Energy Update: Week of December 12

Energy Update - December 12, 2016


Starting today with news about the Golden GlobesNominations are out and after seeing Manchester-by-the-Sea, I have to say it has got to be a frontrunner.  It is not a feel-good movie but it was so well acted.  And last night, 60 Minutes ran a an outstanding piece on the story behind Lion.  The 74th annual Golden Globes Awards is hosted by Jimmy Fallon on January 8th.

While this year we did not go, it is always exciting to see one of our country’s most tremendous events: the Army-Navy Football game, this year in Baltimore. Army broke a 15-year losing streak to claim the game with a late touchdown and an overpowering rushing offense that Navy just couldn’t slow down.  I don’t doubt there was a little bit of fatigue from Navy playing Temple in the AAC East Final the week prior, but it is Army-Navy and that should be enough.  Whatever the outcome, there is nothing in sports like watching the post-game festivities where both alma maters get sung by the entire stadium.   Not to be overshadowed (but it was), the MLS Soccer Champ was crowned Saturday when Seattle beat Toronto in penalty kicks. (Ouch, just broke the Champ Kind rule about “No Soccer”!!)

Last week in Transition was a blur, with sources seemingly confirming OK AG Scott Pruitt for EPA, Washington Rep. McMorris-Rodgers for Interior and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for State.  And today, we are starting to hear sources talking about former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Energy.  My colleague Salo Zelermyer, a former DOE Senior Counsel can address many of your questions about Perry.  I have included a few statements below.  I fully expect the official announcement on all of these appointments sometime this week.

Oil has risen to an 18-month high after OPEC and non-OPEC countries have reached separate, but related agreements to jointly reduce output to try to tackle global oversupply and boost prices.  Our friend Robbie Diamond at SAFE and his experts can discuss the details.  In fact, they already spoke with Capitol Crude on the topic.  CC’s Brian Scheid and Meghan Gordon talked to Diamond on President-elect Trump’s plans to take on OPEC, the fate of fuel efficiency standards and what energy independence means in today’s global oil market.  And tomorrow, CSIS hosts OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo to discuss its 2016 World Oil Outlook.

Finally, special congrats to Melisa Klem, who will be the Society of Environmental Journalists’ new executive director.  Klem has spent more than 13 years working in development for conservation and human health nonprofits, and is the group’s second leader, replacing founding executive director Beth Parke who is stepping aside after nearly 24 years of leadership.

We are monitoring all transition activities and especially the cabinet du jour issues, so don’t hesitate to call on this and any other issues.



Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932



“As Governor of the State of Texas for 15 years, Rick Perry led a state that has, for decades, been critical to our domestic energy policy.  During his time in office, Perry embodied the type of “all of the above” approach to U.S. energy production that many have advocated on both sides of the aisle.  Rick Perry’s Texas was not only a world leader in oil and gas production; it was also a global leader in wind power and renewable energy investment.  This approach is a big reason why Texas experienced such enormous job growth during Perry’s tenure.  This track record will serve Perry well not only in leading DOE but also in becoming a significant part of the new Administration’s approach to issues like regulatory reform and infrastructure investment.  As Texas has shown, it is indeed possible to successfully balance appropriate environmental regulations with domestic energy production and use.”

Salo Zelermyer, former DOE Senior Counsel and partner at Bracewell’s PRG on Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is being considered to head the Department of Energy



Pruitt Named for EPA – Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is said to named head of EPA.  Pruitt has a long record of opposing EPA actions that he deems a legal over reach.  He Is not alone in some of the major challenges of the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Plan which both have more than 30 states joining him and were both stayed by Courts.  My colleague Scott Segal, said he has watched Scott Pruitt develop over his six years as Oklahoma attorney general and called him “a measured and articulate student of environmental law and policy.”  The office he headed was present and accounted for in the battle to keep EPA faithful to its statutory authority and respectful of the role of the states in our system of cooperative federalism.  Segal says these skills will serve him well not only in leading EPA but also in participating meaningfully in the legislative and regulatory reform efforts promised by the next Administration.  Segal added some have suggested that Pruitt’s hands might be tied because he participated in litigation against the Agency, but “when you add up all the states that have participated in litigation on the Clean Power Plan alone it amounts to almost the entire United States.” Segal added Gina McCarthy herself sued the EPA as a state official only to eventually lead the Agency.  There is no conflict in faithfully representing your state on litigation dealing with rules of general applicability and then serving your nation as a federal administrative official.

