Project in Escambia County, Florida.

Abound Bankruptcy to be Discussed at Hearing – The House Government Oversight will hold a hearing featuring Abound executives on Wednesday July 18th to discuss the bankruptcy.  Abound filed bankruptcy recently, planned to shut down and lay off 125 employees.  Interestingly though, the Abound CEO was before the Committee in June, but received no questions from the Committee, who at the time was focused on others.

RFF Seminar to Look at Emissions Taxes – Resources for the Future will hold an RFF Academic Seminar on Wednesday, July 18th at Noon featuring presents Jay Coggins of the University of Minnesota, looking at emissions taxes.  The function describing the benefits to abatement is dual to an underlying dose-response function that relates health outcomes to pollution levels. Recent articles by a few health scientists have found strictly concave dose-response functions for fine particulates. In these articles, the first unit of dose is the most damaging, the last unit of abatement (taking us to zero concentration) the most valuable. The dual benefit function must be strictly convex and so marginal benefits to abatement must be upward sloping. We compare quantity and price instruments in this setting, discovering that identifying the optimal price policy can be surprisingly difficult from a technical perspective. A quantity policy is never strictly preferred to a price policy. The level of uncertainty plays a central role that appears to have escaped notice until now, and the optimal emissions tax is sometimes discontinuous in the level of uncertainty.

Senate Indian Affairs to Look at Climate, Treaty Rights – The Senate Special Committee on Indian Affairs will hold an oversight hearing on Thursday, July 19th at 2:15 p.m. to examine climate change, focusing on impacts on treaty rights, traditional lifestyles, and tribal homelands.      

NARUC Summer Conference Set for Portland – The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners returns to Portland, Ore., this summer with a loaded agenda and stellar keynote speakers. NARUC’s 2012 Summer Committee Meetings, July 22-25, will focus on the top challenges facing the utility sector, including smart-grid issues, universal service reform, hydraulic fracturing, new environmental rules, and much more.  Featured speakers at the meeting include University of Colorado School of Law Dean Philip J. Weiser, Environmental Defense Fund General Counsel Vickie Patton, QEP Resources President and CEO Charles Stanley, American Water President and CEO Jeff Sterba, FERC and EPA representatives.  Topics under discussion include: Bridging the Hydraulic Fracturing Divide; A Marriage of Convenience: Can Utilities and Wireless Companies Keep the Lights on; EPA Regulations: Are They Moving America Beyond Coal; Electricity and Gas Interpendencies; cyber security; gas pipeline safety; utility infrastructure costs; and much more.  The NARUC-Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Joint Forum on Reliability and the Environment will meet Wednesday, July 25, and the NARUC-FERC Collaborative on Smart Response will be meeting on Sunday, July 22.

Texas Superconference Set – The 24th edition of the annual Texas Environmental Superconference, one of the most entertaining and informative of environmental conferences, will be held on Thursday and Friday – August 2nd and 3rd in Austin at the Four Seasons Hotel.   This year’s conference is entitled “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”   The August 1st Wednesday evening session, entitled “How the West Was Won!” will be a primer on Practical Aspects of Environmental Litigation and will be held at the San Jacinto Center, 98 San Jacinto Boulevard, adjacent to the Four Seasons.

Reid Clean Energy Summit Set for August Recess – The 5th annual National Clean Energy Summit will once again bring together clean energy visionaries and leaders, public officials, business executives and entrepreneurs, investors, students, and the media to discuss how to empower the public with tools to promote the clean energy economy; increasing jobs and our energy independence. The day-long clean energy summit will be hosted by Center for American Progress, Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. National Clean Energy Summit 5.0: The Power of Choice will focus on empowering individuals, governments, and businesses with the ability to choose clean energy.  The conference will highlight energy options and how the freedom to make clean energy choices can improve the quality of life, save consumers money, and grow the economy.  The more the public, business, and government understand the immense benefits of clean energy, the more likely they are to support and adopt policies to bring that future here sooner.  There has never been a more important time for the nation to better enable investment in clean energy.  Bringing clean energy options in-line with a smarter electricity grid, while increasing the amount of solar, wind, and geothermal energy from projects in Nevada and the West, can give power to new industries and markets that will also simultaneously create new jobs and help rebuild our economy.  The Summit will also discuss why we must invest in the research, development, deployment, and commercialization of new clean tech products to make us competitive in the $7 trillion global clean energy market.  ONE FINAL NOTE:  The event in Las Vegas is only 40 minutes away from BrightSource’s Ivanpah Project, so there is the likelihood that there will be a site visit available.  More on this as we get closer.    

 

Energy Update Week of June 25

Friends, 

Sorry things are a little late today, I’ve been sitting on pins and needles awaiting every Supreme Court Decision.  Or I may have fallen asleep on my keyboard and it just took this long to erase an hour’s worth of g’s.  No word yet on how the drool has effected the keyboard as well, although it doesn’t seem to be working great.

Why so tired after the weekend, you ask?  Two nights of awesome Metallica in Atlantic City is the answer.  I was just glad to take in both Ride the Lightning and the Black Albums, but the kids forced me into the front of the stage for Volbeat and Avenged Sevenfold, and I must say, it was pretty awesome.  We were so close, after Metallica singer James Hetfield intro’d Volbeat, he saw Adam rocking along the fence in the front row and gave him a horn’s symbol, an “oh yeah, little man” and a high-five….  To top it off, Adam was given a drum skin signed by the entire band Volbeat.  That was before we saw Avenged Sevenfold from the same spot and the final Metallica set.   All-in-all a ridiculous weekend, but I’m paying the price today after the two days of standing in a sunny air field and the 2.5-hour drive home last night after the show ended at 11:00.  Thank goodness there was a strong easterly breeze pushing the beach balls, the crowd surfers and the AC wind turbines in the background for the day and three Coke Zeros for the ride home.  Will be posting a bunch of great picts on My Facebook page if you want to send me a “friend request.”  I also post energy updates and interesting items for reporters occasionally.

