Energy Update: Week of April 3

Friends,

So much going on…let’s start with the sports. This is among the most exciting weeks in the sports with the NCAA Championship game tipping off tonight at 9:20 pm. Gonzaga takes on UNC after two barnburner semifinals on Saturday. But the most unbelievable event of the weekend was Mississippi State snapping UConn’s 111-game winning streak in the NCAA women’s semifinal. Then yesterday, South Carolina defeated the giant killer to win its first NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship.

But it doesn’t end there. Today is opening day for Major League Baseball teams with 12 games set, including the Washington Nationals at 1:05 pm and the Orioles at 3:05 pm. Yesterday, the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays launched the 2017 season with a 7-3 Rays victory. The World Champ Cubs vs. the Cardinals and the SF Giants/Arizona also opened up yesterday.  And this is also Masters Week with practice rounds today and tomorrow, the Par 3 Tourney on Wednesday and the Full Action on Thursday.  Thursday the Frozen Four starts in Chicago and we are only a couple weeks from the Boston Marathon, where we will have a report next week on preparations for the Wellesley scream tunnel at Mile 13 from an actual Wellesley student.

Wow, after all that action, how are we going to get back to work, especially after the climate executive order was launched last week and we seem to be off the radar screen again?

One note from Friday in case you missed it: the natural gas/water case in Dimock, PA that you may recall was touted with such fanfare by drilling opponents like Josh Fox, Mark Ruffalo, and others when they won a year ago, was officially had the verdict thrown out because a judge determined that the jury decision and $4.24 million award was unjust and unfair.

This week, Congress runs towards its Spring/Easter/Passover break with the major focus on SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch.  While on its edges, it has environmental/energy implications, the key points focus on other items. Tomorrow, though, Senate Energy takes up grid infrastructure and security questions in a hearing featuring NRECA member executive Duane Highley of the Arkansas Co-op and AGA’s Dave McCurdy, among others.  Also tomorrow, Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO will speak at a National Press Club Luncheon to assess opportunities around trade and infrastructure.

On Wednesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a forum on the power of innovation featuring NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. WCEE also holds a panel of energy journalists from E&E News, S&P Global Platts and Politico to discuss the trends in the energy sector.

GWU will holds its Planet Forward Summit on Thursday and Friday hosted by SMPA Head and former CNN personality Frank Sesno and featuring our friend Andy Revkin.  Also, the World Energy Council’s Secretary General, Christoph Frei, reveals the results of the 2017 World Energy Issues Monitor at USEA.  The Nat’l Cap Area Chapter of Energy Economists will host its 21st Annual Washington Energy Policy Conference at GMU’s Founders Hall and ECOS holds their spring meeting Thursday to Saturday.

Finally, our friend Amy Harder joins the Axios energy team this week…Back on the beat after a couple of weeks of world traveling…Next week is Easter week, so a lot of folks may be headed for the last effort at Spring Break.

Call with questions… Play Ball!

 

Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932

 

FRANKLY SPOKEN

“Cabot felt confident that once a thorough review of the overwhelming scientific evidence and a full legal analysis of the conduct of the plaintiff’s counsel was conducted, the flaws in the verdict would be understood.”

Cabot spokesman George Stark

 

IN THE NEWS

Dimock Jury Verdict Thrown Out As Unfair – You may not have seen this play out with as much fanfare as the initial trial, but a federal judge has thrown out a $4.24 million jury verdict against Cabot Oil & Gas in Dimock, PA.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson on Friday set aside the verdict reached a year ago by a jury in Scranton, saying the evidence presented by the Dimock homeowners “was spare, sometimes contradictory, frequently rebutted by other scientific expert testimony, and relied in some measure upon tenuous inferences.”  Carlson also said the plaintiffs presented no evidence that would justify a multi-million dollar award. In his decision, the judge also said the plaintiffs’ acknowledgements that there had been problems with their water before the company started drilling made it hard to argue that Cabot was the sole cause of any problems. He said their expert witnesses offered at best “inferences that had weak factual support” while failing to contest Cabot’s rebuttal evidence. Finally, Carlson said the jury’s decision went against the “great weight of the evidence that was presented” and ordered a new trial if the two sides could not resolve their differences.

Pruitt Challenged on Fox News Sunday – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt faced tough questioning from Fox News Sunday Host Chris Wallace yesterday.  Pruitt on Sunday defended the administration’s positions on climate change and ending domestic energy policies.   Pruitt clarified his position, amid outcry from environmental activists, that humans indeed contribute to climate change.  He also argued that Congress provides the EPA with the authority to make rules and that former President Obama overstepped that authority with his 2015 Clean Power Plan, which is now subject to a Supreme Court stay.

Grid Paper Outlines Resource Risks – Mid-Atlantic Grid Operator PJM Released a new issue paper says that natgas and renewables are displacing coal and nuclear.  But changing the resource mix, it said, comes with drawbacks and risks.  Low-cost gas and renewables driving those other power-generating resources into premature “retirement” in the PJM area, which stretches from the mid-Atlantic and Midwest. The PJM paper analyzes what impact that will have on electricity reliability. With less coal and nukes, some frequency response falls, but flexibility and ramping increases, it says. A huge increase in natural gas (theoretically up to 86% of the portfolio) provided enough reliability; a significant increase in wind and solar comes with some risks, though. “Heavy reliance on one resource type, raises questions about electric system resilience, which are beyond the reliability questions this paper sought to address. Resilience is the capability of an energy system to tolerate disturbance and to continue to deliver energy services to consumers. Relying too heavily on any one fuel type may negatively impact resilience because resources do not provide generator reliability attributes equally. External drivers have impacted and could continue to impact the resource mix.”

Wall Street Journal Editorial Looks at Icahn IssuesThe Wall Street Journal had an editorial in the paper on Friday focused on Carl Icahn and the ethics questions on which some Democrats are pressing him regarding the ethanol program and its RIN trading credits.   The Journal Ed board said Icahn happens to believe that the RINs market is rigged to generate “windfall profits” for “Wall Street, Big Oil and large gas-station chains” at the expense of small and medium refiners like CVR, as he wrote in the Journal. The system is “full of manipulation, speculation and fraud.”  The Journal editors say that seems like a familiar line from the very Democrats challenging Icahn.  They close by saying “Democrats can’t blame Icahn for passing along their own opinions. Meanwhile, reform is overdue at the EPA.”

Global Renewable Energy Report Released – The International Renewable Energy Agency has a new report showing that solar energy capacity installed around the world last year has surpassed wind energy.  There statistics say total renewable energy capacity grew by 8% in 2016, with a record of 71 gigawatts of solar power leading the growth. Wind capacity stood at 51GW, while hydropower and bioenergy capacities increased 30 GW and 9 GW respectively.

Platts Capitol Crude Targets Trump Policy Questions – Platts Capitol Crude today is focused on the Trump energy policy issues. After 10 weeks in the White House, the Trump administration has moved to revoke efforts to combat climate change, approved key pipelines and taken steps to bolster production of US oil, natural gas and coal. Tracking the shift in energy policy has been a challenge, so on this week’s episode Senior oil editors Brian Scheid and Meghan Gordon break down Trump’s energy policy changes, identify which ones will have “bigly” impacts on energy markets and which ones look like losers.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Grid Forum Set for Chicago – The 2nd  Grid Modernization Forum will be held on today through Wednesday in Chicago, examines key lessons from top utilities including Eversource, Alliant Energy, Con Edison, National Grid, Ameren and many others. Key technology innovators and executives will come together to share perspectives on how best to leverage AMI investment, engage the customer, and take the smart grid to the next level. Case studies of improved network performance, resiliency, outage restoration, and distributed energy resource (DER) integration will be examined with an eye toward determining best practices and technology advances for today’s energy ecosystem.

Solar Foundation to Talk Solar Census – The Solar Foundation will hold a bipartisan briefing and Q&A session today at 2:00 p.m. on their updated data for the 2016 Solar Jobs Census. The National Solar Jobs Census is the first and most authoritative national benchmark for solar jobs research.  Briefing will include insight on the Solar Jobs Map, an interactive tool that visualizes how solar jobs are growing in your state, county, metro area or legislative district. The Solar Foundation’s President and Executive Director, Andrea Luecke, and Senior Director of Programs, Ed Gilliland will speak.

Senate Energy to Look at Cyber Threats – The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. to examine efforts to protect U.S. energy delivery systems from cybersecurity threats.  Witnesses will include DOE veteran Patricia Hoffman, Andrew Bochman of the Idaho National Laboratory, NERC CEO Gerry Cauley, NRECA expert and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation CEO Duane D. Highley, AGA CEO Dave McCurdy,  and Washington National Guard Commander Colonel Gent Welsh.

House Resources to Look at Hydro, Pumped Storage Legislation – The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will hold a legislative hearing tomorrow at 10:00 on hydro and pumped storage legislation.  You can see the legislation to be discussed here.

Forum to Look at Nuclear Energy – The Global America Business Institute (GABI) will hold the next event of its nuclear energy roundtable series tomorrow at Noon. Although the predominant use of nuclear energy worldwide is electricity generation, nuclear can be utilized for a broad range of applications, including but not limited to: district heating, water desalination, hydrogen production, and industrial heat. Given present trends and future uncertainties in global electricity markets, there has been growing interest in exploring non-electricity uses for nuclear. Development of advanced nuclear designs, many pushing the envelope on passive safety and temperature output, may further expand the horizon of possibilities.  The speaker will be Jeff Harper of X-energy.  Harper is Vice President for Strategy and Business Development at X-energy, where he directs long-term business plans specifically focused on customers, partners, and markets.

Press Club to Host AFL-CIO Head – Richard Trumka, Head of the AFL-CIO will speak at a National Press Club Luncheon tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Trumka will assess opportunities around trade and infrastructure that could create jobs, as well as possible threats to workers’ rights. He will also talk about the labor movement’s strategy to create a unifying agenda for workers and their families, as well as collective bargaining right for all workers to achieve better wages and working conditions.  Since 2009, Trumka has served as president of the 12.5 million-member American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest organization of labor unions in the country.

BPC Forum to Focus on Innovation – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a forum on the power of innovation.  With smart federal support for research, advanced energy technologies represent another potentially transformative moment for the American economy.  BPC’s American Energy Innovation Council will host leading experts to discuss how to make the most of this opportunity.  The forum will feature a conversation with Norm Augustine, the retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, who also served as the Undersecretary of the Army.  Our friend Mark Drajem of Bloomberg will also moderate a panel with NRECA CEO Jim Matheson, former MIT Washington Office Director William Bonvillian, Ames Laboratory Critical Materials Institute Director Alex King and GE Energy Financial Services investment expert Alta Yen.

WCEE to Host Energy Journalists Panel – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will host a panel of energy journalists from E&E News, S&P Global Platts and Politico on Wednesday to discuss the trends in the energy sector today and for the next four years. Some of the trends that will be discussed are NAFTA and oil and gas pipelines in North America, FERC enforcement and the changing political outlook for CFTC, the fate of the Clean Power Plan, rollback of regulatory efforts by the Trump Administration in the energy sector, future of renewables, and energy industry and Department of Interior’s public land use management debate.  Speakers will include E&E News Jenny Mandel, Platts’ Jasmin Melvin and Maya Weber and POLITICO’s Esther Whieldon.

GW to Host Timor-Leste Diplomat – On Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs will host Natercia Coelho, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Timor-Leste, the smallest country in East or Southeast Asia.  Timor-Leste is already subject to numerous extreme weather events every year, including cyclones and typhoons that result in intense flooding. Climate change is exacerbating these issues, with rising sea levels speeding up soil erosion, damaging crops, and leading to food shortages in a country which still ranks 120 out of 169 in the U.N.’s Human Development Index. This talk will cover the Timor-Leste’s Government Plan for Development and its legal framework for addressing climate change.

GU to Host Ambassadors Panel – On Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. Georgetown University hosts a conference on the intersectionality of Climate Change and Security. As a threat to national security, climate change acts as a threat multiplier, aggravating problems such as poverty, racial and social tensions, environmental degradation, and further destabilize states.  The conference will feature an Ambassadors panel, featuring the German Ambassador Peter Wittig, Danish Ambassador Lars Gert Lose, and Barbadian Ambassador Selwin Hart. The keynote speaker will be General James L. Jones, Obama’s National Security Advisor and former Supreme Commander of NATO Allied Forces. The discussion will be moderated by Kathleen Hicks, Senior VP at CSIS.

Calpine CEO to Headline Energy Conference – On Thursday, the NCAC and George Mason University will host its 21st Annual Washington Energy Policy Conference at GMU’s Founders Hall.  The conference will focus on conflicting forces in the energy space.  Former EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski will moderate the event and keynote speaker will be Calpine CEO Thad Hill.  Other speakers will include our friends Tom Pyle of IER, ClearView’s Christine Tezak, former Bush NSC official Bob McNally, FERC Energy Project s Director Terry Turpin and BNEF expert Steve Munro, among others.

SEIA Forum to Look at Women in Solar – On Thursday, SEIA’s Women’s Empowerment committee will hold a summit that focuses on educating, connecting, and providing thought leadership in the solar industry. Key industry leaders will cover topics including Women Leading Solar- Executives Spearheading the Industry (led by our friend Abby Hopper), Women Running for Office & Careers in Public Service; Diversity – The Bottom Line ; Making Solar a Story – Energy Journalists Shaping the Industry; Interactive Speed Networking and Regional Policy Update – What’s Happening in Capitol Hill.

GW to Host Planet Forward Summit – The George Washington University will holds its Planet Forward Summit at GW on Thursday and Friday that will focus on how we can communicate to inform, inspire, and act.  The summit will look at how we tell the story of our planet and how we communicate to inspire action.  Speakers will include SMPA Director Frank Sesno, my friend Andy Revkin and many more.

GW, APHA to Host Climate/Health Discussion – The GW Milken Institute School of Public Health and the American Public Health Association (APHA) will also host a panel Thursday at 10:00 a.m. discussing the intersection of climate change and public health.

ECOS to Hold Spring Meeting – The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) will hold their spring meeting at The Mayflower Hotel on Thursday to Saturday. ECOS meeting will focus on budget questions and its impact on state environmental agencies and their leaders. ECOS is the national non-profit, non-partisan association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders.

World Energy Council Head to Discuss Issues Monitor – The World Energy Council’s Secretary General, Dr. Christoph Frei, will reveal the results of the 2017 World Energy Issues Monitor at a briefing at the U.S. Energy Association in Washington Thursday at 10:00 a.m. The report assesses the degree of impact and uncertainty around more than 40 key issues in the energy sector in four categories including macroeconomic risks, geopolitics and regional issues, business environment and energy innovation and technologies.  Frei will also discuss the findings of the World Energy Trilemma Index, which will reveal how the U.S. ranks among 125 countries on energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability. Last year, the U.S. ranked among the top 10 in energy security.

Climate Assessment Authors to Discuss Next Report – On Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at Chemonics, scientists will come together to discuss the International Chapter of the 4th National Climate Assessment.  The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that, every four years, the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) “prepare and submit to the President and Congress” an assessment that summarizes the effects from global change on the U.S. The fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) is due in 2018. For the first time, the NCA will include a chapter on climate impacts on U.S. international interests. This international chapter will look at climate impacts on U.S. interests abroad including trade, security, development and humanitarian assistance investments, and scientific research.  The authors will share plans and invite input on the content of the chapter.

GU, UN Association to Hold Green Finance Forum – On Saturday, United Nations Association and Georgetown Law will hold a brunch and round tables discussing the challenges regarding the integration of renewable energy and the implementation of carbon pricing.

 

IN THE FUTURE

Electric Power Conference Set for Chicago – The 19th annual Electric Power Conference will be held In Chicago on April 10-13th at McCormick Place.  Sponsored by POWER magazine, the event provides a platform for power generation professionals to meet, network, and address the critical issues facing the power industry.

Atlantic Council Report to Look at Oil Theft – The Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center will hold a forum next Monday at 12:30 p.m. for a discussion about how hydrocarbons crime impacts global security, the market, the environment, and communities around the world, and how stakeholders can work together to address this under-recognized issue.  The will also release a report, Downstream Oil Theft: Global Modalities, Trends, and Remedies, by Dr. Ian M. Ralby, is the first major study of refined oil theft around the globe. Launched at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi in January, this report explores the many ways that hydrocarbons crime presents a threat not only to local and regional prosperity, but also to global stability and security. Following up on this study, Dr. Ralby has written an additional report outlining the steps that need to be taken to effectively address this issue.

EESI Forum to Look at Foreign Aid, Climate Help – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) holds a briefing next Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. in 485 Russell discussing benefits to the United States from deploying foreign aid to vulnerable regions to help them become more resilient to climate change impacts. The briefing will also explore the inner workings of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a multi-lateral effort to mobilize $100 billion in public and private financing for adaptation and mitigation projects in developing nations.

Wilson Event to Look China Energy Finance – The Wilson Center will host a forum on Thursday April 13th at 9:30 a.m. to look at China Energy Finance investments.  Since 2000, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China have emerged as major global funders of energy infrastructure providing upwards of $160 billion in energy finance to governments across the world. To better understand the size and types of this energy investment, Kevin Gallagher and his research team at Boston University have launched a new interactive China’s Global Energy Finance database that tracks international energy investments by Chinese banks.  The database has revealed that nearly 80% of Chinese bank investment goes into power plant construction -two-thirds of which were coal plants. Besides presenting insights from the database, Dr. Gallagher will discuss how Chinese energy finance compares to other global energy financiers. Dr. Wang Yan (Peking University) will put this energy financing in a larger context by explaining the non-concessional finance approach China’s global banks are taking to promote industrial and infrastructure development around the world. Paulina Garzon will provide examples of positive and negative impacts that Chinese energy investments are having on communities in Latin America.

Forum to Look at New Fuel Economy Approaches – The R Street Institute will host a panel discussion of these recent developments in fuel economy regulations, the existing triune approach to it and what alternatives the future might hold on Friday April 14th at 12:30 p.m.  Speakers will include CEI’s Marlo Lewis, AAM’s Chris Nevers, Rod Richardson of the Grace Richardson Fund, Wayne Winegarden of the Pacific Research Institute and R Street’s Ian Adams.

Energy Storage Conference Set for Denver – The 27th Energy Storage Association annual conference and expo will be held on April 18-20 in Denver, Colorado.  Keynote speakers and expert panelists on the program include Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, RES CEO Ivor Catto, former CO Gov Bill Ritter and NextEra Energy exec Michael O’Sullivan.

Bloomberg New Energy Summit Set – The annual Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit will be held on April 24th and 25th in New York. The Future of Energy Summit is the premier invitation-only forum at the nexus of energy markets, industry, finance, and policy. It is a year-round, global experience powered by Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s cutting edge research team, as it explores the shifting forces in the energy system and defines the implications for the energy community.

Water Power Conference Set for May – Waterpower week in Washington will be May 1st through 3rd, providing three great conferences into one when IMREC, METS and NHA’s Annual Conference are held at the Capital Hilton.  The event will discuss policy changes in the hydro and marine industry in an all-in-one event. The event highlights perspectives on the role of hydro, explores issues affecting hydro and marine resources, and helps participants develop a future game plan to meet challenges and ensure the future sustainability of the hydro and marine industry.

New Year’s Energy Update

Friends,

Welcome to 2017!!!!  I hope you were able to enjoy a few days over the holidays to relax.  We sure saw some great football (topped by the Rose Bowl) and hockey (the Outdoor Centennial Classic in Toronto) games.