McMorris-Rodgers for Interior – Washington Rep. Cathy  McMorris-Rodgers is reportedly being named to head the Department of the Interior Mc.  My colleague Eric Washburn (202-412-5211), a former Senate staffer and westerner who works on many lands, species and other Interior, said President-elect Trump is following the tradition of naming an elected or former elected official from the West.  This tradition exists because most federal lands are located in the West its elected officials are continually faced with balancing the need for natural resources conservation with economic development, which essentially describes the job of Interior Secretary.  Washburn: “McMorris-Rodgers has had to grapple with these challenges regularly and so knows the laws, regulations, and issues that will now cross her desk every day on the job.  While it is a tough and often controversial job, if you come from the West and love the wide open spaces, and the outdoor recreational opportunities afforded by the federal lands estate like hunting, fishing, hiking, off-roading and are not afraid to mix it up from time to time, then it can be one of the best jobs in Washington DC.  Her plate will be full from the minute she takes office.  OPEC just got agreement on a supply cut that will raise oil and gas prices and likely lead to more demand to drill on federal lands.  Renewable energy projects, transmission lines, and pipelines will continue to be sited and built there.  And all this will need to be balanced with the need to conserve mule deer, elk, pronghorn, greater sage grouse, trout and hundreds of other species that rely on those lands, and which sportsmen spend billions of dollars each year chasing after.  She certainly knows all these interests and hopefully will be able to chart a course for the agency that allows for conservation and development to proceed hand in hand.”

Something about CMR – McMorris-Rodgers is known as a competent and respected legislator.  She also has been a long-standing member of the House Republican Leadership.  She was one of Trump’s 13 co-chairs.  Given her district in eastern Washington, she has stressed collaboration on forest management issues.  This is what she said on the occasion of passage of Interior approps back in July:  “Eastern Washington is home to some of the greatest natural resources in the world,” said McMorris Rodgers. “Our local communities and their leaders know how to manage their own land and the resources around them better than federal bureaucrats. This legislation includes key provisions that will help keep our communities safe from wildfires, protect farmers from overzealous EPA regulations, and maintain our beautiful, abundant public land as a recreational outlet for all walks of life.”

Tillerson for Secretary of State – Our friend Steve Mufson is among those reporting President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name as his secretary of state Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil.  Tillerson has worked extensively around the globe and built relationships with such leaders as Russian President Vladimir Putin and for years has worked in Russia and the Middle East on behalf of the multinational petroleum company.  Tillerson is a very sophisticated international player and has been a leader in global discussion and negotiations.  Our friend former NSC advisor Robert McNally of the Rapidan Group said, “The closest thing we have to a secretary of state outside government is the CEO of Exxon.”  Tillerson started at EOM in 1975 and has spent his entire career there, going from Oklahoma and Texas to Yemen and Russia.  As CEO, Mufson reports he has cultivated relationships, meeting regularly with world leaders such as Putin, the Saudi oil minister, and the emir of Qatar.

Non-OPEC Countries Agree to Cuts Too – Recently, OPEC countries agreed to “limit” their production (by 1.2 MM bbl/d starting in January 1, 2017) and which also referenced that non-OPEC countries would contribute an additional 0.6 MM bbl/d of supply reductions.  On Saturday during OPEC’s joint ministerial level meeting with non-OPEC countries in Vienna, Austria, agreed to reduce output by 558,000 bpd, short of the target of 600,000 bpd but still the largest contribution by non-OPEC ever..  The joint meetings were the first since 2002.  Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, Sudan and South Sudan all also agreed to reduce their combined production by 0.558 MM bbl/d. Similar to OPEC’s November 30th agreement, these reductions will commence January 1, 2017 and have a duration of six months, extendable for another six months.  My friends at SAFE can address your questions about the deal and how it relates to OPEC’s original Nov 30 deal.   Please feel to call me or email Leslie Hayward should you have any questions or want to speak with SAFE President Robbie Diamond.

Report: Global Coal Use to See Slight Drop, Remain Significant – IEA new coal report today that coal demand growth will stall in the years to 2021 as other fuels become more popular.  At the same time, it added that coal will remain a significant International player.  Lower demand in the U.S. and China, fast renewables growth and greater energy savings will reduce the share of coal in the global power generation mix to 36% by 2021, down just 5% from 2014.  Emerging economies mainly in Asia are expected to drive future use.  Asia has become coal’s key market as Europe and the U.S. cut its use, a geographic shift that will accelerate, the IEA said. By 2015, Asia accounted for almost three-quarters of coal demand. China will “continue to be the largest coal consumer by far” by 2021, even if consumption has likely peaked.

