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DEMOCRATIC STATES SEND TRUMP A MESSAGE OF RESISTANCE ON FRIDAY: A group of 20 state attorneys general, plus Washington, D.C., sent the Trump administration a stern letter on Friday opposing the roll back of clean car regulations.
A spokesperson for the attorneys general said the group of 21 is a bigger group than previously pulled together to oppose the administration’s rollback, now including: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
The states’ letter is calling for an “immediate withdrawal” of the proposed rollback of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions vehicle standards as proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation.
The new Trump administration program would freeze fuel economy standards, instead of moving forward with the Obama administration’s plan to enforce stricter 54 mile-per-gallon standards, while stripping away California’s authority to set its own vehicle standards that states can follow.
Friday is the deadline for submitting comments on the administration’s proposal, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading the states on that front.
The Democratic attorneys general, in their comments, are spelling out how the Trump regulation is illegal, laying the groundwork for a massive legal battle with the administration.
“We are going to defend them because we believe the actions by the federal government are not only wrong, but they’re illegal,” Becerra said on a call outlining the comments earlier this week.
The legal foundation for a fight: He alleges that the rules proposed by EPA and the Department of Transportation “violate numerous procedural requirements,” including the Administrative Procedures Act, which dictates how rules should be presented to public, providing adequate time to review and comment.
Rushed rule: Becerra and the attorneys general had argued in an earlier letter sent to EPA that the proposed rule was being rushed. They requested more time to review the regulations and their associated analyses, along with EPA setting time aside for more public hearings.
Violates two more laws: Second on the legal list of complaints, they argue that the administration’s rules “contravene their mandate from Congress,” violating the Clean Air Act, which directs EPA to reduce air pollution, and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which directs the agencies to enact standards to improve fuel economy.
Everything ‘arbitrary and capricious’: Third on the list is the argument that the technical analysis for the new clean car proposal is “arbitrary and capricious."
The Democrats' fourth complaint regards the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s environmental review of the rules.
NEPA violation: “We are going to make very clear that NHTSA’s environmental impact statement violates the National Environmental Policy Act, and is also arbitrary and capricious,” Becerra said on the call.
The fifth complaint is their legal opposition to the administration’s revoking of the long-standing Clean Air Act waiver for California to set its own, often times stricter, fuel economy and emission rules for vehicles. Under the law, states have a choice to either abide by the EPA rules, or opt into the California program.
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GENERAL MOTORS CALLS FOR NATIONAL ELECTRIC VEHICLES PROGRAM: American automaker General Motors on Friday sought a solution to the fight between the Trump administration and states, calling for a nationwide program to encourage the sale of electric vehicles that emit no greenhouse gases.
The proposed “zero emission vehicle” national plan would mimic a existing program in California that is followed by nine other states.
Such programs act as mandates for electric vehicles sales to account for an increasing amount of an automaker’s sales.
The climate change impact: GM said a nationwide effort could lead to 7 million electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2030. That result could lower carbon emissions by a about 375 million tons between 2021 and 2030, GM said. Transportation is the sector of the economy that emits the most planet-warming carbon dioxide, recently surpassing the power sector.
The program would also benefit GM, which plans to offer 20 electric vehicle models by 2023. GM favors a nationwide electric vehicle target, rather than different state programs.
GM weighs in on Trump auto efficiency rollback: GM proposed the plan as part of comments it filed Friday on the Trump administration’s proposal to relax Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars.
By proposing to freeze the standards in 2020, the Trump administration acknowledges, it will cause an additional 500,000 barrels of U.S. oil to be consumed each day.
As part of the plan, the Trump administration wants to prevent California from mandating more electric cars as part of its zero emission vehicle program.
Automakers try to thread a needle: Major automakers have urged the Trump administration to not freeze fuel-efficiency standards, but rather to have them slowly become stricter each year. The companies also want to keep one national program for the vehicle rules. Automakers worry that if the national rules are significantly weaker than state standards like California’s, they would face a patchwork of regulations. But they also want modifications to the Obama rules to reflect current market realities, including the continued popularity of SUVs, and slow adoption of electric vehicles.
“The alliance has consistently and actively supported a single national program covering all 50 states that spurs continued improvements in fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions while recognizing marketplace realities such as consumer choice, fuel prices and technology costs,” the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group, said in comments filed Friday.
Electric vehicles, which are now less than 1 percent of global car sales, are expected grow to nearly 20 percent of the market by 2030, as battery costs come down and governments incentivize their purchase.
KOCH LOBBIES AGAINST EXPANSION OF ELECTRIC VEHICLE TAX CREDIT, CONFLICTING WITH HELLER: Billionaire oil and gas investors Charles and David Koch are lobbying both chambers of Congress to oppose expanding a tax credit for electric vehicles, an issue that is playing out in the tight re-election race of Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.
“We do not oppose electric vehicles – they are an option for people who value this fuel source in meeting their personal transportation needs,” said Philip Ellender, a Koch lobbyist, in an Oct. 24 letter addressed to senators obtained by Josh. “We do oppose their subsidization by the government.”
How the expanded credit would work: Heller is lobbying support for legislation he wrote that would extend the $7,500 per vehicle tax credit for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Under the rules of the current tax credit, manufacturers no longer qualify for it after they sell 200,000 vehicles. Heller’s bill would remove that limit, in a boon to Tesla, which has already reached the limit. Tesla manufacturers batteries in Heller’s home state. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., has introduced mirroring legislation in the House.