While 2016 was a bizarre political year, 2017 looks to be a brave new world, so let me lip-synch my way through a few bars to remind you that we will be on top of it all for you.  To that end, as usual, I am forwarding a few of the top issues we expect to see in the energy and environment arena for 2017.

The 115th Congress launched today with quite a stir. While new members were being sworn in and Speaker Ryan was being elected, the House was backtracking on the outside ethics committee change after pressure from the Presidential Twittersphere.  Anyway, while a dumb way to start, it did create some fun just 17 days before the Inauguration.   Sounds Like they will be busy right away though passing Midnight Rules Relief Act, which allows the use of the Congressional Review Act to overturn regulations finalized in the waning days of an administration and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act that requires explicit congressional approval for major executive branch regulations. (H/T POLITICO ME) Good luck getting passed the Senate though.

While a short week, there are a few great events set for the week.  Tomorrow, our friends at API hold its annual State of the Energy Industry event featuring CEO Jack Gerard at the Reagan Trade Center at 12:30 p.m.   Also this week, the Consumer Electronics Show starts in Las Vegas.  On Thursday, SAFE will release its autonomous vehicle report recommendations.  Due to the unique challenges of regulating the rapidly evolving AV industry, the report outlines clear and actionable best-practices for industry designed to increase collaboration between developers and regulators and ultimately improve public trust in AV technology.  You may also expect to hear more about this topic at next week’s launch of the world-renowned Detroit Auto Show.  Also Thursday morning at JHU, EIA’s Adam Sieminski will present the findings of EIA’s “Annual Energy Outlook 2017” with projections of U.S. energy supply, demand, and prices.

Finally, congrats to our friend Sean Spicer, taking over the WH flak Jacket.  Also, check out the recent opinion piece on EPA nominee Scott Pruitt from former White House Counsel C Boyden Gray, who helped author the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the last time it was updated.  As usual, call with questions…and on to the Top 10!!!

 

Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932

 

TEN ISSUES FOR 2017

  1. Roll Back Vs Reform – We have already heard the enviro community talking rollbacks, but there is a serious question about what a roll back is and what is a much-needed, long-overdue reform.  This battle will be one of the key fights for the year, especially with the big tickets items headlining the list.  While the Clean Power Plan, WOTUS rule and other oil & gas rules will attract most of the attention, smaller rules like last week’s DOE EE rules and other low-profile, but costly rules will likely be on the hit list.  In the end, the fight will be less about the real policy substance and much more about messaging.
  2. Infrastructure = Projects = Pipelines = Jobs – We all know the role jobs played in the political campaign, which moves this to the very top of the new Administration’s agenda.  And don’t think the infrastructure bug will just hit projects that weren’t favored by the Obama team.  In fact, a rising tide lifts all boats so I expect clean energy projects will also see numerous opportunities.  But the most obvious translation to the energy issue is through infrastructure.  The last-minute, parting gifts handed to the environmental community over pipelines projects will likely fall away, but going forward, transmission lines, pipeline infrastructure, project development and road/mobility development will all be front and center priorities.
  3. Not So Much Confirmation, But Lots of Agency Reform – While Democrats are girding for battle on Trump Cabinet appointees, they are unlikely to stop any – especially the energy and environment picks – without an epic fail by a nominee at their confirmation hearing.  What is more significant is what they will do when they land at the agencies.  DOE’s Rick Perry, Interior’s Ryan Zinke and EPA’s Scott Pruitt will have significant structural reform on their plate and the question remains as to how that will go.  Pruitt will likely face the most significant plate of big issues from the RFS to the Clean Power Plan to the waters rule.   Perry and Zinke will face more lower-level structural reforms to their agencies.  Between the confirmation battles and the new approach for the agencies, look for this fights to take up a large part of year one.
  4. We’ll Always Have Paris, REPRISED – Last year, this was our first issue, and it re-emerges as major issue again, but this time for a different reason.  It is one of the most interesting questions of 2017 because of the new Administration’s unclear position.  While enviros say that we must continue pushing the Paris agreement to maintain environmental progress and our credibility in the international community, opponents of the Paris agreement are largely split on it going forward.  That disagreement centers on the fact that Paris doesn’t actually REQUIRE the U.S. to do anything.  Some want to send a message by pulling out, but that may be more trouble than it’s worth.  As with all issues now, it is becoming more of a message fight than an issue of substance and should reach a head in late 2017 at COP 23 in Bonn.
  5. Big or Small Ball on the RFS – The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is always a policy fight magnet.  Don’t expect 2017 to be any different starting tomorrow when API does its “State of American Energy” event.  While the major fight over larger overall reform of the program has never been more live, there are smaller battles that played a major role last year that will likely resurface, especially with Carl Icahn leading the Administration’s Reg Reform effort.  Either way, the fight over this program continues both in the policy and political arena.
  6. Looking at the Power of Rural America – Rural America played a major role in electing Donald Trump, and while always powerful on Capitol Hill, look for the rural economic agenda to play a more prominent role in many policy fights.  Clean energy will also be an important piece of this effort as many rural communities see energy projects, efficiency programs and fuels policy as a form of rural economic development.  From Rural electricity to broadband to credit union policy changes, rural economic development will likely be closer to the front burner, especially since rural voters stepped up, know they are powerful and will want to be heard.
  7. Offshore Winds Finally Blowing? – As the nation’s first offshore wind farm finally opened off the coast of Rhode Island, it seems that the long freeze for offshore wind in the US is finally thawing.  The Deepwater Wind success was quickly following up by a major announcement by the Interior Department naming Statoil as the provisional winner of the U.S. government’s wind lease sale of 79,350 acres offshore New York. Statoil will now have the opportunity to explore the potential development of an offshore wind farm to provide New York City and Long Island with a significant, long-term source of renewable electricity.  Statoil submitted a winning bid of just under $42.5 billion.  While the anxious wait seems to be over, watch for key policy questions and potential roadblocks from a new Administration that hasn’t exactly been a supporter of offshore wind.
  8. Clean Energy Staying Strong But Smarter – Speaking of clean energy, as I mentioned a rising tide lifts all boats so we expect clean energy projects to also see numerous opportunities, especially if the expected infrastructure build-out takes hold.  But, expect the projects efforts to be less random.  Projects that improve reliability, create jobs, are economically feasible and promote environmental goals will likely be able to garner bipartisan support and move forward.  Projects that are a stretch and are reliant only on favorable tax policy or a constrained GHG mandate may struggle to get off the ground.  As well for 2017, new CCS projects will finally make it to commercial operation, another positive step forward.
  9. Innovation Agenda Essential for Technology, Climate Future – For the past century, the US has lead on virtually every energy technology, from solar panels to clean coal.  Common sense reforms that enable and inspire American ingenuity are essential to creating an energy future that will reduce emissions and advance the next generation of technologies that will continue to change the way we use energy.  Private-public partnership can also add new value. Exciting efforts like Southern Company’s Energy Innovation Center, which looks for better, more reliable and more efficient ways to increase value, can play an important role in the overall effort.  Southern is also a prime example of innovation leadership promoting several bold technologies like carbon capture, large-scale biomass, improved gas infrastructure, new wind and solar and new generation nuclear. We also saw technology innovation’s emergence on the global scene in the Breakthrough Coalition led by Bill Gates and the govt-to-govt “Mission Innovation” initiative, which were borne out of international discussions in Paris last December.  Only a bold private-public innovation/technology partnership process like this by world and business leaders can achieve success.
  10. New Nuclear is Hear and Now – Nuclear energy is an essential and reliable part of any modern electricity grid. It keeps the lights on regardless of the weather – and does so with zero air pollution. The current construction of new reactors at Plant Vogtle which will run through its final stages before operation starts in 2018, hopes to create a new age of nuclear energy. Vogtle is part of the next generation of reactors that are significantly upgraded from those built in the 1970s. And many companies are innovating further on advanced reactors that will be far more versatile than today’s technology.  In addition, new leadership at NEI will likely also make nuclear issue and more interesting read in 2017.   Georgia Power has an ongoing photo timeline of progress/activity at Plant Vogtle that you can see here.

 

FRANKLY SPOKEN

“When Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is confirmed as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, he will inherit an agency that should be declaring victory in its 46-year battle for a cleaner, healthier environment. The next administrator must focus on reining in an agency that has far exceeded its original mission. Fortunately, Pruitt understands the EPA’s proper role and is the right man for the job.”

 2007. Boyden Gray served as White House Counsel during the George H.W. Bush administration and as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union from 2006-2007. He was one of the architects of the 1990 Clean Air Act.

 

IN THE NEWS

DOE Finalizes Energy Efficiency Rules – DOE issued five new rules on December 29th that cover an eclectic mix of products, including the first national standards for uninterruptible power supplies, portable air conditioners and swimming pool pumps, which are based on a consensus agreement. For pool pumps, California has led the way with pool pump motor standards and Arizona, Connecticut, and Washington have followed. California and Oregon have previously set standards for uninterruptible power supplies as part of their battery charger standards.  For walk-in coolers and commercial boilers, DOE’s latest actions would update existing national standards, originally signed into law by George W. Bush and his father, respectively. Manufacturers and installers of walk-in coolers negotiated the walk-in cooler levels with DOE and other stakeholders after a lawsuit invalidated some earlier standards.

Interesting Twist to Rules – Under the terms of an agreement developed as part of the settlement AHRI reached with DOE in its 2014 lawsuit concerning the original rule for walk-in coolers and freezers, there is a 45-day waiting period before the rules can be published in the Federal Register.  This means that they will not be issued in final form during the Obama Administration and are, therefore, subject to review by the incoming Trump Administration.  AHRI President Steve Yurek said the walk-in coolers and freezers rule was negotiated with AHRI member input and AHRI approved the negotiated provisions of the rule. Yurek added the commercial boiler rule was not developed through negotiations, but through the notice-and-comment process under which AHRI provided comments.  AHRI continues to have significant issues with this rule, including our opposition to the proposed minimum efficiency levels for both oil and gas boilers which we feel overestimate the energy use of commercial packaged boilers, underestimates their installation costs, and overestimates the future shipments of commercial packaged boilers while underestimating the level of higher efficiency commercial packaged boilers that are currently in the marketplace. Yurek: “We continue to have concerns that the efficiency levels for these products has been set at a level that the margin of safety to properly vent the products of combustion has been significantly reduced.  We look forward to working with the Trump Administration as it reviews recent DOE rulemakings prior to their being finalized.”

Analysts Report: Shale Drillers Expected to Recover – Shale drillers are set to ramp up spending on exploration and production next year as recovering oil prices prompt banks to extend credit lines for the first time in two years.  The credit increase is small, but with major oil producers worldwide aiming to hold down production in 2017, U.S.-based shale drillers are looking to boost market share to take advantage of higher prices, and greater availability of capital will make that easier.  Analysts at Raymond James North America-focused oil and gas producers are expected to increase capital investments by 30% next year.

Southern Moving on Larger Wind Strategy – As part of the company’s renewable development strategy, Southern Company recently rolled out a joint development agreement with Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES) to develop and construct approximately 3,000 megawatts (MW) across 10 projects with commercial operation dates between 2018 and 2020. Additionally, Southern Power has signed agreements to purchase wind turbine equipment from both Siemens and Vestas for use at the facilities.   Already, Southern owns more than 2,700 MW of renewable generation across 33 solar, wind and biomass facilities either announced, acquired or under construction. In total, the Southern Company system has added or announced more than 4,000 MW of renewable generation since 2012.

Statoil Wins NY Offshore Wind Auction – Statoil has been declared the provisional winner of the U.S. government’s wind lease sale of 79,350 acres offshore New York. Statoil will now have the opportunity to explore the potential development of an offshore wind farm to provide New York City and Long Island with a significant, long-term source of renewable electricity.  Statoil submitted a winning bid of $42,469,725 during the online offshore wind auction concluded today by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).  The lease comprises an area that could potentially accommodate more than 1 GW of offshore wind, with a phased development expected to start with 400-600 MW. The New York Wind Energy Area is located 14-30 miles (30-60 km) offshore, spans 79,350 acres (321 km2), and covers water depths between 65 and 131 feet (20-40 meters).  Statoil will next conduct studies to better understand the seabed conditions, the grid connection options and wind resources involved in the lease site.

MI Wind Farm Begins Operations – DTE Energy has started commercial operations at its 50MW Pinnebog wind farm in Michigan. The 30-turbine facility, which is in Huron County, started construction in early 2016. The wind farm is an expansion of the existing Echo wind park and employed more than 150 people during construction.  DTE now has 30 full-time employees working at its Huron county renewable energy center in Bad Axe. In 2015, more than 10 percent of the energy provided by DTE was generated from a renewable source in Michigan.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

API’s Gerard to Hold Annual State of American Energy – API President and CEO Jack Gerard will deliver a major address tomorrow at the Reagan Trade building Atrium tomorrow at Noon to outline priorities for America’s oil and natural gas industry with New Congress and Administration.  The United States is leading the world in the production of oil and natural gas while also leading the world in reducing carbon emissions. This game-changing milestone coincides with the start of a new administration and Congress. Voters from all parties want our nation’s leaders to address economic growth and accelerate job creation while developing an energy future that benefits all Americans.   Gerard will deliver his annual address followed by a news conference for credentialed members of the media.

EIA Presents Updated Long-Term Energy Projections – The Johns Hopkins University SAIS Energy and Environment program will host EIA’s Adam Sieminski on Thursday at 10:00 a.m.  Sieminski will present the findings of EIA’s “Annual Energy Outlook 2017” with projections of U.S. energy supply, demand, and prices including cases that address alternative assumptions regarding U.S. economic growth rates, domestic energy resources and technology, world oil prices, and the Clean Power Plan.

SAFE to Roll Out AV Policies at CES Las Vegas – Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) will roll out its autonomous vehicle report recommendations on Thursday in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronic Show.  Due to the unique challenges of regulating the rapidly evolving autonomous vehicle (AV) industry, the report outlines clear and actionable best-practices for industry designed to increase collaboration between developers and regulators and ultimately improve public trust in AV technology.  The event will be at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Room S227A and will explore the details of these recommendations and strategies for implementation. Members of the Commission and SAFE staff will be available to answer questions about the Commission’s work and its implications for American energy security, including former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Mark Rosenker, former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Paul Brubaker of the Alliance for Transportation Innovation, former GM exec Robert Lange and Cuneyt Oge, President of SAE International.

 

IN THE FUTURE

Detroit Auto Show Rolls Out – The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) will roll out from January 8th to 22nd at Detroit’s Cobo Hall.  Official press conferences begin with Disney Pixar on Sunday  January 8th as the 2017 NAIAS Press Preview will host a series of events until Tuesday January 10.  With over 300 exhibitors all under one roof, ranging from global automakers to suppliers to tech startups, NAIAS will truly be the mobility epicenter and will showcase the full automotive ecosystem. NAIAS expects to have over 5,000 credentialed journalists from 60+ different countries attend Press Preview, keeping NAIAS strongly in the lead among domestic shows in terms of global media coverage.

Transportation Research Board Hosts 96th Annual Meeting – Next Sunday, January 8th through Thursday, January 12th, the Transportation Research Board hosts its 96th annual meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in DC.  The information-packed program is expected to attract more than 12,000 transportation professionals from around the world.  The TRB Annual Meeting program covers all transportation modes, with more than 5,000 presentations in nearly 750 sessions and workshops addressing topics of interest to all attendees—policy makers, administrators, practitioners, researchers, and representatives of government, industry, and academic institutions.

Report Looks at Energy Storage Opportunities for Emerging Markets – Next Monday morning at the IFC Headquarters, IFC and ESMAP will present a new report on Energy Storage.  Energy storage is a crucial tool for enabling the effective integration of renewable energy and unlocking the benefits of solar and wind power for emerging markets.  The report outlines the principal uses, drivers, and challenges regarding the commercialization of energy storage technologies in low- and middle-income countries, providing a forecast of expected deployments by region and impacts on energy access, grid stability, and other key areas. Technical review was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Investment Center.  The presentation will feature the report’s findings, followed by insights on trends in energy storage technology and the financing landscape for this sector.

Forum to Look at Economics of Germany’s Energy Transition, Transatlantic Relations – Next Monday at noon in Fairfax, the Greater Washington Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission will host a discussion and luncheon with Dr. Claudia Kemfert, Professor of Energy Economics and Sustainability at Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance.  The event will focus on the economics of the German Energy/Electricity transition.
Stanford to Host Clean Energy Forum – On Tuesday January 10th at noon at the National Press Club, Stanford University’s leading energy and environmental research institutes, the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, will convene a panel session  that will highlight clean energy innovation as a crucial component of efforts to combat climate change and ask how the United States can lead global efforts to develop and deploy advanced energy technologies.  The panel will include Stanford’s Sally Benson, John Dabiri and Michael McGehee.
WRI to Detail Stories to Watch for 2017 – Next Wednesday, January 11th at 9:00 a.m., the World Resources Institute hosts its Stories to Watch for 2017 forum.  Stories to Watch is an annual go-to event for DC’s top policymakers, business executives, thought leaders, and media who want to get ahead on the coming year.  As we enter what looks like a dynamic, unpredictable year, WRI President & CEO Andrew Steer, will share insights on global trends and emerging issues related to climate, energy, economic development and sustainability. He will help to unpack the connections between rising populism and nationalism, and what this means for people and the planet.

Donohue to Discuss State of Business – U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue will host his annual “State of American Business” address as well as the Chamber’s 2017 Open House on January 11th.  Donohue outline the top challenges and new opportunities facing the American business community and introduce the Chamber’s 2017 policy agenda.

Forum to Look at Better R&D Methods – The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and Brookings will hold a forum on Wednesday January 11th at 10:00 a.m. to discuss how the incoming administration and Congress can bolster technology transfer and commercialization policies to ensure that federal R&D investments yield stronger commercial results. ITIF and the Brookings Institution have recently proposed 50 innovative policy ideas to more quickly and effectively get technologies out of the laboratory and into the private sector.

Forum to Look at Korea/Japan/US Nuclear Cooperation – On Wednesday, January 11th at 10:45 a.m. in 902 Hart SOB, the Global America Business Institute (GABI) will hold a forum on the prospects for nuclear energy following the recent U.S. presidential elections and the opportunities for trilateral civil nuclear cooperation among the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the United States.  Speakers will include Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy John Kotek and a panel of experts.

World Bank Forum to Look at Mobility – The World Bank and the EMBARQ mobility initiative of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities will host Transforming Transportation 2017 on Thursday, January 12th and Friday, January 13th.  Physical and virtual connectivity is a critical factor of today’s competitiveness and economic growth. By facilitating the movement of people, goods and information, the World Bank’s Transport and ICT Global Practice enable economic and social development, and increase access to jobs, health, and education services. Transport is also at the heart of the climate change solution, as one of the largest energy users and emitters of greenhouse gases.

GCs to Discuss Key Issues – On Thursday, January 12th at 11:30 a.m., the Energy Committee of the D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section and the Environmental Law Institute will host a forum moderated by Assistant Attorney General John Cruden.  Cruden will lead a discussion with the General Counsel of various federal agencies to discuss the future issues likely to arise for the new Administration.  Other speakers will include EPA’s Avi Garbow, USDA’s Jeffrey Prieto and several others.

Forum to Look at Climate Adaptation – The US AID’s Atlas Project will host a forum on Thursday, January 12th at 4:00 p.m. discussing the role of decentralized governance for climate adaptation. Dr. Tim Finan and Dr. Mamadou Baro of the University of Arizona share the results of a research case study from rural Mali, where a system of decentralized governance was introduced almost three decades ago. The study draws upon evidence from villages, communes, and regions of south-central Mali to examine the effectiveness of local governance institutions in building community-level resilience to climate change stresses. This research was conducted for USAID’s ATLAS project.

