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TRUMP DELIVERS ON PROMISE TO FARMERS BY UPPING ETHANOL FUELS: President Trump will announce his plan on Tuesday to allow more ethanol in the nation's gasoline supply, while also cutting costs for refiners.

The plan will be rolled out as Trump goes to Iowa to hold a midterm election rally and gain support from farmers.

The first part of the proposal will allow 15 percent ethanol fuel blends, or E15, to be sold year-round, instead of being excluded from the summer driving season, according to an administration official who previewed the announcement on Monday.

Why now? Corn growers and their supporters have been clamoring for the plan to counter low crop prices and new tariffs on U.S. agriculture products by China and the European Union. Upping E15 sales would bolster demand for corn by helping to expand the market for corn-based ethanol.

“We’re very excited to hear the president’s upcoming announcement," said Emily Skor, president and CEO of Growth Energy, a top ethanol lobbying group in Washington. "He knows farmers are hurting and they want action on E15 in time for the next summer driving season."

Since the fuel can be sold eight months out of the year, the administration’s goal is to have the Environmental Protection Agency finalize its rulemaking for the plan by next summer’s driving season in June, the official said.

Trump will direct EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler in the announcement to undertake a rulemaking that addresses two specific areas of the nation’s renewable fuel program, the official explained.

First comes the ethanol waiver: Step one, EPA issues a waiver of fuel volatility requirements, allowing year-round sales of E15. The mid-grade ethanol fuel has a higher Reid vapor pressure rating than other fuels found at the pump. It’s a technical fix that was granted to the fuel’s predecessor, 10 percent ethanol blends, which now constitutes nearly all gasoline sold in the United States.

Second comes the help for refiners: Step two of the plan addresses the high prices that refiners have had to contend with in complying with EPA’s biofuel mandate, the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Since most independent refiners cannot blend ethanol themselves like their fully integrated major oil company counterparts, they must buy credits called renewable identification number, or RINs, to comply. But the RIN market, which is unregulated, has been subject to price spikes, as some traders and others have hoarded RINs, driving up their cost for refiners.

Trump’s action seeks to make the RIN market more transparent by ensuring all credits are accounted for and phased out when their time has expired under the law.

Welcome to Daily on Energy, compiled by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writers John Siciliano (@JohnDSiciliano) and Josh Siegel (@SiegelScribe). Email for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list.  

BARRASSO WANTS ELECTRIC CAR OWNERS TO PAY FOR THE ROADS THEY DRIVE ON: Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wy., announced a new bill on Tuesday to tax electric-car owners for using American roads in order to fund roads and bridges, while also ending special tax credits for the vehicles.

The Environment and Public Works Committee chairman’s Fairness for Every Driver Act will save the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars by ending the federal subsidy, while imposing a highway user fee on electric car owners.

The fee would collect billions of dollars for federal coffers, Barrasso said, citing a study by the Manhattan Institute.

Leveling the playing field: “The electric vehicle tax credit largely benefits the wealthiest Americans and costs taxpayers billions of dollars,” he said in a statement. “My legislation levels the playing field for all drivers across America.”

Barrasso is seeking to address the issue of electric car owners not paying into the highway trust fund to repair and maintain roads, because they don’t use liquid fuels. The fund is compiled through the taxes added onto the price of gasoline and diesel fuel at the pump.

MEANWHILE… DEMOCRATS USE UN REPORT TO URGE EPA TO EXTEND DEADLINE FOR CLIMATE PLAN: A group of 22 Senate Democrats are calling on EPA to extend the comment period deadline for the proposed rule to replace the Obama-era climate plan, especially in light of the United Nations’ new findings.

They argue that the deadline should be extended, and more public hearings held on the proposal, in light of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s call for limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That would require reducing emissions 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 globally and getting 70-85 percent of electricity from renewables by mid-century, according to the Democrats’ letter to EPA sent Tuesday.  