Congrats to the Miami Heat and LeBron for finishing the NBA Finals.  I’m sure the owners of the Thunder are disappointed they lost out two games of gate, merch and food/beverage at Chesapeake Energy Arena, but there is always next year.  Isn’t that what the Heat said last year? Anyway, Saturday starts the three toughest weeks in sports:  le tour de France.  While there is always some controversy about doping (this year they are after Lance again, but he is doing Ironman Triathlons now), I just enjoy the racing through the French countryside and the cool bikes. 

This week, Thursday seems to be the crazy day for hearings with five separate hearing.  Both Lisa Jackson (Thursday in House Science) and Gina McCarthy (Friday in House Energy) are hitting center stage.  The schedule will likely be marred slightly though by the White House Congressional picnic on Wednesday and the Annual Congressional Baseball game on Thursday at Nationals Park.  After 8 straights, Republicans have lost the last three games. Interior/EPA funding bills mark up in the House Appropriations full committee and the Energy and Water bill is expected to see votes on the floor.  

Finally, Heather Zichal was out and about again today talking about natural gas saying rules will be out by the end of the year and ERCC utilities have submitted their comments for the GHG rule today as the comment period closes.

Next week is week of July 4th so we will not likely have an update unless it is necessary.  Call with questions.

Frank Maisano
(202) 828-5864
C. (202) 997-5932

IN THE NEWS

GHG Comment period extended, ERCC Views Submitted –EPA’s GHG comment period closes today and utility group ERCC submitted its comments today.  While applauding the President’s rhetoric calling for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy ERCC members say they are concerned, that EPA is seeking to use the new source performance standards (NSPS) program to impose an effective ban on new coal-fired power plants in the US in contravention of the President’s position.  We are also concerned that, absent sufficient clarity, the proposed rule could even discourage energy-efficiency projects at existing facilities.  See the comments in full here: http://www.electricreliability.org/ercc-comments-submitted-epa-new-source-performance-standards-power-plant-carbon-emissions

EPA Changes Cement Rule – EPA scaled back part of its pollution regulations on the Portland cement industry today following a federal court ruling last December that stopped part of its 2010 rule. EPA agreed to reduce particulate matter emissions limits for existing and new kilns, while pushing back the compliance deadline for existing kilns by two years to September 2015.  While not changing mercury standards, EPA will change monitoring standards that will require a revision to the particulate matter standards, and additional time for industry to devise control strategies. It is to finalize the revisions after a 30-day public comment period.  I‘m sure our friend at PCA would be able to help.  Call Patti Flesher at 847-972-9136.

BrightSource Wins Bid for Solar Project – BrightSource Energy was the top bidder at an auction to buy bankrupt Solar Trust’s Palen site in California. Palen, located in Desert Center, California, is expected to have a 500-megawatt generating capacity and is one of three unfinished projects Solar Trust plans to sell.  The others are the 1,000-megawatt Blythe project in Riverside County, California, which is fully permitted and has grid interconnection rights, and another 500-megawatt project still in the planning stage in Amargosa Valley, Nevada. The company is now awaiting court approval for the deal, the financial details of which have not been disclosed.  The acquisition would further bolster BrightSource’s position as one of the world’s leading solar thermal developers.

First Solar Project on Indian Land Approved – Speaking of solar, the Interior Department announced its first approval of a Solar project on Indian Land last week. approved a 350-megawatt solar energy project on tribal trust land of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians (Tribe) in Clark County, Nevada. The project marks a milestone as the first-ever, utility-scale solar project approved for development on tribal lands, and is one of the many steps the administration has taken to help strengthen tribal communities.  Interior’s Record of Decision approves the construction, operation and maintenance of a low-impact photovoltaic (PV) facility and associated infrastructure on about 2,000 acres of the Tribe’s reservation, located 30 miles north of Las Vegas. The site represents about three percent of the Tribe’s 71,954-acres, which are held in trust by the U.S. Government. The project is expected to generate about 400 jobs at peak construction and 15-20 permanent jobs.

Zichal Continues Natgas Forum Push – Heather Zichal continued her natgas speaking parade today with visit to an NDN Clean Energy Initiative policy network a forum today. Zichal, who has been out on the speaking circuit recently, continued to spotlight the broad implications of hydraulic fracturing and the Administration’s view on the potential of natural gas and oil shale.   Today Zichal said new, tougher rules will be out by the end of the year for hydraulic fracturing.

Former Post Reporter to Move On – Former Washington Post reporter Steve Coll has announced his intention to step down as President of the New America Foundation later this year when a successor is selected. Coll has led the organization for the past five years.  When a new President is in place, Coll will transition into a Senior Fellow position with New America’s National Security Studies Program as he pursues a follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.

THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK:

Wellinghoff to Headline Demand Response Town Meeting – The Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid (ADS) will hold a National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid tomorrow through Thursday at US Chamber and the Reagan Trade Building. ADS is a nonprofit organization, originally formed as the Demand Response Coordinating Committee (DRCC) in 2004. ADS is an organization consisting of professionals and organizations involved in demand response and smart grid. It provides services to meet the needs of its members that help them in the conduct of their work and in the attainment of their personal, corporate and governmental objectives. ADS seeks to establish and grow a demand response “community” of policymakers, utilities, system operators, technology companies, consumers, and other stakeholders.  Speakers this year will be FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff, DoD’s Dorothy Robyn, Nick Sinai of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and DOE’s Eric Lighter.

House Panel to Look at Jones Act, SPR Issues – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. on the Jones Act waivers issued after the crude stockpile was tapped last summer in response to supply disruptions caused by the conflict in Libya.  Witnesses will include Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari and American Waterways Operators President and CEO Thomas Allegretti.