Smart Cities Conference Set – The Smart Cities International Symposium, will be held on January 24-25 in Chicago.  The conference examines the latest technology advances and business models for the 21st Century connected city.

INAUGURATION DAY – January 20

POLITICO Sets Inauguration Hub – On January 20, POLITICO will transform the top floor of The W Hotel into its 2017 Inauguration Hub. With prime views of the Inauguration Parade route from our all-day networking lounge, the Inauguration Hub will be the premier destination for DC influencers to experience this historic moment. Live programming will include a full day of newsmaker interviews and discussions offering first-hand insights from new players in politics and policy, and an in-depth look at the changes ahead in the new Washington.   Full schedule of programming and speakers to be announced. Check out www.politico.com/inaugurationHub for updates.

AEI to Host Carbon Tax Discussion – AEI will host a panel discussion on carbon taxes on January 26th looking at whether the standard “efficiency” arguments offered by some conservatives in favor of a carbon tax make any sense at all given the various incentives of Congress and the bureaucracy.  More on this as we get closer.

Washington Auto Show Set – The Washington Auto Show will be held on January 27th to February 7th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  As the “Public Policy Show” on the auto show circuit, the 10-day public show is preceded by two Public Policy Preview Days of special events and announcements for officials in government, industry and the media on January 24th and 25th.  The events of the 25th will be on Capitol Hill in the Kennedy Caucus Room. Speakers will include Michigan Senator Gary Peters and Rep Debbie Dingell, Our friend Joe White of Reuters and GMU’s Adam Thierer and the Chamber’s Matt Duggan. The Washington Auto Show is also the largest public show in Washington, D.C. Over the course of its many years this beloved and historic D.C. tradition has attracted Washingtonians of all stripes – and political affiliations. Along with the engineering prowess on display among the more than 600 new models from over 35 manufacturers, the 2017 show will feature VIP tours led by award-winning automotive writers and a special exhibit area for live painting of “art” cars.

Energy Update: Week of February 1

Friends,

Welcome back to a very busy week.  While it happened after we closed the update last week, I wanted to remind folks of the loss of the great character-actor Abe Vigoda, mostly known for his role of Tessio in the first two (and only real) Godfather movies.  While Tom couldn’t get him “off the hook for old-time sake,” we always knew it was about business.  Sal Tessio and Mo Green (who died just last year as well) together again at last.

I hope you had a chance to watch yesterday’s NHL All Star Game.  The new format was very interesting and exciting despite the fact that there was only one goal in the final 3-on-3 game. It was great to see some very talented players in that wide open format.  But who could not feel good about the entire John Scott story including his getting the game MVP.  Love the Michigan Tech boy made good.

This weekend launches Superbowl L (50) as well as New Orleans famed Mardi Gras. On Sunday, a number of parades including the Bacchus parade will launch the annual celebration getting up to next Tuesday’s big day.  Also, all week, Waste Management is at the PGA’s WM Phoenix Open with its sustainability forum and live action with the PGA Tour’s most fun/exciting golf hole, starting Thursday and including our friend/former White Press Sect Dana Perino.

While most are focusing on the Iowa caucuses today and tomorrow, in Congress the Senate continues its push for an energy bill.  Last week they started with the non-controversial items.  While they remain busy this week, expect tougher votes on more controversial items.  We are tracking the action so don’t hesitate to call with questions.

The House returns to action by focusing on the recent Paris climate agreement and the Flint water crisis.  House Science will have a tough look tomorrow at the results of Paris featuring Steve Eule, of the US Chamber’s Energy Institute, who last week released a blog post analyzing whether the Administration can actually meet its Paris Targets.  Wednesday House Oversight has former Flint City Manager and MI DEQ officials.

There are lots of issues swirling around the clean power plan including last week’s stay decision and many other issues.  Today my colleague Jeff Holmstead, takes up the topic with E&E TVs Monica Trauzzi.  It is an excellent update on where things stand so I hope you will take a look.

Finally today, the Gulf Economic Survival Team will launch and important new study focused on Interior’s imminent well control rule the study shows the significant impact the rule could have on an already struggling Gulf oil and gas industry.  I am including a link here to the study as well as short summary below.  We will also follow up with you on this study individually but should you have questions, please call.  We have a number of sources that can discuss the impact and the issue for you.

While I don’t particularly care who wins Sunday’s Super Bowl, I am rooting for Denver because one of my college fraternity brothers is an executive with the Broncos.  But it would also be nice to see a preseason surprise team like Carolina win as well.  Most importantly, remember to get your Super Bowl pool squares and hope for good numbers.

Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932

 

IN THE NEWS

Study: Extreme Cost of Well Rule Risks Gulf Energy Production, Intensifies Economic PainInitial findings from a study conducted by international research consultancy Wood Mackenzie confirm that the high cost of a proposed new rule governing oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico could significantly reduce domestic energy production and curtail U.S. economic activity, energy supplies, and state and federal offshore revenues.  The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) in April 2015 proposed the sweeping Well Control Rule, a set of complex and highly technical regulations that impose expansive new requirements on offshore oil and gas drilling.  The new requirements included in the proposed rule call for far reaching changes to the rules by which the oil and gas operators are governed and would increase costs in a manner that will severely impact Gulf Coast economies.  According to initial findings released today, the study found that under an $80 oil assumption, comparable to the price assumptions used by BSEE in developing the rule, the Interior Department’s draft rule would:

  • Decrease exploration drilling by up to 55% or 10 wells annually
  • Reduce Gulf of Mexico production by as much as 35% by year 2030
  • Result in 105,000 – 190,000 jobs at risk by 2030; this may include jobs beyond the energy sector;
  • Most notably, 80% of these jobs could be in Louisiana and Texas.

Local Impacts, Industry Already HurtingChett Chiasson, Executive Director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission said the rule would hurt an already struggling industry.  “Our port, our tenants and our local community will not be able to sustain the economic impacts of this new rule.  Our region is already grappling with the local impacts of low crude oil prices.  With the proposed rule in place, we would be looking at massive unemployment, more local businesses closing, and significant drops in tax revenue that would hurt our region for many years to come.”    Lori LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Gulf Economic Survival Team (GEST) urged the President to direct the Interior Department to address the rule’s far-reaching economic impact and the serious concerns of our local communities before sanctioning this new federal regulation.  As many as 190,000 American jobs and our nation’s energy security are at stake.”

AGs Letter Questions EPA on Carbon Trading Option – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey helped lead officials from 18 states in challenging a proposal to force cap-and-trade upon states that do not comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Power Plan.  Participating states contend the EPA’s federal implementation plan, as set forth in relation to the Power Plan, upends state authority, increases electricity prices and violates numerous aspects of federal law.  The AGs objected to the implementation plan this month with a public comment letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. It stressed the states’ opposition to the underlying Power Plan, while questioning EPA’s authority and the plan’s ability to impact climate change.

ND Joins SCOTUS GHG Stay Battle – Speaking of AGs, North Dakota in 29 other states and industry groups urging the Supreme Court to halt implementation of new federal standards to reduce carbon emissions while the plan is being challenged.  North Dakota AG Wayne Stenehjem said if the GHG rules are not stayed, the state, will suffer “irreparable harm” because it has received more than $360 million in taxes during the last decade from its coal industry.

Groups: Support Better Energy Efficiency Program for Fed Buildings – While the Senate Energy debate rolls on, 25 companies and organizations urged Senators to support provisions in Secs. 1015, 1016, and 1017 of the energy bill. The sections would not only repeal a requirement regarding the reduction and eventual elimination of fossil fuel generated energy consumption in new and renovated federal buildings, but strengthen broader energy efficiency targets and other direction to federal agencies.  A part of Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was intended to reduce fossil fuel-generated energy use in new and renovated federal buildings, with a 100 percent reduction required by the year 2030. Signers worry if could discourage comprehensive energy efficiency renovations, stifle innovations and result in increased energy costs for the federal government.  The provisions included in S. 2012 would not only repeal this requirement, but strengthen several existing federal energy management provisions to ensure large energy savings in the coming years. As the letter states, “The provisions in Secs. 1015, 1016, and 1017 would save taxpayers money by enhancing the energy efficiency of federal buildings.” Among the signers was AHRI member Trane, NRECA, the American Gas Assn and the Combined Heat and Power Assn, among others.

AWEA: Wind Power Posts Second Strongest Quarter Ever – The American Wind Energy Association ( AWEA) said that the wind industry installed 5,001 megawatts (MW) during the fourth quarter of 2015, more installations than in all of 2014, according to new data. Overall in 2015, the American wind industry installed 8,598 MW, the third largest amount ever installed in a year and a 77% increase over 2014.  AWEA highlighted the industry’s sustained growth in releasing its U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Report. The strong market activity is expected to continue, with a bipartisan vote by Congress late last year for a multi-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), supplying the industry with much-needed policy certainty. As 2016 began, an additional 9,400 MW were under construction.

Senate Energy Spokesman Move  to PR – Robert Dillon has joined Strategies 360’s Washington, D.C. team as senior vice president. An expert on energy policy and politics, Dillon most recently served as senior advisor to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and as the communications director of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.   “Dillon has served the committee for more than seven years and has been a trusted advisor throughout my time leading the committee,” Sen. Murkowski said. “He has a great depth of knowledge on the issues within the committee’s jurisdiction and broad expertise on energy, environmental and resources policy. Dillon’s departure is a big loss for our team, but we thank him for everything he has done here and wish him the best moving forward. He has served Alaska well and we know he will continue to serve our state in his new role.”  At S360, Dillon will focus on strengthening and expanding the firm’s current government relations, strategic message development, crisis management, media relations, and speech and editorial writing practices. He will be working on energy issues, as well as a broad range of other policy areas.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Greenest Show on Grass: Waste Management Phoenix Open – Today through Sunday  Waste Management will host its annual PGA tour event at the Phoenix Open in Arizona.  Waste Management has been a partner of the Phoenix Open for 15 years, and is dedicated to making the Open the greenest tournament on the PGA TOUR. The tournament has also become a major platform for Waste Management Think Green solutions, including the Four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.  As a regular part of the event, WM is hosting its 6th annual Executive Sustainability Forum which provides a platform to discuss how and why the circular economy is fractured.  The event will identify collective challenges, and approaches to overcoming these challenges through collaboration along the value chain.  Speakers will include WM CEO David Steiner, our friend Dana Perino, NYT’s John Tierney  and Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter, among many others.

SAB Continues Review on Water/NatGas Issues – Today and tomorrow, the EPA’s Science Advisory Panel holds teleconference meetings to discuss the peer review of the agency’s draft report on hydraulic fracturing’s impact on drinking water resources.

Chicago Forum to Look at Paris Climate Agreement – The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and the Chicago Council tonight are hosting an exclusive panel discussion on the Paris climate agreement, with Ed Crooks of the Financial Times, White House National Security Council advisor Paul Bodnar, Marathon Capital CEO Ted Brandt, and others.  The event will be at the Union League Club of Chicago at 6:00 p.m.

Panel to Look at Geoengineering – Today at 12:15 p.m., Future Tense New America will hold a book lunch on Geoengineering and how it could change the world.  Geoengineering is the deliberate hacking of Earth’s climate and might be one of the most promising potential responses to climate change, especially in the absence of significant carbon emission reductions. It’s also one of the most controversial.  In his new book, “The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World,” Oliver Morton argues that the risks of climate change merit serious action. According to Morton, geoengineering is not a simple or singular solution to the problem, but it is worth exploring, even if it’s never actually deployed.

Forum to Look at Black Sea Energy – The Atlantic Council will release a report and Hold a panel discussion today at 2:30 p.m. on developing energy in the Black Sea Region.  The report Developing a Western Energy Strategy for the Black Sea Region and Beyond, Atlantic Council’s Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and Global Energy Center, Dr. Ariel Cohen argues that the Black Sea region is key to Europe’s energy security and the West’s strategic positions. The panel of diplomats and experts will discuss the challenges the Black Sea region faces, and explore regional, European and US strategies to strengthen energy security.  Diplomats Amb. Elin Suleymanov of the Embassy of Azerbaijan and Tugay Tuncer of the Embassy of Turkey will speak.

House Science To Tackle Paris Agreement – The House Science Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow focusing on Paris Climate Agreement and whether it is a good or bad deal for America.  Witnesses will include Steve Eule, of the US Chamber’s Energy Institute , who last week released a blog post analyzing whether the Administration can actually meet its Paris Targets.  Others on the panel include University of Alabama in Huntsville professor John Christy, WRI’s Andrew Steer and Heritage’s Steven Groves.

House Energy to Address Energy Legislation – The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a legislative hearing on a number of energy-related legislation.  Witnesses include FERC officials Ann Miles (Energy Projects Office Director) and Max Minzer (General Counsel), as well as a number of other industry and enviro representatives, including Bill Marsan of the American Transmission Company, Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum and Jeff Leahey of the National Hydropower Association  The committee with also look at more legislation on Wednesday, including legislation aimed at stopping the Brick MACT.  Brick company execs and NRDC’s John Walke will testify.

Moniz to Discuss Iran Deal at Wilson Forum – The Wilson Center will host a forum tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. featuring Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz, focused on what steps Iran has taken, how the United States can be confident that Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear weapon has been extended to at least one year, what lies ahead for the nuclear deal and what challenges remain.

Wilson Forum to Look at Middle East Oil Price Equation – The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program will host a forum tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. on the implications of the collapse of oil prices for the Middle East.  The collapse of the oil prices has shocked both producers and consumers worldwide. As the most important producing region of the world, the Middle East has been particularly affected; state revenues are down, and cutthroat competition for market share and low global demand translates into greater challenges and uncertainty. The regional economic outlook is unclear, and questions remain about the potential long-term impact of sustained low oil prices. Three experts will analyze the geopolitical and financial aspects of the sharp decline in oil prices on both importing and exporting countries in the Middle East.

WCEE Forum with FERC ALJs – The Women’s Council on Energy & Environment will host a Litigation Roundtable tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. with the women Administrative Law Judges at FERC and EPA. The Judges will discuss why and how they became Administrative Law Judges, interesting developments in their careers, who mentored them along the way and how they have mentored others, and share the dos and don’ts regarding hearings and settlement conferences.

Jacobson to Address Anti-Nuclear Group – The anti-nuclear group NIRS will hold a tele-briefing tomorrow on “Paris and the path forward to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy future.  As if there is one…  The discussion will feature controversial advocate/academic Mark Jacobson of Stanford and IEER’s Arjun Makhijani, both of who will explain what the climate agreement achieved and what its implications are for our energy future and nuclear power here in the U.S.

BPC Event to Look at Energy Innovation – On Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, the American Energy Innovation Council of the BPC will hold an event that will examine the rationale and implications of expanding federal support for energy innovation. The first panel will explore the economic impact of federal investments in energy innovation, focusing on how these investments can best leverage additional investments and ensure America’s competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving global energy marketplace. Phil Giudice, CEO at Ambri, will join to discuss how his grid storage company is working to develop transformative innovations in energy storage. A second panel will review new, collaborative institutional models that are working to create better bridges across the “valleys of death,” while aligning public and private sector priorities. ARPA-E Director Ellen Williams and our friends Kevin Kolevar of Dow Chemical and author Steve LeVine.

Forum to Discuss Transformations in Energy Technology – On Wednesday at 9:00 a.m., the Atlantic Council will host a panel discussion reflecting on BP’s Technology Outlook and its insights on how we may identify, extract, store, and ultimately consume our energy. The event will feature a presentation and panel with David Eyton, Head of Technology at BP, and Melanie Kenderdine, Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis at the Department of Energy and Energy Counselor to Secretary Moniz.

House Oversight to Take on Flint Water Crisis – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will look into the Flint water lead contamination on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.  The witness list includes Miguel Del Toral, the Region 5 regulations manager who wrote a scathing memo last June to his supervisor about Flint’s lack of a corrosion control plan at the city’s water treatment plant.  Others on the panel include EPA Water Office acting deputy assistant administrator Joel Beavais, VaTech’s Marc Edwards (who was one of the initial whistleblowers) Michigan DEQ Director Keith Creaghan and Darnell Earley, former emergency manager for Flint.

Senate Environment to Tackle Stream Rule – The Senate Environment Committee hold a full committee hearing Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. on the potential environmental and economic impact of the proposal, which aims at increasing protections for streams near coal mines.

RFF to Look at Drought Response – Resources for the Future will hold an RFF First Wednesday Seminar this week in collaboration with the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) on improving the Federal drought response.  While drought management can involve all levels of government, the federal government in particular has a unique set of policy tools that can help communities prepare for and minimize the impact of droughts. At this Seminar, experts will discuss the role of the federal government in western water and drought management, with a focus on how it can strengthen its partnership with states to better manage drought today and in a warmer, possibly drier, future. The event features a presentation by Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center, who will discuss the center’s new report, Improving the Federal Response to Western Drought: Five Areas for Reform.  Speakers include USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mills, Mark Kramer of The Nature Conservancy and Interior’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tom Iseman.

Turkish Energy Future Focus on Forum – On Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. in the Press Club’s Lisagor Room, the Turkish Heritage Organization will hold a forum looking at energy security in Turkey and its surrounding neighbors. The instability in the Middle East along with the East Mediterranean has created a fragile energy dependent region that heightens Turkey’s central importance as a leader in energy politics. This forum will look at what Turkey’s role be in alleviating the energy crisis in 2016 and how the geopolitics affect its ability to improve the global market of energy by lessening dependency.

Climate Film Series To Be Screened – The Island Institute, in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy, is hosting a screening event on Wednesday at 6:00 pm at the University of California Washington Center showcasing its “A Climate of Change” film series.  The films examine the effects on the fishing industry associated with climate change, including warming waters, lack of biodiversity, and ocean acidification. Across New England and the nation, fishermen and scientists are observing notable shifts in the ecosystem and dramatic changes on the water. These Island Institute film screenings will help introduce shellfish aquaculture as an example of economic diversification for fishing communities and will prove to be excellent opportunities for relationship building and dialogue exchange on climate change.

NAS Hosts Meeting on Domestic Transportation of Petroleum, NatGas, Ethanol – On Thursday and Friday, the National Academies of Science will host a meeting on domestic transportation of fuels.  Given a number of recent events, look for a candid discussion of potential policies.   See the speakers and agenda here.

Sustainable Energy Factbook Release – For the fourth year in a row, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) & the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) have produced the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which provides the latest industry information and trends from the energy efficiency, natural gas & renewable energy sectors in the United States. On Thursday at 12:00 p.m., a panel of executives from BCSE member companies and analysts from BNEF will discuss why 2015 was a watershed year for the US clean energy economy.

WCEE Feature World Bank Expert on Green Bonds – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment will host a forum on Thursday at 12:00 noon on Green Bonds featuring World Bank expert Akiko Nakagawa. Nakagawa shares her work on developing and supervising projects financed through green bonds as well as how these bonds are placed in the climate negotiation’s context.  Laura Tlaiye will explain the requirements of green bond eligible projects and how bonds are structured.

Woolsey to Headline Lecture – On Friday at 5:30 p.m., the Institute of World Politics will host the third Brian Kelley Memorial Lecture on the topic of “Energy Security in the 21st Century.”  The year’s lecture will feature Ambassador R. James Woolsey, Former Director of Central Intelligence.  Woolsey has been one of the most prominent analysts of national security issues, as well as energy policy. He has been a proponent of US energy independence and the protection of major infrastructure vulnerabilities, such as our electric grid upon which everything in our civilization depends.

