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TRUMP TAKES HIS MIDTERM MESSAGE TO ELECTRICAL WORKERS WHO LIKE RENEWABLE ENERGY: President Trump addresses the National Electrical Contractors Association in Philadelphia, Pa., later on Tuesday.
The group likes Trump’s ideas to speed up pipeline approvals, but it also wants more wind and solar energy built across the U.S., while seeking a greater focus on energy efficiency and “smart grid” technology.
It is unclear what tack Trump will take when he addresses the trade group’s annual convention Tuesday afternoon, and whether or not he will talk about plans to boost clean energy through the tax code, as the group has been pushing for on Capitol Hill.
Saving coal plants could come up: The electricity group’s meeting could present Trump with an opportunity to discuss electricity priorities, which include his plan to save uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants, which he has not discussed since August. But it is unclear if he intends to do that, or if the trade group supports the idea.
Clean energy rule: There is also the Trump administration’s replacement proposal for former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan climate rule for coal plants. The Trump proposal would call for efficiency upgrades to existing coal-fired power plants. It is unclear if the group agrees with the proposal, given its support for renewables.
The Environmental Protection Agency held the first and only public hearing on the Affordable Clean Energy rule on Monday in Chicago
What the electricity workers want: The group represents the electrical contracting industry, which installs and services products related to energy production and efficiency.
But deployment of energy efficiency technology and infrastructure has slowed due to a mix of marketplace, government and economic barriers, according to the group’s advocacy agenda fact sheet.
“NECA supports a comprehensive energy policy that increases all avenues of domestic production including domestic oil and natural gas exploration as well as clean and renewable energy sources,” it reads.
The group favors streamlining the approval process for pipelines. At the same time, it wants investment tax credits for renewables and other clean energy resources to be extended. It also wants the federal government to fund new ways to harness renewable energy through the development of energy storage technologies.
The group also advocates upgrading the nation’s electricity transmission lines and distribution lines with smarter grid technology to improve the reliability, efficiency, and security of electricity infrastructure.
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SHELL ANNOUNCES ‘MEGA PROJECT’ LNG EXPORT TERMINAL ONE DAY AFTER NAFTA DEAL: This is the first major liquefied natural gas terminal to be built from scratch in any country in five years, experts chimed in on Tuesday morning.
“This would make LNG Canada the biggest project sanction globally since the Tengiz expansion was approved in 2016, and the biggest greenfield project to be sanctioned since Yamal LNG in 2013,” said Dulles Wang, North America gas director at the consulting firm WoodMac. “It seems that mega-projects are back.”
Becoming competitive with its peers: Total’s Yamal and Chevron’s Tengiz projects, the ones Wang mentioned, are in Russia and Kazakhstan, respectively. LNG Canada is expected to make Shell better able to compete with other major oil companies that have invested more heavily in natural gas over the last five years.
In contrast to the projects in the U.S., LNG Canada would be completely new. The two major U.S. LNG terminals, on on the Gulf Coast and one in Maryland, were based on preexisting import terminals that were reworked to export natural gas. Wang says the Shell plant will be built from the ground up, which is what he means by a “greenfield” project.
Shell and its partners: Shell would control a 40 percent stake in the project. Other partners would include Malaysia's Petronas, Chinese government-run PetroChina, Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi, and South Korea's KOGAS, which all made the announcement with Shell on Tuesday to build the project in Kitimat, British Columbia.
Why now? Shell said the decision to announce the long-anticipated project was made after its findings predicted LNG demand to double in the next 17 years. But is also has to do with the company’s outlook for transitioning to sources of energy that emit lower amounts of carbon dioxide.
“Supplying natural gas over the coming decades will be critical as the world transitions to a lower carbon energy system,” said Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell.
The cost of the project: Although Shell did not provide a cost estimate for the project, initial estimates were reported as between $18 billion and $40 billion.
What does the timing mean after NAFTA? The timing of the announcement follows the U.S. reaching a trade deal with China, which could have played into the decision.
But it also comes on the second day of climate talks in Incheon, South Korea, on meeting a much stricter climate temperature target under the Paris agreement. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a proponent of the climate deal and reaching the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
GROUP ‘CONFUSED AND CONCERNED’ ABOUT ZINKE’S NAVAL BLOCKADE COMMENT: The public lands group Western Values Project has asked the Pentagon to respond to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s suggestion of using a naval blockade to deal with Russia on energy.
“The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade...to make sure that their energy does not go to market," Zinke said on Friday at an industry event in Pittsburgh hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance.
