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ETHANOL GROUP PASSES ON THE ‘GREEN NEW DEAL’: The “Green New Deal” is “too extreme for where our membership is,” Brian Jennings, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, told John, explaining that the focus of the group’s lobbying agenda will be on presenting ethanol as a less-radical alternative to the Green New Deal.

“We feel like members of Congress are looking for more reasonable approaches to reducing greenhouse gases and making sure there are economic benefits,” he said ahead of the April 2-3 lobbying “fly-in.”

He explained that “threading the needle” on meeting environmental goals without harming the economy is very important to rural America, amid growing economic uncertainty stemming from trade policies and other issues. Any climate policy would have to provide a firm “return on investment,” he added.

Jennings said the two-day lobbying spree, which will include nearly one hundred of his members descending on Capitol Hill, includes an educational campaign highlighting the gains of using ethanol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuel mandate.

“We’re going to spend quite a bit of time educating Hill offices on the greenhouse gas benefits of ethanol since the [Renewable Fuel Standard] was adopted,” he said.

Economic tough times: American farmers have been going through a tough period of economic uncertainty, he explained, underscoring the effects of the ongoing trade war with China, which has hurt corn farmers and ethanol producers alike.

China had place retaliatory limits on imports of ethanol from the U.S. in response to President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods. The actions placed a damper on a growing export market for American fuel ethanol in Asia, especially as China plans to mandate the use of 10-percent ethanol fuel blends in the coming year. The action is seen as a potentially boon for corn farmers in the United States.

But Trump’s EPA has also not been helping: Jennings, joined by other groups and lawmakers, has been pressing the Environmental Protection Agency not to continue its program allowing dozens of oil refiners off the hook for meeting federal standards for blending ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply. Actions by the EPA in the past two years have cut back the amount of ethanol demand, adding to the economic uncertainty for rural America, Jennings explained.

Climate challenges for ethanol: It’s not necessarily the Green New Deal that poses an issue for the ethanol industry, but the growing adoption of policies called “low-carbon fuel standards” in the states that pose a more imminent challenge.

LCFS programs can pose an obstacle for corn ethanol by deeming it less environmentally beneficial and more carbon-emitting compared to fuels not produced using food grains.

However, California, which initially penalized corn ethanol under the state’s low-carbon fuel program, has actually warmed up to ethanol in recent years with new emissions modeling that benefits ethanol use. Ethanol is now the top fuel used to comply with the program in the Golden State.

EPA’s own emissions modeling for ethanol has also dramatically shifted in ethanol’s favor, Jennings says. He also notes that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been a champion of the Renewable Fuel Standard and recognizes the benefits of ethanol. The industry hopes her support will benefit it as the Green New Deal takes shape.

Welcome to Daily on Energy, written 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.

THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE PUSHES 2020 DEMOCRATS TO EMBRACE NUCLEAR: The threat of climate change is leading some Democratic presidential candidates to favor nuclear energy.

While Democrats and some Left environmental groups have traditionally been skeptical of nuclear energy on safety and cost grounds, a faction of candidates for president is embracing nuclear energy — which provides most of America’s zero-carbon power.

“I don't think nuclear is tricky anymore with Democrats,” Josh Freed, who runs the clean energy program at the center-left think tank Third Way, told Josh.

Candidates advocating for nuclear power span the ideological spectrum, including liberal Sen. Cory Booker of New York, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — who is running a climate-centric campaign — and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, a centrist.

“We have to be open to all low carbon and zero-carbon potential sources of energy given the urgency of this effort,” Inslee told reporters at a March renewable energy industry conference in Washington, D.C.

Booker told the Washington Examiner at a recent campaign stop in Columbia, S.C., that nuclear energy “has to be part of the equation if we want to move quickly toward a carbon-free future.”

Delaney also embraces the all-of-the-above zero-carbon approach, noting that renewables aren’t ready to provide all of the nation’s carbon-free power because solar and wind are limited by weather conditions from providing electricity on a 24-hour basis without the help of batteries.

“I am supportive of nuclear energy as a transition fuel off fossil fuels,” Delaney told Josh. “I am hesitant to eliminate any energy sources before we have the proper technology in place.”

Read more of Josh’s report here.

TRUMP PUNISHES COUNTRIES THAT ARE BIG FANS OF US COAL: Most of the Central American countries that Trump announced he will be withdrawing U.S. economic aid from have become huge importers of U.S. coal since Trump came into office.

Honduras, for example, increased its imports of U.S. coal 242 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Guatemala had also been a big importer of U.S. coal during Trump’s first year in office, importing well over a half-billion tons of coal. However, in 2018, the country’s imports have fallen 68 percent by the third quarter compared to 2017.