Sustainability Forum Set at GMU – Leaders in Energy, Association of Energy Engineers – National Capital Chapter, and George Mason University will hold an Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza on its GMU Arlington campus on Friday.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

NAS to Look at Rural Electricity Issues – Next Monday and Tuesday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the Quadrennial Energy Review Task Force will hold a technical workshop on electricity use in rural and islanded communities. Workshop topics will include attributes of electricity use and distribution systems associated with rural electricity users, islanded residents, and isolated demand centers;  challenges and opportunities for increasing efficiency, reducing emissions and costs, and resiliency in such locations; and innovative clean energy strategies being undertaken in such locations.

Forum, Report to Highlight LNG Exports – Next Monday, the Atlantic Council will hold a panel and launch its Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative with the report “Surging Liquefied Natural Gas Trade, How US Exports Will Benefit European and Global Gas Supply Diversity, Competition, and Security” authored by Global Energy Center Senior Fellow and former leading CIA analyst Bud Coote.  The report analyzes global LNG market developments and the potential role of US LNG in Europe and Asia. The EU’s move toward a freer energy market and a global shift toward gas by climate conscious consumers are likely to help fuel growing demand for US LNG in the coming years. The strong match between Europe’s energy objectives and US LNG exporters’ goals will not only bolster a secure and competitive energy market in Europe, but help lead the fight against climate change.  Coote and Fabrice Vareille, Head of Transport, Energy, and Environment Section of the EU Delegation to the United States, will discuss.

Wind Summit to Look at Finance, Investment – Infocast is holding its annual Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit February 9-11 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego.   Now that the PTC question has been settled, the Summit will focus on the critical issues and opportunities for the wind industry, including the impacts of EPA’s Clean Power Plan on Wind, long-term outlook for natural gas prices, the outlook for tax equity and debt and many other topics.

ICF to Present 2016 Fuels Outlook – ICF International will hold a webinar on Tuesday February 9th to look at the 2016 Fuels Outlook.  ICF’s Joel Bluestein will present and provide insights on how the fuel sector may trend in the new year as well as the risks and opportunities the sector presents. Topics will include the effects of continued low oil prices on North American energy production; the outlook for LNG exports and, with the lifting of the ban, crude oil exports; key drivers of natural gas demand in the near term; Investment outlook for natgas infrastructure and the implications of the Clean Power Plan.

WCEE Feature Paris Climate Discussion – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment will host a forum on Tuesday February 9th at 12:00 noon to hear from four organizations about their participation in COP21, their thoughts on the agreement, and how they’re getting to work on implementation.   Speakers will include Astrid Caldas of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Jennifer Huang of Center for Climate & Energy Solutions (C2ES), Anne Kelly of Ceres and Tanya Primiani of the World Bank.

Forum to Look at Iran Oil Contracts – Next Tuesday at 3:00 p.m., the Atlantic Council will host a discussion of Iran petroleum issues and contracts.  Yeganeh Torbati of Reuters will moderate a discussion on how the new IPC differ from the current investment structure in Iran and its impacts on regions like Iraq.  The panel will feature the following renowned experts on Iran and energy: Dr. Sara Vakhshouri, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center and President of SVB Energy International, Dr. Suzanne Maloney, Deputy Director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, and Guly Sabahi, a Partner with the energy sector team at Dentons.

Nuclear Innovation Conference Set – The Energy Innovation Reform Project and Oak Ridge will hold a nuclear innovation conference on February 10 and 11th in Oak Ridge, TN. Continuing on the important work of the 2015 Advanced Reactors Technical Summit II at UMass Lowell and the inaugural 2014 Special Technical Symposium at Argonne National Laboratory, the Technical Summit III will continue the discussion on approaches for improving the cost and deployment time frame of advanced reactors. Specifically the Summit III will engage in a discussion of common ground practical ideas and concepts that have the potential of significantly accelerating advanced reactor design, deployment, and operations. The Technical Summit III features the leading advanced reactor concepts as well as key thought and policy leaders.  Speakers will include NRC Commissioner William Ostroff and DOE’s John Kotek, among many others.

ACCO to Talk with Better Buildings Director – The Association of Climate Change Officers will hold a roundtable on Wednesday February 10th at 4:30 p.m.  with Maria Vargas. Vargas is the Director of the Better Buildings Challenge at the Department of Energy. The goal of the Better Buildings Challenge is to make American buildings 20 percent more efficient by 2020. This leadership initiative involves chief executive officers, University presidents and state and local leaders that have committed to upgrading buildings across their portfolio and providing their energy savings data and strategies as models for others to follow.

RFF/EPRI to Look at GHG Modeling – Resources for the Future (RFF) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will hold a Seminar Breakfast on February 11th at 8:30 a.m. looking at Clean Power Plan Strategic Modeling.  Industry leaders, policymakers, and the public still have questions about how the Clean Power Plan will impact the mix of power generation, the interconnected grid, cross-state electricity markets, and how consumers use electricity. New modeling results from researchers at Resources for the Future and the Electric Power Research Institute provide strategic insight into these questions and more. This event is the second in RFF and EPRI’s 2016 Clean Power Plan series. Watch the video from the first event, where experts discussed formal comments to EPA on the federal plan and trading rules.

RESCHEDULED: SAFE Forum to Look at Iran, Saudi Arabia Conflict – Securing America’s Future Energy and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) Capitol Hill lunch event has been rescheduled for February 12th pending speaker confirmations.  The event was to discuss the rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and U.S. energy and national security interests in the region and feature  SAFE Energy Security Leadership Council member General Charles F. Wald (U.S. Air Force, Ret.), former NSC head John Hannah, former National Economic Council official Bob McNally and FP Correspondent Indira Lakshmanan.

Forum to Look at Enviro Justice Issues in GHG Plan – On February 22, at 3:00 p.m., the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) is rescheduling its GHG briefing cancelled by the January snow storm.  The forum will be a webinar and discuss how environmental justice (EJ) is addressed through EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  The panel will explore how incorporating environmental justice concerns into the Clean Power Plan’s implementation can impact vulnerable communities.  Speakers for this forum include EPA Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice Mustafa Ali.

GEA Sets Geo Energy Showcase – The Geothermal Energy Assn will be holding its 3rd U.S. and International Geothermal Energy Showcase in Washington, DC on Thursday, March 17th at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. This year’s Showcase will focus on the building blocks for successful geothermal projects and highlight key geothermal projects, trends, and governmental policies in the U.S. and the international markets. The program will showcase geothermal projects, trends, and governmental policies in the U.S. and around the world. Topics covered will include: the geothermal market today, projects under development in the U.S. and internationally, outlook for the future of the geothermal market, policies driving geothermal development, new technologies, and federal agency support at home and abroad.

Water Power Conferences Set for DC – The all-new Waterpower Week in Washington will present three events in one, showcasing the entire world of waterpower.  The National Hydropower Association Annual Conference, International Marine Renewable Energy Conference and Marine Energy Technology Symposium will all take place at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., April 25-27.

Energy Update: Week of January 25

Friends,

Happy Snow!!!!  Now that was a good snow storm.  But the difference between here and the North (Detroit for me) is that you usually have weeks/months of freezing cold temps and more snow still ahead of you.  Here, we had two straight days of sunny and 45 degrees following the storm, and today we are getting rain.  That should help clear some of the snow off the roads, even if the plowing isn’t quite as good as the colder climates.  Speaking of plowing, while I think Maryland did a good job, my drive (in the Volt, mind you) into the Capital today showed that DC still has a lot of catching up to do, as the downtown area remains basically gridlocked with minimal open lanes.  Thinking I might be on the MARC train/Metro for a few days.

Speaking of the storm, as the Mid-Atlantic region digs out, AHRI reminded local residents to protect their furnace vents and heat pumps by clearing piled up snow away from them:

“With a massive winter storm blasting the Nation’s Capital, it is important clear away snow and other debris that block airflow through the outdoor part of your heat pump.” said AHRI President Stephen Yurek. “We have so many things on our minds during a massive storm like this, but it is very important for those who use heat pumps to keep warm, to keep the outdoor part of their unit clear of snow.  Yurek also reminded those who have highly-efficient furnaces (those that require through-the-wall venting) to keep the vents clear of snow and ice for their safety and that of their loved ones. Failure to do so can result in a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide gas.”

With school off another day, I just had to get back to work.  And the Senate does too, launching its energy reform package tomorrow.  The legislation, a bipartisan measure that cleared committee on an 18-4 vote last year, and includes provisions pushed by both Republicans and Democrats. They include measures to expedite liquefied natural gas exports, reform federal energy programs and improve the reliability of the electric grid.  While Senate Energy Chair Lisa Murkowski said she hopes the legislation will move forward in a bipartisan manner, that may be wishful thinking in this election year.  Lots of rumors about amendments and they may take all forms from simple fixes in a manager’s amendment to off-the-wall political bombshells.  We’ll see how it plays out over the next couple weeks.

Many events are cancelled especially today and tomorrow, including the two House hearings and the Senate EPW markup/hearing.  I have provided a list of other events below but check them events before you venture out because Uber and Cabs are still up-charging I think.

Finally, if you want to think WARM, remember next week launches the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Weather report from TPC Scottsdale says SUNNY and 70s all week.  WM launches with its 6th annual Executive Sustainability Forum on Tuesday, Celeb Pro-Am on Wednesday and real PGA golf starting Thursday.

Call if you have energy bill questions, need driving tips or are wondering how to prevent snow plows from covering your driveway after you’ve already shoveled it… and be safe out there.

Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864
(202) 997-5932

 

IN THE NEWS

SCOTUS Lets FERC DR Rule Stand – The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a FERC rule  that promotes electricity conservation, handing a big victory to environmentalists and federal power regulators.  The 6-2 decision overturned a federal appeals panel ruling and affirmed the commission’s authority to offer incentives to reduce power consumption during peak demand periods by paying large users to curb their electricity use, policies that green groups say help open the power grid up to more renewable sources like wind and solar.

Bracewell FERC Experts Weigh In – My colleagues who are FERC experts weighed in with an Energy Blog Post yesterday. They say the Court was persuaded that FERC had taken care not trample on state regulatory authority by the fact that FERC’s DR regime permitted retail purchaser’s to participate in wholesale markets only if state regulators did not forbid them from doing so. They added that although it is early to tell, this decision appears to affirm a broader view of FERC’s jurisdiction over wholesale power markets than previously understood.

NRECA Protests Ruling – NRECA expressed disappointment over the Court’s ruling.  NRECA had challenged FERC Order 745 on the grounds that the Commission overstepped its jurisdictional authority.  “For decades, co-ops have been able to save co-op member-owners millions of dollars by creating robust demand response programs. We are concerned that by giving this pricing authority squarely to FERC, the Court has diminished the ability of state public utility commissions and the cooperative and municipal boards, to protect the interest of consumers. NRECA will continue to advocate for compensation levels that benefit co-op owner-members,” said Jay Morrison, vice president of regulatory affairs.  Electric cooperatives have aggressively pursued cost savings for consumer-members by offering a wide range of demand response programs; in fact in 2012, co-ops’ share of total retail electric sales was 11%, yet they were responsible for 19% of actual peak reduction,” he added.

Segal Looks at Impact on CPP Consideration – My Bracewell colleague Scott Segal, also the director of the ERCC read the opinion and found it interesting looking for implications towards future consideration of arguments on the CPP.  Segal said the Court says there is still a substantial statutory separation between FERC’s wholesale authority and state retail rate-making and recognized demand response as an exception noting that FERC was responding to a market-developed concept that had been approved by Congress and had a consumer protection and reliability rationale.  Segal adds that is a pretty limited view.  Segal: “The Court’s reasoning should give no comfort to supporters of the Clean Power Plan.  First, CPP in no sense was developed by the market.  Far from approved by Congress, it has been roundly opposed by Congress as inconsistent with 40 years of Clean Air Act precedent.  And rather than protecting consumers and reliability, a broad consensus of impartial third parties has found that CPP will have the opposite effect.”

BLM Rolls Methane Rules Just Before Big Storm – Talk about clearing the decks… Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed updates on Friday to 30-year-old natural gas emissions regulations for oil and gas operations on public and Native American lands, including a requirement that producers adopt modern techniques and equipment to limit flaring.   My expert colleague Sandra Snyder said if adopted, BLM’s regulations may have the unintended effect of deterring development on federal lands, thereby decreasing federal royalties.  The BLM rule BLM announced today rule proposes to add additional requirements to the already onerous process of obtaining an Application for Permit to Drill (APD).  Since 2010, it has taken industry on average well over 200 days to obtain an APD from BLM.  Adding additional requirements will inevitably lead to additional delays.  Moreover, she adds BLM needs to make good on its pledge to avoid redundant requirements, while also recognizing the voluntary efforts of industry to reduce emissions through the implementation of innovative technologies.  The financial benefit of capturing more of its product is not news to oil and gas production companies — they’ve been ahead of the government on this issue for quite some time.

Cabot Already Ahead of BLM Rules – As Sandra mentioned, the fact is, industry has been ahead of the curve on this for years, working diligently on its own to reduce methane emissions.  It’s both good environmental stewardship and makes sense from a business standpoint; since companies strive for efficiency, it makes sense to capture as much product as you can.  To cite one example: Cabot Oil & Gas has been achieving substantial methane emissions reductions for years. Starting back in 2011, Cabot unleashed new technological initiatives to decrease methane emissions from its operations.  The company cut methane emissions by 85% between 2011 and 2014—particularly impressive given that its natural gas production grew 250% during the same period.  A big part of the trick involves optimizing “green completions,” which means minimizing natural gas flaring during the cleanup phase after a well is completed by diverting gas into a pipeline.

IPAA Says Rule’s Timing is Bad – The IPAA said the reduction of emissions through limited venting and flaring is in the government and the industry’s best interest. Financially, no oil or natural gas producer would choose to lose valuable resources that could otherwise be sold. And when the product is sold, the U.S. treasury receives a royalty. Further, increased natural gas production and use have resulted in cleaner air for the United States. We are concerned that these new rules could create a regulatory regime that prevents the extension of the financial and important environmental benefits generated by American oil and natural gas production.  “This is the latest in the string of bad policies released by this administration showing a lack of knowledge of how the oil and gas industry truly works. Imposing these new regulations will make it more expensive and harder for independent producers to operate, reducing America’s total energy production and preventing additional receipts from going back to the US Treasury. Making matters worse, lifting the royalty rate ceiling simply leaves the door open for the federal government to increase rates on producers down the road. This will change the predictability and certainty for operators on federal lands, making it harder to plan and commit to long-term projects. With oil and natural gas prices currently at their lowest in decades, now is the worst time to raise fees on America’s independent producers.”

Court Denies Stay Request for CPP – Last Thursday, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a petition for expedited briefing in the case regarding the carbon rules for the power sector, while denying the imposition of an immediate stay.  My colleague Scott Segal said the expedited briefing schedule is indicative of the seriousness with which the court is taking the case and the very substantial legal issues that need to be resolved in order to safeguard electric reliability and consumer interests.  He added a record 27 states are challenging the GHG plan, along with some 25 national and state trade associations, 39 rural cooperatives, 12 major corporations, and three labor unions with combined membership nearing one million.”

WV AG Considers SCOTUS Review on Stay Request – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office will consider urging the U.S. Supreme Court to halt ongoing, irreversible harm caused by EPA’s Power Plan.  Morrisey says if left intact, the plan will lead to skyrocketing electricity bills and devastate West Virginia’s coal industry and the countless jobs depending upon its success.  “We are disappointed in today’s decision, but believe we will ultimately prevail in court,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The court did not issue a ruling on the merits and we remain confident that our arguments will prevail as the case continues. We are pleased, however, that the court has agreed to expedite hearing the case.”

Rural Co-ops Say Stay Important to Protect Rural Consumers – NRECA also expressed deep disappointment with a court’s refusal to halt implementation of EPA’s rule. NRECA was among those that petitioned the court to stay the rule while a separate battle over its legality plays out: “Charging ahead with implementation of the Clean Power Plan will cause immediate and irreparable harm to America’s electric co-ops,” said Debbie Wing, NRECA director of media relations. “While the rule’s emission reduction requirements don’t kick in for several years, co-ops must start taking immediate costly and irreversible steps to achieve the goals set forth in the EPA’s overreaching regulations. The result will be lost jobs, economic harm to rural communities and significant electric rate increases for some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens—families living on fixed incomes or in poverty.”

Chamber Says Expedited Review of CPP Essential – The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said the D.C. Circuit Court decision to expedite legal review of carbon regulations indicates that the court agrees that it is important to review the rules quickly. As the Chamber and its partners have argued all along, the rule is already hurting American businesses. The Court’s decision to deny the stay motion is about procedure. The Chamber says it looks forward to presenting our arguments to the Court as part of an expedited review process, and we will continue our efforts to halt the EPA’s unprecedented effort to restructure the American economy.

AEA: Don’t File a Plan – AEA President Thomas Pyle penned an op-ed in Morning Consult cautioning state leaders against submitting a state plan for EPA’s carbon regulation–what EPA calls the “Clean Power Plan.” EPA, environmental groups, and utilities are pressuring state leaders to submit state plans by implying that a federal plan will be much worse for their citizens. But as Pyle points out, state and federal plans are essentially the same. The only major difference is that a state plan locks citizens in to this costly regulation—even if the rule is thrown out in court—while a federal plan does not.  Click here to continue reading the op-ed.

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Washington Auto Show Sets Policy Bar – After the Snow out over the weekend, the Washington Auto Show continues really launched this week.  The opening on Friday was delayed due to the weather.  The show runs through Sunday.

AHRI Forum To Highlight New Technologies – Our friends at AHRI were lucky to miss the storm by decamping to Orlando for their annual AHR Expo, an annual trade show co-sponsored by AHRI and ASHRAE. It is one of the largest industry expos, drawing over 1400 exhibitors and over 60,000 HVAC professionals.  The event focuses on highlighting advancements that address the dynamic requirements of today’s HVACR industry.  Over 80% of the Show Exhibitors are introducing new or upgraded products, systems and technologies that are being unveiled and showcased on the 2016 AHR Expo floor.  Spanning categories from indoor air quality to software, and addressing the interests of contractors, engineers, wholesalers/distributors, facility managers and owners/operators, these innovations are expected to touch every corner of interest from across the HVACR industry.

CANCELLED — House Ag to Host EPA’s McCarthy – The House Agriculture Committee hearing today on the impact of EPA regulations on the rural economy featuring EPA Chief Gina McCarthy will be rescheduled

CANCELLED – SAFE Forum to Look at Iran, Saudi Arabia Conflict – Securing America’s Future Energy and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) Capitol Hill lunch event tomorrow has been postponed to February 12th pending speaker confirmations.  The event was to discuss the rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and U.S. energy and national security interests in the region and feature  SAFE Energy Security Leadership Council member General Charles F. Wald (U.S. Air Force, Ret.), former NSC head John Hannah, former National Economic Council official Bob McNally and FP Correspondent Indira Lakshmanan.

NAS Social Cost of Carbon Presser – CANCELLED

Forum to Look at Paris Event – The United Nations Environment Program and the George Washington University Sustainability Collaborative will host an event tomorrow that will highlight key achievements of 2015: the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the outcomes of the recent Paris climate conference.  The event will provide an overview of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what they mean for the public and private sectors with a particular focus on implementation of the environmental dimension. It will also highlight the SDGs regarding sustainable cities, sustainable consumption and production, and climate change and their relevance for North America.

