Energy Update: Week of September 29

Friends,

 

While many of you may have heard this sad news, I still wanted to start today with a giant collective energy update hug for our friend Maureen Lorenzetti who suddenly lost her loving husband of 27 years last week.  Many of you may not have known Maureen’s husband Stephen, but if you have been to Washington DC in the last 20 years to visit the National Mall, you have been impacted by his work.   Lorenzetti worked his way through the National Park Service to the executive ranks, all-the-while overseeing big projects like the restoration of the Washington Monument, the construction of the National World War II and MLK Memorials among other sites and helping the Washington Monument recover from the unusual East Coast earthquake in 2011.  Most importantly, he was a loving dad, husband, coach, colleague, outdoor enthusiast and volunteer who will be sorely missed by all.  Memorial contributions may be made to Stephen Lorenzetti Tree Replacement Fund, Trust for the National Mall, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 370 Washington, DC 20004.

 

While it was nice to wake up very early each morning over the weekend and watch nonstop coverage of the Ryder Cup from Scotland, the results (a 16½-11½ victory for Europe to win their third-straight Ryder Cup) were disappointing.   Less disappointing, Derek Jeter’s Yankee Stadium heroics in his last days as a Yankee and the Washington Nationals Jordan Zimmerman closing the 2014 regular season with a no-hitter, setting the table for the start of the MLB playoffs.  The Playoffs launch this week with the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles in key spots.  The LA Dodgers and Angels are also strong, so we have the potential for an all Beltway or LA I-5 World Series.  Of course you can never count out those teams with Midwestern values like Detroit, St. Louis or wild card underdogs Pittsburgh or Kansas City.  Finally with San Francisco and Oakland as the other wildcards, the Bay Area also still plays on at least through Wednesday.  AL Wildcard play begins tomorrow from Kanas City while the Pirates host SF on Wednesday.

 

With five weeks remaining in the 2014 campaign season, here is part two of my update election preview.  Remember last week, we covered general issues/trends and some races that are seemingly already locked up.  This week, we’ll mention to the key toss-up Senate races to watch.

 

Finally, not much action this week, but US Energy Assn will host its 7th annual Energy Supply Forum at the National Press Club Ballroom on Thursday.   Speakers will include Tesoro CEO Greg Goff, Brattle Group’s Peter Fox Penner, AEP’s Mark McCullough, Chris Faulkner of Breitling Energy and many more.  Call with questions.

 

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

  1. (202) 997-5932

 

POLITICAL REPORT PART II, IN BRIEF

 

General Outlook – Generally, the President’s party fares poorly in second-term elections.   In 2006, Republicans lost 30 House seats and 6 Senate seats under George W. Bush’s watch.  Recent Gallup polling says more than three in four Americans, 76%, is currently dissatisfied with the direction of the country, while only 23% are satisfied.  It is the 10th consecutive month that satisfaction has fallen between 23% and 25% — a remarkably narrow range in a measure that has reached as high as 70% and as low as 7% since 2000.  Finally, the Rasmussen Generic Congressional ballot remains generally tied with either side slightly leading in the recent weeks.   Americans have typically rated the Democratic Party more positively than the Republican Party, so the current parity between the two is a positive sign for the GOP and a negative one for Democrats. Indeed, current opinions of the Democratic Party are among the worst Gallup and Rasmussen has measured in the past 20 years. Interestingly, the only time Gallup measured a lower favorable rating for Democrats was in late March 2010, just after Obama signed the health care law.

 

Mid-term Turnout – This is a midterm election and the fact is fewer people will vote this year than did in 2012.  When that happened in 2010, Democrats suffered accordingly, losing several key governorships in states that President Obama won like Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania.  According to research from the Pew Center, voter turnout regularly drops in midterm elections, and has done so since the 1840s. In 2008, for instance, 57.1% of the voting-age population cast ballots — the highest level in four decades.  But two years later only 36.9% voted in the midterm election that put the House back in Republican hands. For Obama’s re-election in 2012, turnout rebounded to 53.7%.  What will happen in November will tell the key story.

 

President’s Approval – Unfortunately for Democrats, President Obama is uniquely unpopular, only slightly higher at this point in his presidency than that GW Bush (2006) and scandal-ridden and about to resign Nixon (1974).  The President’s popularity matters because a majority (51%) of people planning to vote Republican in their district say they mean it to be a vote against President Obama.

 

Senate Outlook Gloomy for Dems – Democrats are starting with 55 seats, so Republicans need a net gain of 6 to take control of the Senate.  We already mentioned last week that it looks as if 3 seats in the Senate that are Democrat open seats will likely switch in South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia.  These remaining seats seem to be in play, particularly in Louisiana, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and even Georgia.  While each of the races has its own flavor and tempo, the consensus seems slightly to favor a GOP takeover.  Feel free to call or look here more details.

 

Close House Races – While Republicans will likely maintain the House majority, there will be a number of close races to keep your eye on in Congress.  Out of the 17 toss up races, 13 are in Democrat hands.  Among the most interesting races are those in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, New Hampshire and West Virginia.  You can get a run down on any of these races here.

 

IN THE NEWS

 

Cabot Adds to Eagle Ford Play Assets – Cabot Oil & Gas said Wednesday that it reached a $210 million deal with an undisclosed seller to purchase approximately 30,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford Shale.  The assets were producing approximately 1,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (92% liquids) and include approximately 17,000 net acres near Cabot’s Buckhorn operating area, increasing the total Buckhorn leasehold position to approximately 60,000 net acres.  Cabot’s total Eagle Ford Shale leasehold position to approximately 83,000 net acres. Based on the Company’s current spacing configuration of 400 feet between laterals, Cabot has identified 191 net locations on this additional Buckhorn area acreage with an average lateral length of over 6,500 feet.  The Company is currently testing 300-foot downspacing across its existing Buckhorn position, which would add an additional 45 net locations on the acquired leasehold. As a result of this transaction, the Company has added a fourth operated rig in the Eagle Ford to begin drilling on the newly acquired properties. The transaction is expected to close in October 2014.

 

India Hits Back on Climate – While Indian leaders did not attend the much-ballyhooed climate meetings at the UN in New York last week, they did push back on President Obama’s plea for “every country” to help cut carbon pollution.  Late last week, India’s environment minister told the media his nation’s top priority is boosting the economy and relieving poverty, not climate change.  Our friend Coral Davenport reports that Prakash Javadekar said India won’t offer a CO2-reduction plan before next year’s climate talks in Paris, and that any actions the country takes would just lower the rate of increase in carbon emissions for at least the next 30 years. “ Javadejar said 20% of the Indian population doesn’t have access to electricity, and that’s their top priority.  He added: “We will grow faster, and our emissions will rise.”  Javadekar also pushed the need for action back on developed countries.  He said the US and others have had more than a century to burn fossil fuels and that the “moral principle of historic responsibility cannot be washed away.”

 

China Releases a White Paper – the docket maintained by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) now contains a white paper produced by the delegation from China that raises some interesting points about Chinese positions on carbon regulation.  Seeming to reject the Obama Administration’s leadership on climate, the paper explicitly makes China’s commitment “dependent on the adequate finance and technology support provided by developed country parties” and insists that cash payments from the West come from “new, additional, adequate, predictable and sustained public funds”.  It regards the current commitment of $100 billion from Western nations as only a “starting point” and calls for elimination of intellectual property claims regarding green technologies developed in the US and elsewhere.  The Chinese Working Group Paper can be found here:  http://www.foxnews.com/world/interactive/2014/09/24/china-working-group-paper/

 

Interior Releases Desert renewables Plan – The Department of the Interior released a draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) last week. The plan is a landscape-scale blueprint that is the result of an extensive public participation process, which included collaboration among the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and other stakeholders. The public will have until January 2015 to provide additional comments on the draft plan, which includes lands in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.  The draft DRECP proposes to protect areas in the California desert important for wildlife, recreation and other uses while streamlining permitting in areas appropriate for siting of solar, wind and geothermal energy projects and associated transmission. The plan presents six alternative approaches for meeting renewable energy and conservation goals through 2040. Each alternative proposes a different conservation design and configuration of lands available for streamlined renewable energy permitting. The plan also includes an analysis of the potential environmental impacts of these alternatives.  The draft plan has three key components that support the goals of the DRECP including the BLM’s Land Use Plan Amendments would designate renewable energy development areas and promote conservation of wildlife, cultural, and recreational values in other areas, including by expanding National Conservation Lands, across the 10 million acres of public lands in the planning area; the FWS’s General Conservation Plan would allow the FWS to streamline the permitting process for renewable energy applicants on non-federal lands that agree to comply with the terms and conditions of the General Conservation Plan; and CDFW’s Natural Community Conservation Plan would identify and provide for the regional or area-wide protection of plants, animals, and their habitats, while allowing compatible and appropriate economic activity.

 

WoodMac Report Says Crude Price Could Fall Dramatically – A new report from experts at Wood Mackenzie says the price of domestic crude oil could “tumble” $30 a barrel below the international benchmark if the U.S. continues to ban crude exports.”  The falling prices could be made worse by new drilling technology that may boost recovery rates by as much 100% and is expected to add an additional 1.5 million to 3 million barrels per day of new oil production. The report also weighed in on the current debate about whether the United States should lift its ban on crude exports.  Wood Mackenzie said if U.S. crude prices fall compared to international benchmarks lifting the ban would help preserve current investment levels.  The report argued that lifting the ban would also improve domestic tight oil wellhead margins by about $5 per barrel, encouraging investment and raising production rates.

 

SAFE Report Gas Spending at all-time High –Speaking of gasoline, Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) released a report analyzing new government data that finds that despite record domestic oil production, U.S. consumer spending on gasoline remained near all-time highs last year.   Recent data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) indicates that the average U.S. household spent more than $2,600 on gasoline in 2013 for the third consecutive year — a 111% increase from the $1,235 spent in 2002. Moreover, gasoline spending increased by an average of 8% annually over the past decade, while non-gasoline discretionary spending increased by an average of 1% annually.  Closely correlating with global crude oil prices, not domestic crude streams, increased U.S. gasoline spending proves a result of stubbornly high global oil prices and American consumers’ near-complete reliance on oil as a transportation fuel. Despite a retreat from historical highs in 2013, Brent crude oil prices remained elevated, averaging $108 per barrel, and as a result, U.S. gasoline prices declined little in 2013 from 2012. The full report, “Consumer Gasoline Spending Near All-Time High in 2013 Despite Domestic Oil Boom,” can be found here.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

 

Geothermal Event, Expo to Review Latest Techs – The Geothermal Energy Association is hosting its annual Meeting and Expo in Portland, OR at the Portland Convention Center today and tomorrow.  The event is world’s largest gathering of vendors providing support for geothermal resource exploration, characterization, development, production and management. It provides a unique opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their projects, equipment, services and state of the art technology to the geothermal community.  The Expo is co-held with the Geothermal Resources Council’s annual meeting  and will look at the latest developments in geothermal energy. Last year, the GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Expo hosted representatives from more than 37 countries.  The meeting will offer technical, policy, and market conference sessions and educational seminars, as well as tours of local geothermal and renewable energy projects.

 

Poneman Addresses Energy Changes – The Wilson Center held a forum this morning with DOE Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman discussing the changes in the world’s energy environment that he has witnessed during his tenure.  Poneman contrasted the world of energy between his entry in 2009 and his departure in 2014 as Deputy Secretary, during a time of revolutionary changes in the world’s energy environment. He also reflected on lessons learned from the US government such as:  Fukushima and Hurricane Sandy, non-proliferation diplomacy and advancing US energy policy on the global stage.

 

McCarthy to Hit Water Conference in NOLA – As if she hasn’t been speaking enough lately, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will deliver a keynote speech at the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) in New Orleans.  McCarthy’s remarks will focus on why the Clean Water Act proposed rule is so vital to protecting our water resources, communities and economy.  One suspects mentions climate change will also be evident.

 

Inglis to Headline  Midwest Energy Conference – The Midwest Energy Policy Conference will be held in St. Louis tomorrow and Wednesday.  The event will address the 2014 environmental and energy rulings of the SCOTUS, the path forward following the EPA greenhouse gas 111(d) ruling and what makes successful state energy plan programs relevant and successful in several key focus areas (economic development, education, research, regulations, portfolio mix, biofuels, and more)  The Keynote speaker will be former SC Rep. Bob Inglis.

 

Forum to Tackle Energy Tech, Climate – The American Security Project will hold a panel tomorrow for a discussion about the next generation of energy technology and climate policy. This conference will discuss how to truly ensure that natural gas is the transition fuel that it has been touted as – not a “bridge to nowhere.” It will look at the challenges of how to bring more renewable power into an antiquated energy system – and how to overcome those challenges. It will discuss how to catalyze the development of new energy technologies that can bridge the gap between what has been promised and what current technology can achieve.  Speakers will include Chris Guith, Julia Piper, Mark Petri, Kate Ling.

 

India Energy Forum Set – Tomorrow and Wednesday, the 5th US-India Energy Partnership Summit will be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.  The Summit is a multi-stakeholder platform to address US-India collaboration on energy access, efficiency, security and technology. Participants will deliberate on new avenues as the Indian Government reinforces its priority to strengthen partnership in renewable energy, sustainable cities, and sustainable transport.  A landmark edition, the fifth US-India Energy Partnership Summit is scheduled during the Indian leadership’s visit to Washington, DC, and in the wake of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit. The Summit will be graced by the presence of senior government officials from both countries – invitations have been extended to the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.  The Summit will broadly look at ‘Accelerating Resilient Growth and Development’, while addressing various issues related to energy efficiency, security, access and technology. Stakeholders from all sectors will come together to discuss avenues for new and strengthened collaboration in various aspects of clean technologies and renewable energy, green buildings and sustainable cities, decentralized energy access, alternatives such as shale gas, etc. Climate change will also form a key component of the discussions, with the proceedings at the General Assembly and Climate Summit providing significant inputs to the Summit deliberations. The focus throughout will be on bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and related areas.

 

Webinar to Focus on Smart Grid – Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., the Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid will hold a webinar to discuss time-based meters are being installed and pilot projects in Oklahoma and California.  New research on how customers feel about pricing continues to be rolled out. Some of the newest information on this comes from the large and well-studied pricing programs at Oklahoma Gas & Electric and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).  This webinar will present findings on four different pricing options under various marketing and enrollment options, including both opt-in and default enrollment. Join us and hear what customers think about time-variant rates compared with standard rate options, see how load impacts vary across different rate options and enrollment strategies, see what drives rate choice and opt-out decisions, whether impacts persist across multiple years, and more.

 

UT Forum to Look at Energy, NatGas – On Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m., University of Texas-Austin’s Institute of the Americas and the Latin America and Caribbean Program for a discussion on how the U.S. energy revolution and natural gas can be most effectively utilized to increase diplomacy and support economic development across the Western Hemisphere. Panelists will also analyze where the export question, as well as social and environmental concerns, fit into the broader debate on the U.S. shale revolution.  Speakers will include DOE’s Fossil Assistant Secretary Chris Smith, Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador Neil Parsan, State Department Policy expert Richard Westerdale and former State Department official David Goldwyn,

 

Energy Engineering Conference Set – The World Energy Engineering Congress will be held next Wednesday through Friday in the Washington Convention Center.  The event is the nation’s largest, most active buying venue for end user energy products and services. The WEEC expo is attended each year by the nation’s leading energy professionals in business, industry, and government who seek the best solutions for all aspects of today’s energy cost and supply challenges.