House Resources to Look at Hydropower – The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on “Mandatory Conditioning Requirements on Hydropower: How Federal Resource Agencies are Driving Up Electricity Costs and Decreasing the Original Green Energy.”  The hearing will examine how federal regulations and agencies are increasing the cost of clean, affordable hydropower on millions of American families. Hydropower accounts for nearly 70% of electricity generated in the Pacific Northwest and 7% of electricity generated in the nation overall, serving as 75% of all domestic renewable energy sources. Yet, at a time when demand for low-cost, renewable and emissions-free power increases, current federal law and regulations only make it harder to increase this resource.  This hearing will focus on the agencies within the Departments of the Interior, Commerce and Agriculture that are required to propose “mandatory conditions” when a non-federal hydropower project is licensed or relicensed. These requirements are added to a license under federal law and are usually absorbed by electricity consumers. This hearing will address these issues to determine potential improvements and updates to these requirements with the goal of protecting the environment and electricity consumers.

CAP Look at Healthy Ocean Plan – The Center for American Progress launches a new initiative to better define and quantify the value of our Blue Economy on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.. The project will focus on four ocean and coastal industries in various stages of understanding and development-sustainable fisheries, renewable energy, tourism and recreation, and coastal restoration-in a discussion with leaders from government, industry, and advocacy about the key role healthy oceans play in creating American jobs and enhancing prosperity in coastal regions. Featured speakers will include NOAA director Jane Lubchenco, Miranda Ballentine, Director of Sustainability at Wal-Mart and Jim Moriarty of the Surfrider Foundation.

Senate Commerce to Look at Energy Efficient Buildings – The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing Thursday at 9:30 a.m. to examine innovative non-federal programs for financing energy efficient building retrofits.

House Oversight Panel Look at EPA Settlements – A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee panel will hold a hearing on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. focusing on EPA rulemaking practices.  The will focus on rulemaking practices at EPA as a result of sue and settle agreements that may undermine regulatory procedure.

House Energy Subpanel to Look at Soot Rule – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will meet Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to review EPA’s proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particles, or soot.  EPA proposed lowering the fine particle standard from 15 micrograms per cubic meter averaged over a year to between 12 and 13 micrograms, while retaining the current daily standard and standards for coarse particles.  My colleague Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA Air Administrator, said changing the PM standard is actually a bigger deal than changing the ozone standard – in terms of both public health and impact on industry.   Holmstead: “It may not sound like much – lowering the standard from 15 to 13 – but it will mean a lot more regulations in many parts of the country.  This won’t be good news for places trying to attract new manufacturing jobs.  EPA is facing a bit of a dilemma.  Today, they’re saying that a PM standard somewhere between 11 and 13 will protect public health with a margin of safety.  But for the last 3 years, they’ve been claiming that their new regulations will save the lives of thousands of people who are being killed by PM, even though they live in areas with PM levels well below 11.”

Jackson to Visit House Science – The House Committee on Science will hold a hearing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. looking at strengthening the scientific backbone of the EPA.  The hearing will be an examination of agency practices and look at foundations for regulations affecting the American economy.  EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will testify.

Senate Energy to Look at Financing EE Upgrades – On Thursday, at 9:30 a.m., the Senate Energy Committee will review innovative non-federal programs for financing energy efficient building retrofits.  Witnesses include David Sundstrom, SCEIP program administrator of the County of Sonoma.; Derek Smith, chief executive officer, Clean Energy Works Oregon; William Rodgers, president and chief executive officer of GoodCents; Sheri Borrelli, senior business development professional at United Illuminating; Susan Leeds, chief executive officer, New York City Efficiency Corporation; and Jeffrey DeBoer, president and chief executive officer, The Real Estate Roundtable.

House Energy Panel to Host EPA’s McCarthy on GHGs – House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy panel will hold a hearing Friday at 9:00 a.m. on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations.  Following today’s close of the comment period, the committee will host Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

Workshop to Look at USFWS Wind Energy Guidelines – The Environmental Law Institute, Hogan Lovells LLP, and Defenders of Wildlife will host a USFWS Wind Energy Guidelines Implementation Workshop on Friday at 9:30 a.m. at Hogan Lovells.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently issued its final voluntary guidelines for onshore wind developers. These guidelines were the product of a five-year federal advisory committee process consisting of federal agencies, developers, conservation organizations, academia, and state and tribal representatives. The guidelines are intended to help developers and the Service analyze risks from wind energy development and operations to wildlife and wildlife habitat. This interactive workshop will provide an overview of the recently published final FWS Onshore Wind Guidelines, discuss questions regarding implementation intent and expectations from various stakeholder perspectives, and explore issues and opportunities for additional clarification.  Speakers will include David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, and David Cottingham, Senior Advisor to the Director of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Brookings to Look at Iran Sanctions Impacts – The Foreign Policy group at Brookings will host a discussion on Friday at 9:00 a.m. assessing the wide-ranging implications of the Iran sanctions regime and consider the prospects for a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue. Next month, international economic pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran will intensify dramatically. Although Iran has been the target of various U.S. and multilateral sanctions throughout most of the past three decades, the latest measures are the most severe in history. These actions have been credited with reviving Iran’s interest in negotiations with the world, but they have yet to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, and are creating new challenges for the international coalition that has sought to constrain Iran. They also pose new uncertainties for energy markets and the international economy at a precarious period in the global recovery and the U.S. presidential campaign.

THE WEEKS AHEAD:

State Agency Assns Hold Clean Air Conference – On July 9-10, NARUC, the National Assn of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the national Assn of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) will hold a forum at the Renaissance Washington to state energy and Clean air issues.  Speakers on the agenda include FERC’s Jon Wellinghoff, EPA’s Gina McCarthy, DOE’s Pat Hoffman and CEQ’s Nancy Sutley, among many other state officials.  

