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TRUMP’S ETHANOL PLAN MEETS BIPARTISAN WALL OF OPPOSITION ON HILL: A group of 20 mostly-Republican senators have told President Trump that his plan to allow year-round 15-percent ethanol fuel blends is “misguided” and should be scrapped.

A ‘one-sided’ fix: The plan is a “one-sided approach” that favors “only one industry” -- the ethanol industry -- when it comes to addressing concerns related to the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard program overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, the senators said in letter to Trump sent late Thursday.

The senators warn that allowing the higher-ethanol blends “would do nothing to address the policies impacting refinery jobs,” and “could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher ethanol blended gasoline, and risk worsening air quality.”

The letter, led by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a long-time opponent of the Renewable Fuel Standard, reflects many of the arguments made by the oil industry in a month-long ad campaign to persuade Trump not to move forward with the 15-percent ethanol year-round plan.

What the oil industry says: The oil industry argues that a large percentage of cars on the road cannot handle the fuel, which means engine damage will follow if the fuel is allowed to be sold during the summer months, which is when driving in the nation reaches its height.

“Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have sent a strong signal to the White House – E15 is a bad deal for consumers,” said Frank Macchiarola, the American Petroleum Institute’s director of downstream operations. “Three out of four vehicles on the road today are not designed for E15.”

What’s in Trump’s plan: Trump’s plan would seek to roll back EPA’s restrictions on E15 fuel use in the summer, limits in place because of its high Reid vapor pressure rating and high fuel volatility. The EPA would simply provide the fuel with a waiver to allow it to be sold from June through Sept. 15, in addition to the rest of the year.

The idea is to provide a much larger market for the fuel and therefore a greater market for corn from states like Iowa. Trump is expected to announced the E15 waiver plan next week in Iowa.

Farmers have been fighting low prices for grains over the last year, which countries’ retaliation to Trump’s tariff actions have made worse. Trump announced $12 billion in subsidies to farmers in July to help them weather the trade storm. The E15 waiver is expected to have a similar effect by upping the demand for grain commodities.

Signing on: The letter included Inhofe, Ben Cardin, D-Md., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Bob Menendez, R-NJ, John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, John Kennedy, R-La., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., John Boozman, R-Ark., Pat Toomey, R-Penn., James Lankford, R-Okla., Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

D.C. Circuit hears ethanol arguments Friday: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hears multiple rounds of arguments on Friday over the Renewable Fuel Standard.

First, the biodiesel industry is arguing in a lawsuit against the EPA that requirements to blend the mostly soy-based fuel it produces were set too low last year, and should have been much higher.

The second round will hear from the American Petroleum Institute that has sued EPA over its blending requirements for ethanol, arguing that they were set much too high.

On top of that, the court will also take up arguments on whether or not the pool of participants under the EPA biofuel program should be expanded.

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.  

DESPITE POST-HURRICANE HARVEY PROMISE, TRUMP HAS NOT REPLACED FLOOD BUILDING STANDARDS: The Trump administration has failed to apply building standards to protect federally funded infrastructure projects from future flood risk, more than a year after pledging it would do so.

The lack of action adds to the damages from disasters such as Hurricane Florence by enabling federal taxpayer money to support rebuilding efforts that don’t have to account for withstanding increasingly intense storms, heavier rain, and more frequent flooding.

“We have federal investments happening right now that are at much higher risk of flooding and subsequently wasting taxpayer money because we are building at-risk buildings,” Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, told Josh.

Trump has flip flopped on the issue: Trump issued an executive order last August — just days before Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas — revoking an Obama-era federal flood standard requiring federally funded infrastructure such as highways, schools, and wastewater treatment plants that are damaged by floods to be rebuilt to a higher elevation.

But weeks after Hurricane Harvey, Trump administration officials seemed to express regret.

White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, who has since resigned, indicated at a Sept. 8, 2017 press briefing that the Trump administration was considering replacing the 2015 standard with a new one that imposes similar requirements to "build back smarter and stronger."

But it has done nothing to replace it: Josh has learned the Trump administration has not replaced the standard.

“It does not appear to be a priority,” said Ray Lehmann, director of finance, insurance, and trade policy at the R Street Institute.“The current status is it isn't really anywhere at the moment.”

All work has stopped: The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had begun writing rules to implement the Obama standard, proposing to require infrastructure projects funded by the agencies to be elevated.

However, spokespeople for those agencies confirmed to Josh that the rules were never finalized because work stopped after Trump revoked Obama’s executive order.

Even as costs are rising from worsening storms: The trio of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma in 2017 combined to cost $268 billion, according to Moody’s, making it the most expensive year in 38 years. Florence, which hit the Carolinas last month, could cost another $38 billion to $50 in damages, Moody’s said.