 

WCEE Forum To Look at Big Data – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment will host a lunch forum on Wednesday  featuring IBM Institute of Electronic Government experts on big data and sustainability.  More data than ever are being generated from many different sources (from satellites to smart phones), leading to the concept dubbed “Big Data”.  Jane Snowdon, Chief Innovation Officer at IBM Federal, will discuss IBM’s trailblazing methods of harnessing Big Data and using analytics to achieve sustainability objectives.  IBM’s approach is twofold: working to make existing products and processes more efficient for both the environment and for business, while also developing new innovations that can help the world drive economic and operational improvements, increase accountability and lessen environmental impact.

 

USEA Forum Set – The US Energy Assn will host its 7th annual Energy Supply Forum at the National Press Club Ballroom on Thursday.   Speakers will include Tesoro CEO Greg Goff, Brattle Group’s Peter Fox Penner, AEP’s Mark McCullough, Chris Faulkner of Breitling Energy and many more.

 

Brookings to Look at Utilities, Climate – On Wednesday afternoon, the Energy Security Initiative (ESI) at Brookings will host Peter Fox-Penner for a discussion of the future of the electric utility industry. This event serves as a follow-up to Fox-Penner’s initial book launch at Brookings in April 2010. After his opening remarks, Fox-Penner will be joined in a panel discussion by Adele Morris, fellow and policy director for the Climate and Energy Economics Project at Brookings, and Rudy Stegemoeller, staff led on the New York State Public Service Commission “Reforming the Energy Vision” initiative. ESI Director Charles Ebinger will moderate the discussion.

 

RESA to Convene 3rd Annual Retail Energy Markets Symposium — The Retail Energy Supply Association’s 2014 Energy Competition Symposium will hold its annual conference in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday, a half-day event exploring the leading issues affecting retail energy competition nationally.  They will also address the future of competitive retail and wholesale energy markets, product innovations for retail customers and improving the shopping experience for consumers.  Distinguished speakers include Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Thomas Johnson, Cheryl Roberto of the Environmental Defense Fund, Kristin Munsch of the Citizens Utility Board, Bruce Weston with the Office of Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, Sam Randazzo of the Industrial Energy Users, Ohio Gas Association President Jimmy Stewart, PUCO Commissioner Asim Haque, EnerNOC’s Katie Guerry, former Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Philip O’Connor, former PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler, Clean Power Finance’s Sierra Peterson, and Karen Moury with Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney.  The symposium will feature a keynote address by Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz, Chairman of the Public Utilities Committee.

 

SEIA Webinar to Look at Termination Issues – On Thursday at 1:00 p.m., the Solar Energy Industries Association will hold a forum on Federal procurement for solar projects. Some developers are all too familiar with termination for convenience (T4C) requirements in federal renewable energy projects.  Some avoid federal projects because of T4C alone, while some lenders feel T4C conflicts with common financial underwriting assumptions. But are they right? As the Obama Administration ramps up federal solar use, this webinar features experts from the U.S. Navy well-versed in federal solar procurement best practices. They will clarify federal T4C issues and common misperceptions, while explaining how the impact of federal T4C differs substantially from similar provisions in private deals … and may not be as problematic as some think. The speaker will be Jermaine Hector, who serves as Senior Contracting Officer at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

 

Nat Lab to Release Reports – On Thursday at 2:00 p.m., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will hold a webinar to discuss its latest annual solar reports: “Tracking the Sun and Utility-Scale Solar” hosted by lead report authors Galen Barbose and Mark Bolinger of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  The webinar will feature highlights from the most-recent editions of Berkeley Lab’s two annual solar reports.

 

JHU to Host NatGas Drilling Forum – On Thursday at 5:00 p.m., Johns Hopkins University will host a forum on natural gas drilling.  The event will feature Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy; Amy Mall, senior analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council; and Jan Mares, senior advisor at Resources for the Future.

 

Green Homes Tour Set for DC Region – The 24th Annual Tour of Solar & Green Homes will be held this weekend in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Every year during the first weekend in October, thousands of Americans learn about the solar and other clean energy features of homes, schools, and businesses in their communities.   This year’s local tour will feature a remarkable variety of solar design, technology and sustainable living concepts illustrated in over 50 homes in the Washington DC area.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

 

Moniz to Speak at SXSW Eco – The South-By-Southwest sustainability Conference will be Held In Austin on October 6th through 8th.   Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will keynote the conference.  Other speakers will include Tom Steyer and Oceanographer Sylvia Earle.   Our friends Kalee Kreider, Jim Motavalli, BNA’s Larry Pearl, Peter Fox Penner of Brattle and AGA’s Kathryn Clay will be among the other panel speakers.

 

WCEE to Feature Cheniere For LNG Discussion – Next Monday at Noon, the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment will host Cheniere Energy for a backgrounder on LNG and discuss why natural gas exports are important to the U.S. and its economy at the BP office in Washington, D.C.  Cheniere’s Majida Mourad will speak.  The U.S. is undergoing an energy renaissance, due in part to newly discovered shale plays and advances in technologies that enable us to extract natural gas that was previously unobtainable by conventional extraction methods.  The U.S. is now in a position to be a natural gas exporter, and over 30 applications have been made by energy companies to develop LNG export terminals.  Cheniere Energy was the first to apply for, and receive, all of the necessary permits to develop its Sabine Pass LNG export terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2015. Cheniere also has applied to export LNG from a second facility in Corpus Christi, Texas.

 

Forum to Address Second Gen Biofuels Progress – Next Monday at 3:00 p.m., the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will hold a briefing in 2226 Rayburn examining the technologies leading commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production. Cellulosic ethanol is produced from agricultural residue – primarily, at this time, from corn stover (leaves, stalks and husks), which is removed in a sustainable manner after the harvest. Cellulosic ethanol is commercially produced at one U.S. facility, with two more coming on-line later this year. Combined, these three facilities are expected to produce a total of approximately 80 million gallons of renewable fuel per year. Contrary to popular belief, cellulosic fuels are not ‘phantom fuels’ but commercially viable ethanol fuels, which have been scaled up in a relatively short time period.  Speakers for this forum are Poet’s Rob Walther, Abengoa Bioenergy’s Christopher Standlee, DuPont’s Nancy Clark and Amy Davis of Novozymes North America.

 

TIDES Forum to Look at Defense, Environment Issues – The Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) at National Defense University (NDU) will host the 8th Annual TIDES Fall Field Demonstration on Tuesday, October 7th through Friday, October 10th at Ft. McNair.  The forum’s theme this year is “Collaborate, Respond, Recover.”  The event will showcase a myriad of humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, stabilization and reconstruction technologies and ideas from the private sector (business, not-for-profit, and academic) in providing shelter, power, water, sanitation, lighting, heating & cooling, cooking and information communication technology solutions.  In addition to the technology display, the forum will feature a lunchtime speaker series and facilitated discussions.

 

EIA Winter Outlook Conference Set – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the National Association of State Energy Officials will host the 2014 – 2015 Winter Energy Outlook Conference on Tuesday, October 7th.  Each year, this important winter fuels supply and demand forecast event serves as the public release of EIA’s Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook and brings together the nation’s leading public and private energy market experts.  Internationally recognized energy data and forecasting experts and industry representatives will address global oil supply uncertainty, electric reliability, and the impacts of projected winter weather on the demand for key heating and transportation fuels.  Presenters will explore the range of factors that affect the supply, distribution, and prices of propane, petroleum, natural gas, and electricity.  This conference will inform state and federal officials, energy sector representatives, and consumers about the current and anticipated energy supply and demand balance to provide the resources they need to make educated and informed financial, program, and policy decisions.

 

Forum to Look at Keystone – On Wednesday, October 7th at 1:00 p.m., the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute will host a forum convening a panel of experts to discuss the environment Keystone XL pipeline.  The event will look at what has made KXL the political football it is today, what the proposed project means for the upcoming elections, the legal underpinnings of the approval process, and where the pipeline goes from here, both in Nebraska and in Washington.  Speakers include House Energy Counsel Ben Lieberman, Omaha World-Herald Washington Correspondent Joseph Morton, POLITICO’s Elena Schor and Adam Vann of CRS.

 

Webinar to Look at Women in Solar Advocacy – On Tuesday, October 7th at 1:00 p.m., SEIA will hold a webinar on a new non-profit focusing on Women in Solar Energy.  WSE is a newly formed non-profit resource and membership organization for women in the solar industry. This webinar will educate listeners on the state of women in the industry and you will learn what you can do to get involved.  Speakers include Carrie Cullen Hitt, Kristen Nicole and Sara Rafalson.

 

EPA Webinar to Focus on Non-Utility Scale Solar – On Tuesday, October 7th at 1:00 p.m., EPA will hold a webinar on non-utility solar projects.  Large-scale, non-utility solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) are still a rarity despite the growing popularity of PPAs across the country. In this webinar, participants will learn more about how the nation’s largest non-utility solar photovoltaic PPA east of the Mississippi came to be. To help other organizations learn how to develop and implement similar PPAs, representatives from American University, the George Washington University and the George Washington University Hospital, along with CustomerFirst Renewables, will discuss their recently announced solar PPA that was launched in 2014 and will be fully operational by 2015. The 52 megawatt (MW) solar PV power plant, located in North Carolina, will deliver ~123 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity a year, meeting more than 50% of each of the three organizations’ annual electricity needs.  Speakers will include EPA’s Mollie Lemon, AU’s Chris O’Brien, GWU’s Meghan Chapple, GW Hospital Administrator Amy Mendoza and Gary Farha of CustomerFirst Renewables

 

Forum to Host Ambassador of Singapore – The Chino Cienega Foundation will hold the next installment of the PISA-ASEAN Roundtable on Climate-wise Development featuring a representative of the Singaporean Embassy on Wednesday October 8th at 2:00 p.m. in George Washington U’s Lindner Family Room.  The speaker will be Nedyam Nitya Menon, First Secretary (Political) at the Embassy of the Republic of Singapore.

 

Clean Tech Forum Set – On Thursday, October 9th, former White House Climate Task Force leader Roger Ballantine and former FCC Chair Reed Hundt will speak at a forum looking at the future of energy, renewables and clean tech markets.  The event will be at 9:00 a.m. at the Wooly Mammoth Theater’s Melton Rehearsal Hall.

 

WRI to Release New Climate Report – On Friday, October 10th in Washington, D.C., the World Resources Institute will release a new climate report “Seeing Is Believing: Creating a New Climate Economy in the United States.  Building on the forthcoming global New Climate Economy report, this new analysis provides evidence and real-world examples demonstrating how the United States is already seizing economic returns while reducing its greenhouse gas emissions — and outlines what can be done to further hasten these positive trends.  The New Climate Economy is the flagship report of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, led by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, with a group of world-leading economic advisors. The new U.S. installment is authored by the World Resources Institute and provides a deep dive into the economic dynamics within the United States.  At the event, recognized leaders in government, business and civil society will discuss the findings and how policies to drive investment in energy efficiency, innovation and low-carbon technology can reduce capital costs while expediting the shift to a low-carbon future.

 

Forum to Look at IGCC in China – The U.S. Energy Association will host a forum on Friday, October 10th at 10:00 a.m. to look at IGCC and enhanced water recovery injection.  Dr. Xu Shisen, President of China Huaneng Clean Energy Research Institute, is a 2014 recipient of the Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy’s Annual China CCUS Prize. In his presentation, Dr. Xu will discuss the Huaneng Clean Energy Center R&D Program with focus on the current status of the GreenGen IGCC Plant at Tianjin, China, its Phase II Program, and Enhanced Water Recovery with CO2 injection.

 

Shale Water Expo Set – On October 14 and 15, Shale Water Expo 2014 will be held in Houston at the Stafford Convention Centre.  The event is focused on shale play water management is the only national fluids-specific event for the oil and gas industry.  It will present timely, in-depth insight from industry leaders sharing their expertise on water management, logistics, sourcing, recycling, market forecasting and industry trends.

 

ANGA, Penn State to Host Gas Utilization Conference – Penn State University and ANGA will hold a forum on October 14-15 in Canonsburg, PA at the Hilton Garden Inn.  The conference aims to develop a better understanding of natural gas development issues across the nation and the impact shale plays have on the world energy market.  Top industry experts, government officials and academic researchers will address the major issues driving the natural gas revolution as America moves to expanding its use of natural gas for transportation, manufacturing and power generation.

 

Border Energy Forum Set – The 21st Border Energy Forum will be held on October 15-17th in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.  More than ever, the potential of clean energy like natural gas and renewables, combined with traditional oil production, in the ten border states is boundless.  The Border Energy Forum is a collaborative effort among the 10 border states along the US / Mexico border. The original idea for the Forum was to gather 50 people each from the United States and Mexico once a year to exchange information about the best ways to produce and consume energy in our fast-growing region, forge new partnerships and help each other work together on our twin goals of economic development and environmental protection.  The event will feature representatives from the federal governments of both Mexico and the United States, as well as state and local officials from both sides of the border. The Forum has met at least once in each of the 10 U.S. and Mexican border states.

 

CIBO Meeting to Address New GHG Rules, EPA Challenges – The Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO) will hold its 36th annual meeting at the Hotel Santa Fe in New Mexico on October 15-17th.  The theme for this year’s annual meeting is Energy 2014 and beyond focusing on the nexus of energy, air, water, fuel and energy.  It is impossible to make or do anything without energy.  And the cost of energy impacts everything we make or do.  For years, Climate Change (Manmade Global Warming) has been and continues to be the driver for the environmental community and their supporters in the Obama Administration including the President.  With the 2014 Clean Power Plan proposal, this administration could reshape the energy landscape for the foreseeable future raising the cost of energy to drive the need of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and adversely impact the poor, less fortunate, retired people on fixed incomes and all those people and companies who cannot afford the capital cost to improve efficiency to keep their energy costs stable.

 

Christie to Address Chamber Legal Forum – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform is hosting its 15th Annual Legal Reform Summit on Tuesday October 21st.  The Legal Reform Summit gathers business and industry leaders, government officials, as well as the media, to explore hot legal issues and discuss the current state of legal reform and its importance to the greater business community and national economy.   This year’s Summit will feature a keynote address from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, as well as remarks by Tom J. Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Panels will explore the increase in government overreach and serial enforcement, the outsourcing of public powers to private parties, and follow-on litigation.

 

Mid-Atlantic Energy Summit to Look at PJM Issues – The National Energy Marketers Association (NEM) hosts its Inaugural Mid-Atlantic Energy Policy Summit with Federal, State and PJM Officials on October 22-23 in Baltimore’s Center Club.  A diverse cross-section of industry stakeholders that participate and oversee the PJM wholesale and retail markets are confirmed and have been invited to attend, including Federal and State regulators, PJM officials, Attorneys General, Consumer Counsels, Municipalities, and Utilities as well as NEM’s Executive Committee and Policy Leadership.

 

Nichols to Address EMA Forum – The Emissions Marketing Assn’s 18th Annual Meeting will be held on October 22-24th at the Double Tree Suites in Santa Monica.  Discussions will include AB 32, the EPA GHG rules and renewable energy credits.  Speakers will include CARB’s Mary Nichols, our friend Bill Peters of Argus and Joel Bluestein of ICF, among many others.

 

Holmstead to Address EPA Rules at FL Conference – The Florida Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association will hold a forum at its annual conference in Jacksonville on October 29-30th on the proposed Section 111(d) guidelines for CO2 emissions from existing utility units.  My colleague Jeff Holmstead will address the panel as will out friend Mike Kennedy of Duke Energy.

 

Atlantic, Aspen to Host Washington Ideas Forum – The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute are holding their 6th annual Washington Ideas Forum on October 29-30th in Washington, D.C. to discuss vital issues of our time from politics and the economy to technology and the fabric of our culture. Speakers will include former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, edX CEO Anant Agarwal, Revolution Founder Steve Case, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), The Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, genomic research scientist Craig Venter, and House of Cards Screenwriter Beau Willimon.  Among those moderating the Forum will be Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief James Bennet, Washington Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons, Editor Scott Stossel, and National Correspondents Ta-Nehisi Coates and James Fallows.