ACORE Transportation Conference Set – The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) will convene First Transportation and Renewable Energy Industry Forum on July 17th where business and industry leaders from across the energy spectrum and modes of transportation to discuss the challenges and opportunities to expanding the renewable transportation market. This is the first in a series of forums that will highlight the opportunities and challenges the country faces as it moves toward a 21st century transportation system sourced by renewable energy. Speakers will include Arun Banskota of NRG Energy, Toyota’s William Chernicoff, Doug Durante of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition and Catherine Dunwoody of California Fuel Cell, as well as our media friends  Warren Brown of the Washington Post, Keith Johnson of the Wall Street Journal and John Siciliano of Clean Energy Report.

NARUC Summer Conference Set for Portland – The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners returns to Portland, Ore., this summer with a loaded agenda and stellar keynote speakers. NARUC’s 2012 Summer Committee Meetings, July 22-25, will focus on the top challenges facing the utility sector, including smart-grid issues, universal service reform, hydraulic fracturing, new environmental rules, and much more.  Featured speakers at the meeting include University of Colorado School of Law Dean Philip J. Weiser, Environmental Defense Fund General Counsel Vickie Patton, QEP Resources President and CEO Charles Stanley, American Water President and CEO Jeff Sterba, FERC and EPA representatives.  Topics under discussion include: Bridging the Hydraulic Fracturing Divide; A Marriage of Convenience: Can Utilities and Wireless Companies Keep the Lights on; EPA Regulations: Are They Moving America Beyond Coal; Electricity and Gas Interpendencies; cyber security; gas pipeline safety; utility infrastructure costs; and much more.  The NARUC-Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Joint Forum on Reliability and the Environment will meet Wednesday, July 25, and the NARUC-FERC Collaborative on Smart Response will be meeting on Sunday, July 22.

Reid Clean Energy Summit Set for August Recess – The 5th annual National Clean Energy Summit will once again bring together clean energy visionaries and leaders, public officials, business executives and entrepreneurs, investors, students, and the media to discuss how to empower the public with tools to promote the clean energy economy; increasing jobs and our energy independence. The day-long clean energy summit will be hosted by Center for American Progress, Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. National Clean Energy Summit 5.0: The Power of Choice will focus on empowering individuals, governments, and businesses with the ability to choose clean energy.  The conference will highlight energy options and how the freedom to make clean energy choices can improve the quality of life, save consumers money, and grow the economy.  The more the public, business, and government understand the immense benefits of clean energy, the more likely they are to support and adopt policies to bring that future here sooner.  There has never been a more important time for the nation to better enable investment in clean energy.  Bringing clean energy options in-line with a smarter electricity grid, while increasing the amount of solar, wind, and geothermal energy from projects in Nevada and the West, can give power to new industries and markets that will also simultaneously create new jobs and help rebuild our economy.  The Summit will also discuss why we must invest in the research, development, deployment, and commercialization of new clean tech products to make us competitive in the $7 trillion global clean energy market.  ONE FINAL NOTE:  The event in Las Vegas is only 40 minutes away from BrightSource’s Ivanpah Project, so there is the likelihood that there will be a site visit available.  More on this as we get closer.    

 

 

 

 

Energy Update: Week of July 25, 2011

Friends,

What a thrilling close to the Tour de France, with Cadel Evans overtaking Andy Schleck on the final time trial of the race’s penultimate stage.  And our man in France, Tom Carter of Calera, was right there for the last week and on the final day in Paris.  He reported spending some time in the Italian Alps, following the race on the Col de Tourmalet and other places.  He congratulated Thor Hushovd in person for his heroic victory in Lourdes, was right on the finish line to see Cavendish’s fourth sprint win in Montpellier.  He also got regular updates from all-time green jersey sprint champ and current Cavendish coach Erik Zabel from one of the HTC team cars. Tom added the best part of being at the Tour is interacting with fans from around the world. Great Report!!!!

While Tom was running around France in bike shorts, I just returned from another lacrosse tournament at the Jersey Shore (didn’t see Snooki) just in time to catch the Saturday night ‘Ram’s Head Live’ show of the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent.  It was a totally electrifying, high-energy two hours of rock ‘n roll.  Uncle Tedly certainly loves America and still rocks the house.

Finally the summer sports season has ended, of course, just in time for football and field hockey to start this week.  Now, that the NFL has settled its lockout, it is time to move on to the debt deal.  Solving that one doesn’t look as easy though if you watched the Sunday shows.

After the debt limit, the biggest item in the news this week seems to be the clash over tightening ozone restrictions.  There are a bunch of stories in the queue about recent and upcoming meetings at OMB with industry and environmental groups.  Also, there are a couple stories about the internal political struggle between EPA and the White House on imposing tougher ozone standards on key political battleground states.  All this centers round EPA’s efforts to re-do the standards prior to the current five-year cycle being up.  We are happy to discuss.   The House also is expected to vote on legislation that will move the Keystone Pipeline’s permit decision more quickly.

Lastly this week, there will also be continued battling over the EPA/Interior FY2012 Budget which heads to the House floor with an open rule.  The war of words over the bill rages on, but in the end Democrats probably don’t have the votes to do much.  There seems to be a wide bipartisan majority that is aimed at clipping EPA and other government spending.  While Interior will complain too, it seems that drilling agency reforms will get full funding.  Of course, all of this is likely to get moved to the side when the debt issue is ripe for votes.

Don’t hesitate to call with your questions.