Chamber Blog Posts Hit Energy Issues – The Chamber Energy Institute released blog posts from energy experts Steve Eule and Dan Byers last week.   Eule unloads on an NRDC report that says the groups sees tankers expanding in the Mississippi River to move Canadian oil sands.  Eule asked has it occurred to NRDC that maybe, just maybe, its opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline was a bit, ah, shortsighted? It’s not like these new transportation arrangements weren’t anticipated. The Department of State gets it. Its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for the pipeline concludes that approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project would be unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S.  Meanwhile, Byers tackles the narrative in the media about coal’s demise no matter the results of the election.  Byers: “There is no question that President-elect Trump’s commitment to scrap the CPP and end the War on Coal will save millions of tons of coal production, and in doing so, save the jobs of many miners (while helping to keep electricity  affordable).  He adds a multitude of other job-killing rules are likely to be repealed or reformed as well, thereby providing an additional boost to coal’s prospects. And while more of a wild-card, Trump’s commitment to prioritizing economic growth, if successful, could also provide significant relief. If infrastructure, tax, regulatory, and other initiatives can help the U.S. economy escape this seemingly endless period of sub-two percent growth, demand for electricity—and coal—will also see a boost.

SEJ Brings on New Executive Director – The Society of Environmental Journalists, one of the nation’s leading associations of professional reporters, has hired Melisa Klem as its new executive director, effective January 3, 2017.  Klem has spent more than 13 years working in development for conservation and human health nonprofits, and raising millions of dollars. The SEJ Board of Directors selected Klem to serve as the group’s second leader, replacing founding executive director Beth Parke who last summer announced her plans to step aside after nearly 24 years of leadership.  “I hope to encourage others to pursue this critical professional calling through shining a light on the best journalists who are covering the environment and all it encompasses,” Klem said. She also said the work of SEJ’s 1,200 members – reporters, writers, academics, filmmakers, authors, photographers, and students in every state and dozens of countries — will take on even greater importance as America heads into a Trump presidency.  Klem previously served as the development director at the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, the national director of development at the Izaak Walton League of America, and senior director of development at the Potomac Conservancy.



AGU Meeting to Focus on Climate – The Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union will be held today through Thursday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.  It is the largest worldwide conference in the geophysical sciences, attracting more than 24,000 Earth and space scientists, educators, students, and other leaders. Fall Meeting brings together the entire Earth and space science community from across the globe for discussions of emerging trends and the latest research. The technical program includes presentations on new and cutting-edge science, much of which has not yet been published.

State Official to Address Climate Agenda – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will host a briefing today at 2:00 p.m. discussing the outcomes of the recently concluded international climate change summit (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco. The summit drew representatives from more than 190 countries to discuss the implementation of the historic Paris Climate Agreement, making it a vital discussion that will impact everything from global commerce and foreign relations to electricity generation and agriculture.  The speaker for this forum is Christo Artusio, the State Department Director of the office of Global Change.

Forum to Look at Latin American Energy – The Institute of the Americas and the Inter-American Dialogue will host a panel discussion tomorrow at the National Press Club looking at the energy relationship and evolving energy collaboration in the hemisphere, timed to coincide with the political transition in the United States.  Natural gas exports from the United States to Mexico have tripled over the last five years, while the first ever liquefied natural gas exports from the US Gulf Coast shipped to Brazil. Many countries, including Venezuela, have increased imports of US refined oil products. Meanwhile, the United States has engaged in multiple technical cooperation agreements in renewable energy development. There is ample evidence that Latin American countries and the United States can benefit greatly from boosting commercial energy ties and expanding bilateral energy cooperation.

Forum Looks at Climate Technologies – Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., Information Technology & Innovation Foundation is hosting a forum to release a new report that assesses the Obama administration’s efforts and considers how this record might be extended and improved upon in the next administration.  Achieving the ambitious goals set in the Paris climate negotiations will require large-scale private investment in technologies that to date have only been shown to be feasible technologically, not economically. That will require overcoming the second “valley of death”: the lack of confidence among potential investors in the affordability, reliability, and practicality of these innovations. Public-private technology demonstration projects are one important means by which the second valley of death might be crossed. But such projects have frequently been plagued by cost overruns, schedule delays, and outright failure. The Obama administration, like its predecessors, has pursued such projects with mixed results.