 

 

Energy Update: Week of September 22

Friends,

 

Congress has headed for the campaign trail.  Yes, it is that time of year when the fall leaves start turning, the days start getting shorter (Autumnal equinox is tonight at 10:29 p.m.) and the Jewish new year and day of atonement (starting Wednesday) is upon us.  And every other year, Congress heads for home districts/states to make the final campaign push.

 

AS they hit the trail, I am starting a two-part election preview today that will help you navigate the next six weeks.  Today we’ll cover general issues/trends and some races that are seemingly already locked up, almost locked up or remain sleepers.  Next week, we’ll get into the toss ups…and there are a significant number that are very close.  Dynamics of races in South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia look strong for Republicans to win, so that is the place where the battle for Senate control starts.  The rest is likely to play out in November.

 

While Washington is slow this week (less the AGA event on the NatGas Winter Outlook from this morning), there is lots of action around the country starting in New York where climate marchers have be soaking up the Big Apple since yesterday in advance of today and tomorrow’s UN Summit where many Heads of state will speak (except China and India).  While organizers had a great turnout (although I suspect there were quite a few passers-by that were included) and media coverage has been wide-ranging, many activists are saying this is the beginning of (another) new movement to make people care about climate change.  I don’t want to be a sourpuss at the parade, but POLITICO’s own polling numbers from a few weeks ago, may give us an indication of where sentiment really stands.  Just last week, POLITICO’s new poll of voters in battleground states found just two percent of those surveyed identified the environment as the issue that concerns them most, one of the lowest-ranked issues…and that is the environmental as a whole (the number usually goes lower when you ask about climate change specifically).

 

Anyway, more meetings and speeches today with Sect. Kerry and EPA Gina McCarthy, CA Gov Jerry Brown and a host of others speaking, as well as the protests down on Wall Street.  In addition, the celebrity parade continues throughout the week with the Clinton Global Initiative meeting happening in NYC alongside the UN Meetings.

 

Finally, two other important points.  The UN’s first stop prior to coming to New York was Mississippi to see the Southern Company’s large, commercial carbon capture and storage power plant in Kemper County (See below).    Secondly, the Global Carbon Project said that carbon emissions will increase 2.3% this year, reversing slowing trends of the past few years.  (Probably a sign that the global economy is picking up speed because the emissions rate and the economic growth are generally pretty consistent).

 

But it is not all about New York.  Also tomorrow SHALE INSIGHT starts in Pittsburgh with Scott Segal and Dana Perino as the Keynote interview.  And Thursday, RFF hosts EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy here is DC while the  Energy Institute at Colorado State University will hold its 4th Natural Gas Symposium in Denver.  Call with questions.

 

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

  1. (202) 997-5932

 

POLITICAL REPORT PART I

 

General Outlook – The hot topic remains what will happen on November 4th in this fall’s midterm elections.   Generally, the President’s party fares poorly in second-term elections.   In 2006, Republicans lost 30 House seats and 6 Senate seats under George W. Bush’s watch.  Recent Gallup polling says more than three in four Americans, 76%, is currently dissatisfied with the direction of the country, while only 23% are satisfied.  It is the 10th consecutive month that satisfaction has fallen between 23% and 25% — a remarkably narrow range in a measure that has reached as high as 70% and as low as 7% since 2000.  Finally, the Rasmussen Generic Congressional ballot remains generally tied with either side slightly leading in the recent weeks.   Americans have typically rated the Democratic Party more positively than the Republican Party, so the current parity between the two is a positive sign for the GOP and a negative one for Democrats. Indeed, current opinions of the Democratic Party are among the worst Gallup and Rasmussen has measured in the past 20 years. Interestingly, the only time Gallup measured a lower favorable rating for Democrats was in late March 2010, just after Obama signed the health care law.

 

Energy Environment Still Low on Issues List – Issues that remain top issues in the public eye include the economy , jobs, immigration and the health care law.  Public opinion on energy issues is durable, compared to other hot-button political topics. For instance, Americans have expressed a consistent preference for conservation measures over new production for over a decade.  Respondents will almost always answer in the affirmative to a question phrased as a positive statement.  Unfortunately, environmental issues didn’t even register on the latest Gallup poll of America’s Most Important Problems.  As well, POLITICO’s new poll of voters in battleground states found just two percent of those surveyed identified the environment as the issue that concerns them most, one of the lowest-ranked issues

 

Mid-term Turnout – This is a midterm election and the fact is fewer people will vote this year than did in 2012.  When that happened in 2010, Democrats suffered accordingly, losing several key governorships in states that President Obama won like Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania.  According to research from the Pew Center, voter turnout regularly drops in midterm elections, and has done so since the 1840s. In 2008, for instance, 57.1% of the voting-age population cast ballots — the highest level in four decades.  But two years later only 36.9% voted in the midterm election that put the House back in Republican hands. For Obama’s re-election in 2012, turnout rebounded to 53.7%.  What will happen in November will tell the key story.

 

President’s Approval – Unfortunately for Democrats, President Obama is uniquely unpopular, only slightly higher at this point in his presidency than that GW Bush (2006) and scandal-ridden and about to resign Nixon (1974).  The President’s popularity matters because a majority (51%) of people planning to vote Republican in their district say they mean it to be a vote against President Obama.

 

Congressional Approval – Congress is even more unpopular falling to historic lows this session. With less than 50 days to go before the mid-term election, Gallup’s Congressional approval rating sits at 14%.  At first glance, a low approval rating may seem to bode ill for incumbents in midterm elections. But, challengers in both House and Senate races often have a hard time painting themselves as different from the political status quo. It’s not for lack of trying; more and more candidates in recent midterm elections have tried to paint their opponent as ‘Washington insiders.’ Statistical evidence suggests the advantage normally afforded to an incumbent (who possesses name recognition, fundraising, and established party connections) is shrinking. For House Republicans, President Obama’s approval ratings somewhat offset the ‘penalty’ we would expect to see in the polls. The old adage “Americans hate Congress but like their Congressman” is still somewhat true, with approval ratings in particular Congressional districts sitting well above the overall 14% number.  This  relationship between voters’ approval of Congress as a whole and their particular Congressman is called “Fenno’s paradox.

 

House Almost Certain to Remain in Republican Hands – Republicans are starting with a significant advantage; they already hold 234 seats. Democrats would need to achieve a net-gain of 17 to take control of the chamber. Due to a variety of factors, Republicans possess 204 ‘safe’ districts while Democrats only have 169. That leaves 62 competitive districts. Democrats would need to win 49 out of those 62 seats to reach 218. Because of the partisan composition of those 62 districts, that outcome is exceedingly unlikely.  Many Democrats (especially in close races) are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the President in the eyes of voters, hardly a precursor to a massive ‘wave’ in their favor.

 

Senate Outlook Gloomy for Dems – Democrats are starting with 55 seats, so Republicans need a net gain of 6 to take control of the Senate. In a 50-50 situation, Vice President Joe Biden breaks the tie. So the magic number for the GOP is 51.  Already as you’ll see below, it looks like 3 seats that are Democrat open seats will likely switch.

 

Races that are Likely Already Decided – There are a number of Senate seats that look like they won’t be close in November.  Easiest among these is likely to be IL Sen Dick Durbin and NJ ‘s Cory Booker, who is facing minimal opposition.  OR Sen Jeff Merkley and VA incumbent Mark Warner have strong opponents will good potential but neither have fallen into trouble.

 

Hawaii – This race was a real battle ground in the primary where appointed incumbent Brian Schatz was serving out the term of long-time Sen Dan Inouye who passed away.  The controversy started when Gov Neil Abercrombie (who also badly lost his primary even after getting the endorsement of Hawaii native President Obama) appointed Schatz rather than Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who was thought to be the favorite of Inouye.  Hanabusa challenged and barely lost, even getting in to controversy over votes that were delayed by an unusual set of hurricane that rolled through Hawaii right around the primary.  Even with the controversy and recount, Schatz held on and will cruise to victory

 

Mississippi – The same situation applies here in Mississippi.  Longtime Incumbent Thad Cochran was force into a run off by Tea Party Challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who won the first round of voting, but did not get over 50%.  In the May Runoff, Cochran stormed back and barely emerged the victor, likely due to cross over Democratic voters.   Former Rep. Travis Childers is the fall opponent but is unlikely to have an impact.

 

Minnesota – Al Franken, who barely won his race in 2008 while Obama was sweeping to victory seems to have stemmed a strong, well-funded challenge from Mike McFadden.   The race has tightened and is likely inside 10 points, prompting the fairly liberal Franken to get more aggressive in challenging President Obama’s recent foreign policy snafus to highlight some separation from the unpopular President – Even in Minnesota.  This is a race to that could be impacted if a tidal wave is really occurring in November.

 

Kentucky – The Senate Republican  Leader Mitch McConnell also seems to be headed to re-election given the national trends and Kentucky’s even more conservative approach.  Democrats were hopeful that McConnell’s soft support and his traditional weaknesses would give them a shot with Secretary of State Allison Grimes, but she is really climbing uphill given the President’s popularity, foreign policy and economic woes and his environmental approach which has a negative impact on Kentucky Coal.   A recent tiff over advertising using guns by both candidates kind of underscores where this race stands and Is likely to end up.

 

Open Seats Headed Into Republican Hands – Democrat-held open seats in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana are pretty much a lock for Republican takeover.  In West Virginia, long-time Rep. Shelly Moore Capito has handled challenges from Natalie Tennet and President Obama is probably more Unpopular in West Virginia than in any other state.   Former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds benefited from some internal Democrat Party indecision when former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin passed on the race after former Senate Leader Tom Daschle privately encouraged his former aide Rick Weiland to run.  Unbeknownst to them, other party leaders were clearing the field (including Sen. Johnson’s son Brendan) for Sandlin.  The mess has left Rounds as Close to a shoo-in as you’ll ever find.  Finally, the Montana race has been a complete mess for Democrats after appointed incumbent John Walsh (remember long-time Sen. Max Baucus was appointed Obama’s Ambassador to China thinking it might give the appointed Senator a leg up in a tough, but winnable race) left the race amid allegations that he plagiarized parts of his Army War College master’s thesis in 2007.

 

IN THE NEWS

 

UN Officials Visit Kemper Prior to heading to NYC for Climate meetings – Prior to heading to today and tomorrow’s UN Climate Meetings in NYC, UN technology officials headed to Mississippi to visit the Kemper County Energy Facility to focus on the CCS technology nearing completion.  Jukka Uosukainen, the top climate technology official with the United Nations visited the Kemper County energy facility September 11, to explore how Kemper’s innovative integrated gasification combined cycle technology could be put to use around the world to meet energy needs and protect the environment.  Uosukainen is the director of the Climate Technology Centre and Network, the operating arm of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change. Uosukainen is looking for innovative technology to help developing countries produce clean, reliable and affordable energy.  A day at the Kemper County energy facility left him convinced technology in Mississippi will change the world.

 

Report Says Emissions Headed Up – A new report from the Global Carbon Project says carbon emissions are still growing.  The report says global emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement production reached 36 billion tons of CO2 in 2013, and are predicted to grow by a further 2.5% in 2014.  Emissions rose 2.3% in 2013.  The report was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.  Emissions by China alone have soared to eclipse those of the United States and the European Union combined.

 

Winter NatGas Report Released – The American Gas Association (AGA) released Promise Delivered, a study of the planning, preparation and performance of the natural gas system during the 2013-14 Winter Heating Season.  The report says the U.S. natural gas delivery system achieved historic levels of performance this past winter, delivering more natgas through more pipelines to more customers than ever before.  The U.S. faced extreme temperatures and record-setting natural gas consumption during the 2013-2014 winter heating season, which is defined as November 2013 through March 2014. This past winter also saw the top five days for natural gas consumption for the country as a whole. On January 7, 2014, the United States set the single day record for natural gas consumption at 139 Bcf – almost double the daily average. Families used more natural gas than ever to keep warm, and power generators pulled unprecedented volumes of gas to maintain electric system reliability. In addition, industrial demand of natural gas surged, and even exports to Mexico were consistent.  Despite these record conditions, residential customer bills increased only 10% on average from the prior winter – an increase mostly due to higher consumption. AGA expects relatively warmer temperatures this coming winter based on information from the climate Prediction Center, which may lead to a reduction in demand. Natural gas prices are likely to be slightly higher, resulting in an increase in customer bills of about 7% this winter.

 

Utility Commissioners Raise Reliability Concerns With GHG Rule –A group of 17 current and future utility commissioners said EPA should reconsider its proposal for existing power plants in order to keep a reliable supply of inexpensive power flowing to consumers.  According to the letter, EPA’s proposed rule “is charting a new course,” and its impacts on coal-fired power could affect reliability and affordability of electricity. EPA “fail[s] to adequately forecast the serious economic and reliability impacts of dramatically reduced or even elimination of coal-fired generation,” the letter said. “And, unfortunately, the EPA has underestimated how much its proposed rules will increase the cost of electricity to consumers.  Poor forecasting by the EPA also means the reliability of the electric grid will be threatened due to coal shutdowns,” the letter said, citing last winter’s cold weather on the East Coast and the role of coal in providing high loads of peak power.”

 

CSP Technology Report Shows Benefits on Technology – The Concentrating Solar Power Alliance has released a technical report on the economic and reliability benefits of CSP with thermal energy storage.  The report serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding the design and operational attributes of CSP plants with thermal energy storage.  It is intended for utilities, regulators, grid operators and policy makers, and presents a framework for more informed decision-making in the evaluation of competing resources to achieve better outcomes for energy consumers.  Among the report’s key highlights, include CSP with thermal energy storage is shown to be much more competitive when the comprehensive net grid system costs of the CSP plant are compared to wind or solar photovoltaics (PV).  In addition, as renewable energy penetration increases, the operational flexibility offered by CSP with storage supports integration of wind and PV. While some studies have pointed to the possibility of curtailment of renewable energy generation, this could be reduced by maintaining dispatchable resources within the resource portfolio.  Finally, new to this report are comprehensive summaries of policies, regulatory and market structures for regions with high potential for CSP development around the world, including the Americas (U.S., Mexico, Brazil and Chile), Southern Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Southern Africa, China, India and Australia.

 

GW Solar Paper Looks at Tax Reform – Following last week’s Senate hearing and in advance of tomorrow’s forum, the GW Solar Institute launched a new research series, Fitting Clean Energy into a Reformed Tax Code. With the looming expiration of clean energy tax incentives and the likelihood of comprehensive tax reform, this initiative seeks to formulate innovative and politically attuned tax policy solutions for the clean energy sector and inform policymakers on the full range of impacts of these potential solutions.   The Institute’s launch includes the release of its first policy brief of the series entitled: Tax Reform, a Looming Threat to a Booming Solar Industry.  This analysis focuses on how the three recent Congressional tax reform proposals would impact real-world solar installation costs, finding that each would increase solar prices compared to current policy by as much as 58 percent. Even the Baucus tax reform proposal, which includes a 20% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar, would increase costs by 34% over current policy due to its drastic changes to current depreciation schedules and the minimal impact from a lower corporate rate. The policy brief concludes that no matter which broader tax system Congress adopts in tax reform, additional energy sector policies will still be necessary to maintain solar’ s economic competitiveness relative to current law.