IN THE NEWS

Atlantic Wind Finalizes Deal for Additional Partner in Backbone Grid Project – As you saw on Friday, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) said that Belgian transmission company, Elia, is joining the effort to create a new offshore electric transmission backbone system along the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. east coast.  The Elia Group operates transmission systems in both Belgium and Germany that, among other things, accommodate large amounts of wind energy.  As an investor and a provider of consulting services to the project, Elia’s participation brings the benefit of their first-hand experience working to develop and construct the European Super Grid, an initiative of similar importance, size and scope to the AWC. The agreements provide that Elia will become a 10% co-investor in the development of the AWC project and offer consulting services.  The consulting is designed to take advantage of Elia’s overall transmission expertise, as well as their direct experience with offshore transmission development in Europe.  Elia is playing a major role in the construction of the North and Baltic Sea portion of the European Super Grid, a transmission network that will interconnect Europe and regions around its borders with a high-voltage direct current power grid.  The European grid concept is designed to incorporate considerable renewable energy resources, particularly wind energy, and reinforce security of supply.  AWC launched in 2010 and is developed by the AWC team, led by the independent transmission company Trans-Elect.  Good Energies, Google and Marubeni Corporation are the other investment sponsors.  The innovative project has been hailed by federal, state and industry officials as a major step forward in their effort to site thousands of megawatts of clean wind generation some 15 miles out to sea in federal waters along the Mid-Atlantic coast between New Jersey and Virginia. The project contributes to stimulating jobs and strengthens the security of the electric grid and our national energy independence.  Recently, a study of the AWC project by the Brattle Group concluded that the offshore wind generation interconnected through the project will reduce system-wide production costs from fossil-fuel fired generation by $1.1 billion per year. In addition, the development of the AWC Project and associated offshore wind generation will create thousands of jobs, improve electric system reliability and reduce CO2 emissions by 16 million tons annually, the equivalent of taking 3 million cars off the road.  The project recently received FERC approval for rate incentives that will greatly enhance development, financing and construction of the project.  The project has already filed to acquire offshore rights-of-way with the Interior Department’s BOEMRE, which has told Congress the project is on the fast-track.

Drilling Mark Up Bogs Down – The Senate Energy Committee failed to move drilling safety legislation over a longstanding disagreement about revenue sharing.  The legislation stalled when a bipartisan majority lead by Chairman Bingaman blocked Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s bipartisan efforts to expand revenue sharing.  Jim Noe, Executive Director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, said the stall was “a missed opportunity to help support U.S. offshore energy production and enhance our country’s energy security.”  Offshore energy production in the Gulf of Mexico is currently struggling due to the regulatory uncertainty and lack of business confidence that has dogged the industry for well over a year.  Of course, the best way to generate revenue in the Gulf is for the federal government to increase permit flow to revitalize the offshore oil and gas industry itself.  As a recent study by Quest Offshore demonstrated, total employment supported by a healthy Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas industry could exceed 430,000 jobs by 2013 – an increase of 77 percent, or 180,000 jobs, over the low levels of 2010.  Without improvement in the offshore regulatory climate, these jobs and this economic activity will simply be left on the table.  As the Gulf industry remains continues to struggle along on its own U.S. workers, businesses and our country’s energy security are paying the price.  Here is Noe on Fox’s Bulls and Bears.

Bloomberg Charity Gives $50M to Sierra Anti-Coal Effort – On the hottest day of the year, when local power companies were stretched to their limits and conservation measures in place to keep air conditioners running, the Sierra Club announced a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies that will aim to shut down one-third of the nation’s coal fleet by 2020. The partnership includes a $50 million commitment over four years to the Beyond Coal Campaign.  The announcement took place on an air-conditioned Potomac River luxury dining cruiser, just offshore from the Alexandria Coal power plant.  Enviros have tried to shut down the plant for years, but haven’t been able to because of its importance to electric reliability of the Nation’s Capital.  My friend Scott Segal called the partnership “disturbing” citing Sierra’s regular misrepresentation of coal-fired generation in the United States.  Segal:  “They have underplayed the substantial advancements made by industry in reducing air emissions in every category over the last two decades.  The tactics the Sierra Club displayed at the recent EPA hearings on power sector rules substituted sound bites and stunts for reasoned analysis.  Sierra also has failed to step to the plate when it was time to support construction of infrastructure to advance clean-energy projects.”  Segal added that Mayor Bloomberg has unquestionably been a good leader and it is certainly up to his foundation to determine what contributions make sense.  That said, he added, the Mayor well knows that the key to New York City’s success lies in access to affordable and reliable power. Mayor Bloomberg’s own Energy Task Force began its analysis in its report to him as follows: ‘To maintain its position as the financial, corporate and communications capital of the world, New York City must have a dependable source of electricity. Electricity makes much of the City’s daily functioning possible—from the vast underground transit system and the commuter rail network to the elevators that serve our high-rise buildings. Assuring reliable, affordable, and clean electricity is essential to the continued attraction and retention of City businesses and residents.’

ERCOT Warns of Reliability Impact Due to EPA Rule – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said EPA’s new cross-state air pollution rule could prompt electric shortages within a few years if implemented as is.  H.B. “Trip” Doggett, ERCOT president and chief executive officer said in a statement that at this time, it is not clear that ERCOT “has adequate tools to maintain long-term reliability in the face of the possible loss of a large amount of existing baseload generation in such a short time period.” The rule and its January 2012 compliance deadline is expected to shut down a large portion of coal-generation in Texas that burns lignite. The rule included Texas at the last moment and has drawn howls from Texas officials.  Texas currently relies on more than 10,000 megawatts of electric generation from lignite, so that loss would dramatically impact reserve margins.

