Energy Update: Week of February 6

Energy Update - February 06, 2017


What looked to be a slow, blowout Super Bowl, turned into an outrageous game which featured a hard-to-believe comeback by the Patriots.  Despite me not winning any quarters this year in the pool, that last quarter (and first-ever OT) was one for the ages even, if you don’t like the Patriots.  I did win my bet on the “over” for Gisele Bündchen TV appearances with four.  Thank goodness the Pats came back because those three 4Q/OT appearances took me over the top of the 1.5 prop bet line.  What I didn’t bet on was the social media traffic on API’s Super Bowl ad…wow!!!  What a surprise success, generating positive and negative comments so much so that API held a presser this morning on the topic.  My ad winner was the KIA enviro ad spoof “Hero” on saving whales, trees, ice caps, etc featuring Melissa McCarthy.  Speaking of McCarthy, how about the SNL skit spoofing my friends Sean Spicer and Glenn Thrush. (I hope they laugh it off because it was hi-larious and I didn’t raise my hand Glenn!!!)

And if a Pats win wasn’t enough for Boston, the “social event of winter season” actually launches today when the Beanpot, an annual hockey tournament that features Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern, begins. It is the official battle for Boston’s hockey bragging rights.   BTW, for all you baseball fans, pitchers and catchers report starting Sunday to Florida and Arizona.

Congress this week will continue to move forward on approving cabinet nominees and disapproving federal regulations issued in the final months of the Obama Presidency using the Congressional Review Act.  It is a short week in Congress due to the Democratic conference retreat, which begins Wednesday evening in Baltimore. House floor activity this week will continue to focus on passage of resolutions of disapproval under the CRA to overturn regulations, with Interior’s Land-Use 2.0 rule on the agenda.  Meanwhile the Senate takes up the Methane Flaring rule passed by the House on Friday and votes on several cabinet appointees, with the big vote on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tomorrow.  We might see action later in the week on Perry, Zinke or Pruitt, but it seems unlikely.  Coral Davenport has a good story in the NY Times this morning on Scott Pruitt and his likely approach to EPA.  With FERC quorum story making news, we also have heard from our friend Rod Kuckro at E&E News (and several others) that former TX utility commissioner Barry Smitherman may be chosen to head the Commission in the near future.

The main event this week is Wednesday when the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) will release their 5th annual edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook at a Washington, D.C. press event.  The Factbook provides insight into key U.S. energy statistics related to energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy and outlines key factors influencing America’s energy infrastructure, economy and environment.  Speakers include BNEF’s Ethan Zindler, AGA’s Kathryn Clay, BCSE’s Lisa Jacobsen and SEIA’s Abby Hopper among others.   ACCF also hosts a great forum on Wednesday to discuss border tax policy questions.  My colleague Curt Beaulieu (202-828-5806) is a great resource on the topic if you have questions.

Finally, with the announcement of Neil Gorsuch last week as the nominee to the Supreme Court, I saw my friends in the enviro community sent lawmakers a letter today urging them to oppose Gorsuch.  For a better primer on the nominee – specifically on his call for the reassessment and potential revocation of Chevron deference to agency interpretation of its own statutes – my colleagues at Bracewell have provided info that may be more helpful to you over the next few months as Gorsuch goes through the confirmation process.



Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932



“Nothing is over until we decide it is.  Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

Bluto Blutarsky, Faber College, 1963.



CRAs Move Forward – The Congress Passed Congressional Review Act legislation last week on the Interior Department Stream Rule.  Then, Friday, the Senate followed the House in killing rules mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform that require resource extractors to disclose payments made to the U.S. or foreign governments for the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals. The House also voted to kill a Methane Waste and Prevention Rule, which would prevent methane flaring and waste from oil drilling operations. The Methane Rule goes before the Senate early this week.