The group raised concern about Zinke’s statement in a letter sent Tuesday to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.
The letter said the group is "confused and concerned” on whether “the secretary's comments reflect U.S. policy and whether the secretary has input over the military's ongoing public and covert operations regarding Russia's 23,000 miles of coastline."
EXPORTS MAY BE SILVER LINING FOR COAL AS PRODUCTION FALLS, FEDS SAY: Coal and natural gas exports are up for the first half of the year, even as both coal production and consumption have fallen, the Energy Department said Monday.
Both coal and natural gas exports are key to Trump's "energy dominance" agenda. For coal, exports are crucial, since shipments to other countries appear to be the only silver lining as production and consumption of coal continued to fall in the second quarter of 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration's latest quarterly reporting.
Coal exports did rise by over 13 percent from the first quarter of 2018, the agency reported. Both exports of metallurgical coal for steel and steam coal for power plants were up in the second quarter.
More optimism for LNG: The natural gas export story is far more optimistic, as the U.S. continues to be a net exporter of the fuel. The U.S. became a net natural gas exporter in 2017. Natural gas has also displaced coal as the nation's leading fuel for electricity production.
For the first half of 2018, net natural gas exports averaged 0.87 billion cubic feet per day, which is more than double the average daily net exports during all of 2017, the EIA also reported on Monday.
UN BEGINS HEAVY LIFTING ON STRICT NEW GOALS FOR PARIS CLIMATE DEAL: The United Nations climate agency launched an effort this week to marshal support for strict new targets under the Paris climate change accord, including in the United States.
The real work begins now: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change kicked off the weeklong discussions on Monday in South Korea with signatories to the Paris Agreement. But Tuesday is when the real heavy-lifting begins, as countries begin to dig into the findings of a new report the IPCC released on meeting a more aggressive global warming target only contemplated under the Paris accord.
What should the Paris target be? The U.N. panel, which convenes Oct. 1-5, wants the report to inform how countries that signed on to the Paris accord can prevent the Earth from warming 1.5 degrees Celsius and the effects that warming would have on the globe. That’s a more aggressive target compared to the Paris deal’s original goal of stopping the rate of warming by 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century.
The report will be translated into policy recommendations that could be hard for some countries to swallow.
US is technically still part of Paris and the IPCC: Of course, Trump announced his intent last year to exit from the 2015 Paris deal. But since the U.S. cannot technically remove itself from the accord until 2020, and remains a party to the IPCC, it is likely that the administration will be asked to respond to the report's findings once the summary is released.
A draft of the summary obtained by AFP calls for arresting the growth of global emissions in less than two years, which would likely put enormous strain on the economy by transitioning rapidly from fossil fuels. It calls for emitting no more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2050.
TRUMP MAKES GUAM DESIGNATION AFTER TYPHOON WREAKS HAVOC: Trump has declared a major disaster in the U.S. territory of Guam after a typhoon struck the island, the White House said in a Tuesday statement.
Trump ordered federal assistance to help the recovery efforts underway in the territory due to Typhoon Mangkhut that struck Guam Sept. 10-11.
Tactical note: Guam is home to the Anderson Air Force Base, a major U.S. bomber presence in the Pacific Ocean.
SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES BILL SAVING CONSERVATION FUND FOR PARKS: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday morning approved legislation that would reauthorize the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund after Congress let it expire this past weekend.
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the committee’s top Democrat, would permanently authorize the fund and make the $900 million in funding for LWCF mandatory every year, so that it is not subject to the regular appropriations process. It passed with the support of 11 Democrats and five Republicans.
The fund is a popular success story: The LWCF gets its money from offshore oil and gas leases, rather than taxpayer money, and pays for public lands projects. It provides money to federal, state, and local governments for buying land and waters to improve parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public areas.
It is responsible for more than 42,000 state and local outdoor recreation projects in every state, supporters note.
“Since it was enacted 54 years ago, [LWCF] has pumped billions of dollars into the outdoor economy,” Cantwell said Tuesday during a markup of the bill. “Protecting our public lands is good for the environment, economy and health and welfare of our people.”
But this is Congress, so a solution to save the fund remains far away: House conservatives, led by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, also want to permanently re-up the fund, but they don’t want to make funding mandatory. The House is out of session until after election day. Republican leaders also disagree about how to advance legislation to rescue LWCF.
Bishop on Monday put down conditions for what he would support on the House floor.