Penn State Study Shows Economic, Environment Benefits of NatGas – A new study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University says, at current rates, the Marcellus Shale formation could become the leading supplier of natural gas in the United States within a decade.  Taken in tandem with projections released earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Energy, the report shows that the Pennsylvania Marcellus could produce approximately a quarter of America’s natural gas by 2020.  The study projects that Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale has the potential to produce 17.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (6.4 trillion cubic feet annually) – representing nearly one-quarter of America’s annual natural gas production in 2020, according to U.S. Department of Energy estimates. In 2011, Pennsylvania could produce nearly 3.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas, making the Commonwealth a net exporter of natural gas right now. This development could support more than 156,000 jobs and generate $12.8 billion in economic activity in Pennsylvania alone. By 2020, according to the study, Marcellus development could support 256,420 jobs and generate $20 billion in added value to Pennsylvania’s economy.  In addition to analyzing the broad economic impacts of Marcellus development, the study also evaluates the effect shale gas production is having on energy costs for Pennsylvania consumers. The researchers determined that natural gas prices dropped 12.6% in 2010 – attributed largely to expanded Marcellus development – saving consumers in Pennsylvania nearly $633 million on their utility bills.  Key findings include that the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale natural gas industry triggered $11.2 billion in economic activity, generated $1.1 billion in state and local taxes, and supported nearly 140,000 jobs in 2010.  The industry is projected to generate more than $12.8 billion in economic activity in 2011, leading to more than $1.2 billion in state and local taxes and supporting more than 156,000 jobs.  As a result of Pennsylvania Marcellus production, residential electricity and natural gas bills across the Commonwealth are $245.1 million lower [$217.4 million from lower natural gas bills and another $27.7 million from lower electricity bills].

Rice Study Also Shows Shale Gas Strength – Speaking of studies, the long-awaited report from the Baker Institute at Rice University says rising U.S. natural gas production from shale formations has already played a critical role in weakening Russia’s ability to wield an “energy weapon” over its European customers and will accelerate in the coming decades.  The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, projects that Russia’s natural gas market share in Western Europe will decline to as little as 13% by 2040, down from 27% in 2009.  The study concludes that timely development of U.S. shale gas resources will limit the need for the United States to import LNG for at least two to three decades, thereby reducing negative energy-related stress on the U.S. trade deficit and economy. By creating greater competition among gas suppliers in global markets, shale gas will also lower the cost to average Americans of reducing greenhouse gases as the country moves to lower carbon fuels.  The Baker Institute study dismisses the notion, recently debated in the U.S. media, that the shale gas revolution is a transitory occurrence. The study projects that U.S. shale production will more than quadruple by 2040 from 2010 levels of more than 10 billion cubic feet per day, reaching more than 50 percent of total U.S. natural gas production by the 2030s. The study incorporates independent scientific and economic literature on shale costs and resources, including assessments by organizations such as the U.S. Geological Survey, the Potential Gas Committee and scholarly peer-reviewed papers of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Power Moves to the Dark Side – I always told him it about the power of the dark side, but now our friend Steve Power, former Wall Street Journal energy writer has finally heeded to it.  After 10 years at the WSJ, Steve is leaving the media to join the Brunswick Group to help the firm’s clients in the energy field, as well as clients in other sectors.  Steve’s replacement at the Journal will be Deborah Solomon. Deb joined the WSJ in 2000 as a telecom reporter in New York and her coverage included the WorldCom accounting scandal. She moved to the Washington bureau in 2003 to cover the Securities and Exchange Commission and in 2006, she took over the economic policy beat.

Ark. Dem Ross to Retire – Our friend Mike Ross, the only remaining Arkansas Democrat, will not seek reelection in 2012.  Ross was first elected in 2000 and is a strong voice on energy issues having served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Certainly enviro groups are rejoicing his move as he generally sides with Republicans on most energy and environmental issues.  Ross won consistently by comfortable margins.  He didn’t even face Republican opposition in two of the last four elections, a sign of his popularity. But he won 57% last year, his lowest total since his first re-election. Under the state’s already-approved redistricting plan, his district also becomes slightly more Republican.

Mich. Delegation Raising CAFE Concerns to President – A bipartisan Michigan delegation letter urged President Obama to support a more restrained CAFE/fuel economy mandate. The letter contains strong language urging a pullback from the 56.2 mpg standard being floated by the administration for a late September unveiling.  Not only is Michigan a critical state for President Obama’s reelection strategy, but it seems unlikely that the Democratic cosigners would have gone on the letter without tacit approval from the United Auto Workers.  The letter may be harbinger of additional concern that may lead to a likely softening of the current administration position. With unemployment high, the politics of the regulation play a key role within the Rust Belt and in other states with auto plants.  It also undermines a key constituency of the President the powerful UAW union.

TX Monthly Looks at Wind Pioneers – Our friends Kate Galbraith and Asher Price have an awesome 6,000-plus word piece in Texas Monthly looking at the pioneers of the wind industry in Texas and how they have made their dream a reality.

Sims Moves Up Molycorp Ladder – Former Cheney energy expert and longtime congressional staffer Jim Sims has been promoted to Vice President Corporate Communications.  Sims has served as Director of Public Affairs for the company since April 2010.  In his new position, he will oversee personnel and operations in Investor Relations, Government Relations, and Media Relations, and will continue to report to Molycorp’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Smith.  Sims also was the President of the Western Business Roundtable.  Colorado-based Molycorp, Inc. is the only Rare Earths producer in the Western Hemisphere and currently produces more than 4,000 metric tons of commercial rare earth materials per year.  Molycorp owns and operates Arizona-based Molycorp Metals and Alloys, one of the leading producers of high-purity rare earth alloys and metals outside of China.

THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK:

Forum to Look at Transportation Electrification – IEEE will hold its 2011 Power & Energy Society (PES) General Meeting today through Thursday at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, MI to look at the electrification of transportation and the grid of the future.  The meeting will feature power engineers, executives, policy makers and academics from all over the world who will promote, share, and discuss various issues and developments in the field of electrical power engineering. Speakers will include DTE’s Tony Earley and Ford’s Nancy Gioia.

House Oversight Panel to Look at Reliability, EPA Rules – With the massive heat wave and last week’s announcement by the Sierra Club that it was getting $50 million from a Bloomberg foundation to fight coal power, a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee holds a hearing tomorrow on whether the new EPA rules will make the electric grid less reliable.  Already, ERCOT, PJM and the New England ISO have raised concerns about reliability when looking at several new EPA rules.