Chamber Comments on CRAs – The Chamber’s Energy Institute praised the actions with CEO Karen Harbert saying on the Stream Rule:  “Today’s vote to block the Obama Administration’s unnecessary and costly stream rule is a victory for common sense and American energy production. This rule interfered with state authorities and would have placed massive amounts of coal resources off limits for production, costing us jobs and higher energy prices.  We look forward to President Trump signing the resolution, and to continued scrutiny of the Obama Administration’s last minute regulations.  On the SEC extractive industries CRA effort, Christopher Guith, Senior Vice President for Policy, US Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy said “We’re pleased that, like the court before it, Congress blocked a rule that would have unfairly and needlessly harmed American companies and their shareholders. The SEC’s Extractive Industries rule would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with, have vast unintended consequences and ultimately harm those it is intended to protect.  There are existing laws and treaties ensuring transparency and disclosure, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  This one wasn’t necessary, and far too costly.  We look forward to President Trump’s signature.”  Expect comments on the Methane rule later today.

Bay Final Days Sees Pipeline Approvals – In FERC Chair Norman Bay’s final day, the Commission approved several key pipeline projects along with a slate of other items while the agency still had a quorum.  FERC approved Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise and Northern Access natural gas pipeline projects.

Atlantic, from Energy Transfer, is a $2.6 billion project, with work stretching across several states between Pennsylvania and South Carolina.  Northern Access, developed by National Fuel Gas Co is a $455 million project that would bring more gas into markets in New York, New England, the Midwest and Canada. One day earlier, FERC ruled in favor of Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Rover natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to Ontario, a project estimated to cost $4.2 billion.  AP’s Matt Daly details the overall issues and challenges.

Groups Calls for CCS Tax Improvements – The National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI) and its coalition partners have released a letter they sent to the House Ways and Means Committee calling on inclusion of 45Q legislation in any tax reform bills that move this Congress.  The letter Calls on Congress to “extend and strengthen” the 45Q tax credit because it “offers one of the most effective tools to protect and drive growth in the energy sector while also reducing CO2 emissions.  The opportunity represents a genuine win-win for our nation’s economy and environment, one that will bring high-paying and investment to energy producing and industrial states and regions of our country.  Among the signers is Jay Faison’s Clearpath Foundation, NRDC and a bunch of companies like Southern, Peabody and others.

Platts Capitol Crude Looks Southeast Asia, Energy – The Platts Capitol Crude Podcast this week looks at long-simmering tensions in the South China Sea and what new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may bring to the discussion.  Platts Brian Scheid interviews Zack Cooper, a fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where they discuss changing US policy ahead of the summer drilling season offshore China and Vietnam, Twitter diplomacy and the risks for oil.



JHU to Host McNally Book Event – The Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS program will host Bob McNally this evening at 5:00 P.m. to discuss his new book, “Crude Volatility – The History and Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices.” World oil prices have fallen drastically over the last two years, spurred partly by the rise of tight oil production in the US, and by OPEC’s failure to cut production.  Recently, in an effort to raise oil prices, OPEC is attempting to regroup and has agreed to lower its production. Will it succeed? This is one of the questions to be discussed at this energy forum which will also review the history of oil prices.  Our friend Kevin Book, Managing Director at Clearview Energy Partners will serve as the commentator.

House Science to Look at EPA Science Mission  – The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the science mission of the EPA.  My colleague Jeff Holmstead will be among those testifying on potential reforms to the Scientific Advisory Board and other items. Others include former NJ Rep Rush Holt, a physicist who is now CEO of AAAS, ACC’s Kim White and Richard Belzer.

Forum to Look at RGGI Issues – The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, the Georgetown Climate Center, and Resources for the Future (RFF) will host a webinar tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. looking at the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  States participating in RGGI are engaged in their 2016 program review to evaluate the emissions trading system and consider potential changes. In the course of this review, the idea of an emissions containment reserve (ECR) mechanism has been proposed to address a common issue confronting cap-and-trade programs worldwide: the prices for emissions allowances tend to be significantly lower than program designers anticipate in advance, making mid-course corrections necessary for it to perform as intended. This webinar will bring together experts and representatives from states, electric generators, academia, and nongovernmental organizations to consider this new approach for ensuring that the RGGI emissions trading program functions as designed and examine the finer points of how such a reserve might work and be implemented.  Speakers include RFF’s Dallas Burtraw and UVa’s William Shobe.