“It's even more obvious today that it was a major mistake to repeal the Obama-era executive order,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., told Josh. “This was not just smart environmental policy. It is smart fiscal policy.”

Read the rest of Josh’s report, here.

SENS. MARKEY AND WARREN DEMAND ANSWERS FROM GAS COMPANY IN WAKE OF EXPLOSION PROBE: Massachusetts Democratic Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren are demanding answers from Columbia Gas CEO Stephen Bryant over last month’s catastrophic gas explosions that set neighborhoods outside of Boston ablaze.

The senators want answers from both Bryant and Joseph Hamrock, CEO of Columbia Gas’ parent company NiSource, on what they call “critical deficiencies” in the natural gas utility’s safety and disaster response planning in the wake of the Merrimack Valley explosions on Sept. 13.

The senators explained on Friday in releasing a letter sent to the companies’ chiefs on Thursday night that their own staff investigations have uncovered that Columbia Gas did not properly contemplate the possibility that a disaster like this could occur, did not have sufficient safety measures in place, and was not prepared to respond, according to Markey’s office.

FIRST LADY MELANIA VISITS ELEPHANT SANCTUARY: Melania visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage in Kenya on Friday, where she fed baby elephants before going out into the bush on safari.

The White House said the elephant orphanage she visited “is the subject of worldwide acclaim for its efforts to rehabilitate and rescue rhinos and elephants.” The refuge aims to “offset the harmful effects of poaching for ivory and horn, and the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation and drought.”

Twitter was abuzz over the news because of Trump’s policies regarding wildlife protections and allowing elephant trophies to be imported into the United States on a case-by-case basis.

GREEN INVESTORS PRESSURE GE'S NEW CEO TO REFOCUS COMPANY ON RENEWABLES: A group of environmentally focused investors and hedge fund managers is prodding General Electric's new CEO Lawrence Culp to stave off further losses to the company's earnings by shifting the manufacturing giant's focus toward wind and solar energy.

"As GE’s new CEO, you must make many difficult decisions," reads a letter sent Friday to Culp from the 14 investors and hedge fund managers. "One of your most critical should also be one of the simplest: Will GE continue fighting to protect decelerating fossil fuel businesses or lead the world into a more profitable and sustainable future?"

Culp was hired by GE's board after the company was hit by major losses in earnings that led to its prior CEO, John Flannery, being fired.

Billions of losses on power plants: GE revealed this week that it suffered a $23 billion loss from its power plant manufacturing segment, which the letter says stems from a poor investment decision that favored fossil fuels.

The letter blames GE’s losses on Flannery's "misguided preoccupation" with turbines for natural gas and coal-fired power plants that "are rapidly becoming uncompetitive." Other market watchers say the company was simply out competed by other turbine businesses such as the the German company Siemens.

The investors add that Flannery "compounded this mistake" by acquiring major stakes in the oil and gas drilling company Baker Hughes and the engineering firm Alstom, which was done at the same time countries were signing on to the 2015 Paris climate change accord.

OH…I DIDN’T REALIZE IT WAS ENERGY EFFICIENCY DAY: A major coalition of grassroots environmental groups kicked off the the festivities for Energy Efficiency Day on Friday by launching an interactive website to help consumers conserve energy, of course.

Environment America’s new energy guide is meant to “help us tackle our waste problem,” it said in a statement.

Despite the last decade of technological innovation that affects the way Americans live, “we still produce and consume energy the same ways we did almost a hundred years ago,” said Allie Astor with the Environment America coalition.

The lack of progress on managing the nation’s energy consumption is “putting our most basic needs at risk -- our health, the environment, and even the climate,” Astor said. “We must start conserving energy right now.”

The coalition’s energy guide -- as one might guess -- looks at helping Americans “tap into new technologies and appliances to increase their household’s energy efficiency.”

Remembering Bush’s ‘Energy Vampires’: Perhaps ironically, the guide resembles an order former Republican President George W. Bush signed nearly 20 years ago to get Americans to conserve energy.

Bush called it the “energy vampire” order because it targeted devices that remain plugged into a wall socket even though they aren’t in use.

Does Apple even care it’s wasting energy? For example, a cell phone cord left in the socket while not charging is still sucking valuable electricity and wasting energy.

Thus, Environment America recommends unplugging “your chargers when they aren't in use.”

Do all this stuff too: The guide also says to disable screensavers on computers and T.V.s, change all your light bulbs to LEDs, start line-drying your clothes over using electric dryers, and then begin the process of updating all your appliances -- including refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, especially if they a decade or older.

Most newer appliance models sip electricity and offer a wider range of setting to conserve energy than models from a decade ago.