They criticize Trump’s proposed replacement plan, called the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, for placing no limits on power plant emissions that could exempt coal plants from improving pollution controls altogether.

More time needed: “Our constituents should be given an equal opportunity to evaluate and weigh in on a proposed replacement,” the letter read. “These opportunities for public input are woefully inadequate given the serious legal, environmental, and human health concerns raised by the proposed rule.”

The proposed changes to the Obama-era Clean Power Plan would carry significant environmental and human health risks, and warrant extensive public review, the senators continued. The say the 61-day comment period is inadequate, in addition to the one public hearing the agency held last week for the replacement rule.

They pointed out that the previous administration’s climate regulation included a 167-day public comment period and four public hearings.

EPA’s deadline for public comment on the replacement climate plan is Oct. 31.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SHRUGS AT UN CLIMATE REPORT: The Trump administration collectively shrugged Monday at the U.N.’s dire report.

Agencies contacted by the Washington Examiner bragged about how market forces have helped the U.S. become a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mostly as a result of natural gas replacing coal as the dominant energy source. None endorsed the findings of the report, which said that the global energy system must be transformed, and a high carbon tax imposed to hold warming to 1.5 degrees.

Why Trump won’t change: Trump administration agencies indicated they would not rethink their approach to rolling back regulations to combat climate change.

“The United States is leading the world in providing affordable, abundant, and secure energy to our citizens, while protecting the environment and reducing emissions through job-creating innovation,” the State Department told Josh in a statement. “From 2005 to 2017, U.S. CO2-related emissions declined by 14 percent while global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 21 percent during the same time. This has been possible through the development and large-scale deployment of new, affordable, and cleaner technologies to capitalize on our energy abundance.

“The U.S. approach to addressing climate change has unburdened communities, individuals, and industries by allowing them to develop and implement policies that fit their needs,” State added.

The EPA, meanwhile, issued a short statement identical to parts of what the State Department told Josh.

No endorsement here: “We appreciate the hard work of the scientists and experts who worked on the IPCC report, many from the United States, who developed this report under considerable time pressure,” both agencies said. “In accordance with IPCC procedures, the report and its contents remain the responsibility of its authors. Governments do not formally endorse specific findings presented by the authors.”

Others agencies, such as the Energy and Interior Departments, did not respond to requests for comment.

Climate not on Trump’s mind: Trump himself did not mention the U.N. climate report during his public appearances on Monday.

The White House refused to comment, directing Josh to the National Security Council. The NSC also denied to comment, handing the baton to the State Department.

Later, following Trump’s swearing-in ceremony Monday night for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the White House issued an identical statement to the State Department.

“The United States is leading the world in providing affordable, abundant and secure energy to our citizens, while protecting the environment and reducing emissions through job-creating innovation,” said Lindsay Walters, a White House deputy press secretary.

TRUMP HAS GLOBAL ALLIES WHEN IT COMES TO CLIMATE CHANGE: The Trump administration is not alone in its aversion to government action to combat climate change.

While all countries except the U.S. remain committed to the 2015 Paris climate agreement that President Trump rejected, conservative resistance movements around the globe have stymied leaders in a handful of countries with powerful fossil fuel industries from implementing policy to achieve emissions reduction goals.

Trump gives other countries a license to deny: "There is no doubt Trump's climate science denial and policy rollbacks gives license to others who want to exploit that, in countries like Australia and Canada, and others," said Paul Bledsoe, a former climate change adviser to President Bill Clinton and strategic adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute.

"When the president of the U.S. takes these remarkable positions, it leaves a vacuum of climate leadership. There is no two ways about it," Bledsoe added.

Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, says large emitting countries have long faced domestic pressures to combating climate change, even before Trump.

“The Republican Party may be the only ruling party where those rules seem to hold sway, but there are these pockets of ideological resistance as well,” Diringer said.

Read Josh’s full story in Tuesday’s edition of the Washington Examiner magazine.