CANCELLED – House Oversight to Look at RFS – The House Oversight Hearing On the RFS will also be rescheduled to a Later date.

NAM State of Manufacturing Tour to Start in NH, FL – The National Association of Manufacturers, the unified voice of more than 14,000 manufacturers in the United States, will tour the country for the 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour starting tomorrow in Manchester, New Hampshire and Tampa, Florida.  See full schedule here.  NAM is showcasing modern manufacturing, highlighting the importance of manufacturing to America and laying out solutions that will create more jobs, seize global leadership and expand the circle of opportunity so wide that the American Dream is available to everyone.

Nuclear Summit Set for Newseum – Third Way and the Idaho National Laboratory are partnering with Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to host a first-of-its-kind Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase in Washington, DC on Wednesday at the Newseum.  In North America, 48 companies, backed by more than $1.6 billion in private capital, are developing plans for advanced nuclear reactors. The influx of ideas and investment into the advanced nuclear industry has made it a burgeoning part of the clean energy sector. The Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase builds upon the conversations sparked by the White House Summit on Nuclear Energy and the Nuclear Innovation Workshops sponsored by the Idaho National Laboratory.   Along with national policymakers and influencers, the Summit will establish that there is a robust advanced nuclear sector being developed by private companies and research institutions, and that government has a vital role to play in bringing the promise of the sector to reality.

CSIS to Look at GHG plan – Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., the CSIS Energy and National Security Program is hosting a discussion on the future of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in 2016. The expert panel will provide an overview of the state, federal and court level activity and planning that is likely to take place throughout the upcoming year.  John Larsen, Director with the Rhodium Group and Senior Associate with the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS, will highlight recent analysis from the CSIS-Rhodium Group study regarding emissions impacts and preview forthcoming work on energy sector impacts of the rule. Kathryn Zyla, Deputy Director with the Georgetown Climate Center, will give an overview of the approaches being considered by various states and the issues that matter most to their decision making. Kyle Danish, Partner with VanNess Feldman LLP, will discuss legal challenges to the CPP and the likely timeframe and pathways for resolving those challenges. Emily Holden, ClimateWire Reporter with E&E Publishing, will provide additional perspective on the various state, regional, and congressional issues that are important to watch this year.

ELI Book Forum to Tackle Coal Grandfather Issue – On Wednesday at Noon, the Environmental Law Institute will host a book forum to anti-coal lawyer Richard Revesz.  In their forthcoming book, “Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the ‘War on Coal’”, Revesz and Jack Lienke detail the history of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the political compromises that led to exempting existing power plants, many of which are coal-fired, from significant portions of the CAA’s regulatory authority. ELI will feature an expert panel with Revesz, Lienke,, Bill Bumpers, NRDC’s Dave Doniger, and former EPA Air Administrator Bill Rosenberg as they discuss the environmental implications of the Clean Power Plan and the ramifications of grandfathering. Hear Professor Revesz and other experts in the field discuss to what degree the Clean Power Plan really reduces pollution, and the interaction between grandfathering and pollution reduction

RFF to Look at FIP, Trading on GHG Plan – Resources for the Future will hold a forum on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. on the federal implementation plan and model trading rules. The comments, due January 21, 2016, give stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback on the challenges and opportunities for state implementation of the carbon dioxide emissions guidelines for power plants.  RFF will be joined by EPRI for a special seminar focusing on a diverse set of stakeholder comments on how the federal implementation plan and model trading rules might impact the electric power sector.  This is the first event in the RFF/EPRI 2016 Clean Power Plan Seminar Series. The next event, on February 11, will highlight modeling results of how the Clean Power Plan impacts various states and regions. Speakers will include NRDC’s Ben Longstreth, EPRI’s Vic Niemeyer, RFF’s Karen Palmer and AEP’s Resource Planning Managing Director Scott Weaver.

CSIS to Host Infrastructure Discussion – On Wednesday, CSIS will hold an expert panel discussion on meeting infrastructure demands around the world. According to the World Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility, the unmet demand for infrastructure around the world is estimated to be above $1 trillion per year. Meeting the financing need for bankable and sustainable projects must be a priority, for both governments and the private sector, in the coming decades. In addition to financing needs, donors and the private sector must work together to build capacity and provide technical assistance that will ensure continued success long after the individual projects have been completed. Panelists will discuss ways in which infrastructure can become a driver of development and stability, and how targeted investments in smart projects and capacity building can produce measurable results to pave the way for sustainable economic growth in low and middle-income countries.

Forum to Look at Low Oil Prices, Middle East Impacts – The Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center will host a panel discussion on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. looking at the impact of low oil prices in the Middle East. The collapse in crude oil prices since mid-2014 has shaken the foundation of global energy markets, with sweeping economic and political implications for the Middle East. Amidst falling oil revenues, governments from the Gulf to Iraq and beyond face fiscal crises, market upheaval, disruption of traditional ways of doing business, challenges to longstanding fuel subsidy programs, and slumping economic growth. In the midst of this volatile landscape, energy producers in the region face an uncertain future that will have ramifications in the years to come.  Our friend Jamie Webster of IHS will be among the speakers.

Senate Energy to Explore Innovative Nuclear Technologies – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to examine the status of innovative technologies within the nuclear industry.

Battery Storage 101 Features ESA, Tesla – On Friday at 1:00 p.m., the Battery Energy Storage Caucus and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus will hold a “Battery Energy Storage 101 and Introduction to the Battery Storage Industry” briefing.  The future of renewables comes in a battery. Companies across the country are developing batteries for home storage connected to solar panels, grid scale storage and automobiles. From Tesla’s lithium ion battery Gigafactory in Nevada to Michigan-based Sakti3 which is commercializing a high-energy density battery, the storage revolution is upon us.  The event will discuss how exactly battery energy storage works with the Energy Storage Association and learn what leaders in the industry are doing in the grid side application of storage to make our grid more secure and cost effective.

FUTURE EVENTS

Greenest Show on Grass: Waste Management Phoenix Open – February 1st through 7th, Waste Management will host its annual PGA tour event at the Phoenix Open in Arizona.  Waste Management has been a partner of the Phoenix Open for 15 years, and is dedicated to making the Open the greenest tournament on the PGA TOUR. The tournament has also become a major platform for Waste Management Think Green solutions, including the Four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.  As a regular part of the event, WM is hosting its 6th annual Executive Sustainability Forum which provides a platform to discuss how and why the circular economy is fractured.  The event will identify collective challenges, and approaches to overcoming these challenges through collaboration along the value chain.  Speakers will include WM CEO David Steiner, our friend Dana Perino, NYT’s John Tierney  and Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter, among many others.

Panel to Look at Geoengineering – Next Monday, February 1st at 12:15 p.m., Future Tense New America will hold a book lunch on Geoengineering and how it could change the world.  Geoengineering is the deliberate hacking of Earth’s climate and might be one of the most promising potential responses to climate change, especially in the absence of significant carbon emission reductions. It’s also one of the most controversial.  In his new book, “The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World,” Oliver Morton argues that the risks of climate change merit serious action. According to Morton, geoengineering is not a simple or singular solution to the problem, but it is worth exploring, even if it’s never actually deployed.

Wilson Forum to Look at Middle East Oil Price Equation – The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program will host a forum next Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. on the implications of the collapse of oil prices for the Middle East.  The collapse of the oil prices has shocked both producers and consumers worldwide. As the most important producing region of the world, the Middle East has been particularly affected; state revenues are down, and cutthroat competition for market share and low global demand translates into greater challenges and uncertainty. The regional economic outlook is unclear, and questions remain about the potential long-term impact of sustained low oil prices. Three experts will analyze the geopolitical and financial aspects of the sharp decline in oil prices on both importing and exporting countries in the Middle East.

WCEE Forum with FERC ALJs – The Women’s Council on Energy & Environment will host a Litigation Roundtable next Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. with the women Administrative Law Judges at FERC and EPA. The Judges will discuss why and how they became Administrative Law Judges, interesting developments in their careers, who mentored them along the way and how they have mentored others, and share the dos and don’ts regarding hearings and settlement conferences.

Jacobson to Address Anti-Nuclear Group – The anti-nuclear group NIRS will hold a tele-briefing next Tuesday on “Paris and the path forward to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy future.  As if there is one…  The discussion will feature controversial advocate/academic Mark Jacobson of Stanford and IEER’s Arjun Makhijani, both of who will explain what the climate agreement achieved and what its implications are for our energy future and nuclear power here in the U.S.

BPC Event to Look at Energy Innovation – On Wednesday, February 3rd at 8:30 a.m. at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, the American Energy Innovation Council of the BPC will hold an event that will examine the rationale and implications of expanding federal support for energy innovation. The first panel will explore the economic impact of federal investments in energy innovation, focusing on how these investments can best leverage additional investments and ensure America’s competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving global energy marketplace. Phil Giudice, CEO at Ambri, will join to discuss how his grid storage company is working to develop transformative innovations in energy storage. A second panel will review new, collaborative institutional models that are working to create better bridges across the “valleys of death,” while aligning public and private sector priorities. ARPA-E Director Ellen Williams and our friends Kevin Kolevar of Dow Chemical and author Steve LeVine,

Forum to Discuss Transformations in Energy Technology – On Wednesday, February 3rd at 9:00 a.m., the Atlantic Council will host a panel discussion reflecting on BP’s Technology Outlook and its insights on how we may identify, extract, store, and ultimately consume our energy. The event will feature a presentation and panel with David Eyton, Head of Technology at BP, and Melanie Kenderdine, Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis at the Department of Energy and Energy Counselor to Secretary Moniz.

NAS Hosts Meeting on Domestic Transportation of Petroleum, NatGas, Ethanol – On February 4th  and 5th, the National Academies of Science will host a meeting on domestic transportation of fuels.  Given a number of recent events, look for a candid discussion of potential policies.

Sustainable Energy Factbook Release – For the fourth year in a row, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) & the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) have produced the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which provides the latest industry information and trends from the energy efficiency, natural gas & renewable energy sectors in the United States. On Thursday, February 4th at 12:00 p.m., a panel of executives from BCSE member companies and analysts from BNEF will discuss why 2015 was a watershed year for the US clean energy economy,

WCEE Feature World Bank Expert on Green Bonds – The Women’s Council On Energy and the Environment will host a forum on Thursday, February 4th at 12:00 noon on Green Bonds featuring World Bank expert Akiko Nakagawa. Nakagawa shares her work on developing and supervising projects financed through green bonds as well as how these bonds are placed in the climate negotiation’s context.  Laura Tlaiye will explain the requirements of green bond eligible projects and how bonds are structured.

Woolsey to Headline Lecture – On Friday, February 5th at 5:30 p.m., the Institute of World Politics will host the third Brian Kelley Memorial Lecture on the topic of “Energy Security in the 21st Century.”  The year’s lecture will feature Ambassador R. James Woolsey, Former Director of Central Intelligence.  Woolsey has been one of the most prominent analysts of national security issues, as well as energy policy. He has been a proponent of US energy independence and the protection of major infrastructure vulnerabilities, such as our electric grid upon which everything in our civilization depends.

Sustainability Forum Set at GMU – Leaders in Energy, Association of Energy Engineers – National Capital Chapter, and George Mason University will hold an Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza on its GMU Arlington campus on February 5th.

Wind Summit to Look at Finance, Investment – Infocast is holding its annual Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit February 9-11 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego.   Now that the PTC question has been settled, the Summit will focus on the critical issues and opportunities for the wind industry, including the impacts of EPA’s Clean Power Plan on Wind, long-term outlook for natural gas prices, the outlook for tax equity and debt and many other topics.

Nuclear Innovation Conference Set – The Energy Innovation Reform Project and Oak Ridge will hold a nuclear innovation conference on February 10 and 11th in Oak Ridge, TN. Continuing on the important work of the 2015 Advanced Reactors Technical Summit II at UMass Lowell and the inaugural 2014 Special Technical Symposium at Argonne National Laboratory, the Technical Summit III will continue the discussion on approaches for improving the cost and deployment time frame of advanced reactors. Specifically the Summit III will engage in a discussion of common ground practical ideas and concepts that have the potential of significantly accelerating advanced reactor design, deployment, and operations. The Technical Summit III features the leading advanced reactor concepts as well as key thought and policy leaders.  Speakers will include NRC Commissioner William Ostroff and DOE’s John Kotek, among many others.

Energy Update: Week of January 19

Friends,

As we prep for the “massive” snow headed toward the East Coast (hurry up and rush out to get your bread and milk) we should remember that it is winter.  Regardless, stay tuned and we’ll be ready to report to you next week regardless of the weather.

Keeping it short this week because I’m still on a birthday downer.  As I get older, I just see it as another day, but I feel really humbled and blessed by all the folks who took a minute out of their day to wish me well over the weekend.  Thanks for that.  Presents:  A great new USA Field Hockey pullover for umpiring and a new visor for my Hockey helmet.  Can’t ask for more than that…other than a few more grants to help pay for Hannah’s Wellesley tuition this summer.

We are two weeks away from Iowa votes and it is getting really busy including tomorrow’s annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.  The Nation’s mayors are in DC this week for the 84th Winter Meeting so you can expect to hear about climate actions and other energy issues.

Meantime, the Senate returns this week while the House returns next .  A couple of good hearings in Senate Energy  this week with EIA’s Adam Sieminski and our friend Jim Lucier on Energy markets today and Thursday experts on auto innovations.  Tomorrow, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee digs into Iran issues following the weekend’s moves on sanctions and swapping prisoners.  We can cover a lot of issues from human rights to Iran oil issues, so please let us know.

Off the Hill, FTC holds a panel this morning on emerging trends in the auto industry, such as car-sharing, connected cars, and autonomous vehicles, which will feature SAFE CEO Robbie Diamond following the DOT announcements last week for $4B self-driving car pilot projects over a 10-year span.

Kudos to Rep./Dr. Phil Sharp, RFF President and former U.S. Congressman from Indiana, who will receive the second Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security from Energy Secretary Moniz tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.  Cato holds a forum at 11:00 a.m. on GMOs and the future of the global food supply and medical innovations.  And the Washington Auto Show also launches it policy day on Capitol Hill that will explore how technology is making our nation’s roads and vehicles safer and infrastructure smarter and transforming the way we live, work and travel featuring Michigan Sen. Gary Peters and our friend Joe White of ThomsonReuters.   Media day will be Thursday.

Also on Thursday, US Energy Assn hosts its 12th annual State of the Energy Industry Forum in the National Press Club.  Senior leaders from the energy industry’s major trade associations will provide their outlook and overview of their priorities for 2016.

Finally, on Friday at 3:00 p.m., the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Wilson Center will hold its 4th annual “Year Ahead in Environment and Energy” event, where leading reporters and editors will discuss the critical issues that will shape 2016.

Call if you have questions and are not snowed in…

Best,

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

 

IN THE NEWS

Industry, Advocates Reach Agreement on AC Efficiency Standard – Industry and efficiency advocates reached an agreement last week on a new energy efficiency rule for residential central air-conditioners and heat pumps. The deal will save around 2.8 quadrillion Btu over the 30-year life of the new standard (for reference, the U.S. consumed about 97 quads in 2011). The previous version was finalized in 2011 and the Energy Department is required to complete a new standard for the equipment by June 2017 or state that one isn’t economically justified given current technology. But in an effort to keep the rule on schedule, DOE organized a negotiated rulemaking process last year between industry and advocates. While the agreement is a big deal, other approvals are needed and DOE still has to turn the details into a proposed rule.

White House Proposes $4B for Self-Driving Cars – In an announcement at the Detroit Auto Show, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says the 2017 budget proposal will include $4B for self-driving car pilot projects over a 10-year span. Among other things, the funds would cover a program to test self-driving cars on technologically advanced roads.  To encourage tests, the DOT also plans to make up to 2,500 self-driving cars exempt from some proposed safety rules for up to two years, and to work with state governments to create state regulations for autonomous vehicles.  Remember, last year in October, there was a NPC Newsmaker on the topic that including Google advisor and former GM exec Larry Burns, Domino’s Pizza EVP Lynn Liddle and Robbie Diamond, President of SAFE, who respectively spoke to the implications of driverless cars for the business community and the opportunity to reduce America’s dependence on oil.  SAFE also formed an Autonomous Vehicle Task Force, a group of leading experts that are guiding action plans to facilitate the widespread deployment of this transformative technology.

SAFE CEO Says DOT Regs Good Start – In response to DOT Secretary Foxx’s announcement of pending regulations on driverless and connected cars, SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond said the United States is crossing the threshold into the largest transformation in transportation since the invention of the automobile. Diamond: “Driverless, connected cars will save lives, reducing road fatalities by 90 percent. They will also encourage the mass deployment of electric vehicles and lessen America’s dependence on oil through improved fuel efficiency, diversity and drastically different ownership models.   With the government setting aside $4 billion over 10 years for pilot programs to put the rubber to the road, it demonstrates the need to test and prove this technology immediately on public streets. This does not, however, need to be a large, expensive government program. Any future rules at the national or state level should be minimal until proven necessary to give businesses the space to continue their investment in transportation innovation. Accelerating driverless vehicle technology will reduce fatalities and injuries, drastically lower healthcare costs, offer more fuel choice, cut congestion, and give mobility to millions of people who currently have none due to age or disability.”  We can find you great resources on this topic, so please let me know if you are covering it.

Solar Jobs Expanding – The Solar Foundation released its highly anticipated jobs report, which found that the U.S. solar industry employed about 209,000 people last year.  SF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015 is the 6th annual update of current employment, trends and projected growth in the U.S. solar industry. Census 2015 found that the industry continues to exceed growth expectations, adding workers at a rate nearly 12 times faster than the overall economy and accounting for 1.2% of all jobs created in the U.S. over the past year. Our long-term research shows that solar industry employment has grown by 123% in the past six years, resulting in nearly 115,000 domestic living-wage jobs.  The solar workforce is larger than the oil and gas extraction industry, which shed 13,800 jobs in 2015 and now employs 187,200 people. The oil and gas pipeline construction industry, which employs 129,500 workers, lost 9,500 jobs (U.S. BLS) during the same period. The solar industry is already three times larger than the coal-mining industry, which employs 67,929 people (JobsEQ 2015Q3). Solar employers surveyed expect to add more than 30,000 jobs over the next 12 months. The expected increase of 14.7% would bring the count of U.S. solar workers to 239,625 by the end of 2016.

Foundation Awards Scholarships to HVACR Students, Veterans – The Clifford H. “Ted” Rees, Jr., Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), today announced $60,500 in scholarship funds to 35 students, including five veterans, studying to become technicians in the HVACR and water heating industry.  The awards are for qualified and dedicated students that are pursuing careers in the HVACR and water heating industry that can help close the employment and skills gaps, according to AHRI CEO Steve Yurek.   Since the Rees Scholarship Foundation was founded in 2003, it has awarded almost $440,000 in scholarships to more than 250 deserving students and instructors. For a list of past scholarship recipients, click here.   The Rees Scholarship Foundation was established to assist with the recruitment and competency of future HVACR and water heating technicians by awarding scholarships to qualified students enrolled in an institutionally accredited school. Eligible students must be preparing for a career in either residential or light commercial air conditioning, heating, or water heating, or commercial refrigeration.

Murkowski, Faison Set Marker for Republican Climate Energy – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and a conservative clean-energy advocate say there is vast untapped potential for hydropower across the country in a New York Times op-ed that ran last week. Murkowski and Jay Faison call on the president to back the energy bill for its hydropower provisions. Murkowski and Faison say they “believe climate change is a threat, and appreciate [Obama’s] offer to collaborate.” They argue that the president should back the energy bill because it clears away bureaucratic red tape that slows the growth of hydropower, a zero-emission power source that faces opposition from environmentalists and a costly relicensing process.