Go ahead, unplug your microwave: Also, unplug your appliances when not in use. It points out that the average microwave uses more power displaying the time in one year than it does heating food.

“If you have a second fridge, get rid of it,” the guide says. “Consolidate into one fridge to reduce energy use.” Also, switch out your heating and cooling to electric, rather than natural gas.

RICK PERRY WARNS OF CYBERATTACK RISK, INCLUDING ON POWER GRID: Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday he has a “healthy concern” about the threat of cyberattacks by adversaries, including targeting of the electricity grid.

“Healthy concern is always good in this business,” Perry said at the Atlantic Festival in Washington. “One of my great concerns is to make sure the grid is resilient and it's reliable.”

But Perry said the private sector is working with the Energy Department’s national labs to fend off attacks.

““This is truly one of those where the private sector is very, very important to our ability to be successful to defend against the nefarious activities of nation states, of terrorist groups, of some kid sitting in a basement somewhere trying to hack into a system,” he said.

Perry’s comments came just weeks after he scolded Russia for its continued attempts to hack the U.S. power grid.

The Energy Department on Wednesday held its first meeting with the nation’s security agencies on protecting pipelines from being hacked too.

RUSSIAN HACKERS INDICTED FOR TARGETING NUCLEAR COMPANY WESTINGHOUSE: The Justice Department on Thursday announced criminal charges against seven Russian military officers for computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.

While most of the hacking focused on delegitimizing the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Russians also allegedly targeted nuclear energy company Westinghouse, stealing login credentials for the firm’s employees who were working on advanced nuclear reactor development.

The attack failed: “We have found no evidence that the phishing campaigns against employees to breach Westinghouse’s systems were successful,” Westinghouse said in a statement.

Westinghouse designs nuclear reactors for power plants. It declared bankruptcy in March after struggling with high costs in its design work for two U.S. projects, one of which has since been canceled.

ELON MUSK DERIDES SEC AS ‘SHORTSELLER ENRICHMENT COMMISSION’: A Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit hasn't convinced Elon Musk to stop stirring up trouble on Twitter.

Just days after the agency reached a settlement with the founder of electric carmaker Tesla that allowed Musk to remain as chief executive officer, the outspoken inventor took to the social media platform to mock the regulator as the "Shortseller Enrichment Commission."

Short-sellers, or investors who make bets that company's stock price will decline, have long been a source of irritation for the 47 year-old billionaire, and they stood to make a tidy profit when Tesla's stock tumbled in the wake of the SEC's complaint alleging Musk hadn't secured the financing he claimed for a $420-a-share buyout offer.

TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT FORGES AHEAD ON RULES FOR SELF-DRIVING CARS: The Department of Transportation intends to move forward on revising federal auto safety guidelines to reflect the arrival of self-driving cars, according to updated guidance released Thursday.

While existing standards effectively prohibit the commercialization of autonomous vehicles, some of which wouldn't include parts such as a steering wheel or pedals, the changes will seek to better "accommodate rapid technological innovation," the department said.

Congress is also acting: An agency official told the Washington Examiner’s Joe Williams that the changes are "complementary with congressional efforts."

While the House has passed its own self-driving car bill, several senators are holding up a measure in the upper chamber. The chamber's Commerce Committee has met with key stakeholders this week in the hopes of agreeing on a standalone compromise measure that could be moved on the Senate floor.

TOYOTA ISSUES SECOND GLOBAL RECALL OF 2.4 MILLION PRIUS VEHICLES: Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling over 2.4 million Prius vehicles worldwide, including 800,000 in the U.S., over problems with the electric-gas hybrid system, the company said in a statement.

Globally, the recall will affect Prius models from 2008 to the 2014. In the U.S., it will cover the larger Prius V cars from 2012 to 2014 and Prius models from 2010 to 2014.

In some instances, Toyota's hybrid system did not enter into the "failsafe" driving model as intended, causing the vehicle to lose power and stall.

In September, Toyota recalled over 1 million Prius and crossover vehicles worldwide to remedy issues with the electric system that had resulted in fires.


Bloomberg North Carolina, environmentalists at odds over Duke coal spill

CNN Business Clean energy is coming. What's Exxon waiting for?

Wall Street Journal OPEC’s wildcards could push oil to $100

New York Times Chinese oil company official talked arms deals and evading Iran sanctions, U.S. says

Associated Press Zinke expected to approve block on mining claims near Yellowstone


FRIDAY | October 5

All day., 4301 Wilson Boulevard, First Floor, Arlington, Va. Veterans in Energy holds its third annual national forum, focusing on supporting veterans transitioning from military life to careers in energy.

SUNDAY | October 7

9 p.m., South Korea. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases new climate change report with policymaker recommendations.

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.”

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.