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FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WEIGHS CLIMATE DATA PLAN THAT COULD PENALIZE OIL COMPANIES: The Government Services Administration, the large independent agency that keeps the government supplied with everything from toilet paper to diesel fuel, is in the beginning stages of implementing an Obama-era plan to survey the climate risks posed by the products it purchases for the federal government.
The implementation of such a risk assessment could penalize fossil fuel companies, like oil refiners, that sell vast quantities of gasoline and other fuels to the federal government each year.
The agency sent a formal notice to the White House Office of Management and Budget last year stating that it would be contracting an environmental surveying company, specializing in tracking climate risks, to begin implementing an agency-wide survey with vendors in an effort to assess how much, or how little, risk a particular product poses to climate change.
The American Fuels and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the lead trade group for the refinery industry, told John that the industry had fervently opposed the plan when it was quietly floated last year.
Based on the initial notice sent to OMB last summer, the climate survey would provide a climate risk comparison between companies in an effort to select companies offering the lowest risk.
“And that’s the problem, right there, is that if you don’t respond to the survey or all the questions, you may get kicked down [in the ranking] and it may not be truly reflective of the risk,” David Friedman, the refinery group’s vice president for regulatory affairs, tells John.
The company that GSA is looking to collect the data is CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Group, which helps companies track their environmental performance. The company considers climate change a danger that governments and companies must address.
Friedman accuses the company of skewing the feedback it gets. CDP did not respond to emails requesting comment.
GSA also did not respond to a request for comment on the status of the climate risk survey.
However, a document obtained from the agency shows that the administration is in the process of tweaking the program to make it voluntary.
The agency appears to be following the refinery group’s advice by modifying the survey program, but Friedman says he will be verifying that with the agency in the coming weeks.
In response to the refinery group, GSA now says it has “no plan to use CDP data for purposes of contract selection or eligibility.” Instead, it plans to use voluntarily-provided CDP data, alongside general market research, to better inform its business needs.
It will also be collecting data to help it meet an executive order signed by Trump last May that directs agencies to use energy more efficiently and track greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water savings, and other appropriate performance measures.
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ELIZABETH WARREN SAYS SHE WOULD BAN OIL AND GAS DRILLING ON FEDERAL LANDS: Elizabeth Warren said Monday that she would ban all drilling on federal lands and waters in her first day in office.
“On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands,” the Massachusetts Democrat’s presidential campaign said in post to Medium.
Warren also said she would reinstate an Obama-era Interior Department rule that the Trump administration has proposed rolling back limiting leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas operations.
The Warren campaign, in its post, noted that nearly a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from energy production on public lands. The Trump administration has massively expanded oil and gas drilling on federal lands and has proposed opening nearly all federal waters to oil and gas drilling. It has also encouraged offshore wind leases in federal waters.
Warren says she would prioritize wind and solar development, aiming for renewable energy produced on public lands to generate 10 percent of U.S. electricity.
She also said she would overturn Trump’s controversial shrinking of two national monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — in Utah.
And she vowed to “eliminate” the infrastructure and maintenance backlog in national parks, a goal the Trump administration shares.
UTILITIES WARN URANIUM QUOTAS FROM TRUMP WOULD HARM NUCLEAR PLANTS: A coalition of utilities warned Sunday that Trump could harm the economic viability of already struggling nuclear plants if he imposes quotas on imported uranium.
The Commerce Department faced a Sunday deadline to produce a report recommending to Trump whether impose a 25 percent quota on imported uranium. He has 90 days to decide.
Two U.S. companies ask for quotas: American uranium producers Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy in January 2018 submitted a petition to the Commerce Department to investigate the national security effects of uranium imports.
The petition was filed under Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows the government to restrict imports for national security reasons.
The costs of quotas: “This case is simply about padding profits at the expense of the entire nuclear industry and the customers it serves, contrary to the Trump Administration’s goals,” said David Tamasi, spokesman for the Ad Hoc Utilities Group. The group’s members include major nuclear generating utilities such as Dominion, Duke Energy, and Exelon.
The utilities group says a 25 percent domestic uranium quota would add $500 to 800 million in annual costs to U.S. nuclear plants. It says import restrictions would cost the nuclear industry jobs, claiming a single nuclear power plant provides more jobs than the entire U.S. mining industry.
The case for quotas: But supporters of the petition note that imports from state-subsidized companies in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan provide nearly 40 percent of U.S. uranium, according to the staff of Sen. John Barrasso, R, Wyo., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who backs import quotas.
The U.S. produces less than 5 percent of its uranium. More than half of U.S.-based uranium production occurs in Wyoming, Barrasso’s home state.
SUPREME COURT WON’T REVIEW DECISIONS ALLOWING NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES IN TWO STATES: The Supreme Court said Monday it will not review lower court decisions that upheld nuclear plant subsidy programs in Illinois and New York.
The Electric Power Supply Association, which represents merchant power plant owners, had petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the case, arguing the subsidy programs pick winners and losers, undermining the free markets overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Two U.S. appeals courts — the 2nd and 7th Circuits — have upheld the state programs to subsidize economically struggling nuclear plants, which produce zero-carbon electricity, concluding that subsidies don't usurp FERC’s authority over wholesale electricity markets.
States have turned to subsidy programs to help meet their clean energy goals to combat climate change, as nuclear plants have suffered due to competition from cheap natural gas, and renewables.
FEDERAL JUDGE STRIKES DOWN TRUMP’S REPEAL OF OIL & GAS ROYALTIES RULE: A federal judge has struck down the Trump administration’s repeal of an Obama-era rule for assessing fees on coal, oil, and natural gas extracted on federal lands.
U.S. District Judge Susan Brown Armstrong, in a decision made public Friday, ruled the Interior Department failed to provide sufficient justification for ditching a rule designed to prevent mining and drilling companies from underpaying royalties owed to the federal government. Armstrong cited “serious violations” of the Administrative Procedures Act.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who along with the state of New Mexico filed suit against the Trump administration for repealing the rule, declared the Friday ruling a victory for U.S. taxpayers, saying Americans will receive their “fair share” of royalties from companies extracting fossil fuels on federal federal lands.
The Obama administration argued the Valuation Rule would close a loophole that let companies miscalculate royalty payments when mining on public land.
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had countered the rule would increase costs for companies, and could decrease exploration and production on federal lands.
Wall Street Journal A US destroyer hunts for North Korean oil smugglers
New York Times Want to escape global warming? These cities promise cool relief
Bloomberg The $18 billion EV bubble at risk of bursting in China
TUESDAY | APRIL 15
5 p.m., 1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW. The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Global Leaders Forum and the SAIS China Studies program hold a discussion on "China's Climate and Energy Policies."
WEDNESDAY | April 17
8:30 a.m., Iowa. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a field hearing entitled, “Oversight Hearing on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Management of the 2019 Missouri River Basin Flooding.”