DOE Awards Southern to Grant to Lead Advanced Nuclear Tech Development – Southern Company was awarded up to $40 million from DOE to explore, develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor technologies through subsidiary Southern Company Services.  The effort will be managed through a new public-private partnership with TerraPower, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute and Vanderbilt University. Housed at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the research will bolster the development of molten chloride fast reactors (MCFR), an advanced concept for nuclear generation.  Researchers believe MCFRs could provide enhanced operational performance, safety, security and economic value, relative to other advanced reactor concepts. The MCFR project is one of two DOE cost-shared advanced reactor concept development projects awarded $6 million in 2016, with an opportunity for $40 million each in total funding over multiple years.  A long-standing proponent of nuclear power, Southern Company – through its subsidiaries – is the only electric utility in America today developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including being one of the first to build new nuclear units in more than 30 years. The company is building the two new nuclear units at subsidiary Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle, which are expected to provide enough emission-free generation to power 500,000 homes and businesses.

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Detroit Auto Show Rolls On – The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) continues this week in the Motor City.  The official press conference schedule for the 2016 NAIAS begins with Press Preview today and tomorrow. Last week was press week and to see a the full 2016 NAIAS Press Conference Schedule look under the main Press tab.  In its 28th year as an international event, the NAIAS is among the most prestigious auto shows in the world, providing unparalleled access to the automotive products, people and ideas that matter most – up close and in one place.

Food, Energy, Water Conference Set –The Food-Energy-Water Nexus conference will be held today and tomorrow at the Hyatt at Reagan National Airport.  The conference will feature 1,200 other leaders in science, technology, government, business, civil society, and education to create strategies and initiatives that transform ideas into action.

EIA Head to Discuss Energy Markets at Senate Energy – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing this morning to examine the near-term outlook for energy and commodity markets.  EIA’s Adam Sieminski will testify along with several others including our friends Jim Lucier of Capital Alpha Partners and Ethan Zindler of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

SAFE CEO, Others to Join FTC Forum –The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a one-day workshop today to explore competition and related issues in the U.S. auto distribution system, including how consumers and businesses may be affected by state regulations and emerging trends in the industry. The event will take place in Washington, D.C. at the FTC’s Constitution Center Auditorium.  The January workshop will focus primarily on exploring the competition issues arising from state level regulation of auto distribution.  It also will explore emerging trends in the auto industry, such as car-sharing, connected cars, and autonomous vehicles, with a focus on how those trends will affect the current regulatory system that governs the auto industry.

Senate Energy to Look at Energy Markets – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing today to examine the near-term outlook for energy and commodity markets.

Heritage to Look at Western Lands – The Heritage Foundation holds a discussion today at Noon on rethinking Federal Management of Western Lands. Utah House Speaker Gregory H. Hughes will be the main speaker.

Forum to Look at GMOs – Cato will hold a forum tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. on GMOs and the future of the global food supply and medical innovations.  The event will feature Monsanto’s  Robert Fraley, North Carolina State’s  Jennifer Kuzma and Marian Tupy, Editor of  www.humanprogress.org.   For thousands of years, farmers used selective breeding to produce more plentiful harvests and increase the usefulness of domesticated animals. Today, genetic engineering allows businesses to do the same—but more cheaply, precisely and speedily. Unbeknownst to most people, the use of genetically modified organisms is not limited to agriculture. GMO technology is all around us, helping to produce life-enhancing products, such as synthetic insulin, and life-saving medicines, such as cancer-fighting Avastin. Still, controversy surrounding GMOs persists. Join us to hear our two distinguished speakers discuss the risks and benefits associated with GMO science.

Energy to Hold Appliance Efficiency Meeting –  DOE and its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will hold a meeting of the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Moniz to Present Schlesinger Energy Medal – On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., Energy Secretary Moniz will present the “Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security,”  at Forrestal.  The James R. Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security honors an individual’s distinguished contributions to advancing our understanding of the threats, opportunities and energy policy choices impacting the domestic and international energy security interests of the United States through analysis, policy or practice.   The first Medal was given to Daniel Yergin on October 1, 2014, the 37th anniversary of the Energy Department’s formal opening in 1977.  Wednesday, Dr. Phil Sharp, President of Resources for the Future and former U.S. Congressman from Indiana, will receive the second Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security .

Washington Auto Show Sets Policy Bar – The Washington Auto Show also launches it policy day on Capitol Hill that will explore how technology is making our nation’s roads and vehicles safer and infrastructure smarter and transforming the way we live, work and travel featuring Michigan Sen. Gary Peters and our friend Joe White of ThomsonReuters.   Media Day will be Thursday.

Forum to Look at Climate, Food Security – The American Meteorological Society the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America will hold a briefing on climate change and food security in Russell 485 at 3:00 p.m.

Senate Energy to Look at Auto Tech innovations – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to examine the status of innovative technologies within the automotive industry. Witnesses for Thursday include DOE’s David Friedman, AAMA’s Mitch Bainwol, Electric Drive Transportation Association President Genevieve Cullen, NREL’s Transportation and Hydrogen Systems Center Director Chris Gearhart and Xavier Mosquet of the Boston Consulting Group.

USEA Hosts State of Energy Forum – The US Energy Assn will host its 12th annual State of the Energy Industry Forum on Thursday at Noon in the National Press Club.  Senior leaders from the energy industry’s major trade associations will provide their outlook and overview of their priorities for 2016.  Speakers will include NEI’s Marvin Fertel, API’s Jack Gerard, APPA’s Susan Kelly, EEI’s Tom Kuhn, AGA’s Dave McCurdy, NMA’s Hal Quinn, SEIA’s Rhone Resch, AFPM’s Chet Thompson and INGAA’s Don Santa among others.

Brookings Expert to Look at Climate Economics – Brookings Institution Climate and Energy Economics Project Director Adele Morris delivers remarks at a National Economists Club luncheon on Thursday at Noon in Chinatown Garden Restaurant.  Morris will focus on climate change economics and policy.

Forum to Look at African Energy Finance – On Thursday afternoon, the US Africa Chamber of Commerce will hold a forum on the future of energy investment in Africa. The event will explore a variety of deep-dive topics related to energy investment and development in Africa, and will host attendance from both major players in various energy markets on the continent, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) currently operating within the energy sector in Africa and the U.S. See below for the panel schedule.

Green Car Journal to Announce Winner at Auto ShowGreen Car Journal has announced finalists for the 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ and 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year™ awards that will be presented at the 2016 Washington Auto Show on Thursday . Focused on aspirational vehicles with exceptional green credentials, nominees for 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ include the BMW X5 xDrive40e, Lexus RX 450h, Mercedes-Benz C350e, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV. Vying for the all-new 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year™ award are the Audi A3 e-tron, BMW 330e, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Toyota Prius, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV.  Finalists previously announced for the 2016 Green SUV of the Year™ award that will also be presented at The Washington Auto Show® are the BMW X1 xDrive 28i, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.  The 2016 Green Car Awards recognize vehicles that exhibit laudable environmental achievement. Along with improved environmental performance, traditional buyer touchstones like functionality, safety, quality, value, and performance are also considered. Affordability and availability are important to ensure honored models are accessible to a wide range of buyers. Honoring continual environmental improvement places emphasis on new vehicles and those in the very early stages of their model lifecycle. The Connected Green Car of the Year™ award considers these elements plus the integration of connected technologies that enhance efficiency, safety, and the driving experience.

Forum to Look at Energy, Russia Relations – The Wilson Center will hold a forum on Friday at 10:00 a.m. on how energy/environment issues impact prospects for U.S.-Russia Relations.

EPRI’s Tyrant to Address Grid Issues – On Friday at Noon at Carmines, the US Assn of Energy Economists will host Barbara Tyran of EPRI at its monthly lunch to discuss grid interconnect issues.  Tyran is the principal liaison between EPRI executive management, and Congress, the Administration, the national trade associations, the national leadership of the state public utility commissions, state legislators/regulators, and the Washington energy community.

SEJ, Wilson to Look at 2016 Enviro Issues – On Friday at 3:00 p.m., the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Environmental Change and Security Program at Wilson will hold its fourth annual “Year Ahead in Environment and Energy” event, where leading reporters and editors will discuss the critical issues that will shape 2016. Jessica Coomes, deputy news director at Bloomberg BNA, will present Bloomberg BNA’s Environment Outlook 2016, followed by a panel discussion featuring leading journalists from National Geographic, Huffington Post, Bloomberg BNA, Environment & Energy Daily, and more to be confirmed.  Speakers will Include our friends Meaghan Parker, Jeff  Burnside and Doug Fischer.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

Forum to Look at Enviro Justice Issues in GHG Plan – Next Monday at 11:00 a.m., the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will hold a briefing discussing how environmental justice (EJ) is addressed through EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  The panel will explore how incorporating environmental justice concerns into the Clean Power Plan’s implementation can impact vulnerable communities.  Speakers for this forum include EPA Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice Mustafa Ali.

GU Group to Look at Paris Results – Georgetown’s Mortara Center for International Studies will hold a forum on next Tuesday to assess COP 21’s results.  The panel will feature GU Prof Featuring Joanna Lewis, Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center and students Norah Berk, SFS ’15 and Alexandra Donovan, SFS ’17.

Forum to Look at Paris Event – The United Nations Environment Program and the George Washington University Sustainability Collaborative will host an event on Wednesday January 27th that will highlight key achievements of 2015: the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the outcomes of the recent Paris climate conference.  The event will provide an overview of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what they mean for the public and private sectors with a particular focus on implementation of the environmental dimension. It will also highlight the SDGs regarding sustainable cities, sustainable consumption and production, and climate change and their relevance for North America.

Nuclear Summit Set for Newseum – Third Way and the Idaho National Laboratory are partnering with Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to host a first-of-its-kind Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase in Washington, Dc on Wednesday January 27th at the Newseum.  In North America, 48 companies, backed by more than $1.6 billion in private capital, are developing plans for advanced nuclear reactors. The influx of ideas and investment into the advanced nuclear industry has made it a burgeoning part of the clean energy sector. The Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase builds upon the conversations sparked by the White House Summit on Nuclear Energy and the Nuclear Innovation Workshops sponsored by the Idaho National Laboratory.   Along with national policymakers and influencers, the Summit will establish that there is a robust advanced nuclear sector being developed by private companies and research institutions, and that government has a vital role to play in bringing the promise of the sector to reality.

CSIS to Look at GHG plan – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the CSIS Energy and National Security Program is hosting a discussion on the future of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in 2016. The expert panel will provide an overview of the state, federal and court level activity and planning that is likely to take place throughout the upcoming year.  John Larsen, Director with the Rhodium Group and Senior Associate with the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS, will highlight recent analysis from the CSIS-Rhodium Group study regarding emissions impacts and preview forthcoming work on energy sector impacts of the rule. Kathryn Zyla, Deputy Director with the Georgetown Climate Center, will give an overview of the approaches being considered by various states and the issues that matter most to their decision making. Kyle Danish, Partner with VanNess Feldman LLP, will discuss legal challenges to the CPP and the likely timeframe and pathways for resolving those challenges. Emily Holden, ClimateWire Reporter with E&E Publishing, will provide additional perspective on the various state, regional, and congressional issues that are important to watch this year.

ELI Book Forum to Tackle Coal Grandfather Issue – On Wednesday, January 27th at Noon, the Environmental Law Institute will host a book forum to anti-coal lawyer Richard Revesz.  In their forthcoming book, “Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the ‘War on Coal’”, Revesz and Jack Lienke detail the history of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the political compromises that led to exempting existing power plants, many of which are coal-fired, from significant portions of the CAA’s regulatory authority. ELI will feature an expert panel with Revesz, Lienke,, Bill Bumpers, NRDC’s Dave Doniger, and former EPA Air Administrator Bill Rosenberg as they discuss the environmental implications of the Clean Power Plan and the ramifications of grandfathering. Hear Professor Revesz and other experts in the field discuss to what degree the Clean Power Plan really reduces pollution, and the interaction between grandfathering and pollution reduction

RFF to Look at FIP, Trading on GHG Plan – Resources for the Future will hold a forum on Wednesday, January 27th at 12:30 p.m. on the federal implementation plan and model trading rules. The comments, due January 21, 2016, give stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback on the challenges and opportunities for state implementation of the carbon dioxide emissions guidelines for power plants.  RFF will be joined by EPRI for a special seminar focusing on a diverse set of stakeholder comments on how the federal implementation plan and model trading rules might impact the electric power sector.  This is the first event in the RFF/EPRI 2016 Clean Power Plan Seminar Series. The next event, on February 11, will highlight modeling results of how the Clean Power Plan impacts various states and regions. Speakers will include NRDC’s Ben Longstreth, EPRI’s Vic Niemeyer, RFF’s Karen Palmer and AEP’s Resource Planning Managing Director Scott Weaver.

CSIS to Host Infrastructure Discussion – On Wednesday, January 27th, CSIS will hold an expert panel discussion on meeting infrastructure demands around the world. According to the World Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility, the unmet demand for infrastructure around the world is estimated to be above $1 trillion per year. Meeting the financing need for bankable and sustainable projects must be a priority, for both governments and the private sector, in the coming decades. In addition to financing needs, donors and the private sector must work together to build capacity and provide technical assistance that will ensure continued success long after the individual projects have been completed. Panelists will discuss ways in which infrastructure can become a driver of development and stability, and how targeted investments in smart projects and capacity building can produce measurable results to pave the way for sustainable economic growth in low and middle-income countries.

Senate Energy to Explore Innovative Nuclear Technologies – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday January 28th to examine the status of innovative technologies within the nuclear industry.

Greenest Show on Grass: Waste Management Phoenix Open – February 1st through 7th, Waste Management will host its annual PGA tour event at the Phoenix Open in Arizona.  Waste Management has been a partner of the Phoenix Open for 15 years, and is dedicated to making the Open the greenest tournament on the PGA TOUR. The tournament has also become a major platform for Waste Management Think Green solutions, including the Four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.  As a regular part of the event, WM is hosting its 6th annual Executive Sustainability Forum which provides a platform to discuss how and why the circular economy is fractured.  The event will identify collective challenges, and approaches to overcoming these challenges through collaboration along the value chain.  Speakers will include WM CEO David Steiner, our friend Dana Perino, NYT’s John Tierney  and Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter, among many others.

Sustainability Forum Set at GMU – Leaders in Energy, Association of Energy Engineers – National Capital Chapter, and George Mason University will hold an Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza on its GMU Arlington campus on February 5th.

Wind Summit to Look at Finance, Investment – Infocast is holding its annual Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit February 9-11 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego.   Now that the PTC question has been settled, the Summit will focus on the critical issues and opportunities for the wind industry, including the impacts of EPA’s Clean Power Plan on Wind, long-term outlook for natural gas prices, the outlook for tax equity and debt and many other topics.

Nuclear Innovation Conference Set – The Energy Innovation Reform Project and Oak Ridge will hold a nuclear innovation conference on February 10 and 11th in Oak ridge, TN.

Energy Update: Week of January 11

Friends,

Tough lead today with the loss of the innovative and iconic rock legend David Bowie who passed away last night after an 18-month battle with cancer.   Ground control to Major Tom, your circuits dead, there’s something wrong…Can you hear me Major Tom???

The loss is especially difficult for those who have followed Bowie through his Changes that crossed generational and economic spectrums.  Only if We could steal time…Just for one day.  Either way, there’s a Starman waiting in the sky.

All the way from Washington, You want the Young Americans to say the energy week starts with the President’s final  State of the Union address tomorrow night.  We expect a heavy dose of general platitudes and self-congrats on the Paris agreement and the domestic implementation piece: the Administration’s GHG rules.  We don’t expect a lot of specific policy focus in spite of having a solar advocates sitting with the first lady in the President’s box.

Congress also joins the fight with action this week with a more Congressional Review Act action focused on limiting EPA’s controversial and currently blocked-by-the-court Waters of the United States rule.  The House will take up the STREAM Act which .Finally, if you follow energy efficiency (as I SO do) a House Energy panel will look at legislation that will redefine certain energy efficiency rules for DOE.  Tomorrow, the House Science Committee will mark up bipartisan legislation intended to boost public and private research on advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

The biggest event this week is the US Chamber’s annual “State of American Business” address on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. featuring  Chamber President Tom Donohue perspective/policies on the economy and energy issues.  Wednesday has three great events with WCEE looking at hydraulic fracturing (in light of last week’s SAB draft report), our friend Sam Thernstrom’s  Energy Innovation Reform Project briefing/discussion of the future of nuclear power and the World Resources Institute’s 2016 Stories to Watch.  Finally, Thursday, Bloomberg First-Word Energy editor Mark Drajem joins BGov analysts Loren Duggan, Adam Schank and Danielle Parnass for a free webinar tackling key energy issues and other questions.

Remember to mark your calendars for next week’s USEA 12th annual State of Energy event on Thursday, January 21st and Friday’s annual SEJ/Wilson Center forum on environment and energy stories for 2016.  And remember just three weeks to the Greenest Show on Grass: The Waste Management Phoenix Open, a PGA event which always includes a great environmental policy forum.

Finally, in case you missed it last week, we are resending our top issue for 2016 for your review.  Tell us you thoughts are let us know what issues we may have missed.

Enjoy tonight’s big game…let’s hope it’s as exciting as the Valero Alamo Bowl, perhaps the only really fun game of a drab Bowl season.   Perhaps more fun:  Watching hockey given Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin hit the 500 goal mark (in just 801 games) yesterday against Ottawa.

We can beat them, forever and ever…  We can be heroes, just for one day.   Don’t forget the National Press Club Event on Paris and utilities with Tom Friedman, Tom Kuhn, and SAFE’s Robbie Diamond starting right about now.  As usual, call with questions…

Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932

 

IN THE NEWS

Journal Study Says Climate Could Limit Water Use at Power Plants – A new study from an Austrian research center says climate change could lead to significant declines in electricity production in coming decades as water resources are disrupted.  Hydropower stations and thermoelectric plants, which depend on water to generate energy, together contribute about 98% of the world’s electricity production, said the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.  Shifts in water temperatures, or the availability of fresh water due to climate change, could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity in more than two thirds of the world’s power plants between 2040 and 2069.

House Moves on Regulation Reforms – With regulations a major focus in the President’s last year in office, the House passed legislation aimed at reducing unnecessary and burdensome regulations.  The bill would establish the Retrospective Regulatory Review Commission, a group that would review federal regulations, especially those with an estimated annual cost of $100 million or more, and advise Congress on the potential repeal of regulations that have excessive costs and place unnecessary burdens on those regulated. Smith said the outsized growth of burdensome regulations has created the need for a special group to study regulatory reductions that “make government smaller, more efficient, and accountable” to its citizens. The vote was 245 to 174.

SAB Questions Continue – The EPA’s Science Advisory Board criticized its conclusion that there’s no evidence the gas drilling leaves “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water,” saying it didn’t reflect noted “uncertainties and data limitations.”  The SAB released 133-page draft report late last week that said the EPA’s previous report could be improved.   The report questions the “clarity and adequacy” of the EPA draft report and says EPA “needs to do a better job of recognizing the importance of local impacts” from fracking.  SAB cites Dimock, Pavilion and Parker County as examples where the local community makes claims regarding localized impacts.  Finally, with respect to the “no widespread, systemic” language, SAB said the phrase “does not reflect the uncertainties and data limitations” that is well expressed elsewhere in the EPA draft report.