 

Cats, Cell Towers More Troublesome for Birds than Wind, Solar – A new study by WEST Inc. and two scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Federal Communications Commission says Cell towers and cats are responsible for substantially more bird fatalities in North America than are wind turbines.  The study, sponsored by the nonprofit American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI), details the impact of bird fatalities at North American wind farms, and the report authors claim it is the first to measure the relative impact of those fatalities on populations of small passerines, including songbirds.  The study says all bird fatalities from North American wind turbines range from 214,000 to 368,000 annually – a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers, as well as the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion fatalities from cats. Furthermore, the study finds that, of the more than 5 billion small passerines in North America, an estimated 134,000-230,000 – or less than 0.01% – collide annually with wind turbines.  The study echoes findings from another study last week by the National Audubon Society for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which found that climate change threatens the survival of more than half of all species of birds in North America. On Sept. 9, State of the Birds 2014, a report prepared by a 23-member partnership of government agencies and bird conservation organizations, documented the decline of many bird species in North America, particularly from loss of habitat in the arid lands and grasslands of the U.S. due to conversion of wild lands to agriculture and suburban development, among other causes.

 

NYISO Report Raised Grid Concerns – A new report from the New York Independent System Operator says the state’s electric grid faces reliability issues amid growing demand and plant retirements over the next decade.  The NYISO’s 2014 Reliability Needs Assessment (RNA) says changes in supply and demand will require investments in resources and infrastructure to maintain reliability over the next decade. The report explores the possibility that the Indian Point plant could close by 2019, and it says the state’s increasing reliance on natural gas could leave it vulnerable to gas shortages.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

 

RPS Summit to Focus on EPA Carbon Rules, Impacts – The Clean Energy States Alliance will hold a 2014 National Summit on RPS today and tomorrow at Gallaudet’s Kellogg Conference Hotel.  The event is the best way to learn about developments and trends related to state RPSs and to network with many of the people from across the country that are most engaged in implementing and analyzing state RPSs.  Sessions this year will cover a wide range of topics, including how EPAs carbon regulations may impact state RPSs, harmonizing different states’ methodologies for determining the costs of an RPS, the status of Commerce Clause cases with potential impacts on RPSs, and the intersection between RPS, net metering, and other solar policies. There will also be plenty of time for networking.

 

CSIS to Hold Russia, Asian Energy Discussion – The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a forum today looking at Russian energy activity in Asia. European sanctions have accelerated Russia’s political and economic push into Asia. At the center of Russia’s turn to Asia is energy: Moscow sees new markets in Asia as an alternative to stagnant, politically risky Europe, while Asian investment is crucial for Russia’s ability to tap new source of oil and gas. Despite the signing of a $400 billion gas deal with China in May, Russia’s ability to make good on its Asian energy ambitions remains uncertain.  The forum will feature Edward Chow, Senior Fellow in the CSIS Energy Program; Shoichi Itoh, Institute for Energy Economics in Tokyo; and Andrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow in the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program.

 

Lew to Address Climate Forum at JHU – The Johns Hopkins University will hold a Hamilton Project Policy Forum today at 4:00 p.m. featuring U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to explore the economics of climate change, and the potential costs of inaction to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Secretary Lew will give keynote remarks, followed by a roundtable discussion with Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations and former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Michael Greenstone, The Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Hamilton Project Director Melissa Kearney will open the forum with welcoming remarks.

 

UN Climate Summit Set – The UN will host a climate summit tomorrow in NYC.  The summit will be hosted by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon for generating  “political momentum on climate action” ahead of the December climate deal negotiations in Lima, Peru.   President Obama is expected to address the forum.

 

Hill Hosts 2030 Energy Summit – The Energy 2030 Summit will be held tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.  The event will generate a discussion on what the federal government can do to help spur activity at the state and local level to achieve the goal of doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030.  Taking place on Capitol Hill, the Energy 2030 Summit will feature keynote addresses from congressional members and timely discussions from leading voices in energy efficiency about the work being done at the state, local, and federal level and highlight the support that has been generated across the nation for the Energy 2030 goal.

 

USEA Forum to Look at Illinois CCS Demonstration Project – Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., the U.S. Energy Association will host a forum to give an overview of the technical scope and status of a CCS project in Illinois.  U.S. Department of Energy and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) has made substantial progress in the development and construction of the largest saline storage project in the U.S., located and being commissioned at the ADM’s biofuels complex in Decatur, Illinois.  Public education and outreach for carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an integral part of this project, and to this end, the project has established the National Sequestration Education Center (NSEC) at Richland Community College in Decatur to implement a new associate degree program, first in the U.S., with an emphasis on CCS.  This presentation will also highlight the NSEC’s public education and outreach strategies and accomplishments.

 

Solar Forum to Look at Utility Solar Opportunities – The GW Solar Institute will host its 6th Annual Solar Symposium tomorrow at the SMPA’s Jack Morton Auditorium.  This event convenes policymakers, industry experts, business leaders, academics, and students to discuss innovative solutions to today’s biggest solar policy questions.  This year’s theme, “Using Solar Energy to Generate Wealth in Lower Income Communities” will be the first national gathering of stakeholders dedicated to achieving solar energy affordability and accessibility for Americans with limited means. The dynamic, action-oriented agenda will focus on creative incentive and financing models, eliminating legal and regulatory barriers, and integrating solar investments into existing federal programs. The event will also feature an Innovation Showcase highlighting low-income solar pioneers and initiatives from across the country.

 

Richardson, Perino, Ridge to Headline Shale Insight Conference – The Marcellus Shale Coalition will hold SHALE INSIGHT 2014 tomorrow through Thursday in Pittsburgh focusing on shale development, featuring some of the most prominent industry and government leaders. The event will feature three days of pre-conference workshops, technical and public affairs insight sessions, major keynote addresses, and a dynamic exhibit hall featuring all the major shale players.  Speakers will include former Energy Secretary and NM Governor Bill Richardson, former PA Gov and first Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House Press Secretary and Fox News Personality Dana Perino, XTO President Randy Cleveland and many more.

 

Bracewell, Industry Speakers Headline Pipeline Conference – Platts is hosting the 9th Annual Pipeline Development and Expansion Conference tomorrow and Wednesday at the Hilton Houston Post Oak Hotel.   My colleagues Kirk Morgan, George Fatula and Liz McGinley will on be presenting.  Main Speakers will include EQT’s David Gray, Kinder Morgan’s Laura Heckman, Greg Crisp and Errol Boyle of the Pilgrim Pipeline.

 

Forum to Explain NatGas Drilling – Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., natgas expert Barry Stevens will conduct a live conference on hydraulic fracturing, focusing on the advanced technologies used to recover oil and gas from oil formations and shale gas formations. Barry will talk about how the industry uses science and technology to improve production through unconventional recovery methods, both improved and enhanced. He will also explain on-shore oil extraction and shale gas hydrofracturing.  Stevens is the founder and president of TBD America, Inc. a Technology Business Development consulting group serving the public and private sectors in the energy, fuels and water treatment industries.

 

NY PSC  Chair to Address 100th Energy Breakfast – ICF International holds its 100th Energy Breakfast at the National Press Club on Wednesday.  Energy expert Audrey Zibelman will speak.  As Chair of the New York Public Service Commission and former COO of PJM, Zibelman will share the issues involved in trying to gain consensus within the power industry in a time of great flux.   She will address challenges and questions including reliability, rates environmental issues and regulators’ roles.

 

Energy Security Forum to look at Ukraine Crisis – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., International Institute for Strategic Studies will hold a forum on the Ukraine crisis.  The crisis has intensified the debate about the energy relationship between Kiev and Moscow and, more widely, the political implications of the natural gas trade between Europe and Russia and Ukraine’s role as the key transit state. The prevailing narrative is that of an energy weapon used by Russia to blackmail Ukraine into submission and Europe into inaction. This discussion will show that it is Kiev that has blackmailed Moscow for twenty years to extract economic rents, and distorted Ukraine’s political economy in the process; that the security of supply issue in Europe is small, geographically limited, and remains unsolved because of EU rules and government inaction, not Russia’s might; and that the current crisis could have profound energy implications, especially if the Russia-Europe gas relationship is damaged beyond repair.  The Speaker will be Pierre Noël is the Hassanal Bolkiah Senior Fellow for Economic & Energy Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based at IISS–Asia in Singapore. His current work focuses on energy markets and policies in Southeast Asia; energy trade and maritime security; and the strategic energy implications of the rise of Asia and China. Before joining the IISS, Dr. Noël worked at the Energy Policy Research Group (EPRG) at the University of Cambridge, where he specialized in natural gas in Europe.

 

NatGas Forum to Tackle Western Issues – The Energy Institute at Colorado State University will hold its 4th Natural Gas Symposium on Wednesday and Thursday at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver, Colorado. For the past three years, Colorado State University has built a reputation for hosting a balanced symposium discussing all sides of the natural gas issue while remaining an “honest broker” of information and education.  Prior to the 2014 symposium, CSU experts will craft a white paper that covers the State of Oil and Natural Gas Development. The draft will be revised during the two-day symposium. A public comment period will follow the symposium and will be open for feedback until Sept. 30, 2014. The white paper will be published before Oct. 31, 2014 on the symposium website. All symposium sessions will be live video streamed from www.naturalgas.colostate.edu.

 

WAPA Forum to Look at Safety in Vehicle Communications – Global Automakers and the Washington Automotive Press Assn (WAPA) will hold a panel discussion Wednesday about vehicle-to-vehicle communications and automotive safety at the National Press Club’s First Amendment Lounge.  Speakers will include Toyota Safety Technical & Regulatory Director Kevin Ro, DENSO International’s Doug Patton, Lars Reger of NXP Semiconductors and Morgan Stanley Research Executive Director Ravi Shanker.  Global Automakers CEO John Bozzella will moderate.

 

EcoDistrict Summit Set – The 6th annual EcoDistricts Summit is being held in Washington, DC on Wednesday through Friday.  EcoDistricts works to help create sustainable cities from the neighborhood up, and Washington, DC—a case study in inventive collaboration—has captured that spirit like few others.  At this year’s Summit, we’ll explore district-scale sustainable development from every angle and dig deep into the public-private-civic partnerships that are laying the groundwork for the neighborhoods of the future: resilient, vibrant, resource-efficient and just.  Participants will get an insider’s look at the projects (and players) behind the world’s most livable cities, and they’ll dig into information-rich education sessions, mobile workshops and studios designed to inform and inspire with updates on emerging best practices from cities across North America and beyond.

 

USEA Forum to Look at Renewable Integration – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the U.S. Energy Association will hold a forum on renewable energy integration.  Renewable Energy Integration is a ground-breaking book which offers a distilled examination of the intricacies of integrating renewables into power grids and electricity markets. Through thirty-five chapters, this first of its kind volume offers informed perspectives from internationally renowned experts on the challenges to be met and solutions developed by operators around the world. The book focuses on the practical implementation of strategies and provides real-world context for theoretical underpinnings and the development of supporting policy frameworks. It lays out the key issues around the integration of renewables into power grids and markets, from the intricacies of operational and planning considerations to supporting regulatory and policy frameworks; provides global case studies that highlight the challenges of renewables integration and present field-tested solutions; illustrates enabling technologies to support the management of variability, uncertainty and flexibility in power grids.  In this briefing the speakers will discuss the background to the book, provide an overview of different parts and key themes, and how they relate to the  U.S. renewable energy industry. The speakers will also give their perspectives  on the future outlook of renewable integration  and enabling technologies.  They will include Alstom Grid’s Lawrence Jones and Charles Smith of the coalition, Utility Variable-Generation Integration

 

ACORE Webinar to Feature Bloomberg New Finance Experts – ACORE will hold a webinar on Wednesday that will give an update and near-term outlook on the North American market, provided by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Topics to be covered include trends in distributed solar, prospects for emerging energy smart technologies, impact of proposed EPA regulations, and opportunities in Mexico.  Speakers will include Bloomberg Energy Finance Analysts Michel Di Capua, Nick Culver and Thomas Rowlands-Rees.

 

Greenland Premier to Visit Brookings – On Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., the Energy Security Initiative (ESI) and the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings will host Premier Aleqa Hammond of Greenland for an International Leaders Forum address on the future of natural resource extraction in Greenland. Following her address, a panel discussion will highlight the findings of a new Brookings report, “The Greenland Gold Rush: Promise and Pitfalls of Greenland’s Energy and Mineral Resources.” Report co-author Kevin Foley, a doctoral candidate at Cornell University, will be joined on the panel by ESI Director Charles Ebinger and University of Copenhagen Professor Minik Rosing, who will serve as a discussant. The panel will be moderated by Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow with the China Center and Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings.  This event is part of the Alan and Jane Batkin International Leaders Forum Series, a new event series hosted by Foreign Policy at Brookings which brings global political, diplomatic and thought leaders to Washington, D.C. for major policy addresses.

 

BPC to Discuss GHG Rules – The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a forum on Thursday at 10:00 a.m.  on how early action is accounted for in the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan. This panel of experts from state, utility and environmental advocate perspectives will discuss the treatment of: energy efficiency savings prior to 2020, renewable energy and existing cap-and-trade programs, among other topics.  Over the last year, BPC’s Energy Project has held a series of workshops and events on the Clean Power Plan to inform both the debate and the comments submitted to EPA.  Our friends Jean Chemnick at Greenwire moderates a panel with Southern Company’s Ray Harry, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Assistant Commissioner David Thornton and EDF’s Megan Ceronsky.

 

McCarthy to Address RFF Session – Resources for the Future presents a Policy Leadership Forum on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. featuring a conversation with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  RFF President Phil Sharp will conduct a conversation with McCarthy about the critical energy and environmental issues facing the nation.

 

Green Building Expo Set – The DC Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs will host the third annual Green Building Symposium on Friday at the Washington Convention Center. The event will take a closer look at how the Green Construction Code, Energy Conservation Code, Green Building Act, Green area Ratio, Benchmarking Law and more are being implemented and enforced from design through building permitting, inspections, and post-occupancy.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

 

Geothermal Event, Expo to Review Latest Techs – The Geothermal Energy Association is hosting its annual Meeting and Expo in Portland, OR at the Portland Convention Center.  The event is world’s largest gathering of vendors providing support for geothermal resource exploration, characterization, development, production and management. It provides a unique opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their projects, equipment, services and state of the art technology to the geothermal community.  The Expo is co-held with the Geothermal Resources Council’s annual meeting  and will look at the latest developments in geothermal energy. Last year, the GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Expo hosted representatives from more than 37 countries.  The meeting will offer technical, policy, and market conference sessions and educational seminars, as well as tours of local geothermal and renewable energy projects.

 

Inglis to Headline  Midwest Energy Conference – The Midwest Energy Policy Conference will be held in St. Louis on September 30th and October 1st.  The event will address the 2014 environmental and energy rulings of the SCOTUS, the path forward following the EPA greenhouse gas 111(d) ruling and what makes successful state energy plan programs relevant and successful in several key focus areas (economic development, education, research, regulations, portfolio mix, biofuels, and more)  The Keynote speaker will be former SC Rep. Bob Inglis.

 

Forum to Focus On Arctic Council – Next Monday, September 29th at 9:30 a.m., the Center for American Progress will host a forum focused on initiatives the United States can take when Secretary Kerry takes on the Arctic Council Chairmanship in 2015.  By any metric, climate change is the key driver of growing commercial interests in the Arctic and serious environmental and economic risks in the region and globally. As the incoming Arctic Council chairman, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has an opportunity to set an Arctic agenda aimed at reducing heat-trapping emissions in and beyond the region, conserving invaluable Arctic marine and coastal ecosystems, and promoting a peaceful, secure, and sustainable Arctic.  The Center for American Progress will hold a dialogue with Admiral Robert J. Papp and other thought leaders on U.S. Arctic policy priorities during the U.S. Arctic Council chairmanship and beyond. Admiral Papp was recently appointed by Secretary Kerry to serve as the U.S. special representative for the Arctic.