OPEC Minister to Address CSIS – Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., CSIS’s Energy and National Security Program is hosting a forum featuring His Excellency Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to discuss OPEC’s World Oil Outlook 2016.   The event will begin with opening remarks by H.E. Barkindo, followed by a presentation of the World Oil Outlook 2016 by Dr. Jorge Leon Arellano, Energy Demand Specialist of the OPEC Research Division. The report addresses  OPEC’s outlook for medium and long-term oil supply, demand, and downstream out to 2040, including their view on the challenges and opportunities for the oil industry. This World Oil Outlook sees opportunities presented by a growing global population, and economic growth in developing countries leading to an increase in energy demand, but also comes at a time of continued uncertainty in the oil market.

WCEE Forum to Look at Energy Communications – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will host a forum tomorrow featuring Loretta Prencipe, to discuss insights from the report, “How Americans Make Energy Decisions” – and what that means for energy communications in the changing energy and policy landscape.  An attorney and former journalist, Prencipe serves as Group Vice President in Makovsky Communication’s DC office and has more than 15 years’ experience in media relations, marketing, communications and public affairs in energy, manufacturing and sustainability issues. She manages project deployment, workforce and employee engagement programs, crisis communications, public affairs and corporate risk and reputation issues for publicly traded companies.

Forum Looks at EV Infrastructure Challenges – Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., the Environmental Law Institute will host a forum at the D.C. Bar Conference Center looking at infrastructure challenges for Electric Vehicles.  The rise in popularity of electric vehicles is creating a need for increased charging infrastructure. The development of this infrastructure brings significant challenges. Come hear our panel discuss the ways in which these challenges are being solved.  The panel will discuss the legal issues facing the development of infrastructure for electric vehicles and the potential impacts these vehicles may have on our environment and energy security. Speakers will include DOE’s Kavita Patel, GM’s Alex Keros and Sierra Club’s Joe Halso.

Moniz to Speak at Third Way Event – Third Way will host a town hall featuring U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. at the Glover Park Group.

Report to Look at Energy Security – On Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in B-369 Rayburn, the National Bureau of Asian Research will release its 12th annual Energy Security Report, “Asia’s Energy Security amid Global Market Change,” as well as recap findings from NBR’s seventh annual Pacific Energy Summit that NBR held in Singapore earlier this year.  This high-level event will examine how a range of factors – including market volatility, efforts to accelerate lower carbon transitions, regional geopolitics, and Paris Climate Accord commitments – will shape energy security outlooks in the Asia-Pacific. It will also feature timely discussion of the implications of the U.S. leadership transition for U.S.-Asia energy ties.

Forum to Look at Climate Opinion in US, Canada – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Canada Institute will host a panel on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the results from national-level surveys on public attitudes toward climate change in the United States and Canada. Expert panelists will highlight key findings from the 2016 comparative study, draw analyses from the differences and similarities between Canada and U.S. public views, and provide insight into how this could affect existing climate change policy and potential future policy approaches on both sides of the border.

Expert to Look at Electricity Industry Change – The US Association for Energy Economists in the National Capital Area, will host its monthly luncheon on Friday at Noon looking at change in the electric industry.  Through its 51st State Initiative, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) has been tackling these questions with utilities, trade associations, industry analysts, tech-start-up entrepreneurs and visionaries over the past two years.  Smart Electric Power Alliance CEO Julia Hamm will speak. Hamm has more than 15 years of experience advising and collaborating with utilities, manufacturers and government agencies on renewable energy and energy efficiency strategies and programs.

Energy Policy Lunch Set – Friday at Noon, the Ecologic Institute and ELEEP will host an Energy Policy Luncheon focused on the energy future ahead.  Questions will look at how the incoming new administration will impact the transformation of the US energy system; What – if any – impacts will we expect to see on electricity generation and grid, on transportation fuels, and on heating; and what future may lie ahead for coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables.  Panelists include Julia De La Cruz of Bulletin Intelligence, R Street’s Catrina Rorke and ACORE’s Scott Clausen.



Electoral College Vote – December 19th

Brookings Panel Looks Climate, Energy Security with Japan – Next Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., the Center for East Asia Policy Studies and the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate will host a distinguished panel of climate policy experts from the United States and Japan to address critical issues for the future of the climate agenda and U.S.-Japan relations. What does the nature of the Paris commitments mean for the task of implementation? What kind of domestic transformation is required in each country, e.g., what are the choices to be made in energy policy? And how can Japan and the United States collaborate on innovation efforts to move away from carbon dependent-economies?  Panelists will include our friend David Victor and other Japanese and US climate and energy security experts, as well as Atsuyuki Oike, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America.

State of Oil, Gas Event Slated – API will host its annual State of the Oil & Gas industry event in early January.  More on this as it becomes available.