German Enviro to Discuss Policy – The BMW Center for German and European Studies and the Science, Technology, and International Affairs Program of the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown will host a presentation tomorrow at Noon by Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Executive Director / CEO, Environmental Action Germany.  Müller-Kraenner will discuss how the G20 Presidency might provide an opportunity to include the new U.S. administration in an international conversation around energy security, sustainable investments, and climate change. He will also discuss how international coalitions might get rearranged or shift — depending on whether the U.S. administration chooses a course of cautious engagement or disruptive confrontation. Lastly, he will shed light on how German energy policy might develop after the upcoming national elections.

Annual Sustainable Energy Factbook Set for Release – The Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance will release their annual Sustainable Energy Fact book Wednesday at Bloomberg’s offices at 9:30 a.m.  The Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance team up for the fifth time to identify key U.S. energy statistics and trends.  There will also be a forum for stakeholders at Bloomberg at Noon.

Reporters Look at Enviro Priorities – The Environmental Law Institute will hold a panel discussion on Wednesday at Noon at the DC Bar to look at the environmental priorities of Congress and the new Administration. Although these issues played a minor role in the election, they pose numerous challenges for federal policymakers. What will be the environmental priorities of the new administration? What environmental legislation might be enacted by the 115th Congress? Our friends John Siciliano of the Wash Examiner, Inside Washington’s Jeremy Bernstein and Josh Kurtz of E&E News will address these and other issues.

Energy Efficiency Day Set for Hill – The Alliance to Save Energy will host Great Energy Efficiency Day (GEED) on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. in 106 Dirksen.  The event returns to Capitol Hill for a dialogue on the keys to driving energy productivity and prosperity in the 115th Congress.  This year promises to be pivotal for both protecting the important policy and regulatory gains we have enjoyed in the past decade, but also and importantly, for securing innovative policies, funding and programs that advance energy efficiency in this new political environment. As we have seen over the last eight years, energy efficiency policies and initiatives have a proven track-record of increasing energy productivity and delivering a strong return on investment.  GEED will highlight policies and initiatives that are proven to increase energy productivity and have a strong ROI, while also identifying new legislative opportunities that fit within the 115th Congress’ and the incoming Administration’s focus areas of economic growth, tax reform and aging infrastructure.

ACCF Hosts Border Tax Panel – The American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research will host a forum on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. in Dirksen G-50 looking at the potential impacts of Border Tax adjustments.  The panel will explore the theoretical aspects and potential economic impact of increased taxes on imports, as well as a look at how the potential real world implications could work for different industries.

Transmission Infrastructure Summit Set – The National Electric Transmission Infrastructure Summit will be held on Thursday and Friday at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  The Summit is a one-and-a-half day gathering focused on the challenges and merits of extending, modernizing, and integrating the high-voltage electric transmission system – necessary to enable access to the rich but currently remote resources of renewable energy required for a clean-energy future, while mitigating the cost and variability of those resources.  Speakers will include our friend Jimmy Glotfelty of Clean Line Energy Partners, as well as Southwest Power Pool CEO Nick Brown, National Electric Manufacturers Association CEO Kevin Cosgriff and several others.

Energy Factbook Touted At Capitol – On Friday, EESI and the House and Senate Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Caucuses will host an event on Capitol Hill in Rayburn’s Gold Room to discuss the release of the BNEF-BCSE Sustainable Energy Factbook.



NARUC Conference Set – The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners hosts its yearly Winter Committee Meetings in Washington, D.C. Sunday through next Wednesday at the Renaissance Washington Hotel.  As usual, the groups has assembled an array of speakers and sessions that continue to advance the priorities and issues facing state utility regulators. Next Monday, PA PUC Commissioner Robert Powelson hosts a discussion on infrastructure with Exelon CEO Chris Crane, API’s Jack Gerard and others.  Other speakers include FERC Chair Cheryl LaFleur, Chamber Energy CEO Karen Harbert, Paul Cicio of the Industrial Consumers of America, NRDC’s Dave Doniger, former EPA GC Roger Martella and many others.