 

India Energy Forum Set – Next Tuesday and Wednesday, the 5th US-India Energy Partnership Summit will be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.  The Summit is a multi-stakeholder platform to address US-India collaboration on energy access, efficiency, security and technology. Participants will deliberate on new avenues as the Indian Government reinforces its priority to strengthen partnership in renewable energy, sustainable cities, and sustainable transport.  A landmark edition, the fifth US-India Energy Partnership Summit is scheduled during the Indian leadership’s visit to Washington, DC, and in the wake of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit. The Summit will be graced by the presence of senior government officials from both countries – invitations have been extended to the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.  The Summit will broadly look at ‘Accelerating Resilient Growth and Development’, while addressing various issues related to energy efficiency, security, access and technology. Stakeholders from all sectors will come together to discuss avenues for new and strengthened collaboration in various aspects of clean technologies and renewable energy, green buildings and sustainable cities, decentralized energy access, alternatives such as shale gas, etc. Climate change will also form a key component of the discussions, with the proceedings at the General Assembly and Climate Summit providing significant inputs to the Summit deliberations. The focus throughout will be on bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and related areas.

 

Webinar to Focus on Smart Grid – Next Tuesday, September 30th at 2:00 p.m., the Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid will hold a webinar to discuss time-based meters are being installed and pilot projects in Oklahoma and California.  New research on how customers feel about pricing continues to be rolled out. Some of the newest information on this comes from the large and well-studied pricing programs at Oklahoma Gas & Electric and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).  This webinar will present findings on four different pricing options under various marketing and enrollment options, including both opt-in and default enrollment. Join us and hear what customers think about time-variant rates compared with standard rate options, see how load impacts vary across different rate options and enrollment strategies, see what drives rate choice and opt-out decisions, whether impacts persist across multiple years, and more.

 

Energy Engineering Conference Set – The World Energy Engineering Congress will be held next Wednesday through Friday in the Washington Convention Center.  The event is the nation’s largest, most active buying venue for end user energy products and services. The WEEC expo is attended each year by the nation’s leading energy professionals in business, industry, and government who seek the best solutions for all aspects of today’s energy cost and supply challenges.

 

WCEE Forum To Look at Big Data – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment will host a lunch forum on Wednesday, October 1st  featuring IBM Institute of Electronic Government experts on big data and sustainability.  More data than ever are being generated from many different sources (from satellites to smart phones), leading to the concept dubbed “Big Data”.  Jane Snowdon, Chief Innovation Officer at IBM Federal, will discuss IBM’s trailblazing methods of harnessing Big Data and using analytics to achieve sustainability objectives.  IBM’s approach is twofold: working to make existing products and processes more efficient for both the environment and for business, while also developing new innovations that can help the world drive economic and operational improvements, increase accountability and lessen environmental impact.

 

USEA Forum Set – The US Energy Assn will host its 7th annual Energy Supply Forum at the National Press Club Ballroom on October 2nd.   Speakers will include Tesoro CEO Greg Goff, Brattle Group’s Peter Fox Penner, AEP’s Mark McCullough, Chris Faulkner of Breitling Energy and many more.

 

RESA to Convene 3rd Annual Retail Energy Markets Symposium — The Retail Energy Supply Association’s 2014 Energy Competition Symposium will hold its annual conference in Columbus, Ohio, on October 2nd, a half-day event exploring the leading issues affecting retail energy competition nationally.  They will also address the future of competitive retail and wholesale energy markets, product innovations for retail customers and improving the shopping experience for consumers.  Distinguished speakers include Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Thomas Johnson, Cheryl Roberto of the Environmental Defense Fund, Kristin Munsch of the Citizens Utility Board, Bruce Weston with the Office of Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, Sam Randazzo of the Industrial Energy Users, Ohio Gas Association President Jimmy Stewart, PUCO Commissioner Asim Haque, EnerNOC’s Katie Guerry, former Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Philip O’Connor, former PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler, Clean Power Finance’s Sierra Peterson, and Karen Moury with Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney.  The symposium will feature a keynote address by Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz, Chairman of the Public Utilities Committee.

 

Moniz to Speak at SXSW Eco – The South-By-Southwest sustainability Conference will be Held In Austin on October 6th through 8th.   Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will keynote the conference.  Other speakers will include Tom Steyer and Oceanographer Sylvia Earle.   Our friends Kalee Kreider, Jim Motavalli, BNA’s Larry Pearl, Peter Fox Penner of Brattle and AGA’s Kathryn Clay will be among the other panel speakers.

 

Clean Tech Forum Set – On Thursday, October 9th, former White House Climate Task Force leader Roger Ballantine and former FCC Chair Reed Hundt will speak at a forum looking at the future of energy, renewables and clean tech markets.  The event will be at 9:00 a.m. at the Wooly Mammoth Theater’s Melton Rehearsal Hall.

 

Shale Water Expo Set – On October 14 and 15, Shale Water Expo 2014 will be held in Houston at the Stafford Convention Centre.  The event is focused on shale play water management is the only national fluids-specific event for the oil and gas industry.  It will present timely, in-depth insight from industry leaders sharing their expertise on water management, logistics, sourcing, recycling, market forecasting and industry trends.

 

ANGA, Penn State to Host Gas Utilization Conference – Penn State University and ANGA will hold a forum on October 14-15 in Canonsburg, PA at the Hilton Garden Inn.  The conference aims to develop a better understanding of natural gas development issues across the nation and the impact shale plays have on the world energy market.  Top industry experts, government officials and academic researchers will address the major issues driving the natural gas revolution as America moves to expanding its use of natural gas for transportation, manufacturing and power generation.

 

Border Energy Forum Set – The 21st Border Energy Forum will be held on October 15-17th in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.  More than ever, the potential of clean energy like natural gas and renewables, combined with traditional oil production, in the ten border states is boundless.  The Border Energy Forum is a collaborative effort among the 10 border states along the US / Mexico border. The original idea for the Forum was to gather 50 people each from the United States and Mexico once a year to exchange information about the best ways to produce and consume energy in our fast-growing region, forge new partnerships and help each other work together on our twin goals of economic development and environmental protection.  The event will feature representatives from the federal governments of both Mexico and the United States, as well as state and local officials from both sides of the border. The Forum has met at least once in each of the 10 U.S. and Mexican border states.

 

CIBO Meeting to Address New GHG Rules, EPA Challenges – The Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO) will hold its 36th annual meeting at the Hotel Santa Fe in New Mexico on October 15-17th.  The theme for this year’s annual meeting is Energy 2014 and beyond focusing on the nexus of energy, air, water, fuel and energy.  It is impossible to make or do anything without energy.  And the cost of energy impacts everything we make or do.  For years, Climate Change (Manmade Global Warming) has been and continues to be the driver for the environmental community and their supporters in the Obama Administration including the President.  With the 2014 Clean Power Plan proposal, this administration could reshape the energy landscape for the foreseeable future raising the cost of energy to drive the need of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and adversely impact the poor, less fortunate, retired people on fixed incomes and all those people and companies who cannot afford the capital cost to improve efficiency to keep their energy costs stable.

 

Christie to Address Chamber Legal Forum – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform is hosting its 15th Annual Legal Reform Summit on Tuesday October 21st.  The Legal Reform Summit gathers business and industry leaders, government officials, as well as the media, to explore hot legal issues and discuss the current state of legal reform and its importance to the greater business community and national economy.   This year’s Summit will feature a keynote address from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, as well as remarks by Tom J. Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Panels will explore the increase in government overreach and serial enforcement, the outsourcing of public powers to private parties, and follow-on litigation.

 

Nichols to Address EMA Forum – The Emissions Marketing Assn’s 18th Annual Meeting will be held on October 22-24th at the Double Tree Suites in Santa Monica.  Discussions will include AB 32, the EPA GHG rules and renewable energy credits.  Speakers will include CARB’s Mary Nichols, our friend Bill Peters of Argus and Joel Bluestein of ICF, among many others.

 

Holmstead to Address EPA Rules at FL Conference – The Florida Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association will hold a forum at its annual conference in Jacksonville on October 29-30th on the proposed Section 111(d) guidelines for CO2 emissions from existing utility units.  My colleague Jeff Holmstead will address the panel as will out friend Mike Kennedy of Duke Energy.

 

Atlantic, Aspen to Host Washington Ideas Forum – The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute are holding their 6th annual Washington Ideas Forum on October 29-30th in Washington, D.C. to discuss vital issues of our time from politics and the economy to technology and the fabric of our culture. Speakers will include former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, edX CEO Anant Agarwal, Revolution Founder Steve Case, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), The Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, genomic research scientist Craig Venter, and House of Cards Screenwriter Beau Willimon.  Among those moderating the Forum will be Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief James Bennet, Washington Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons, Editor Scott Stossel, and National Correspondents Ta-Nehisi Coates and James Fallows.

Energy Update: Week of September 2

Friends,

 

Welcome Back, your dreams were your ticket out… Ooopps, slipped into the 70s John Sebastian classic Welcome Back Kotter theme  as I thought about school starting, Fall sports launching (Hannah scored her first goal of the field hockey season in already), the return of Football and Hockey and the reemergence of Congress, even if only for a couple weeks.  Yes, that is correct, just over 60 days to election day in November and Congress returns this late week after the series of Mid-term election Labor Day parades they all attended over the weekend (I love a good Parade).  But, as I said, the return is short-lived as they will recess in just two or so weeks, staying away until after November 2nd election day.  You guessed it…it means two lame duck sessions are expected in November just after election day and in early December following a recess for Thanksgiving.

 

So while we were away, a lot was going on… including last week on August 25th when we observed the 200-year anniversary of the burning of the White House.  And in the next two weeks we actually will have the bicentennials of more exciting things like the scribing of America’s most famous song, The Star Spangled Banner.  It has been covered by many as a prelude to most major events, but perhaps never as brilliantly as in 1969 by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock or by Little Richard in the movie Mystery, Alaska.

 

On September 14, 1814, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a huge American flag to celebrate a crucial victory over British forces during the War of 1812. The sight of those “broad stripes and bright stars,” Francis Scott Key was inspired to pen the poem that would eventually become our national anthem.  Most people think Key was a prisoner as he wrote the Banner, but really, he was a visitor to the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes, who had been captured after the burning of Washington, DC. Key secured Beanes’ release, but was detained on ship overnight during the shelling of Fort McHenry (which you can still visit in Baltimore). In the morning, he was so delighted to see the American flag still flying over the fort that he began a poem to commemorate the occasion.  The verse was first published under the title Defense of Fort M’Henry, and soon attained wide popularity when sung to the tune To Anacreon in Heaven. The Star-Spangled Banner officially became our national anthem when Congress approved it in 1931.  Stay tuned to the action over the next two weeks as celebrations kick off in Baltimore (including a Blue Angels show).  It is a great day trip.

 

We also want to start looking out for the September climate meetings in New York that the President intends to hold with foreign state leaders.   This meeting on September 23rd took on new life recently when our friends at the New York Times reported that the Obama Administration seems to be ready to sign us up to a climate plan in Paris next year without any help from Congress.  Maybe we can just admit now that the UN process has lost its luster, which is something I’ve been saying for a while.

 

SEJ holds its big event this week starting Wednesday.  Of course, our big reception will be on Thursday.  It will be a great event in New Orleans, which is always a fun place to be.    And on Thursday, Harry Reid holds his 7th Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas with Hillary Clinton topping the bill of speakers.

 

Finally, if you are following the Macondo case and the latest settlement issue that was announced today, feel free to touch base with my colleague Jason Hutt (202-828-5850).  As many of you know, he is familiar with the issues and often can be helpful.

 

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

  1. (202) 997-5932

 

IN THE NEWS WHILE WE WERE AWAY

 

Honorable Nominated for FERC Spot – President Obama will nominate Arkansas Utility Regulator and president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Colette Honorable to serve as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Honorable has Been rumored to be headed for the position for some time.   a top state utility regulator and a rumored favorite for months.  If confirmed by the Senate, Honorable would replace FERC Commissioner John Norris, who resigned recently take a position in Italy with USDA. NARUC Executive Director Charles Gray said her appointment is a bittersweet moment for NARUC. Gray: “President Honorable has gone above and beyond in her service since joining the Association in 2008. If confirmed, we will miss her enthusiasm, dedication, and leadership she has brought from Day One. At the same time, we are grateful that President Obama nominated another State commissioner who understands how energy and utility issues impact retail consumers. If confirmed, FERC would have two past-NARUC presidents serving at the same time-President Honorable and FERC Commissioner Tony Clark. This speaks volumes about the important work going on at the State level.”

 

House Science Letter Challenges EPA – The House Science Committee sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy criticizing the agency’s limited analysis of its climate regulations and requesting more comprehensive, independent analysis before the agency moves forward.   Recently, GAO released a report highlighting a pattern of shoddy EPA analysis. It was revealed that EPA relied on decades old data and ignored important factors.  The independent watchdog warned that “EPA cannot ensure that it’s [analysis] provide the public with a clear understanding of its decision making.”    In the letter, Science Chair Lamar Smith wrote that “Credible analysis is critical to a well-informed debate concerning climate change and energy policy choices now before American people. EPA’s incomplete modeling disregards a number of technical, regulatory, and economic realities. Americans deserve the bottom line: what does it cost and what will we get for the money?”  The letter calls on EPA to provide comprehensive analysis that takes real-world contingencies into account rather than rely on models and science that are hidden from the public.   The committee also simultaneously sent a letter to the non-partisan Energy Information Administration (EIA) to conduct independent analysis using the same underlying data and assumptions that EPA uses.  The letter states that “tandem analysis by EPA and EIA would allow for a side-by-side comparison of results and provide a more comprehensive accounting of the possible impacts of the agency’s proposal.”

 

New Report Slams Sue, Settle Issues – A report by the National Center for Policy Analysis says interest groups’ tactic of using so-called sue and settle litigation has forced the EPA to issue deficient regulations. “Until there is reform, interest groups will continue using litigation as a tactic to direct agency action and circumvent standard rulemaking procedures,” said NCPA senior research fellow Ann Norman. “It is disingenuous to suggest, as some in the EPA have, that sue and settle does not actually interfere with required rulemaking procedures.”

 

Ivanpah Pushes Back on Avian Claims from Enviro Group – As you may have read during August, an Associated Press article discussing avian mortality at solar power facilities highlighted some scary Center for Biological Diversity numbers on impacts.  While the issues is a serious one, there are two key points that provide important context on the avian impact issues at Ivanpah and other Concentrated Solar Projects (CSP): 1) The Ivanpah project owners are now implementing its Avian and Bat Monitoring and Management Plan approved by state and federal agencies and required by permit. Under the approved plan, Ivanpah reported 321 avian fatalities between January and June 2014, of which 133 were related to solar flux, or birds passing through the concentrated sunlight.  2) The 28,000 annual bird deaths estimated by the CBD expert K. Shawn Smallwood, Ph.D. are suspect given his own testimony to the California Energy Commission where he questioned the veracity of his assumptions when he testified that, “The calculations I just made of fatality rates at Ivanpah were back-of-the-napkin-level, and were based on assumptions that I cannot at this time verify as correct.” (CEC Docket Number 09-AFC-07C, Palen Solar Power Project – Compliance, TN# 202736: Exh. 3128, P. 6)  A lot has been written about the impact solar thermal power tower technology – like that used at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System – has on birds. Like any infrastructure project, there are environmental impacts. These are legitimate concerns that must be addressed. But, the context is important.  The following blogs BSE posts here discuss the avian issues in detail, as well as many questions about solar flux and what it really does.