Segal Challenges SAB Approach – My Bracewell & Giuliani colleague Scott Segal, who testified before the SAB and has decades of experience representing a number of oil and gas producers, said as someone who participated in the SAB process, “I can confirm that reviewers were presented with no new information that challenges the finding in the EPA draft report of no ‘widespread’ or ‘systemic’ contamination resulting from natural gas development.  The SAB panel did hear a parade of anecdotal statements, many of which came from plaintiffs in active litigation.  By contrast, the SAB panel had before it conclusions from the National Academy of Sciences, the US Geological Survey, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, MIT, GAO, the Groundwater Protection Council, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission – all largely supportive of the claim that contamination is neither widespread or systemic, just as EPA’s Draft Assessment found.  The experts at EPA’s Office of Research and Development should not let largely discredited, anecdotal or litigation-inspired evidence stand in the way of conclusions based on scientific consensus.”

Top 10 Issues In 2016

  • We’ll Always Have Paris – In December, nations agreed to a next step climate approach.  While hailed as a breakthrough, it is clearly not the historic agreement many advocates had hoped for.  In fact, it appears to be another incremental step that is much less bold and demanding than they would ever have found remotely acceptable.  Nobody is really bound to anything other than to keep trying and reviewing their progress every five years, with no prescribed penalties for missing them.   How this plays out this year globally will determine whether this is a turning point or the same old, same old.  Another test for the Administration’s position will be regarding the funding requests for the UN’s Green Climate Fund. While Congress has already hit the funding several times, it remains controversial especially as the developing world waits to be “Shown the Money” following Paris.
  • Legal Eagles for CPP Year – The linchpin to meeting Paris and addressing climate change for the Administration is centered around its Clean Power Plan, which regulates GHGs and requires existing power plants to slash their carbon emissions by 2030. Almost 30 states and a wide array of industry groups have challenged the rule, claiming EPA doesn’t have the legal authority to enact it.  Arguments will center around the contention that Congress never gave EPA the authority to encourage emission control methods outside the fence line of a power plant, such as forcing increased renewables.  They will also challenge regulating power plants under Section 111(d) after they already regulated them under Section 112, which covers hazardous air pollutants.  Also look for Rural Co-ops to weigh heavily in to the legal battle as they have a very strong case for being aggrieved the most by the rules.  Lots to do on this with key dates set for early this year and folks like my colleague Jeff Holmstead ready to discuss at any point.
  • Politics All The Time – As we progress through 2016, we will be under a full slate of political action starting this month in Iowa where the first-in-the-nation votes are well underway.  This year-long sweep will keep a target on the back of candidates, parties, Congress and President Obama for every little political move and its meaning.  It also will likely clear the Congressional schedule some time around mid-March or April to focus on theme legislating and political campaigning – always a dangerous time for both Congress and the Administration.    Who is standing at the end of the day on November 2nd remains a mystery, today but the road will be loud, twisting and bumpy.
  • Regs, Regs and More Regs – It is 2016…the last year of President Obama’s time in office.  And like with any end of a second-term President, expect a full regulatory dump.  While most are looking at gun safety, e-cigarettes and other social regs, the energy and enviro side will see the same barrage.  Already, DOE is pounding the pavement to rush out over 20-plus efficiency regulations that will tie appliance and HVAC industries in knots trying to comply.  Other key regulations like Methane from gas drilling, Federal land fracturing regs, tougher Ozone rules, a battle of EPA Water of the US rules and more individual climate rules will all be a part of the year-long sweep.   Many industry and regulatory watchdogs are on guard, but the sheer volume of the effort masked in the President election may allow some to side through.
  • Expanding the Innovation Agenda – Last year was a great year for the innovation agenda.  It picked up extra steam not only in our national labs but also with private companies investing millions in the effort.  Southern Company was the prime example promoting several bold and innovative individual  technologies like carbon capture, large-scale biomass and new generation nuclear.  They also started an innovation center to house the creative outcomes of its workforce.  We also saw its emergence on the global scene in the Breakthrough Coalition led by Bill Gates and the govt-to-govt “Mission Innovation” initiative.  Only a bold private-public innovation/technology partnership process like this by world and business leaders can achieve success.
  • Ozon‘ing Out – The Ozone/NAAQS instantly become one of the biggest political and policy fights of 2015 when the White House/EPA announced it would roll out a standard at 70 ppb.  Last year we predicted that the  Administration had only so much political capital at its disposal and it made clear that controlling greenhouse gases is its legacy issue.  Given the state and industry pushback and the symbolic Keystone victory the White House gave to enviros, the Administration clearly didn’t have the bandwidth to sustain a tougher ozone rule, especially as we venture into an election year.  There is no doubt that many in Congress and the states will still say the current EPA plan is unrealistic and enviros have already filed suited calling for 60 ppb.  Just before Christmas both sides hammered EPA with lawsuits.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and NAM are the loudest industry voices complaining that imposing new standards make no sense when many communities haven’t even complied with previous ozone reduction levels.  This battle will play out in the election year where state and local officials end up playing an oversized role since  they are impacted the most.
  • RFS, Ethanol: Same Old Sad Song – The disaster known as the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) continued last year with EPA finalizing its long-awaited rule in early December.  The original law establishing the RFS set in place an increasing level of use for ethanol expressed in terms of actual volume numbers.  As time has gone by, however, the actual total gasoline fuel pool has declined due to more efficient autos, more mass transit, and even electric cars.  As a result, the volume number – if EPA fails to adjust it downward – will exceed 10% by volume of gasoline.  But above that level, autos have significant performance issues.  The ethanol folks want the continued higher growth; fuel makers and consumers are queasy about the higher numbers.  There is little environmental case for higher ethanol use any more, especially as commercial   second-gen biofuels remain elusive.  Indeed, major enviro groups like EWG have produced studies showing the higher levels are actually worse for carbon emissions when the ethanol lifecycle is taken into account. It is likely the RFS won’t be repealed, but a wholesale revision is closer to a reality that ever.  Now, Congress will be expected to once again roll up its sleeves on a bipartisan basis and amend the law to a more functioning workable approach.
  • Crude exports, Iran: Catching the Garbage Truck? – The year–end budget deal achieved a goal of many in the oil industry and Congress to remove the decades-old ban of crude exports.  Going forward with market prices low and the world supply broad, there is some question as to how this policy will impact the markets going forward.  2016 will be a key year to see how this plays out.  Another warning sign is the role Iran will play as it comes off sanctions and moves to place it oil into the marketplace.
  • Renewable Reset – The year-end tax/budget deal also renewed the PTC/ITC for five years even though it will eventually phaseout.  The move was a long-standing wish for the renewable industry which has struggled to survive the boom and bust cycles of Congressional budget battles holding the tax credit hostage over the years.  One need only look at AWEA’s graphs charting the installation numbers to understand why the long-term approach will help Installation despite stiff competition from low natgas prices.  2016 looks to be a strong year for renewables especially in light of the Administration efforts to push utility switches with its GHG regs.  It remains an uncertain question though as to whether folks will build more renewables though because of other factors like costs, local NIMBY opposition, state regulatory woes or infrastructure challenges.   Certainly, the technologies are bursting onto the scene in the developing world where China and India (and many others) are already building a number of projects with infrastructure and without opponents at every turn.
  • Build It…Infrastructure – Our continued failure to seriously invest in our transportation and energy infrastructure is costing us jobs and putting our global competitiveness at risk.  Today, we are producing more oil, natural gas and renewable energy than ever before, yet we cannot get that energy efficiently to where it is needed because of we lack the transmission lines, pipelines, roads, rail, trucks, and ships that can move it .  Not investing in our outdated infrastructure will stifle our energy growth, leave us vulnerable to supply disruptions, and weaken our energy security.   Industry trade associations and DOE’s Quadrennial Energy Review underscored this challenge.  Yet at the same time, the Keystone opponents were handed a symbolic, but important victory on the most high-profile infrastructure project in 2015.  Expect a reinvigorated attack in 2016 on energy projects and infrastructure, using Keystone as the template.

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Detroit Auto Show Set to Go – The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) starts today and runs through January 24th in the Motor City.  The official press conference schedule for the 2016 NAIAS begins with Press Preview today and tomorrow. With more than 5,000 credentialed journalists from 60+ countries expected to attend the upcoming show, automakers and suppliers exhibiting at NAIAS garner considerably greater global visibility and impact when compared to other domestic shows.  The 2016 NAIAS Press Conference Schedule is available on the NAIAS website under the main Press tab.  In its 28th year as an international event, the NAIAS is among the most prestigious auto shows in the world, providing unparalleled access to the automotive products, people and ideas that matter most – up close and in one place.

Press Club to Host Forum on Paris Utility Impacts – Today at 2:30 p.m., the National Press Club will host a discussion on the impact of the Paris accord on Electric Utilities with NYT Columnist Tom Friedman in the First Amendment Lounge.   Friedman will lead a panel discussion on the impact of the recent UN Climate Conference in Paris and what it will mean for the U.S. Electric Utility industry and their customers. The panel will includes EEI’s Tom Kuhn, Larry Kellerman of 21st Century Utilities LLC,  former Florida PSC Chair Joe Garcia and Robbie Diamond, the founder of an energy non-profit SAFE.

House Energy to look at Efficiency Legislation – The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on the External Powers Supplies (EPS) Act of 2016.  This legislation would exempt certain lighting technologies from the definition of “External Power Supplies” included in the Department of Energy’s EPS efficiency standard, which was finalized in 2014. Relief is necessary as the requirements of DOE’s final rule go into effect in February of 2016.  Witnesses will include the National Electrical Manufacturers Association member Pekka Hakkarainen and ACEEE’s Jennifer Amann.

Blood Oil Author to Be Featured – Tomorrow at 4:00 p.m., the Center for Global Development will hold a book forum on Blood Oil with author Leif Wenar.  All of the recent reforms around extractives—from transparency to certification to oil-to-cash—point toward the modern idea that the people, not power, should have the ultimate right to control a country’s resources. Can the US lead the West toward the next global revolution, by abolishing its legal trade in authoritarian oil and conflict minerals.

State Of The Union Address –Tomorrow at 9:00 p.m., President Obama will present his final State of the Union Address before Congress.

Stories to Watch 2016 – On Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. at the National Press Club,
the World Resources Institute will present the big stories that will shape the world in 2016.
WRI President Andrew Steer will look at the Paris Agreement, major trends in energy, finance, business, food and cities and many other items.

Nuclear Forum to Look at Future Action – The Center for the National Interest and the Energy Innovation Reform Project will hold a briefing and luncheon discussion of the future of nuclear power on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. The meeting is the first in a new series of programs on nuclear energy and will feature remarks by John Kotek, Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Energy.  The combination of innovative energy technologies with energy and climate change policies in the United States and other leading energy producers and consumers has produced turmoil in international energy markets as well as in domestic markets in many countries. This event will have two components, a briefing on new nuclear technologies-including small modular reactors-from and a lunch discussion of the Obama administration’s efforts to promote nuclear innovation featuring Samuel Thernstrom, EIRP Executive Director.

CAP to Look at Paris, Climate Finance – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the Center for American Progress will host a discussion on the future of climate finance in the Paris era. Specific issues will include the influence of multilateral climate funds in the global economy; how developed countries, such as the United States and Japan, can cooperate and improve resilience in the most vulnerable regions; and how countries and multilateral efforts can work with the private sector.  Featured panelists include Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO Naoko Ishi and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy and Environment of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Board Member of the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

UC-Davis Forum to Look at Freight System Efficiency – The National Center for Sustainable Transportation at UC-Davis hosts a briefing Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in B-369 Rayburn looking at increasing the efficiency and economic competitiveness of the nation’s freight system.

Cato Forum Look at Book on Oil –
On Wednesday at Noon, the Cato Institute
will host a Book Forum in its Hayek Auditorium
on “Blood Oil” featuring the author Leif Wenar of King’s College London, Bruce W. Jentleson of Duke University and Cato’s Ian Vásquez. The benefits from development and global connectedness — in which we are all inescapably complicit — have been huge. However, the natural resources that enabled that development also benefited people who systematically made the lives of others desperate and miserable, fueled violent conflicts, and funded many of the world’s autocracies.

This cycle continues today, but there is hope. In his book, Blood Oil, Leif Wenar explores this great moral challenge of our time, and “shows how citizens, consumers, and leaders can act today to avert tomorrow’s crises — and how we can together create a more united human future.”

Wenar, the chair of philosophy and law at King’s College London, has written a timely and provocative book.

WCEE to Continue at NatGas Drilling Series – On Wednesday at 12:00 p.m., the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will host its third in a series of Lunch & Learn seminars looking at the topic of hydraulic fracturing. Part 3 of the series will focus on induced seismicity, which are the earthquakes associated with energy development, particularly in the states of Kansas and Oklahoma. 

This event will have an in-person option; and for those unable to attend, a webinar option.  Speakers will include Julie Shemeta, President and Founder of MEQ Geo, an independent micro-seismic consulting company based in Denver, Co. She has experience with conventional and unconventional oil development, geothermal energy and mining and has worked on projects in North America, Australia, India, Argentina, Columbia, Germany and Mexico. Julie was one of eleven authors of the National Academies National Research Council’s 2012 Study, Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies.  Also speaking will be Rex Buchannan, Interim Director of the Kansas Geological Survey. He was appointed Interim Director in 2010 and has been with the Survey since 1978. In this role, he also chairs the Kansas Taskforce on Induced Seismicity. In addition, Mr. Buchannan serves as Secretary of the American Association of State Geologists and has been a past Chair of the Geology and Public Policy Committee of the Geological Society of America.

NAS to Host Arctic Sessions – On Thursday, the National Academy of Sciences Polar Research Board will host a series of lively, public-friendly presentations from top scientists and other experts who study the connections between Arctic-region changes and impacts that can affect people and places around the globe. Attendees can also explore a series of interactive exhibits and displays.  The event is free and open to the public. Some of the topics/speakers at this event will include:
 Permafrost carbon: a climate change amplifier by Max Holmes of  Woods Hole Research Center; The Polar vortex: Impacts of arctic warming on the weather where we live with
Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University; Plants and animals: How arctic warming can affect global ecological dynamics
by Natalie Boelman of the  Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Sea level rise from the loss of polar ice
 featuring  Penn State’s Richard Alley; the Arctic Ocean implications of the shrinking polar ice cap
by US Navy Admiral Jonathan White and Arctic as a new frontier for sustainable development
by Gwen Holdmann of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power.

World Bank Transpo Conference Set – The World Bank and EMBARQ, the urban mobility initiative of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities will hold its annual Transforming Transportation conference Thursday and Friday.  The event convenes leading transport and urban development experts from national and local governments, multilateral development banks, foundations, civil society, research institutions, and businesses from around the world. At Transforming Transportation, they share the latest experiences, information, and best practices around sustainable transport.  More information at www.TransformingTransportation.org.

Wilson Forum to Look at Security, Disasters, Climate – On Thursday at 9:00 a.m., the Woodrow Wilson Center will hold a discussion of whole-of-government interventions to reduce climate change vulnerability. The panelists will discuss opportunities to increase collaboration across U.S. agencies and what role can disaster risk management play in building stability.

U.S. Chamber State of American Business on Thursday – The U.S. Chamber will host its annual “State of American Business” address and press conference on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 9:30 a.m. at the Chamber’s HQ. The Chamber’s Tom Donohue will provide the business community’s perspective on how the economy and country are doing, and he will lay out the organization’s key policy priorities, including on energy issues.

BGov to Look at Lame Duck 2016 – Bloomberg Government analysts and First Word Editor Mark Drajem will conduct a webinar at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday to provide a deep-dive discussion in these key policy areas: tax overhaul, energy and health care. The webinar will answer what House Speaker Paul Ryan’s chances are of making meaningful headway on simplifying the tax code, the likelihood of enacting legislation on climate change, renewable fuel standards and exports of U.S. shale gas, as well as expected action on Obamacare.

ASE to Host Congressional Briefing on Cutting Edge Technologies, Businesses – On Thursday at Noon, the Alliance to Save Energy will host a Congressional Briefing on Cutting Edge Technologies and Businesses: Opening the Door for Energy Efficiency Deployment at Scale. This event will focus on technologies, systems efficiency, and the keys to bringing energy efficiency to scale in the built environment.  The purpose of the briefing is to educate and engage congressional staff and energy efficiency professionals on the work and progress being done in this area, while also discussing solutions and best practices that can help further advance energy efficiency in the built environment.

Forum to Look at G20, Green Finance – On Friday at 10:00 a.m., the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
will look at public policy and private institutional innovations for a more sustainable global financial system. A new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), The Financial System We Need, captures this momentum to harness the world’s financial system for the transition to a low-carbon, green economy.  Following the launch in 2015 of the Sustainable Development Goals, along with the successful Paris climate agreement, 2016 looks set to be the ‘year of green finance,’ focusing on the operational measures needed to mobilize the trillions of dollars required for the transition. Spearheading this movement, China intends to place a special focus on green finance in 2016 under its G20 presidency. The United States now has an historic opportunity to advance leadership on green finance internationally, as well as to scale-up domestic innovations already in place.  Participants will include former IMF director John Lipsky, Carnegie’s David Livingston, former Obama NSC official Michelle Patron and Jay Shambaugh, current member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

Washington Auto Show Sets Policy Bar Green Car Journal has announced finalists for the 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ and 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year™ awards that will be presented at the 2016 Washington Auto Show on January 21. Focused on aspirational vehicles with exceptional green credentials, nominees for 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ include the BMW X5 xDrive40e, Lexus RX 450h, Mercedes-Benz C350e, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV. Vying for the all-new 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year™ award are the Audi A3 e-tron, BMW 330e, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Toyota Prius, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV.  Finalists previously announced for the 2016 Green SUV of the Year™ award that will also be presented at The Washington Auto Show® are the BMW X1 xDrive 28i, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.  The 2016 Green Car Awards recognize vehicles that exhibit laudable environmental achievement. Along with improved environmental performance, traditional buyer touchstones like functionality, safety, quality, value, and performance are also considered. Affordability and availability are important to ensure honored models are accessible to a wide range of buyers. Honoring continual environmental improvement places emphasis on new vehicles and those in the very early stages of their model lifecycle. The Connected Green Car of the Year™ award considers these elements plus the integration of connected technologies that enhance efficiency, safety, and the driving experience.

Food, Energy, Water Conference Set – Next week, the Food-Energy-Water Nexus conference will be held at the Hyatt at Reagan National Airport.  The conference will feature 1,200 other leaders in science, technology, government, business, civil society, and education to create strategies and initiatives that transform ideas into action.

Senate Energy to Look at Energy Markets – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing next Tuesday to examine the near-term outlook for energy and commodity markets.

Senate Energy to Look at Auto Tech innovations – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday January 21st to examine the status of innovative technologies within the automotive industry.

USEA Hosts State of Energy Forum – The US Energy Assn will host its 12th annual State of the Energy Industry Forum on Thursday, January 21st at Noon in the National Press Club.  Senior leaders from the energy industry’s major trade associations will provide their outlook and overview of their priorities for 2016.  Speakers will include NEI’s Marvin Fertel, API’s Jack Gerard, APPA’s Susan Kelly, EEI’s Tom Kuhn, AGA’s Dave McCurdy, NMA’s Hal Quinn, SEIA’s Rhone Resch, AFPM’s Chet Thompson and INGAA’s Don Santa among others.