NEW NOBEL PRIZE WINNER CRITICIZES TRUMP’S ‘DISASTROUS’ CLIMATE POLICIES: William Nordhaus, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics Monday for his work on climate change, criticized the Trump administration’s “disastrous” policies for making the task of combating global warming harder.

“It's hard to be optimistic,” Nordhaus said Monday in an interview with the Nobel committee. “We have fallen behind. We are actually going backwards in the United States with the disastrous policies of the Trump administration.”

Nordhaus and Paul Romer on Monday received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics for their work incorporating the impact of climate change in economic forecasts.

Nordhaus is an influential climate expert: In the 1990s, Nordhaus helped create a model that calculates the economic costs of climate change. The EPA uses a variant of Nordhaus’ approach, known as the Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy Model. He was an early advocate of a carbon tax, which many economists say is the most efficient way to reduce emissions.

But Nordhaus, after the release of the UN climate report, said it confirmed to him that current global policies are not enough to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

“It's an important reminder of the dangers we face and things that need to be done,” he said. “The policies are lagging miles, miles, liles behind the science and what needs to be done. It's a dark realism today. It's not too late, but the steps we have to take are more difficult now than if we would have started earlier.”

EXXON GIVES $1 MILLION TO CARBON TAX CAMPAIGN: Oil and gas giant Exxon committed Tuesday to provide $1 million over two years to a group promoting a carbon tax and dividend plan.

It’s a rare move for a corporation whose products would be taxed by such a plan to actually put up money to support implementing it.

“Today’s announcement represents the first time in history a U.S. oil and gas supermajor is throwing significant financial muscle behind a direct price on carbon,” Greg Bertelsen, the senior vice president of the Climate Leadership Council, told Josh in an interview.

Exxon will give the money to Americans for Carbon Dividends, an advocacy organization that was set up in June to lobby Congress to support a carbon tax-and-dividend plan proposed by the Climate Leadership Council, a group led by two former Republican secretaries of state, James Baker III and George Shultz.

Exxon is the first oil and gas company to provide funding to Americans for Carbon Dividends, following other contributors Exelon, the large utility, First Solar, and the American Wind Energy Association.

What the Exxon-backed plan would do: The Climate Leadership Council proposal would impose a carbon tax beginning at $40 per ton, and give the proceeds to the public through rebates, while scrapping carbon regulations imposed by the EPA. It would raise the cost of natural gas and coal.

But most economists consider a carbon tax to be the most efficient way to combat climate change, because it provides a financial incentive for energy companies to reduce their fossil fuel use through innovation, without government regulations.

Bertelsen said the Climate Leadership Council plan, which is revenue neutral, would reduce U.S. carbon emissions more than the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, its main initiative to combat climate change.

There’s momentum in other important places: Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, the co-chairman of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, this summer introduced carbon tax legislation, becoming the first Republican in a decade to introduce a national climate pricing bill.

His legislation differs from the carbon tax-and-dividend model.

It would impose a tax beginning at $24 per ton of carbon dioxide in 2020, rising 2 percent annually above inflation. At the same time, it repeals the federal taxes on gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuels, and would use the revenues from the carbon tax to fund improvements to infrastructure. Two other Republicans, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Francis Rooney of Florida, have co-sponsored the bill.

Yet resistance remains: Some powerful conservative groups, such as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, oppose a carbon tax, showing the continued divisiveness of climate change within the Republican Party.

DAMAGE FROM FLORENCE PUTS HURRICANE AS ONE OF COSTLIEST TO HIT US: Hurricane Florence is expected to go down as the sixth costliest hurricane to hit in U.S. history in terms of property damage.

More than a month has passed since Florence made landfall on the coast of the Carolinas on Sept. 14, resulting in widespread destruction.

Researchers from Moody's Analytics believe a swath of land stretching from Virginia down to Georgia will see $44 billion in damage due mostly to the heavy rainfall — up to 36 inches in some spots — and resulting flooding.