 

RFS Sent to White House Regs Office – Last week EPA submitted its proposal for the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard to the White House Office of Management and Budget for a final interagency review. EPA said it wants to raise the required volumes of biofuels, but it did not clarify whether it revised its 2013 proposal.  Reviews are expected to take 30 to 90 days, and in this case, there are a significant number of political considerations are at stake.

 

India PM to Pass UN Summit – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will miss a UN climate change summit being held on September 23rd in New York.   Modi is scheduled to be in New York to deliver his first address to the UN General Assembly later that week before flying down to Washington to meet US president Barack Obama. The summit will be hosted by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon for generating “political momentum on climate action” ahead of the December climate deal negotiations in Lima, Peru.

 

Couldn’t Pass on this Steyer Gem – Speaking at a climate conference hosted by the American Renewable Energy Institute in Mid-August, everyman Tom Steyer laid out a comment that I just could pass sending on to you.  Steyer was attempting to explain why global warming Polls on the bottom of the list for a sizable portion of Americans.    Steyer:  “I think if you were to go around to most of the — what I would think of as super-sophisticated people who think about politics and policy more than five minutes a month — we are doing really well.  And the question in the United States of America is how are we doing with everybody else, which is the 99.5 percent of the people whose lives are very busy and complicated and pressing and they don’t have a lot of time to think about the things that don’t immediately impact themselves and their family.”  Ouch, Romney’s 47% comment sounds a lot better after hearing this.

 

Courts Limit NEPA Reviews – Ruling on a pipeline project and a mine project, two different federal courts issued decisions during August affirming limits on the scope of environmental reviews.  The pipeline case was a challenge to Enbridge’s Flanagan South pipeline, designed to transport tar sands crude from Illinois to Oklahoma.  The mine case involved Raven Crest Contracting’s Boone North No. 5 coal mine in West Virginia.  Neither decision breaks new ground; their significance lies in reaffirming that NEPA analysis should be confined to the scope of the federal agencies’ control over the project in question.  These cases encourage federal agencies to fend off demands for broader consideration of social and political issues surrounding major infrastructure projects.  My colleagues are constantly working on these issues and can provide more information.  They say the decisions apply well-settled limits of environmental review under both NEPA and the Clean Water Act.  As opponents of energy and infrastructure projects call for broader consideration of regional and global impacts from development in general, these decisions reaffirm that federal agencies can limit their environmental analysis to the scope of the project over which they have control and authority.

 

MIT Report Says UN Treaty Will Fall Short on Emissions Reductions – MIT issued a report during August predicted that the most likely United Nations (UN) climate treaty to come out of the upcoming 2015 Conference of the Parties (COP) negotiations is unlikely to stop the world from warming more than 2 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels, an internationally agreed upon target. While international efforts can decelerate the global warming trend, the report said any political effort will not put the globe on a path consistent with commonly stated long-term climate goals. This report was operates on the assumption that the new UN treaty for climate change will be based on voluntary efforts from countries, consistent with the 2009 Copenhagen agreement. MIT researchers Henry Jacoby and Henry Chen developed a computer model to conduct their analysis, and talked to many people engaged and familiar with the negotiations “to formulate judgments regarding the efforts nations will be willing to pledge by 2015.”

 

SoCo, PGA Announce “First Tee” National School Program – The First Tee of Greater Washington, D.C., said students in 11 Fairfax County, Va., elementary schools will have access to The First Tee National School Program as part of physical education instruction beginning this school year. Six of the 11 schools will implement the program in association with Southern Company, through an extension of its longstanding relationship with the PGA TOUR. Southern Company is The First Tee’s Education Patron. The schools include Bailey’s Upper Elementary School, Dranesville Elementary School, Fort Belvoir Elementary School, Hutchison Elementary School, Island Creek Elementary School and Woodley Hills Elementary School.  Fairfax County Public Schools and The First Tee of Greater Washington, D.C. provided funding for the additional five schools: Bailey’s Lower Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, Clearview Elementary School, Columbia Elementary School, Herndon Elementary School and Washington Mill Elementary School.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

 

SEJ Conference Set for NOLA – Starting Wednesday,  the Society of Environmental Journalists will hold its annual Meeting in New Orleans.  Usually later in October, this year the conference comes in early September due to scheduling and availability.  Nonetheless, it will be a great time and feature all the usual events, including the famous Bracewell reception on Thursday night.  Tours will include natgas drilling, chemical corridor, offshore drilling, marshlands and many other tours.  Look for broad panel discussions on the EPA’s GHG rules as well as lots of other great stuff.

 

MD to Discussion Offshore Wind Port Study – On Wednesday, Maryland State officials and MD business leaders will hold a forum on unveil an offshore wind staging Port Feasibility study and hold a discussion in Baltimore at the Semmes Chesapeake Room.    Moffatt & Nichol will present a general framework of typical port requirements for an off shore wind component staging and assembly ground followed by its initial thoughts for possible sites within Baltimore. This will be followed by an open discussion between Moffatt & Nichol and participants to discuss innovative options for suitable sites and logistics for Baltimore to stage the assembly of the main offshore wind components.  Ideas and comments will be an important part of the discussion that afternoon, especially Baltimore’s private port owners, operators and port infrastructure construction companies / companies. The content of this discussion will help shape Moffatt & Nichol’s work in providing its assessment and recommendations to Maryland State Government.

 

CEQ Exec to Talk Solar at Webinar – On Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. , SEIA will begin a series of events explaining the Obama Administration’s efforts to help promote clean solar energy. The White House, Council on Environmental Quality, Federal Environment Executive and other agency representatives will visit SEIA’s office in Washington, DC for a live webinar to discuss opportunities to grow your business within the federal sector.   The Speaker will be Kate Brandt, Federal Environmental Executive at the White House’s CEQ.

 

Reid Clean Energy Summit Set – Harry Reid’s 7th annual National Clean Energy Summit will begin on Thursday, bringing together clean energy visionaries and leaders, public officials, business executives, energy policy experts, entrepreneurs, investors, citizens, and students, to discuss empowering Americans to develop our massive clean energy supplies, secure greater energy independence, and create jobs.  The day-long clean energy summit will be cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Reid, the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Speakers include Hillary Clinton, USDA Secretary Vilsack, Obama Advisor John Podesta , John Huntsman and GE ecomagination director Deb Frodl, among many others.

 

CSIS to Hold Electricity Forum – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will hold its second Electricity in Transition series session on Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. to discuss electricity technology and the interplay between markets and regulation. The first panel, Technology in Transition, will address the commercial and technological advances impacting the electricity business and preview what other changes are on the horizon. The second panel, Markets and Regulation in Transition, will address the reevaluation of the current regulatory system, diving into the past, present and future of the interplay between markets and regulation in the electricity sector.   Speakers will include FERC Cheryl LaFleur, Maryland PSC Commissioner Larry Brenner, NREL’s Bryan Hannegan, former FERC Chair Betsy Moler, Bob Nordhaus,  former DOE officials Peter Fox-Penner and Linda Stuntz and EPRI’s Ron Schoff.

 

Forum to Look at CCS Technologies – On Thursday at 10:00 a.m., the US Energy Association will hold a forum that will cover a series of broad subjects in CO2 storage as a climate-change mitigation strategy, such as the current status and the need for CCS in the next decades, scientific and technical challenges in CO2 storage in geological media, and legal and regulatory challenges in large-scale deployment of CCS.  The speaker will be Stefan Bachu of the Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures.

 

Giuliani, Segal Headline Shale Law Conference – The Institute for Energy Law and the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation (EMLF) the 5th Law of Shale Plays Conference on Thursday and Friday in Pittsburgh at the Omni Hotel.  My colleagues Jason Hutt and Lowell Rothschild are among the speakers.  The event will also feature a keynote conversation with former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, hosted by PRG’s Scott Segal.  Other speakers include Cabot’s Kevin Cunningham, Baker Hughes’ Will Marsh and SW Energy’s Mark Boling.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

 

Webinar to Focus on UN Sustainability Issues – Researcher Magdalena A K Muir will hold a live webinar on N Sustainable Development Goals as part of the Association for Environmental Studies and Educators Webinar Series.  The webinar presentation and moderated discussion will introduce and discuss the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and related targets, which were released in the July 19 consensus outcome document negotiated by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.  Muir is an adjunct associate researcher with the Columbia Climate Center and The Earth Institute, Columbia University; visiting scholar at the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of Delaware; and associate professor, Aarhus University Herning.

 

SEIA to Release Solar Market Report – Next Monday, September 8th at 1:00 p.m., SEIA and GTM Research will hold a webinar covering the highlights of the U.S. Solar Market Insight: Q2 2014 Report.  The U.S. solar industry continued to grow rapidly in Q2 2014, with impressive year over year growth led by a strong performance by both the residential and non-residential PV sectors. The webinar highlights trends in Q2, both at the national level and in some of the top state markets. The discussion will also include detailed PV and CSP market forecasts for the rest of 2014 and beyond.  Speakers will include Cory Honeyman Solar Analyst, GTM Research and Shawn Rumery of SEIA.

 

House Energy to Host State Officials on GHG Rule – The House Energy panel will hold a hearing On Tuesday September 9th at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the EPA GHG rules and their impact on states.  The hearing will feature officials from state environmental, utility and legal offices.

 

House Science to Address Bakken Crude Oil Concerns – The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, September 9th at 2:00 p.m. focused on the characteristics of Bakken crude,  The hearing will focus on whether Bakken crude is more volatile than other crudes.

 

Women Energy Leaders to Discussion Issues, Challenges – The WCEE Women in Leadership Committee will hold a forum on September 9th at Clyde’s Gallery Place at Noon to discuss women in Washington Leadership on energy issues.  Panelists will include Tasha Parker, Senior Vice President and Digital Energy Lead at Edelman; Liz Sidoti, Head of U.S. Communications at BP; Elizabeth Thompson, Vice President of US Climate & Political Affairs, and President at Environmental Defense Action Fund; and Heidi VanGenderen, Director of Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

Forum to Look at Arctic Climate Through Art – On Wednesday evening, September 10th, The Atlantic Council will hold an even focused on the hard science of Arctic climate change and different Mediums to express it.   The Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist Program will hold a roundtable discussion with prominent artists and scientists to discuss the role of visual arts in communicating Arctic climate change science to the public, and the next generation of scientists.   The discussion will feature an artistic presentation and critique, followed by a moderated discussion. The Arctic Climate Change Emerging Leaders Fellowship (ACCEL) is an initiative of the Atlantic Council and Ecologic Institute. This event is the first in a series of events corresponding with Arctic 101, a transatlantic collaboration between ACCEL Fellows in Washington, DC and Berlin, which informs the next generation about Arctic climate change through innovative media, and encourages young people to develop a broader understanding of Arctic issues. The ACCEL Program is supported by the Allianz Foundation for North America.

 

Green Living Expo Set – The 2014 Green Living DC Expo will be held on Thursday, September 11th at 3:30 p.m. at the University of the District of Columbia’s Dennard Plaza – Van Ness campus.  New this year, events will be designed to be “Zero Waste,” meaning water bottles will be discouraged, refuse will be recycled, compostable and recycled paper and plastic goods will be used and food waste will be composted, among other environmentally-friendly initiatives.   Nearly 50 exhibitors will be on hand to help attendees discover why DC is steadily becoming the model of a sustainable city. Green businesses, energy-saving devices, green roofs, locally grown food, urban forests, urban biking, and green infrastructure are just a few of the featured topics and services that will be available. Visitors can consult with environmental experts while enjoying demonstrations, live music and local food. The event also includes panel discussions, speaker presentations, and an eco-bike tour around the Van Ness campus and the surrounding communities to highlight leading examples of urban sustainability. Kids aged K-12 will be entertained and educated with interactive displays, games and more provided by exhibitors and UDC’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences.

 

WRI to release Global Shale, Water Report – On Thursday, September 11th 4:00 p.m., the World Resources Institute  will hold a special briefing on the report “Global Shale Gas Development: Water Availability and Business Risks.” This analysis, authored by experts from the World Resources Institute, will the first to show how freshwater availability could limit shale oil and gas development in many parts of the world.  Lead author Paul Reig will detail the report’s findings, conduct a tutorial for the interactive web map accompanying the report, and answer questions.

 

Marshall to Host Curry on Climate Issues – On September 16th, the George Marshall Institute will hold a discussion by noted climatologist Dr. Judith Curry, who will make the case that the climate change problem and its solution have been vastly oversimplified. The key issues to be discussed are evidence reported by the IPCC AR5 weakens the case for human factors dominating climate change in the 20th and early 21st centuries, weaker linkages between anthropogenic climate change and extreme weather, and the importance of natural climate variability and challenges to decision making under deep climate uncertainty.  Arguments are presented that greater openness about scientific uncertainties and ignorance, and more transparency about dissent and disagreement, would provide policymakers with a more complete picture of climate science and its limitations, and ensure that the science community, policymakers, and the public are better equipped to understand, respond and adapt to climate change.

 

Stanford Climate Experts to Address Issues – On September 17th at the Hoover Institute, scientists from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment will travel to Washington, D.C., to lead a panel discussion on the findings of their latest work related to climate change impacts and risks.  Topics will include regional “hot spots” where the effects of climate on atmospheric conditions will be most profound and potentially disruptive, water management in the face of increased water scarcity, resiliency challenges and efforts in U.S. cities and urban regions and impacts on global agriculture production and responses.  A question and answer session will follow panelists Noah Diffenbaugh, David Lobell and Buzz Thompson’s remarks.

 

Forum to Tackle Energy Exports – Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies will hold a breakfast forum  on Wednesday September 17th looking at regulation, politics and the economics of US energy exports.  Although the U.S. currently ranks as the world’s top producer of crude, policies put in place more than 40 years ago largely prevent that oil from accessing international markets. The national de facto ban on crude oil exports has started to generate interest and attention from Washington – along with a fair share of controversy. WY Sen. John Barrasso will address the issue as will a panel featuring our friend Mike Catanzaro and Rice’s Ken Medlock.

 

UN Climate Summit Set – The UN will host a climate summit on September 23 in NYC.  The summit will be hosted by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon for generating  “political momentum on climate action” ahead of the December climate deal negotiations in Lima, Peru.   President Obama is expected to address the forum.

 

Richardson, Perino, Ridge to Headline Shale Insight Conference – The Marcellus Shale Coalition will hold SHALE INSIGHT 2014 on September 23 – 25 in Pittsburgh focusing on shale development, featuring some of the most prominent industry and government leaders. The event will feature three days of pre-conference workshops, technical and public affairs insight sessions, major keynote addresses, and a dynamic exhibit hall featuring all the major shale players.  Speakers will include former Energy Secretary and NM Governor Bill Richardson, former PA Gov and first Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House Press Secretary and Fox News Personality Dana Perino, XTO President Randy Cleveland and many more.

 

NY PSC  Chair to Address 100th Energy Breakfast – ICF International holds its 100th Energy Breakfast at the National Press Club on September 24th.  Energy expert Audrey Zibelman will speak.  As Chair of the New York Public Service Commission and former COO of PJM, Zibelman will share the issues involved in trying to gain consensus within the power industry in a time of great flux.   She will address challenges and questions including reliability, rates environmental issues and regulators’ roles.

 

Inglis to Headline  Midwest Energy Conference – The Midwest Energy Policy Conference will be held in St. Louis on September 30th and October 1st.  The event will address the 2014 environmental and energy rulings of the SCOTUS, the path forward following the EPA greenhouse gas 111(d) ruling and what makes successful state energy plan programs relevant and successful in several key focus areas (economic development, education, research, regulations, portfolio mix, biofuels, and more)  The Keynote speaker will be former SC Rep. Bob Inglis.