He said Congress should consider reauthorizing the program as part of a broader public lands package that would also fund repairs and maintenance in the country's national parks. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wants to move a lands package separate from LWCF. Murkowski also on Tuesday pointed out problems with making the funding mandatory.
OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY PRAISES TRUMP’S NEW NAFTA DEAL: The petroleum industry on Monday urged Congress to approve the Trump administration’s renegotiated NAFTA agreement, and said the new deal promises to maintain booming exports of oil and natural gas to America’s northern and southern neighbors.
“We urge Congress to approve the USMCA,” said Mike Sommers, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, the largest U.S. oil and gas trade group. “Having Canada as a trading partner and a party to this agreement is critical for North American energy security and U.S. consumers. Retaining a trade agreement for North America will help ensure the U.S. energy revolution continues into the future.”
Free trade has benefited oil and gas: The group praised the new deal after some had feared Trump could tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, which had helped make Mexico the largest export market for U.S. oil, transportation fuel, and natural gas. Canada is the biggest U.S. supplier of foreign oil and a significant net exporter of electricity to America.
NAFTA, implemented in 1993, contains few energy-specific provisions. But it allowed for the U.S., Mexico, and Canada to pay nothing on most goods that cross borders between them, including energy products.
The new trade deal maintains the “zero tariff” status for energy products. It also keeps in place investor protections for energy projects in Mexico.
TESLA PRODUCTION REACHES RECORD HIGHS DESPITE ELON MUSK DRAMA: Tesla produced a record 80,142 vehicles in the three months through September, including over 53,000 of its mass-market electric car, soothing investors concerned that founder Elon Musk's recent controversies would distract the automaker from its performance targets.
Of the over 83,000 vehicles delivered in the quarter, the company shipped 55,840 of its Model 3s -- double the amount delivered in all the prior quarters combined, Tesla said Tuesday, as reported by the Washington Examiner’s Joe Williams.
Tesla seeks to overcome dueling challenges: Tesla has grappled for months with production issues related to the Model 3 as well as pressure to begin turning a profit.
Lately, however, the attention has shifted to Musk and his personal antics. The Securities and Exchange Commission brought a civil fraud suit against Musk on Friday and sought to ban him from serving as an officer or director at any public company; he agreed to settle a day later, and relinquished his role as chairman of the automaker's board.
He can remain as chief executive officer, a move that analysts said was critical to ensuring continued funding since investors view him as a creative visionary.
THE ENDANGERED GOPHER FROG DIVIDES SUPREME COURT: The fate of an endangered gopher frog at risk of extinction divided the Supreme Court on Monday.
The court’s first case of its new term, Weyerhaeuser Company v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tests the extent of the government’s authority to designate private land as a future habitat for an endangered species.
The arguments for and against: Liberal justices hearing oral arguments seemed to side with the federal government that wants to designate 1,500 acres of private land in Louisiana -- more than 50 miles away from where the frogs live now -- as critical habitat where the species can also live.
But the court’s conservatives were sympathetic to affected landowners who lease the land to Timber company Weyerhaeuser that harvests trees there and wants to develop the land.
They argue the government is abusing power under the Endangered Species Act, and say the Louisiana land isn't habitable for the frog.
The endangered gopher frog can currently only be found residing around a pond in the De Soto National Forest in Mississippi.
What happens now: If the justices are split on the case, they can wait until a ninth justice -- perhaps Brett Kavanaugh if he is confirmed -- to decide it. They can also narrowly decide the case without a full bench.
Chicago Tribune Activists, politicians call on EPA to drop Trump plan to relax emissions standards for coal-fired power plants at public hearing
New York Times Venezuela’s crisis imperils Citgo, its American ‘cash cow’
Reuters Too much oil? Texas boom outpaces supply, transport networks
Chron.com Solar energy is now a mainstream energy source, investors say
SPONSOR MESSAGE: Interested in learning more about pipelines and the important role they play in the energy industry? Check out this clip on the construction process and safe pipeline installation.
TUESDAY | October 2
10 a.m., 366 Dirksen. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds markup of pending legislation.
WEDNESDAY | October 3
2:15 p.m., 406 Dirksen. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight Subcommittee hearing on "Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency's Implementation of Sound and Transparent Science in Regulation."
4:30 p.m., 1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW. Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies hosts a panel discussion on “Green Finance in China.”
THURSDAY | October 4
9 a.m., 902 Hart. The Carbon Utilization Research Council and Department of Energy co-host "Showcasing Advancements in Fossil Energy Technology."
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.”