MORE DEMOCRATS ARE RUNNING ON A TOTAL PHASEOUT OF FOSSIL FUELS: Democrats from all walks of political office are going for broke in the midterm elections on transitioning the U.S. electricity system away from fossil fuels to more quickly combat climate change.
More than 1,400 candidates running for every level of government office this November have committed to some form of a goal to mandate 100 percent clean, zero-emissions electricity in their state by 2050, according to the environmental group League of Conservation Voters.
Everyone is doing it: The list includes Democratic gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker in Illinois, Tony Evers in Wisconsin, Jared Polis in Colorado, Maryland’s Ben Jealous, California’s Gavin Newsom, and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan.
It also includes first-time federal office-seekers in the House, including progressive sensation Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota. State legislative candidates from Idaho to North Carolina are running on “100 percent” platforms.
What’s prompting change: The nation’s electricity system is already moving away from coal to natural gas, which emits half the carbon, and to a lesser extent renewables such as wind and solar that have come down in cost. But a recent United Nations report said emissions should be net-zero by midcentury to avoid the worst outcomes of climate change, heightening the urgency.
“Elections or no elections, I want folks to know we are trying to do our part to stop climate change,” said Mary Cheh, a Democrat on the D.C. Council running for re-election, who has introduced a bill that would move the district to 100 percent renewable energy by 2032.
Read more of Josh’s report here.
SUPPORTERS OF KIDS SUING GOVERNMENT OVER CLIMATE CHANGE TO STAGE MASSIVE PROTESTS: A nonprofit group supporting 21 children suing the federal government over its inaction on climate change has planned protests in more than 40 states scheduled for Sunday and Monday after the Supreme Court paused the case.
The suit, Juliana v. United States, involves children who allege that inaction from government policymakers has worsened climate change, robbing future generations of their constitutional right to a healthy environment. Our Children’s Trust, representing the group of kids, has organized more than 70 rallies across 41 states.
“A full factual record with all the evidence, including the climate science, will show the scope of the constitutional harms the federal government is causing these youth plaintiffs to suffer and why we need immediate action by the court,” said Philip Gregory, co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs, in a statement.
The case was scheduled to be heard beginning on Oct. 29 in a U.S. District Court in Oregon, but the administration filed an emergency petition asking the Supreme Court to intervene. Chief Justice John Roberts issued a temporary stay on the case while the court reviews the plaintiffs’ response to the Trump administration’s request.
The trial date has been scrapped while the Supreme Court deliberates.
CONSERVATIVE CLEAN ENERGY GROUP ENDORSES FIVE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES: The conservative clean energy group Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions announced Friday morning that it is endorsing five Republican candidates for governor in 2018.
The list includes incumbents, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Larry Hogan of Maryland, and Phil Scott of Vermont.
CRES is also endorsing Mike DeWine of Ohio, who is running to replace Gov. John Kasich.
“CRES is endorsing a strong slate of Republican gubernatorial candidates who have proven records of leadership and support for advancing the free market, clean energy policies that Americans want and our economy demands,” said Executive Director James Dozier in a statement.
EVEN IF THE U.S. IS BECOMING LESS FRIENDLY WITH SAUDI ARABIA, CHINA IS NOT: China’s largest multinational energy company is getting very friendly with Saudi Arabia, signing a nearly $3 billion infrastructure deal with the kingdom on Thursday that would even make Trump envious.
PowerChina represented a three-company consortium to build 17,000 housing units at the Dhahiyat Al Yaser residential project in eastern part of Saudi Arabia. The deal came on the heels of the week-long investment forum in the country, which the Trump administration chose to skip because of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Meanwhile, Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Bader bin Mohammed bin Farhan was in China leading Arab delegations at the Arab-China Cooperation Forum.
The prince reviewed the Kingdom's Vision 2030 plan, which calls for its economy to be diversified and not as reliant on oil revenues, according to the government news outlet. He also praised China’s "New Silk Road" initiative to link China with other countries through a massive system of bridges and highways.
… MEANWHILE, KING CONFERS WITH PUTIN ON KHASHOGGI: Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday night to discuss the Khashoggi murder investigation.
The also reviewed areas of “cooperation and coordination existing between the two countries, and ways of developing them in all fields,” the government announced. Cooperation has been limited to setting oil production rates with OPEC, but that could change to other fields.
Putin briefed on Khashoggi: The King briefed the Russian president on “procedures and investigations” into the facts of the death of Khashoggi, the Saudi Press agency reported. The also discussed the king’s resolve to hold those found guilty accountable.
“For his part, President Putin expressed confidence in the integrity of the measures taken by the Kingdom and in the transparency of the ongoing investigations,” SPA said.
Wall Street Journal The shale boom calmed oil markets, but for how much longer?
Bloomberg Democrats target Trump environmental rollbacks if they win House
New York Times Three campaign ads that are putting climate change on the agenda
Reuters Injury rates jump at coal giant Murray's West Virginia mines
FRIDAY | October 26
11:59 p.m., Deadline for comments on the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient rule for cars and light trucks.
WEDNESDAY | October 31
11:59 p.m., Deadline for comments on EPA’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan with revised emissions guidelines called the Affordable Clean Energy rule.
THURSDAY | NOVEMBER 15
10 a.m., 366 Dirksen. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a full committee hearing on the nominations of Rita Baranwal to be an assistant Energy secretary for nuclear energy; Bernard L. McNamee to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Raymond David Vela to be director of the National Park Service.