Trump announced on Friday that he would be curbing economic aid to Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, because they haven’t done enough to curb the numbers of immigrants heading for the U.S. border.

Trump has been a huge proponent for U.S. coal, touting the opening of coal mines in the U.S. and the reversal of a moratorium on coal mining and other climate rules put in place under the previous administration.

U.S. coal exports for power plants rose 4.4 percent from the second to third quarter of 2018, reaching 14.5 million tons, according to the Energy Information Administration.

New quarterly data from the federal government on U.S. coal exports is due out this afternoon.

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS TRUMP’S MOVE TO OPEN ARCTIC TO DRILLING: A federal judge on Friday blocked Trump’s executive order that had reversed the Obama administration’s ban on oil and gas drilling in most of the Arctic Ocean and a portion of the Atlantic Coast.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason, an Obama appointee, ruled that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act allows for presidents to unilaterally withdraw federal waters from offshore drilling, but does not permit a subsequent president to undo a predecessor’s protections of public waters without action from Congress.

She said only Congress could revoke President Obama’s moves in 2015 and 2016 to shield 125 million acres of the Arctic Ocean — 98 percent of it — and about 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic from oil and gas drilling.

"The wording of President Obama's 2015 and 2016 withdrawals indicates that he intended them to extend indefinitely, and therefore be revocable only by an act of Congress," Gleason said, writing for the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.

Consequences for Trump’s offshore drilling plans: Trump’s April 2017 executive order reversing Obama’s ban was a prelude to his administration’s five-year offshore drilling plan released in January 2018.

Under the Interior Department's draft proposal, spanning 2019 to 2024, more than 90 percent of the total acres on the Outer Continental Shelf would be made available for leasing, including in areas of the Arctic Ocean.

Interior is expected to release a revised plan in the coming weeks or months, after coastal governors and lawmakers from both parties have pressured Trump to scale back the plan. But the Arctic was viewed as one of the sure bets to remain in the plan.

What happens now: Friday’s court decision, which is expected to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, prevents the area of the Arctic Ocean that Obama had withdrawn from being in Trump’s drilling plan.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, argued Sunday the district court judge had misinterpreted the law, and predicted the ruling would be overturned, perhaps by the Supreme Court.

Murkowski said that the ruling could have “catastrophic impacts for offshore development, which creates jobs, generates revenues, and strengthens our national security.”

DISTRICT JUDGE ALSO STRIKES DOWN TRUMP DEAL ALLOWING ROAD THROUGH ALASKA REFUGE: The same district court judge earlier Friday blocked a Trump administration land swap deal to allow a tiny Alaska village to build a road through the federally protected Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

Gleason said the Interior Department did not provide a “reasoned explanation” for reversing the Obama administration’s rejection of the road.

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in January 2018, after major prodding from Murkowski, signed a land swap deal to allow the village of King Cove to build a road through the refuge, which residents say will provide a route for medical evacuations to the closest regional airport.

Murkowski promised Friday to keep fighting for the road.

“I will never stop until this road is a reality and the nearly 1,000 residents of this isolated community have a lifeline for emergency medical care,” she said.

TRUMP ISSUES KEYSTONE XL PERMIT TO GET AROUND COURT FIGHT WITH ACTIVISTS: Trump on Friday issued a presidential permit to allow the Keystone XL pipeline project to move forward, a move necessitated after a judge placed an injunction against Trump's original 2017 executive action.

The action makes the project less vulnerable to legal challenges by environmental groups by not delegating the actual permitting of the pipeline to the State Department, which handles the licensing of cross-border energy projects. A federal district in Montana last year rescinded Trump's original 2017 order for the pipeline to go forward, ruling the administration’s environmental analysis was insufficient.

The Rundown

New York Times A Texan’s big bet on a fossil-fuel future for California

Politico Powerful coal executive edges closer to White House

Wall Street Journal Aramco emerges ahead of Apple as world’s most profitable company

Bloomberg Wall Street embraces weather risk in new era of storms


MONDAY | April 1

All day, The hydro-electric industry holds its annual policy conference Waterpower Week, April 1-3.

Noon, 2322 Rayburn. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance hold a briefing on "2019 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook."

TUESDAY | April 2

10 a.m., 366 Dirksen. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds hearing to examine the President’s budget request for the Department of Energy for Fiscal Year 2020.


Noon, 1320 19th Street NW. The Women's Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) holds a discussion on "Marine Mammal Protection in an Era of Expanded Ocean Development."