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TRUMP COULD USE SIGNING OF WATER BILL TO BOLSTER STATE SUPPORT: President Trump will sign a $1.6 billion water infrastructure spending bill on Tuesday that will have something for everyone in it, providing him with a perfect platform to tout his and the GOP’s achievements ahead of the midterms.
The bipartisan “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” provides the funding necessary to keep waterways clear, drinking water clean, and harbors dredged in nearly every state.
The economy: Waterways help keep the economy humming, relying on dams, harbors, and canals to move goods to market and keep food and energy commodities moving.
The environment: The bill is also good for the environment by addressing the threat that algae blooms pose to coastal states like Florida. The deadly blooms make water unsafe for people to recreate on beaches and kills sea life, and have become a part of the midterm election races in Florida.
The bill enacts a new five-year program to support new technologies to combat the harmful algal blooms.
The bill also encourages ecosystem recovery in places like Chicago’s Bubbly Creek by directing the Environmental Protection Agency to collaborate with other agencies to “facilitate ecosystem restoration activities at the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River,” commonly known as Bubbly Creek.
Clean water: It also funds drinking water programs to provide grants to states to help clean up water supplies and pipes contaminated by lead and beset with other problems.
The bill directs EPA to create a new stormwater infrastructure funding task force composed of representatives of Federal, State, and local governments, private industry and non-government organizations to conduct a study and develop recommendations to improve funding for the construction of stormwater infrastructure to meet federal pollution requirements to control strom run run-off.
Selling off the oil reserve: The bill also calls on the Energy Department to sell off 5 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was established as a defense against oil embargoes from the Middle East and OPEC.
The action is to be completed by fiscal year 2028, and the funds from the sale deposited in the general fund of the Treasury. The funds are to be used to help pay for the bill’s programs.
Trump will sign the bill at 3 p.m.
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REPUBLICANS LEARN TO LOVE WIND AND SOLAR JOBS AFTER ONCE MOCKING THEM: Republicans used to deride so-called “green jobs” when former President Barack Obama promised to create millions of them with subsidies and loan guarantees.
But now that those jobs exist — increasingly in rural, Republican-leaning states and districts — GOP lawmakers at the state and federal level are dropping the “green” moniker, and boasting of clean energy credentials ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
“Republicans are seeing a huge number of big paying jobs being created in their districts and in their states,” Dan Reicher, the Assistant Secretary of Energy in the Clinton Administration who was formerly Google’s director of climate and energy, told Josh. “It’s the economic reality. It was inevitable they would come to this conclusion."
What the numbers say: The economic numbers are stark for clean energy, a category that supporters define as including jobs in solar, wind, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.
There are now nearly 3.2 million clean energy jobs in America, and the industry employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry in 42 states and Washington D.C., according to the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs.
Solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians are the two fastest growing occupations in America, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.
Harnessing wind and solar in California: California, unsurprisingly, has the most clean energy jobs, ranking first in solar and fifth in wind.
"We have the Mojave Desert in my district, and it has a lot of wind and sun," said Rep. Steve Knight, a Republican running for re-election in California's 25th District, just north of Los Angeles, which is one of Democrats' biggest targets. "It makes sense we use those two resources to provide power," he told Josh in an interview.
Solar and wind are also plentiful in GOP territory: Republican-led Texas has the most wind generation. Four rural Republican states — Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and South Dakota — generate more than 30 percent of their electricity from wind, and employ together more than 9,000 people in that industry.
The Solar Energy Industries Association says that 13 of the top 25 congressional districts for solar generation are represented by Republicans.
Even deep red South Carolina: William Timmons, the Republican nominee to replace retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy in South Carolina’s 4th District, ranks solar jobs just below the top kitchen table concerns on his campaign agenda.
“If all else is equal and I can get solar energy for the same price with no emissions vs. fossil fuels that have emissions, I don't see any reason not to go the cleaner route,” Timmons told Josh in an interview, adding that solar supports about 700 to 800 jobs in the South Carolina district he aims to represent. “This is the free market working.”
Read more of Josh’s story in this week’s Washington Examiner magazine.
MNUCHIN TALKS IRAN OIL SANCTIONS WITH SAUDI CROWN PRINCE: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday made Iran oil sanctions a top part of a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that took place amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Mnuchin also reiterated the Trump administration's support for the kingdom's Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil, according to a readout of the meeting.
U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil exports kick in on Nov. 4, and the Trump administration is relying on Saudi Arabia's oil production to make up for any shortfalls in supply in order to curtail a surge in fuel prices.
Holding out for more cuts: Mnuchin told Reuters on Sunday that if countries want waivers from the U.S. they will have to agree to reduce their consumption of Iranian crude oil by a higher amount in the future. “I would expect that if we do give waivers it will be significantly larger reductions,” Mnuchin told a news agency in Israel as part of his Mideast trip.
No one expects every country to immediately reduce all imports of Iran’s oil once the sanctions kick in. But reports also suggest that there are countries looking to help Iran get around the U.S. sanctions. Administration sources have told the Financial Times and others that Russia is looking to help Iran reduce the impact of sanctions by helping it sell its oil.
Not in attendance: Mnuchin will not be attending an investment conference on Tuesday in the Saudi capital focused on the 2030 plan. The secretary canceled his attendance in response to the investigation into slain Saudi journalist and U.S. permanent resident Jamal Khashoggi.
"To make clear @stevenmnuchin1 cancelled his speaking engagement at Saudi investment conference. He is in Saudi (as part of 6 country Middle East trip) visiting the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center and having meetings in preparation for Iran sanctions," Tony Sayegh, Mnuchin's spokesman, tweeted.