 

Shale, Coal Exports Conference Set – Law Seminars International will host a forum on October 1st and 2nd in Baltimore.  The event is co-hosted by Bracewell’s Chuck Shoneman and will focus on export policies for coal, oil and natural gas.  B&G’s Scott Segal will also join a panel to discuss the politics of export policies.

 

USEA Forum Set – The US Energy Assn will host its 7th annual Energy Supply Forum at the National Press Club on October 2nd.

 

Shale Water Expo Set – On October 14 and 15, Shale Water Expo 2014 will be held in Houston at the  Stafford Convention Centre.  The event is focused on shale play water management is the only national fluids-specific event for the oil and gas industry.  It will present timely, in-depth insight from industry leaders sharing their expertise on water management, logistics, sourcing, recycling, market forecasting and industry trends.

 

ANGA, Penn State to Host Gas Utilization Conference – Penn State University and ANGA will hold a forum on October  14-15 in Canonsburg, PA at the Hilton Garden Inn.  The conference aims to develop a better understanding of natural gas development issues across the nation and the impact shale plays have on the world energy market.  Top industry experts, government officials and academic researchers will address the major issues driving the natural gas revolution as America moves to expanding its use of natural gas for transportation, manufacturing and power generation.

 

Holmstead to Address EPA Rules at FL Conference – The Florida Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association will hold a forum at its annual conference in Jacksonville on October 29-30th on the proposed Section 111(d) guidelines for CO2 emissions from existing utility units.  My colleague Jeff Holmstead will address the panel as will out friend Mike Kennedy of Duke Energy.

 

Mike Pate on Tax and Budget Issues Facing the Lame Duck Session, the New Congress, and President Obama

Mike Pate, a partner in the Policy Resolution Group, delivers a thorough analysis of the tax and budget issues facing the lame duck session, the new Congress, and President Obama. Featured: the Fiscal Cliff (including the Bush tax cuts, sequestration, and other issues such as the Alternative Minimum Tax), possibilities for finding common ground between the White House and Congress, tax increases and tax reform, entitlement reform, Wall Street’s possible reactions, debt limit extension, and corporate tax rates, exemptions, and deductions.

Watch the video here.

Post-Election: Overview and Takeaways

By Scott H. Segal

The voters have now spoken in one of the most hotly contested and expensive races in American history, and the net effect of countervailing political winds was ironically to perpetuate the political status quo. For those stunned at the amount of money spent on this race, the results are in on third-party spending: $1.25 billion, of which $600 million was in the Presidential. The top three political action committees (PACs) were Governor Romney’s Restore Our Future and the two PACs run by Karl Rove, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Judged simply by election results, there was not a great return on money spent by these entities.

When all of the final votes are tallied, the national popular vote as a percentage will still be quite close at around 50 to 48%, but the Electoral College was not – reflecting the direction that the majority of state polls were indicating, certainly since Hurricane Sandy knocked much of the race off the nation’s front pages.

Now that Obama has been declared the winner in Florida, the end electoral result is 332 to 206 – in the high end of the range of both computer models and aggregations and of some human prognosticators. The President won eight of the nine hotly contested battlegrounds, and Governor Romney only took back two states from the Democratic win in 2008 – North Carolina and Indiana, the latter enjoying a plus-eight Republican voter advantage all along.

Senate

In the race for control of the United States Senate, the story of the night was the failure of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party to fully vet their candidates. In what should have been a pick-up year for Republicans, the newly elected Senate is currently at 54 likely Democratic caucus members to 45 Republicans – with Montana and North Dakota not called at this point but tracking in the direction of the Democratic candidates. Put another way, of all the hotly contested Senate races, all broke for the Democrats except the race in Nevada won by the incumbent Republican Senator – and that one was by the barest of margins.

House of Representatives

The sole bright spot for the GOP was the maintaining of their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the current House, Republicans hold 242 seats to 190 for the Democrats, and with five vacancies. With several races still outstanding, the new House will feature at least 233 Republicans and 187 Democrats with a Democrat pickup of 9 seats. The takeaway here is that House leadership was retained for the Republicans relatively early in the evening and at a ratio that really changes nothing. Interesting notes on the House results included a split decision on two of the more polarizing GOP incumbents: Rep. Allan West (R-FL) who lost and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) who won. Other notable incumbents who lost their races were: Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH) and Rep. Pete Stark (R-CA). In the meantime, incumbent Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) held on to his seat by one point despite a family gambling scandal that had threatened that Democratic seat earlier in the year. Finally, on the opposite coast in the San Fernando Valley, 30-year Democratic Congressman and D.C.-favorite Howard Berman was defeated in a redrawn district by another incumbent, Rep. Brad Sherman.

Takeaways

So what does it all mean? Here are some questions we should be asking regarding the election:

Is there a Presidential mandate? Looking at the popular vote, there is not a tremendous one. In terms of overcoming obstacles to reelection and executing a near-perfect targeted plan, the answer is “yes.” But the question remains, a mandate for what? Despite reports of House Speaker John Boehner’s intransigence in previous budget negotiations with the White House, his tweet from election night was clear: “if there is a mandate, it is for parties to work together to help the economy grow.”

What Obama Administration will show up in the next two months and in the second term? Once liberated of the constraints of reelection and therefore more activist and responsive to its base? Or, as suggested by President Obama’s victory speech on election night, one emboldened by a desire for a great historical legacy to extend a bipartisan olive branch and begin discussions on tax reform, climate change and energy policy, and immigration reform. It’s possible that the final answer may be a combination of both of these approaches. This could mean the continuation of an activist regulatory agenda coupled with a reversal of the first term’s limited engagement with Congress. The first indication we will have is the negotiations with congressional leaders on how to avoid the year-end Fiscal Cliff. Will the President work with Congressional Democrats to pressure Republicans into giving up on extending tax cuts on higher income earners? Or will he circumvent Republican leadership in Congress and make separate deals with groups of Republicans interested in compromise? It is noteworthy that Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is up for reelection next cycle.

Will the President tend to the economic home fires? The answer here is a resounding “yes.” A President’s historical legacy is paved by a strong domestic economy. Making progress on unemployment and economic growth can restore political capital for his initiatives and for congressional Democrats in the 2014 mid-terms. On a domestic legacy agenda, look for President Obama to focus on immigration reform, comprehensive tax reform, and domestic energy (both increased renewable energy as well as energy independence).

Can the Republican Party reinvent itself and recover in 2014 and 2016? This question will be much pondered by Washington, D.C. think tanks and commentators over the coming months. What is the teaching of the race? Should Republicans have nominated more of a true conservative? Or a candidate better able to connect with more moderate voters? When one combines the crushing Senate losses, the presidential result, and the changing demographics of the electorate, it is clear that the GOP must move beyond intensity and turnout among its core of white male voters and improve its standing among the young, the Hispanic community, and females. The issue to watch for here is immigration. 1.7 million new Hispanic voters cast ballots in the 2012 election, a number expected to only grow in the future. Will any Republican leader – a la President George W. Bush – rally the party around a compelling GOP vision for immigration reform? The answer could prove key to their chances for the White House in 2016.

What will D.C. turn its attention to now that this election is over? Washington usually allots 24 hours to digest the latest presidential election results before beginning speculation on the next election. Accordingly, there will be immediate planning for the 2014 mid-terms when control of the U.S. Senate will once again hang in the balance, and once again Democratic incumbents start at a disadvantage needing to defend two-thirds of the seats that are up. Among Democrats up in the Senate are a number that must balance business moderates, political conservatives and their Democratic base in states such as Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Montana. And, of course, immediate water cooler discussion on potential 2016 nominees for the Democrats (e.g., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, and Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY)) and the GOP (Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) and former Governor Jeb Bush). Finally, a second Obama term offers another legacy opportunity-potential nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court. There are currently four Justices in their mid-70’s or older. If President Obama has the opportunity to replace either Justice Kennedy or Scalia (each 76 years old), he would be able to fundamentally alter the Court’s alignment.

VIDEO: Key Takeaways from the 2012 Election

Post-Election: Electric Transmission

By Frank Maisano and Catherine McCarthy

President Obama’s re-election is a positive development for supporters of and investors in renewable energy and therefore a significant development for the transmission policies that will be required to implement clean energy. Of course, a robust transmission policy impacts all electricity generation and will benefit all consumers and regions with more reliable power, and eventually, lower overall costs. With the current challenges facing the Northeast following the recent storms, transmission infrastructure’s importance becomes a more essential priority each day.

We have an aging U.S. electric transmission system in need of upgrade and expansion to meet the demands of a new economy. Investments in repairing, upgrading, and expanding the electric transmission grid creates jobs, improves electric reliability, promotes competitive markets, fuel diversity, and supports economic growth.

Some progress was made in 2005 when legislation was passed to study and develop a plan to improve transmission siting though national corridors of importance. In 2007, two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors were designated, but they were invalidated by a federal appeals court in 2011. Since then, we have also had seven projects designated under the Administration’s Interagency Rapid Response Team for advancement of transmission. Already, this process has allowed transmission developers to receive fast track treatment which has allowed new projects to move forward more efficiently and effectively. The President’s re-election will help this process continue for the current and future projects.

It is important to remember that we have been looking for a way to better improve our transmission siting/development process for a long time, including even legislative efforts like the national corridors that have been ineffective though the political and legal process. The bottom line is, no matter what these efforts are or entail, they are looking for solutions to a major problem which dogs us to today: how can we more effectively build a much-needed transmission infrastructure to best accommodate our ever-growing needs.

One key issue to watch is whether FERC can be consistent in granting or denying transmission incentives. Under Chairman Wellinghoff, FERC has already issued a Notice of Inquiry to examine its transmission incentives policy and industry will watch closely to see whether a new policy emerges that is more consistent region to region. For example, since 2008, we have seen smaller ROE adders for proposed transmission projects. In New England, there has been major transmission investment and healthy ROEs (including adders) have been part of the story. The ISO-NE market has benefitted from reduced congestion. New England is in contrast to New York where there has not yet been transmission investment (for a variety of reasons) and significant congestion still remains.

As to the abandonment incentive, we are watching FERC’s treatment of companies seeking recovery for prudently incurred costs for abandoned projects relying on the abandonment authority FERC granted in earlier transmission incentives proceedings. One notable case is the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) project’s recent FERC filing seeking recovery of $121 million (costs plus a return). PATH expects that amount might decrease as it sells some of its existing assets – such as land acquired in anticipation of the project.

Third, as to base ROE for transmission, it is important to watch a number of complaints pending against transmission owners. The New England Transmission Owners are scheduled to have a hearing on their base ROE in 2013 and there are complaints pending against Southwestern Public Service, Florida Progress, and National Grid (Niagara Mohawk) with complainants seeking to lower the company’s base transmission returns. The investment community currently views FERC’s ROEs very favorably, reflecting reliance that project will be granted favorable returns (relative to those ROEs typically set by state commissions). If FERC were to lower base ROEs, counter to investors’ expectations in any of these cases, it could send the wrong message to the market. There are also a number of other ROE cases in the settlement context that are not initiated by complaints and when considering these ROEs, FERC’s actions could surprise the investment community or diminish investors’ confidence in FERC investments in transmission.

Finally, FERC will likely continue with its efforts to implement Order No. 1000’s requirements. Although a number of issues still need to be worked out, Order 1000 provides directional certainty for planning and investing in transmission projects. Its reforms should lead to more opportunities for transmission investment, especially in transmission projects designed to bring renewable energy resources onto the grid.

One last key item has gotten much-needed attention over the last two years. In order to stand up a new offshore wind energy industry in the U.S., but especially off of the Atlantic Coast, the Administration has been very aggressive at working with private companies to invest in a transmission network that can support such a massive effort.

Already, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone transmission project, an essential foundation to the new industry, has made strong progress toward enabling the production of thousands of megawatts of clean power with strong support from FERC, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Interior. In May 2012, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which oversees the industrial development of offshore US waters, decided to move ahead with an environmental review of a corridor in the Atlantic Ocean where the transmission line would be laid.

The Administration faces many political, technical, and policy challenges on transmission policy: from security to siting to reliability. Already, they have established strong momentum that will present the framework for continuing recent progress.

Congress will likely continue to play a strong oversight and advisory role as well. After having previous legislation designating national corridors rejected by courts, it is likely they will revisit transmission infrastructure issues, alongside an ongoing effort to beef up grid security. Additionally, House Republicans are widely expected to remain vigilant in their effort to protect reliability though a secure grid, but also though protecting sources of generation like coal, which seem to be facing significant market challenges and the Administration’s regulatory crosshairs.  In addition to protecting more pieces of an “all of the above” energy approach to generation and infrastructure, the Republican House has focused on making sure any federal action to support the development of transmission infrastructure should strike the appropriate balance between the various stakeholders, including preserving the proper roles of state and local governments. This approach is likely to continue to be an important part of its agenda.

 

 

Post-Election: Energy and Environment

By Jeffrey Holmstead, Scott Segal and Salo Zelermyer

Regardless of the final result, one thing is certain: the debate that took place in the 2012 election cycle over energy and environmental issues was a diametrically different debate that the one that took place just four years ago. Cap-and-trade legislation? Nowhere to be seen or heard. Climate change? See cap-and-trade. Shale gas development? A competition over who favors it more. Permits for offshore oil and gas development? A debate over who has or will get them out the door fastest. Perhaps nothing signified this stunning turn of events more than President Obama’s campaign running pro-coal advertisements in Ohio that attacked Governor Romney for once saying that pollution from coal plants was dangerous to public health.

Now that the election is over and President Obama has been reelected, where does all of this rhetoric leave energy and environmental issues heading into a second Obama term? Below we examine the likely impacts on the major areas of energy and environmental policy.

Shale Gas Development
When President Obama, in his acceptance speech in Charlotte, pledged to create 600,000 new jobs related to natural gas production, it became clear that the only campaign debate over shale gas development would be over who could exploit it the most. Despite this campaign rhetoric, the Obama Administration has a number of federal regulatory actions relating to shale gas production pending before various agencies in his second term. For example, EPA has an ongoing study on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water as well as soon-to-be-finalized guidance on the use of diesel fuel in the fracturing process. At DOI, BLM is readying the final version of its regulation on hydraulic fracturing occurring on Federal lands. Additionally, there are other regulatory actions, such as DOE’s forthcoming policy on LNG exports to non-free trade agreement countries, that, while not directly controlling the drilling process, will nevertheless have a great impact on the market for future shale gas production. While it is unlikely that the Obama White House would approve any federal regulation that would drastically curtail shale gas production, many of these actions all have the potential to add significant burdens to the industry and raise the cost of production.

Offshore Oil and Gas
In the months leading up to the election, President Obama was keen to take credit for the overall increase in U.S. crude oil production that has taken place over the past few years, a talking point that proved useful in hitting back against charges that his administration had slowed the flow of offshore permit and plan approvals. Behind the scenes, however, output in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico had dropped well below government projections of just a few years ago. The real determinants of tomorrow’s offshore output boil down to whether the regulatory regime is viewed as transparent and predictable enough to invite investment, and the extent to which offshore leases are made available for potential exploration and production.

On the regulatory side, the Interior Department’s permit and plan approval averages are mostly back to pre-Macondo levels, but the timing and outcome of approvals has become more clouded overall. BSEE’s new enforcement arm will be beefed up and launched in earnest over the coming months, and a host of new regulations are also on the horizon, including (i) the Final Drilling Safety Rule, (ii) SEMS II, the Blowout Preventer Rule, (iii) the Production Safety Systems and Lifestyle Analysis Rule, (iv) a new Oil Spill Response Plan NTL, and (v) a total rewrite of 30 CFR 250 et. seq. As for leasing, the 2012-2017 plan failed to live up to industry expectations, sticking mostly to offerings in the Central and Western Gulf despite pleas to better exploit untapped resources along the nation’s coastlines and in Alaska. The administration will write the first draft of the next five-year plan, with prospects for a bolder foray into controversial new areas slim to nil.