This estimate would put it within the top 10 costliest, when compared to National Hurricane Center data.

How Florence stacks up: Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey are tied as the most devastating to ever hit the U.S. Each left behind $125 billion in destruction after striking different parts of the Gulf Coast. Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005. Harvey struck the Texas coast last August.

Hurricane Maria swept over the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean in September 2017, leaving parts of the island without power for 11 months and $90 billion of property damage.

Maryland, New Jersey, and New York were hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 after the storm passed through the Caribbean, dissipated, then evolved into a "superstorm" and moved north. It caused $65 billion in damage.

EUROPEAN OFFSHORE WIND GIANT ACQUIRES US COMPETITOR: Danish company Orsted, one of the world’s largest offshore wind companies, announced Monday it is buying Deepwater Wind, a U.S. competitor.

The move shows the Trump administration is right to be bullish about offshore wind, working with governors in the Northeast to transform what was once a fringe and costly investment more popular in Europe into America’s newest zero-carbon energy-producing industry.

Orsted is purchasing Deepwater Wind for $510 million, giving it entrance to the U.S. market to add to its projects in Denmark, Britain, Germany and Taiwan.

US development is underway: Deepwater Wind, based in Rhode Island, is the developer of Block Island, a small 30-megawatt wind farm off the Rhode Island coast that can power 17,000 homes. It is the nation's only current offshore project, but it is likely to have company soon.

Deepwater Wind is developing three other projects in the U.S.

Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, told Josh this summer that offshore wind is crucial to serving energy needs on the Northeast, whose politicians are resistant to fossil fuels.

How offshore wind can fill a need: “There is a need for energy in the Northeast that is fundamental to electricity markets today,” he said. “Offshore wind is more like a baseload power plant than other types of renewables because wind blows stronger and more consistently offshore. It is a more likely power source to replace some of the retiring coal and nuclear plants.”

The new deal with Orsted will lead to the creation of a new entity headed by Grybowski and Orsted’s current North America chief, Thomas Brostrom.

ZINKE BANS MINING NEAR YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK:  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Monday that he is banning mining on 30,000 acres of federal lands near Yellowstone National Park.

Zinke’s order prevents all new mineral extraction in the area, known as Paradise Valley, for 20 years, the maximum period of time he could act under the law. That includes new claims for gold, silver, and other minerals.

The order exempts pre-existing mining claims. The area in question is in the southwestern part of Zinke’s home state of Montana.

The mining order extends a two-year ban imposed by former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in 2016 that would have expired next month.


New York Times As storms keep coming, FEMA spends billions in ‘cycle’ of damage and repair

Washington Post ExxonMobil gives $1 million to promote a carbon tax-and-dividend plan

Wall Street Journal EPA backs down from new energy efficiency ratings after landlords balk

Bloomberg GE says it wins $700 million order for first Egypt nuclear plant

Reuters China slashes U.S. LPG imports amid trade war

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TUESDAY | October 9

Noon, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issues "Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report Three."  

WEDNESDAY | October 10

9 a.m., 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE. The Global America Business Institute, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, and the Heritage Foundation present forum on nuclear power called the “Multinational Nuclear Supplier Partnerships within the OECD: Ensuring Relevance and Competitiveness in the Global Nuclear Power Market.”

FRIDAY | October 12

Noon, 2322 Rayburn. Securing America’s Future Energy holds a lunchtime briefing on the Hill to discuss the importance of fuel economy standards and the steps the EPA and NHTSA can take to modernize the rules in a way that will save lives, reduce oil consumption, and strengthen American energy security.

SUNDAY | October 14

All day, New Delhi. One of largest energy conference in the U.S., CERAWeek, is holding its second annual energy forum in India, October 14-16. Featured speakers will include: Saudi energy minister Khalid Al-Falih, OPEC ministers, and U.S. Energy Undersecretary Mark Menezes.