Forum to Look at African Energy Finance – On Thursday afternoon, January 21st  the US Africa Chamber of Commerce will hold a forum on the future of energy investment in Africa. The event will explore a variety of deep-dive topics related to energy investment and development in Africa, and will host attendance from both major players in various energy markets on the continent, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) currently operating within the energy sector in Africa and the U.S. See below for the panel schedule.

SEJ, Wilson to Look at 2016 Enviro Issues – On Friday, January 22nd at 3:00 p.m., the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Environmental Change and Security Program at Wilson will hold its fourth annual “Year Ahead in Environment and Energy” event, where leading reporters and editors will discuss the critical issues that will shape 2016. Jessica Coomes, deputy news director at Bloomberg BNA, will present Bloomberg BNA’s Environment Outlook 2016, followed by a panel discussion featuring leading journalists from National Geographic, Huffington Post, Bloomberg BNA, Environment & Energy Daily, and more to be confirmed.  Speakers will Include our friends Meaghan Parker, Jeff  Burnside and Doug Fischer.

CSIS to Host Infrastructure Discussion – On Wednesday, January 27th, CSIS will hold an expert panel discussion on meeting infrastructure demands around the world. According to the World Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility, the unmet demand for infrastructure around the world is estimated to be above $1 trillion per year. Meeting the financing need for bankable and sustainable projects must be a priority, for both governments and the private sector, in the coming decades. In addition to financing needs, donors and the private sector must work together to build capacity and provide technical assistance that will ensure continued success long after the individual projects have been completed. Panelists will discuss ways in which infrastructure can become a driver of development and stability, and how targeted investments in smart projects and capacity building can produce measurable results to pave the way for sustainable economic growth in low and middle-income countries.

Greenest Show on Grass: Waste Management Phoenix Open – February 1st through 7th, Waste Management will host its annual PGA tour event at the Phoenix Open in Arizona.  Waste Management has been a partner of the Phoenix Open for 15 years, and is dedicated to making the Open the greenest tournament on the PGA TOUR. The tournament has also become a major platform for Waste Management Think Green solutions, including the Four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.  As a regular part of the event, WM is hosting its 6th annual Executive Sustainability Forum which provides a platform to discuss how and why the circular economy is fractured.  The event will identify collective challenges, and approaches to overcoming these challenges through collaboration along the value chain.  Speakers will include WM CEO David Steiner, our friend Dana Perino, NYT’s John Tierney  and Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter, among many others.

Sustainability Forum Set at GMU – Leaders in Energy, Association of Energy Engineers – National Capital Chapter, and George Mason University will hold an Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza on its GMU Arlington campus on February 5th.

Energy Update: Week of December 14

Friends,

That was a very busy weekend — way more busy than it should be around the middle of December…  At least the weather was beautiful for Mid-December.

Anyway, the Paris Climate deal is done although we really don’t know what it will really “should” or “shall”  do.  It certainly isn’t clear that the agreement is as historic as the initial coverage has portrayed.   Full details and links below.

The second major issue comes to a head today when the budget discussions surrounding crude oil exports, refiner credits and tax incentives for renewables hit a deadline.  The Senate and House are both in session this week primarily working to complete a $1.1 trillion spending measure to fund the government. Members have until midnight Wednesday to agree to and pass the omnibus spending bill.   We are happy to offer the latest thoughts, perspective and timing.

This is really the last week for events around town as before the holidays roll in.  Tomorrow, CSIS will host a panel discussion looking at electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including the role that utilities could play in financing, owning, and operating this infrastructure.   On Wednesday the Energy Times will interview Perdernales Electric Cooperative CEO John Hewa and discuss his co-op’s innovations in a webcast on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.   Perdernales is one of the nation’s largest rural electric co-ops and emerging as the vanguard of innovators when it comes to engaging and partnering with its member-consumers  in supporting their energy goals.  also Wednesday, the Wilson Center gets into the just-approved UN Climate plan.  Finally, on Friday, former EIA head and current CSIS energy expert Guy Caruso will discuss the current energy state of the play.

So while, the UN climate deal and the Congressional budget deal might seem like big news to us today, we might expect it to be off the radar by Thursday when the new Stars Wars movie rolls out.  While there are three world premieres tonight, it will be in already sold-out theaters on Thursday.  Speaking of Star Wars, perhaps my favorite Bill Murray song as Saturday Night Live’s Nick Winters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqedbxGxfgE

Call with questions…And May the Force Be With You

 

Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932
PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

The Deal – 196 nations agreed to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future in Paris over the weekend.  For the first time, the accord brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.  The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Here is the text: http://unfccc.int/documentation/documents/advanced_search/items/6911.php?priref=600008831

The Word “Shall” – As you may have seen, there has been wide-spread reporting of the one-word change that was essential to getting an agreement.  US negotiators discovered in the final draft text in Article 4 a line declaring that wealthier countries “shall” set economy-wide targets for cutting their greenhouse gas pollution.  But the word shall Implied a legal obligation and the as you know, that would force the hand of the President to submit the agreement to Congress.

French Negotiator Rams in Through as Technical Correction –French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius worked the words into the technical changes where the wording was read aloud by a delegate in the plenary hall and lost in a package of other technical revisions.   Prior to that Fabius had worked the room on several key negotiating teams and already received approval (or at least no objection to) the change and the deal was inked.  Minutes later, French banged his gavel and the most significant international climate change deal in history won the resounding approval of 196 governments, representing nearly every country on the planet.

President Obama Speaks form Oval Office – While this speech was as bold and important as his speech to the nation on terrorism issues last week, President Barack Obama made a statement Saturday Night from the Oval Office.  “We came together around the strong agreement the world needed,” Obama said from the White House. “We met the moment.  He added “the American people can be proud — because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership.”

Chamber Expert in Paris Offers Comment – Stephen Eule, vice president for climate and technology at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy:   “The Paris climate conference delivered more of the same—lots of promises and lots of issues still left unresolved.  While we are reviewing the final agreement, it’s clear that implementation still faces the same obstacles that we’ve been warning about for years.  None of the commitments made, including those by the U.S., are binding, and many aren’t even complete. Moreover, Congress must appropriate any funds that the Obama administration has pledged.  The White House’s overall domestic strategy of making energy more expensive and less abundant to satisfy international constituencies, many of whom compete against the United States, should worry the business community, American workers, and consumers. We will continue our efforts to understand how this deal affects the U.S. jobs and growth.”

Not Every Enviro is On Board – While most enviro groups swallowed hard, put on a happy face and supported the agreement, some wouldn’t go so quietly.  In response to the final agreement reached, Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute unloaded: “The plain truth is that Paris didn’t produce the strong, just and binding treaty we need to protect the planet’s most climate-vulnerable people and our very web of life from climate chaos. But the summit did highlight the growing power of a global movement for true climate justice.”  You can see the full extent of their complaints here.

 

With the climate agreement, here is some initial analysis.  

Historic? No So Much – It is impressive to get 195 nations to agree on anything and clearly a positive to have them all at a table talking about the issue of climate change.  I remain skeptical that this is a historic agreement but yet another incremental step that is much less bold and demanding than many advocates would ever have found remotely acceptable.  It is clear that nobody is really bound to anything other than to keep trying and reviewing their progress every five years, with no prescribed penalties for missing them.

Signal to Business – Secretary of State Kerry said the deal didn’t need to be mandatory because it still sends a strong signal to business that clean energy is only future.  “The result will be a very clear signal to the marketplace of the world, that people are moving into low-carbon, no-carbon, alternative, renewable energy, and I think it’s going to create millions of jobs, enormous investments into R&D, and that R&D is going to create the solutions, not government,” Kerry said.  Given the broad and always-changing nature of our energy picture, there may be some truth to his statement, but it is clear not as clear as Kerry says given the volatility of energy pricing, the key questions of infrastructure and reliability and the nature of regional differences in our energy mix.

Temperatures – As for the temperature goal, the vague wording remains as aspirational as ever with little hope of achieving the target through this agreement or any ensuing actions, especially since nobody will be bound to them.  Maybe emissions reductions, new technologies or increased political will can meet these goals, but it is unlikely and nearly every one participating in the UN process knows that.

Process is Flawed – This agreement underscores what I have argued since Kyoto in 1997.  Only small incremental steps can be achieved in this flawed UN Climate process, unless there is a new global dedication to innovation and technology advancement that is moved to the front and center.  Only a bold private-public innovation/technology partnership process like the one detailed at the beginning the Paris conference by world and business leaders can achieve success.

I find the following section intriguing, not to mention the parts in bold seem like great quotes:

1.    17. Notes with concern that the estimated aggregate greenhouse gas emission levels in 2025 and 2030 resulting from the intended nationally determined contributions do not fall within least-cost 2 ˚C scenarios but rather lead to a projected level of 55 gigatonnes in 2030, and also notes that much greater emission reduction efforts will be required than those associated with the intended nationally determined contributions in order to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 ˚C above pre-industrial levels by reducing emissions to 40 gigatonnes or to 1.5 ˚C above pre-industrial levels by reducing to a level to be identified in the special report referred to in paragraph 21 below;

2. The terms “invites” and “requests,” among others point to the degree to which this agreement lacks teeth.

3. ABC reprinted a summary that provides some interesting information http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/key-points-landmark-paris-climate-agreement-35735723>

Here are some of the key elements of the deal:

—LONG-TERM GOAL: The long-term objective of the agreement is to make sure global warming stays “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and to “pursue efforts” to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures have already increased by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. To achieve that goal, governments pledged to stop the rise in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible.” By some point after 2050, the agreement says, man-made emissions should be reduced to a level that forests and oceans can absorb.

—EMISSIONS TARGETS: In order to reach the long-term goal, countries agreed to set national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions every five years. More than 180 countries have already submitted targets for the first cycle beginning in 2020. Only developed countries are expected to slash their emissions in absolute terms; developing nations are “encouraged” to do so as their capabilities evolve over time. Until then, they are expected only to rein in the growth of emissions as their economies develop. The Paris deal doesn’t make national emissions reduction targets legally binding, so its success will largely depend on the effectiveness of a new system to revisit each country’s progress and raise targets every five years.

—REVIEWING TARGETS: The initial targets won’t be enough to put the world on a path to meet the long-term temperature goal. So the agreement asks governments to review their targets in the next four years and see if they can “update” them. That doesn’t require governments to deepen their cuts. But the hope is that it will be possible for them to do so if renewable energy sources become more affordable and effective. The Paris agreement attempts to lay down new rules to make sure all countries calculate and publicly report their emissions reductions in the same way after 2020, making it possible to keep track of global progress.  The US already has a sophisticated GHG tracking inventory and reports annually.  But developing countries are still new to international reporting on climate policies as evidenced by reports recently that large and sophisticated developing countries like China have been already underreporting emissions.

—TRANSPARENCY: There is no penalty for countries that miss their emissions targets. But the agreement has transparency rules to help encourage countries to actually do what they say they will do. That was one of the most difficult pieces to agree on, with China asking for softer requirements for developing countries. The agreement says all countries must report on their emissions and their efforts the reduce them. But it allows for some “flexibility” for developing countries that “need it.”

—MONEY: The agreement says wealthy countries should continue to offer financial support to help poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change. It also encourages other countries to pitch in on a voluntary basis. That paves the way for emerging economies such as China to contribute, even though it doesn’t require them to do so. Actual dollar amounts were kept out of the agreement itself, but wealthy nations had previously pledged to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020.

—LOSS AND DAMAGE: In a victory for small island nations threatened by rising seas, the agreement includes a section recognizing “loss and damage” associated with climate-related disasters. The U.S. long objected to addressing the issue in the agreement, worried that it would lead to claims of compensation for damage caused by extreme weather events. In the end, the issue was included, but a footnote specifically stated that loss and damage does not involve liability or compensation.

—INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY:  The business community won on IP issues when direct references to IPR have been banished from the text. But that pleasure is tempered by the language that found its way into the text: “Accelerating, encouraging and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting economic growth and sustainable development. Such effort shall be, as appropriate, supported, including through financial means by the Technology Mechanism and the Financial Mechanism of the Convention, for collaborative approaches to research and development, and facilitating access to technology, in particular for early stages of the technology cycle, to developing countries.”  Translation: We would like for developed countries to give us more money to buy down IPR and, who knows, maybe even provide compulsory licensing.

 

Enhanced Action Prior to 2020 – The whole section either “urges” or “recognizes.” For example, it “Urges host and purchasing Parties to report transparently on internationally transferred mitigation outcomes, including outcomes used to meet international pledges, and emission units issued under the Kyoto Protocol with a view to promoting environmental integrity and avoiding double counting;”

Can I have a strongly urges? –  Resolves to enhance the provision of urgent and adequate finance, technology and capacity-building support by developed country Parties in order to enhance the level of ambition of pre-2020 action by Parties, and in this regard strongly urges developed country Parties to scale up their level of financial support, with a concrete roadmap to achieve the goal of jointly providing USD 100 billion annually by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation while significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels and to further provide appropriate technology and capacity-building support;

Asks for Another High Level Meeting before 2020 – “121. Agrees to convene, pursuant to decision 1/CP.20, paragraph 21, building on the Lima-Paris Action Agenda and in conjunction with each session of the Conference of the Parties during the period 2016–2020, a high-level event that:”… “Provides an opportunity for announcing new or strengthened voluntary efforts, initiatives and coalitions.”

What Comes Next – First, there will be a signature ceremony on April 22, 2016 that lays out the basic template for “ratification, acceptance, approval or accession,” and sets up a template for future dialogue.  Negotiators will meet again in Morocco next year in early November 7, 2016 in Marrakesh.  It will be the second time they have been to Marrakesh where the COP was held in 2001.  Many delegates never attended the Morocco meeting following the terrorists attacks in U.S. in September of that year.  Next year they will focus on innovation and adaption while continuing efforts to limit emissions.

One Significant Success on HFCs, Short-Lived Climate Pollutants – One great success that will probably achieve more than the entire Paris agreement was reached midway through the two week session.   Governments and industry leaders in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition committed to further essential advances in reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) that have a global warming potential many times that of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. At the Focus Event on SCLPs Action Agenda at COP21, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), whose Secretariat is hosted by the United Nations Environment Program, committed to double their membership in two key initiatives to reduce these pollutants – in freight and landfills – as well as detailing advances in the critical area of refrigeration.  They pushed forward a proposal for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to phase down under Montreal Protocol, jointly with many ministers. The Protocol signed in 1987 aimed at suppressing gas harming the ozone layer (CFCs) which have been mainly replaced by hydrofluorocarbon gas (HFCs).  Reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants – HFCs, methane, black carbon, and tropospheric ozone – is essential to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C and to improve air quality. Action in this area contributes to meet the main international climate change objective, improves public health, saves massive costs on medical care and avoids severe pollution damage to the environment, all at the same time.

AHRI Knows the Value of HFCs, Montreal Protocol – The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, the trade association representing refrigerant producers and air conditioning and refrigeration equipment manufacturers, commented on the topic recently when nations reached agreement on HFCs at 27th Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol in Dubai earlier in November.

“AHRI is very pleased that the signatories to the Montreal Protocol have agreed to work toward adoption of an amendment in 2016 to include hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants under the purview of the treaty and to work toward setting a schedule to phase down the worldwide use of these refrigerants,” Yurek said  “AHRI has supported including HFCs in the Montreal Protocol for many years. Even as other MP signatories have debated the original North American Proposal to do so, AHRI’s member companies — including refrigerant producers and original equipment manufacturers —  have proactively been researching potential alternative refrigerants to ensure that the world’s air conditioning and refrigeration equipment manufacturers will have access to appropriate refrigerants.  AHRI, U.S. government agencies, and energy efficiency advocacy groups have all worked diligently for many years to ensure a phase-down of these chemicals.   This collaboration is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when all parties work together in good faith to achieve a common goal,” Yurek added.

 The AHRI research program, known as the Low-Global Warming Potential Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program (Low-GWP AREP) has been underway since 2011 and is now in its second phase.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Forum to Look at Health Impacts, Octane – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will hold a briefing today at 1:00 p.m. examining the health impacts of current octane sources and the need for cleaner, cost-effective octane providers. Octane is necessary for vehicle performance and increasing octane volumes would enable highly efficient engines. At the same time, octane-boosters in use today have historically been highly toxic compounds. But cleaner alternatives are available–namely biofuels.  Speakers for this forum are DOE’s Reuben Sarkar, Carol Kwiatkowski of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and former GM engineer Dean Drake.

US AID Head Addresses Climate, Asia Developing Countries – The Stimson Center will hold a forum tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. looking at climate change and developing countries in Asia.  USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia Jonathan Stivers will discuss the challenges that climate change and environmental protection pose for developing countries in Asia and the cooperative and leadership opportunities that it creates for the US Rebalance. Stimson’s Brian Eyler will provide regional context and moderate questions.

CSIS to Look at EV Charging Infrastructure – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host a panel discussion tomorrow 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.

Forum Focused on Fusion – The American Security Project will host a panel discussion tomorrow at Noon on Fusion Energy. The event will focus on leaders in fusion energy from the private sector and research labs to discuss the significant progress made in advancing fusion and what this clean, safe, and abundant energy source means for America’s national security and energy future.  Leading experts in fusion from the public and private sector will discuss the new developments that have been featured over the last several months in major media outlets like Time Magazine, the New York Times, Science and Nature. ASP is the leading think tank detailing a plan for the future of fusion.

TX Co-Op CEO Feature in Energy times Webinar – The Energy Times will interview Perdernales Electric Cooperative CEO John Hewa and discuss his co-op’s innovations in a webcast on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.   Perdernales is one of the nation’s largest rural electric co-ops and emerging as the vanguard of innovators when it comes to engaging and partnering with its member-consumers  in supporting their energy goals.  In a recent interview, Hewa laid out his vision for crafting effective strategies to achieve advancements in demand response, energy efficiency and increased renewable partnerships in its central Texas territory, including fast-growing regions outside of Austin and San Antonio.  You can register here.

Forum to Look at COP21 Results – The Wilson Center, George Mason University, and World Resources Institute will host a forum on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. to look at the results of the Paris Climate Conference.  A panel of experts will discuss how COP21 unfolded and what was accomplished. Speakers will also discuss how the outcomes of negotiations will affect efforts to tackle climate change in the United States and abroad, what was left on table for future discussions, and how any agreement plays out in the continuing evolution of climate change policy. The event is part of the ongoing “Managing Our Planet” series, jointly developed by George Mason University and the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute and its Environmental Change and Security Program.  Speakers include WRI’s Andrew Steer, GMU’s Andrew Light, White NSC advisor Paul Bodnar and Wilson’s Roger-Mark De Souza.

STEM Reception to Honor Efforts – STEM4US! will host a Talk & Congressional Reception om Thursday evening in B-369 Rayburn on investing in STEM.   The event will feature executives from some of the most well-known brands in energy, technology/telecom, and health sciences along with Members of Congress and other leaders for a conversation about the impact of their investments in STEM and growing the pipeline of diverse workers in the energy, tech, and telecom fields.  Particular focus will be given to initiatives in exciting and inspiring youth about good-paying, sustainable STEM jobs as a way of stemming the spike in violence sweeping the nation.  STEM4US! is an advocacy organization formed to provide universities, schools, and parents with the tools to excite and prepare young people for careers in energy, technology, and other STEM fields.

Caruso to Address Energy Economists – The US Assn of Energy Economics will host Guy Caruso, former EIA Administrator (2002-2008) and current senior adviser in the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS, on Friday at Noon for a reflective one-on-one conversation about what he’s seen during his career in energy and what the world of tomorrow will look like.