Climate Change
Not until the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, and the resulting media stories linking the storm to a more variable climate, did the issue of climate change remotely come up in the 2012 election cycle. To illustrate this point, not one question relating to climate change was even asked in any one of the three Presidential debates or in the Vice Presidential debate. With a down economy and with battleground states heavily reliant on fossil fuels, advocacy for any action to address climate change was simply a non-starter for both campaigns. Combine this with a split Congress and it appears unlikely that new comprehensive climate change legislation along the lines of the previous cap-and-trade bills will be enacted. However, it was notable that both President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in their respective victory speeches, mentioned climate as a priority for them to tackle over the next four years. It is possible that there will be increasing attention paid to a potential carbon tax as part of a broad agreement on climate regulation. For that to happen, however, a carbon tax would have to be part of a climate “grand bargain” that would reduce or eliminate pending climate regulations.

On the regulatory front, you do have agency actions on climate that continue to be considered and compelled to final action by various consent decrees and court rulings. Of these regulations, the most important are the pending new source performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel fired power plants and petroleum refineries. Both of these rules have been delayed over the past two years, largely due to the Obama Administration’s fears of an election backlash. With a second term, and no reelection campaign, the Obama EPA will be free to release these rules albeit with likely significant congressional oversight by House Republicans and some Senate Democrats with coal and refinery interests in their regions.

Clean Energy Funding
Clean energy funding did get some airtime in the 2012 elections, however, it was not likely the messaging most favored by the renewables industry. Since its collapse into bankruptcy in 2011, Solyndra, the solar manufacturer that received a $535 million loan guarantee by the Obama DOE, has become a symbol of wasteful government spending, the failure of the Recovery Act to create the level of jobs expected, and the disastrous result of government picking winners and losers in the capital market. The Solyndra effect swept up not only the DOE Loan Guarantee Program but also the level of support generally given for new government programs to fund clean energy or energy efficiency technologies.

In the first Presidential debate, Governor Romney labeled such stimulus programs as “green pork” and derided the Obama Administration’s record of failed investments. While President Obama did stress his continued support for the development of clean energy jobs, it was hardly full-throated and no specific new funding programs were pushed for a potential second Obama term. Instead, what we are likely to see is a focus on preserving tax incentives for renewable energy development as part of the tax reform discussions and the ongoing project management of the renewable energy projects that received funding in the first term. It is possible that the Obama White House will renew its press for a Clean Energy Standard in Congress, however, it is highly unlikely that such a plan will get through the House or even be able to get 60 votes in the Senate.

VIDEO: Prospects for Energy and Environment Issues 

Post-Election: Financial Services Overview

By Dee Martin

With the reelection of President Obama, a full repeal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) appears unlikely. In the current political climate, any attempts by House Republicans to roll back the law would likely be rejected by a Democratic Senate and vetoed by the President. However, in the upcoming Congress, there may be some opportunities for minor or technical corrections to Dodd-Frank. Undoubtedly, significant Congressional oversight will continue as well.

The election did bring a change to the membership and leadership of the Congressional Committees with jurisdiction over the Act: the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. In the Senate, Tim Johnson (D-SD) will likely maintain his leadership position as Chairman of the Banking Committee. Current Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) will reach his six-year term limit, likely leaving the Committee to become Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee. Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) is expected to replace him as Ranking Member. In addition to new Republican leadership, the composition of the Banking Committee will change, with the retirement of two Democratic members and the election of Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a long-time champion of Wall Street reform and consumer protection. It is widely anticipated that Senator-elect Warren will be assigned to the Committee. The House will see changes in the leadership from both parties, as Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) is term limited and Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-MA) is retiring. The Financial Services Committee leadership is expected to be handed over to Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Maxine Waters (D-CA). The membership of the Committee will also change, with six Committee members losing their reelection bids, one being elected to the Senate, and five members retiring.

A second term for President Obama also means the political balance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will remain in favor of the Democrats, as discussed in Paul Maco’s article. Whoever takes over the position as Chair will set the agenda for the Commission and for the pace of regulation. Of the 400 new rules and requirements mandated under Dodd-Frank, regulators have only finalized a third of the rules, while another third have not even been proposed. Completing the rulemaking will be a herculean task for the SEC. We can expect frustration over missed deadlines and rules to result in House Republicans exercising oversight over the SEC. The Senate Banking Committee may revisit Dodd-Frank to take up technical corrections, as there is a slowly emerging consensus that revisions are necessary both to confirm Congressional intent and address flaws in certain parts of Dodd-Frank. However, it is unlikely that changes will be substantial. Rather, we expect tweaks to address errors or omissions in the original legislation. Below we have identified four important areas where we expect some activity:

Dodd-Frank Orderly Liquidation By Renée Dailey, Cheri Hoff and Katherine Lindsay

Municipal Bond Market Regulation By Paul S. Maco 

Dodd-Frank Say On Pay By George Felcyn 

Public Finance/Tax-Exempt Bonds By Charles L. Almond

 

 

 

Post-Election: Regulatory Environment for Shale Gas Production

By Jason Hutt and Salo Zelermyer

The extraordinary increase in the production of natural gas from shale formations in the U.S. played a central role in the 2012 elections. As President Obama and Governor Romney campaigned throughout the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and elsewhere, the campaign often seemed to be a contest as to who could praise the positive impacts of domestic shale gas production more. Indeed, despite the lingering industry angst about the number of federal agencies in Obama’s Administration actively exploring new regulations on shale gas development, President Obama pledged to create 600,000 new jobs connected to natural gas by the end of the decade in his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. This pledge, combined with a desire to ensure a solid economic legacy, will likely caution President Obama against actions in his second term that could radically reduce the level of domestic shale gas production.

Despite this, important regulatory processes will continue to impact domestic shale gas production in the U.S. at both the federal and state levels. Additionally, both the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House will have renewed interest in all aspects of shale gas development, including oversight over major regulatory decisions taking place in the Executive Branch.

While there are any number of federal regulatory processes under way in the Executive Branch, in general, we expect the following regulatory actions and decisions to be the subject of intense scrutiny for the Obama Administration in their second term and in the 113thCongress:

EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study

The primary federal study on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources is in the process of being conducted at multiple study sites throughout the country. EPA continues to plan on releasing a first progress report by the end of 2012 and have the final draft report submitted for peer review in 2014. If early data in 2012 and/or the final report contradicts scientific evidence refuting allegations of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing operations, the Obama Administration will be under increased pressure from outside groups and Members of Congress to take regulatory action to protect the environment and/or public health.

EPA Guidance on Hydraulic Fracturing Operations Using “Diesel” Fuel

The Safe Drinking Water Act exempts hydraulic fracturing activities except in cases where “diesel” fuel is used in the operation. EPA is developing permitting guidance for issuance on the use of diesel fuel as an additive in fracturing fluids. There is significant concern in industry and on Capitol Hill that the final guidance will be expanded to include a broader definition of “diesel fuel” that triggers a new permitting requirement for hydraulic fracturing activities involving the constituents of diesel.

BLM Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing on Public Lands

BLM has proposed revised regulations for hydraulic fracturing on public lands. The regulations include requirements for the disclosure of chemicals used in fracturing activities, well integrity standards, and water management requirements. President Obama had a sharp exchange with Governor Romney in the second Presidential debate regarding production on federal lands. Congress and industry will watch closely when the BLM final rule is issued to see if President Obama will greatly increase the burdens for producers on federal lands. Anticipated changes in leadership at DOI could impact the timing and details of the final result.

DOE Policy on LNG Exports to Non-Free Trade Agreement Countries

The Natural Gas Act provides that for applications to export LNG to non-FTA countries (e.g., Japan), DOE must make a case-by-case determination that such licenses are “consistent with the public interest.” How DOE interprets this phrase and, accordingly, how it treats the approximately 27 billions of cubic feet (bcf) of liquid natural gas (LNG) export applications currently in line is the crux of the issue that has everyone from industry to unions to NGOs to Capitol Hill on edge. DOE solicited two studies on the impact of increased exports of LNG on domestic natural gas prices. The first study, completed by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and released on January 19th, 2012, showed varying degrees of increases in domestic natural gas prices as a result of increased LNG exports. The second study, performed by an outside consultant, was to be released in April 2012, then by the end of the Summer, and now, most recently, by the end of the year. It is widely expected that this second study will also show some level of increase in U.S. natural gas prices at various levels of LNG exports.

Based on these studies, in President Obama’s second term, we expect DOE to propose a de-facto cap on LNG exports for anywhere from 6 – 10 bcf/day. Furthermore, we expect DOE to propose criteria under which the pending applications will be evaluated. In our view, it is likely that such criteria will focus on the viability and geographic diversity of the projects as opposed to the date on which the particular application was filed with DOE.

EPA Enforcement Initiative

EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) has rolled out a national enforcement initiative (NEI) for the 2011-2013 enforcement cycle. NEIs are concentrated enforcement initiatives led by national and regional enforcement teams that emphasize compliance with existing federal requirements to address complex pollution problems within a particular sector or source type. If history is any guide, EPA will also seize the “energy extraction” NEI as an opportunity to compel additional controls not currently required under existing federal statutes and regulations. EPA Regions 3 and 6 have already begun issuing information requests to targeted companies and inviting certain companies in to discuss settlement options. In President Obama’s second term, we expect continued emphasis on this initiative and OECA to push industry beyond its regulatory compliance obligations.

VIDEO: Prospects for Shale Gas Production

Post-Election: Consumer Product Safety

By Ed Krenik and Paul Nathanson

Introduction

With the re-election of President Obama, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will continue to have a majority of Commissioners from the President’s party.  The continuation of the status quo may result in a more activist CPSC, including attempts to pass more mandatory consumer product regulations.  In addition, the election results also resulted in some changes to the committees in Congress with jurisdiction over consumer product safety issues.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), signed into law in 2008, reaffirmed  the number of CPSC Commissioners from three to five.  CPSIA supporters hoped that adding two more Commissioners would add a variety of expertise to the Commission.  However, the addition of two more Commissioners also contributed to the CPSC’s bureaucracy, inhibiting the Commission from moving quickly.

The Commission is currently down to three members (two Democrats and 1 Republican) because two Commissioners’ terms expired.  President Obama nominated Marietta Robinson to be a CPSC Commissioner earlier this year.  The Senate did not act on her nomination.  The President would need to re-nominate her and also nominate a Republican to fill the vacancies.  No action is expected in the immediate future and the CPSC will continue to function with three Commissioners.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Consumer Product Safety Act, the law that created the CPSC, is based on encouraging cooperation between the private sector and the CPSC to ensure and strengthen product safety.  A vast majority of the product safety standards for products are voluntary, meaning that the industry works with all stakeholders, including the CPSC and standards-making bodies such as the American National Standards Institute, to create appropriate safety standards.  In fact, only nine mandatory standards have been promulgated by the CPSC in 35 years, and these standards are traditionally meant for bad actors or industries that do not work cooperatively with the CPSC.

As the National Association of Manufacturers wrote to Congress earlier this year, in order to issue a mandatory rule, the law requires the Commission to “find that an existing or voluntary standard would not be adequate, the benefits of the rule bear a reasonable relationship to its costs and the rule is the least burdensome requirement that prevents or adequately reduces the risk of injury. To issue a mandatory standard, the Commission also must make a finding that an existing voluntary standard would not prevent or adequately reduce the risk of injury in a manner less burdensome than the proposed CPSC mandatory standard.”

Despite the law, the CPSC has begun rulemaking proceedings on a variety of consumer products, including table saws and Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles.  These industries, as well as some Members of Congress, are urging the Commission to return to the well-established and effective voluntary standards-setting process.

In the past year, the CPSC also filed an administrative complaint against Maxfield & Oberton, the company that produces the popular high-powered magnet “Buckyballs” to force it to stop selling their products because the agency claims the products are dangerous to children.  This was the first time in 11 years that the CPSC filed an administrative complaint against a company.  The CPSC also obtained agreement from 11 other magnet manufacturers from producing these products and successfully urged retailers to stop selling the product.  While the case now goes to court, other industries are concerned that the CPSC’s position in the case, that “warning labels don’t work,” sets a bad precedent given that warning labels are one of the tenets of long-established product safety practices in the U.S. and around the world.

The CPSC’s Consumer Database, mandated by the CPSIA, went online in March 2011. This searchable Internet database contains reports of product defects and harm caused by consumer products. Manufacturers continue to be concerned that the database contains unsubstantiated accusations that damage the reputations of companies and their safe products.  Recently a federal court ruled against the CPSC and in favor of a company that filed a suit to stop the agency from publishing a report about its product on the safetproducts.gov database.  The company, which filed the suit under seal because it did not want to be identified with the report, claimed that the report wrongly connected the company’s product to a consumer’s injury.  The court agreed that the complaint was materially inaccurate and granted summary judgment to the company, preventing CPSC from including the complaint in the database.  Observers are closely watching to see if the court’s decision will spur other companies to file suit against CPSC.

CPSC recently announced an impending change in the agency’s interpretation of its authority that could result in the disclosure of preliminary confidential information identifying the manufacturer of consumer products “under investigation” by the Commission. The issue involves companies that self-initiate reports to the CPSC or in response to a filing under section 15(b) of the CPSA.  The change would allow CPSC to inform the media and other third parties that a product is “under investigation.”  The business community fears that this will have a negative impact on the reputation of manufacturer and the product that could depress or even halt sales.

113th Congressional Outlook

Congress maintains the status quo with the House retaining a Republican majority and the Senate still under control of the Democrats.  Consumer product safety issues fall under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee, with the day-to-day oversight falling to each Committees’ respective Subcommittee.

The Committee leadership positions will largely remain unchanged with one exception: the Ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee.  With the retirement of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison from the Senate, the top Republican slot will go to Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina.  In addition there could be one major leadership change at the House Subcommittee level.  Currently the House Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Mary Bono Mack.  Her reelection contest remains unresolved with the Chair currently trailing her Democratic opponent by some 5,000 votes.  Should she be defeated there will be a new Chairman of the House Subcommittee with direct oversight over the CPSC.  Under this circumstance the leaders of the Committee may use seniority of the Energy and Commerce Committee to determine the next Subcommittee Chair.  Those members who currently do not have an existing Subcommittee and are next in seniority are:  Lee Terry of Nebraska, Mike Rogers of Michigan and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania.  If seniority is not used then the Chair could be given to any current member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Given that there will be some new leadership on these two Committees and the fact that the 112th Congress attempted to address many of the unintended consequences that resulted in the passage of  the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008, we believe that the Subcommittees will take some time through the use of oversight hearings to examine ways to provide additional relief.  For example,  the CPSC still has not implemented a crucial part of the reform package passed during the last Congress – namely, relief in testing protocols for small manufacturers and adoption of rules to reduce testing cost for all manufacturers.

Generally though, look for the new Congress to take some time to review recent CPSC actions and to hear from impacted manufacturers.  Both Committees have an interest in increasing manufacturing jobs in the United States and there will be some emphasis placed on CPSC activities as the Congress looks to this priority.  Efforts to legislate will begin slowly in the new Congress but could speed up should the issues we described above begin to impact manufacturers.  It could be that the pending policies such as the recent announcement by CPSC to change Section 15 notifications and the recent court decision on the database will impact the activities of the oversight Committees.  Finally, should the CPSC begin to promulgate a host of mandatory product safety standards without following the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act this too could force individual manufacturers to seek relief from the Congress.