DOE to Host Biomass Forum – The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Biomass Program will host its fourth Annual Biomass Peer Review – Biomass 2011 tomorrow and Wednesday at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. This year’s conference will focus on the technologies needed to replace the whole barrel of oil and supply the national market for fuels, bio-based products, and power generation. Biomass 2011 will feature high-level speakers from government and industry and will incorporate technology demonstrations, interactive exhibits, and a general session debate.

POLITICO to Host Carol Browner LIVE! – POLITICO’s Energy and the Presidency series kicks off at 8 a.m. Wednesday, when Darren Samuelsohn and Jonathan Martin chat onstage with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Carol Browner and Doug Holtz-Eakin, on the ‘Three Energy Questions That Will Shape the 2012 Election.’ You can tell JMart what to ask: Twitter #POLITICOETP.

RFF, EPA Seminar to Focus on CES – Resources for the Future will hold a day-long seminar on Wednesday, July 27 looking at a Federal clean energy standard and understanding important policy elements.  RFF’s Center for Climate and Electricity Policy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are co-hosting a one-day workshop to present current analysis of CES policies—drawn upon recent empirical modeling and conceptual thinking by RFF, other independent and government research institutions, as well stakeholders. Speakers and Participants will focus on regional implications of a CES policy in terms of electricity pricing, utility profitability, and regional wealth transfers; implications for future investments in generation technology and the influence of different policy designs; the role that might be played by energy efficiency crediting; and the desirability of casting a CES policy as a performance standard.

EU Trading Impact on Aviation Investigated – The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. to look at the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme and whether it is a violation of international law.  I recently wrote a column on this subject in SNL Financial if you are interested in more background.

House Resources Turns to Revenue Sharing – Following last week’s clash on offshore drilling revenue sharing in Senate Energy, the House Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. to look at state perspectives.  The hearing will feature testimony from representatives of coastal states and examine state interest in a fair, equitable revenue sharing plan from offshore revenues. In Fiscal Year 2008, it is estimated that federal offshore energy production generated $18 billion in revenue. Under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA), Gulf coast states receive 37.5 percent of revenue from specified oil and natural gas leases off their coast. However, there is not a revenue sharing program in place for states outside of the Gulf of Mexico. The Committee may consider proposals for offshore revenue sharing legislation.

Forum to Look at Defense Department Energy Issues – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), E3G and Operation Free will hold a briefing on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. in SVC 212/210 Capitol Visitor Center where top military and civilian experts will discuss energy policy objectives and describe the Defense Department’s renewable energy goals.  Speakers will include Sen. Mark Udall, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Thomas Hicks, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) President Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn (U.S. Navy, Ret.) and former U.S. Army Captain Drew Sloan, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, representing Operation Free.

Aspen Institute Security Forum Set – As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Program, in partnership with The New York Times, will hold its second annual Aspen Security Forum Wednesday through Friday. The Forum will bring together top-level government officials, industry leaders, and leading thinkers for three days of in-depth discussions at our Aspen Meadows campus in Aspen, Colorado on the state of aviation security, maritime security, border security, mass transit security, intelligence, critical infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, counterterrorism strategy, terrorism finance, and much more. The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, is confirmed to speak at this summer’s Aspen Security Forum.  Other speakers include Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and many other great security experts.

Senate Commerce Panel to Look at Arctic Opportunities – A Senate Commerce panel will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. to explore how the United States can seize emerging economic opportunities in the Arctic. Witnesses are expected to include officials from the Coast Guard, State Department and Navy to discuss their roles supporting economic development in the region, including assisting navigation, marine safety and search and rescue, as well as promoting international cooperation and sound environmental regulations.

Chamber Energy Group to Host Shell CEO – The Institute for 21st Century Energy and the National Chamber Foundation will hold another CEO Leadership Series luncheon event featuring Marvin E. Odum, President of Shell Oil Company, and Director of Royal Dutch Shell’s Upstream companies in the Americas on Thursday at Noon.  Odum is responsible for Shell’s exploration and production businesses in the western hemisphere, including unconventional gas and oil sands projects.

Richardson, Guzy Among Speakers at Green Conference – The National Council for Science and the Environment will hold the 2011 International Green Energy Economy Conference Thursday-Friday at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Crystal City, VA.  The conference will focus on the interplay between clean-energy strategies and policies to secure significant technological innovation, workforce development to promulgate green jobs, and sustainability principles to guide economies and societies toward sustainability.  Speakers will include IPCC Vice Chair Hoesung Lee, Dan Kammen of the University of California-Berkeley, former Congressman, Ambassador to the UN, and Secretary of Energy and NM Gov. Bill Richardson, and CEQ’s Gary Guzy, among many others.  The conference is organized by the National Council for Science and the Environment, the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware, the Council of Energy Research and Education Leaders, in collaboration with the Korea Energy Economics Institute.

Wilson Conference to Assess Ecological Risk of Synthetic Biology Applications – The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is hosting an invite-only conference all day on Thursday that will test a comprehensive environmental assessment framework for its ability to identify important research questions to support future ecological risk assessments of synthetic biology applications. The conference will bring together engineers and ecologists to consider: 1) possible pathways of entry of these cyanobacteria into the environment, 2) what organisms or entities might be exposed, and 3) potential environmental impacts from such exposure.

Sen. Approps to Look at Disaster Planning, Prep – The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. in 138 Dirksen to discuss what role the federal government can play in lessening the toll severe weather events have on the economy through long-term budgetary planning.  Witnesses include NOAA Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction Kathryn Sullivan, deputy associate administrator of the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance James Rivera, GAO’s David Trimble, University of Illinois-Urbana professor Donald Wuebbles and Franklin Nutter of the Reinsurance Association of America.