SAUDIS PROMISE TO HELP TRUMP ON OIL OUTPUT DESPITE KHASHOGGI RUPTURE: Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih promised Tuesday that the kingdom would maintain its near-record oil production, which could help offset potential price increases from Trump’s sanctions on Iranian crude set to go into effect Nov. 4.
“We will meet any demand that materializes,” Al-Falih said at the country’s investment conference in Riyadh that began today, which is being boycotted by many business and government leaders because of the killing of Khashoggi.
He added in comments reported by Bloomberg that Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC are in a “produce as much as you can mode.”
The Saudis have already boosted oil production to 10.7 million barrels a day, near an all-time high, and it can increase it even more, Al-Falih said.
Saudi oil policy is ‘isolated’ from politics: In an earlier interview Monday, Al-Falih said the Saudis do not plan to impose embargos on the U.S., as they did during a 1973 crisis that caused the price of oil to quadruple. “There is no intention,” he told TASS, a state-run Russian media outlet.
He said its oil policy will not change because of the Khashoggi crisis, and predicted “this incident will pass.”
“Saudi Arabia is a very responsible country, for decades we used our oil policy as responsible economic tool and isolated it from politics,” Al-Falih said. “So lets hope that the world would deal with the political crisis, including the one with [a] Saudi citizen in Turkey, with wisdom. And we will exercise our wisdom both in political and economic fronts.”
TOTAL CEO ATTENDS SAUDI CONFERENCE TO ADVANCE ENERGY RELATIONSHIP: Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of the French global oil-and-gas giant Total, explained Monday why he departed from his business peers and decided to attend the Saudi investment conference.
"Total believes it is preferable to engage in frank, assertive dialogue, in which we make our values clear, with our partner countries,” he said in a statement. “I am convinced that an ‘empty chairs at the table’ strategy serves no useful purpose, especially when it comes to respect for human rights.”
Pouyanné said Total has partnered with state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco for 40 years. Total and Saudi Aramco co-own one of the largest refining facilities in the world, the SATORP complex in the Saudi city of Jubail.
TRUMP NOMINATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICES CHIEF: Trump nominated Aurelia Skipwith on Monday to be director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Interior Department. Skipwith currently works at the department as deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks. She previously worked at at Monsanto, among other places.
If confirmed by the Senate, she would replace Greg Sheehan, who resigned in August in the middle of a making a number of changes to how the agency enforces endangered species protections.
She would oversee a busy agenda: Rules proposed by the Interior Department would change how the Fish and Wildlife Service identifies threatened and endangered species — requiring a stricter burden of proof — and how it designates critical habitats for those animals. It would also streamline how federal agencies consult with each other when considering applications to protect species. The Fish and Wildlife Service plans to finalize the rules by next month.
Sheehan also led Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's effort to expand public access for hunting and fishing across the National Wildlife Refuge System and other lands overseen by the agency.
NATURAL GAS GROUP GETS NEW CHAIRMAN TO PUSH INFRASTRUCTURE AGENDA: The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America on Tuesday elected William Yardley of pipeline giant Enbridge to serve a one-year term as chairman.
“Bill’s decades of management experience and his expert knowledge of the industry and the market make him perfectly suited to be INGAA’s leader in communicating to policymakers the economic and environmental benefits made possible by our nation’s safe, resilient natural gas pipeline network,” said the large pipeline group’s president and CEO Don Santa.
Yardley comes to the role as natural gas pipelines continue to face pushback from activists groups and others looking to oppose fossil fuel development.
Yardley said the industry “must ensure that policymakers and regulators support the steady growth of our industry, so that the U.S. continues to realize the economic and environmental benefits of its abundant natural gas supply.”
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW INSTITUTE BOOSTS BOARD’S RANKS: The non-partisan Environmental Law Institute boosted its ranks in Monday with the addition of six new members to its board of directors.
“I look forward to working with these renowned experts to advance ELI’s important mission of improving the environment though the effective rule of law,” said the group’s board chairman, Benjamin Wilson.
The new members include Rachel Jacobson, Rick Leahy, John Lovenburg, Peggy Otum, Hilary Tompkins, and Wei “Kevin” Wei.
RAIL COMPANY’S COAL PROFITS FALL: Shipping coal didn’t add up for one rail firm, Kansas City Southern, which saw its deliveries to coal utilities sink in the third quarter.
Coal utility revenues fell 23 percent from a year ago in the third quarter from $46 million to $35.4 million, according to a new company earnings report.
Utility coal revenues have plummeted 31 percent since the beginning of the year. It has been able to make up for the losses by shipping more coal for export, in addition to petroleum coke, or pet coke.
Overall, the company said it has begun to shift away from shipping domestic coal, and is moving towards shipping more automotive parts and refined products derived from oil.
Bloomberg Trudeau to announce carbon plan for holdout Ontario
Utility Dive Even in Indiana, new renewables are cheaper than existing coal plants
New York Times California’s underwater forests are being eaten by the ‘cockroaches of the ocean
Wall Street Journal Big Oil’s flood of cash underwhelms investors
Washington Post Listen to the eerie song of Antarctica melting
TUESDAY | October 23
2 p.m., 2500 Calvert Street NW. The Environmental Law Institute holds its 2018 Corporate Forum on "Corporate Governance in an Age of Increased Environmental Accountability, Liability and Risk."
3 p.m., 562 Dirksen. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute holds a briefing on "Wood: The Building Material of the Future?" focusing on mass timber.
3 p.m., President Trump signs “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” into law.
WEDNESDAY | October 24
1 p.m., Webinar. The American Council on Energy Renewables holds a webinar on "State of the Industry Webinar: How U.S. Cities are Driving Demand for Renewables."