Forum to Look at FERC Decision, Transmission for Renewables – Following FERC’s expected Thursday announcement on its Proposed Rulemaking on Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation by Transmission Owning and Operating Public Utilities, the NDN/New Policy Institute will host a panel discussion on Thursday at noon to look at transmission policy reform and what it means for renewables.  This panel will address the implications of the ruling on the transmission of renewable energy.  NDN will be releasing more details about our panel in a few days. Stay in touch for more information about the event on NDN’s blog.

Event to Examine Variability of Water Flow Due to Climate – The Wilson center will host a forum on Thursday at Noon featuring World Bank Consultant Jim Duncan, Oregon State Professor Aaron Wolf, and Defense Department Hydrologist Matt Zentner.  The panel will discuss the potential effects global climate change will have on water flow in the near future. They will attempt to identify significant gaps in the institutional capacity to cope with water variability and map basins at risk for future tensions over water.

WCEE Forum to Focus on Congressional Energy Issues – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will hold its Summer 2011 Legislative Roundtable Discussion at 8:00 a.m. on Friday at Johnny’s Half Shell featuring key Congressional staff involved in drafting legislation.  Discussion will center on the US goal of enhancing energy security through reducing our dependence on foreign oil and the rapid promotion of clean, alternative transportation, such as electric and natural gas-powered vehicles.  This event will provide an opportunity to hear directly from, and interact with, the staff of the key authors of such legislation and to meet other experts in the field.  Speakers will include Genevieve Cullen of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, Kathryn Clay of the Clean American Transportation Alliance, Adrian Deveny of Senator Jeff Merkley’s office and Dr. Michal Freedoff, Policy Director, Office of Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA).

Former DOE Official to Discuss Japan Nuke Issues – The Foundation for Nuclear Studies will host a briefing and discussion Friday at Noon in 2325 Rayburn to provide an updated Fukushima Status Report led by Lake Barrett, the former Deputy Director/Acting Director of DOE Office of Civilian Waste Management and NRC Site Director for Three Mile Island (1980-84).

THE WEEKS AHEAD:

CIBO Meeting on Emissions Set for Portland – The Council of Industrial Boiler Owners will hold its Industrial Emissions Conference in Portland, Maine at the Holiday Inn hotel on August 1st – 4th.  Expected topics will include discussions the current policy status of Boiler MACT issues. 

TX Enviro Super Conference Set – The Environmental and Natural Resources law section, a division of the Texas State Bar, is hosting its 23rd annual Texas Environmental Superconference on August 3-5 at the Austin, Texas Four Seasons Hotel. The conference will feature speakers from the EPA and Justice Department, as well as government officials and academic and legal consultants from across the country. Topics cover a broad range of issues including groundwater regulation, air quality issues, environmental impacts of energy choices, and updates on nuclear power, permitting, Boiler MACT, vapor intrusion and product stewardship. My colleague Rich Alonso will give an update on greenhouse gas regulations as well.

BPC to Host Nuclear Forum – The Bipartisan Policy Center will host a forum on Wednesday August 3rd at 8:30 a.m. to discuss evolving nuclear technology and regulation, as well as lessons learned from Fukushima.  During the more than forty years of commercial nuclear power operations in the U.S., a few watershed events have driven significant changes in Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and nuclear industry operations. Lessons learned from the 1975 Brown’s Ferry Fire, the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have strengthened policies and practices based on improved understanding of nuclear safety and security. As the events surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi incident become clearer, efforts are already underway at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, within industry, and among other stakeholders to glean and apply the lessons learned from this incident. Join the BPC for a discussion with policymakers and experts on the potential ramifications of the Fukushima incident and how new insights may be incorporated into U.S. regulations and operations.

WCEE Forum to Look at Nuclear Fuel Bank – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will hold as brown bag lunch on Wednesday August 3rd at noon on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) nuclear fuel bank and lessons in diplomacy.  While the tragic disaster at the Japanese nuclear reactor last March may have slowed the rising interest in nuclear energy, countries worldwide continue to explore civil nuclear energy to answer development needs. A critical question for the international community is how to support nuclear energy programs while ensuring peaceful use—the same technology for nuclear fuel can be used to create nuclear weapons materials. One part of the answer is the new international nuclear fuel bank, approved by International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors last December. The fuel bank will give countries assurance of fuel supply, if they decide not to pursue enrichment technologies to produce nuclear fuel. This important decision, which has been discussed for decades, was made possible by a $50 million pledge proposed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and Warren Buffett, a key NTI adviser who financially backed and enabled NTI’s commitment. The forum will be a behind-the-scenes look at how the fuel bank was approved and will discuss its next steps with Corey Hinderstein, NTI Vice President of International Programs.

Congressional August Recess – Starts August 6th

Wellinghoff to Headline Geothermal Conference – The Geothermal Energy Assn (GEA) is holding the first ever National Geothermal Summit on Tuesday, August 16th and Wednesday, August 17th at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, NV.  The National Geothermal Summit will be held for GEA members, companies, and individuals in the geothermal industry with industry experts sharing real life approaches to getting geothermal projects in the ground and online. Topics for the Summit include Outlooks for Washington and the Western States, Building New Transmission Projects in the Western States, New Renewable Energy Policy Developments in CA, and Moving Geothermal Forward on Public Lands. There will also be an Expo Hall featuring government agencies, universities and leading geothermal developers from the growing geothermal industry.  Confirmed speakers to date include FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff, Karen Edson of the California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO), Jan Smutny-Jones of the Independent Energy Producers Association (IEP), and many others.

Clean Energy Summit Set for Hawaii – The Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo will be held September 13-15th at the Hawaii Convention Center, in the heart of Honolulu at the gateway to Waikiki. Hawaii is one of the world’s leading incubators for clean technology development through strategic partnerships with Fortune 500 corporations, U.S. military energy programs and the Hawaiian Electric Industries multiple renewable and microgrid pilot programs.  Learn more or register here.