ACCF to Host Brady for Tax Discussion – The American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research will host a discussion on Tuesday, February 14th with House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady.  This follows a recent panel on Border Tax issues slated for this Wednesday.

Former FERC Chair Bay to Address Energy Storage Forum – On February 15th, the 3rd Annual Energy Storage Policy Forum will be held at the National Press Club.   The new Administration and Congress bring with it a new focus and new opportunities. Impending transitions at FERC, DOE, and other agencies have significant ramifications for the continued growth of energy storage.  Speakers will include retired FERC Commissioner Norman Bay, Mass Dept of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson and Cal PUC Commissioner Carla Peterman.

Holmstead, Others Address Southeast Power Challenges – Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, will hold an event on Wednesday, February 15th at Noon focused on the energy and environmental policy challenges facing the Southeast power sector as the next administration takes office. The event will gather stakeholders from across the region in Washington, D.C., to discuss the state of the electricity sector and key issues facing state and federal policymakers, including how market factors and federal policy will affect electricity sector planning in 2017 and beyond. Invitees include representatives from electric utilities, environmental NGOs, energy companies, and state agencies.  Speakers include my colleague Jeff Holmstead, Clearpath’s Zack Baig, Georgia PSC Commissions Lauren McDonald, Entergy’s Rick Johnson, former Senate Staffer and Nicholas Institute expert Tim Profeta, among others.

House Science to Look at Loan Guarantee Program – The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, February 15th looking the DOE’s Loan Guarantee Program.

CSIS Forum to Look at Oil Markets – The CSIS Energy & National Security Program holds a discussion on Thursday February 16th at 10:00 a.m. with President of RBN Energy Rusty Braziel, ESAI Energy’s Managing Principal of Petroleum & Alternative Fuels Sarah Emerson, and IHS Energy’s VP of Oil Markets (Midstream and Downstream) Kurt Barrow on where U.S. domestic and global oil and gas markets are heading in 2017. We enter the new year with higher oil prices, but also the continued questions around the implementation of and compliance with announced OPEC and non-OPEC supply cutbacks, resurgent U.S. production, enormous stocks, potential increases from Nigeria, Libya, and elsewhere, still-enormous stocks, and various forecasts of new demand growth.

Heritage Forum to Look at Science, Modeling – The Heritage Foundation will host a forum on Thursday February 16th at Noon on climate modeling, science, and economics behind climate change.  The event will feature Heritage’s Nick Loris and their in-house statistician Kevin Dayaratna, University of Guelph scientist Ross McKitrick and Paul “Chip” Knappenberger of Cato’s Center for the Study of Science.

RTOs Speak at Grid Forum – WIRES, the House Grid Innovation Caucus, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will hold a briefing on Thursday, February 16th at 2:00 p.m. looking at the modernization of the nation’s critical network of high-voltage transmission. Designed and built well before the digital age to serve more localized customer loads, the “grid” is struggling to support active and increasingly competitive wholesale power markets that now operate regionally. It is often congested or inadequate to deliver domestic energy resources that are not close to customers. Its aging facilities have acknowledged weather and cyber vulnerabilities. Speakers include Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), as well as Midcontinent ISO’s Clair Moeller, Southwest Power Pool’s Mike Ross and Craig Glazer of PJM Interconnection.

Forum to Look at Climate Threats – In the February USAID Adaptation meeting on Thursday February 16th at 4:00 p.m., Cardno principal Michael Bilney, MBA will discuss Cardno’s collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on a risk-based method to screen hundreds of NOAA facilities and evaluate the most at-risk facilities’ vulnerability to potential climate change threats.  The approach combined qualitative risk assessment, and asset management facility condition and engineering assessments to identify site-specific vulnerabilities and related adaptation and resilience improvement actions. Bilney will summarize the phases of the analysis and provide key lessons learned, adaptation and resilience improvement measures and strategies developed during the recently completed project.  He will also summarize critical activities in the recommended process developed to guide future NOAA facility climate change vulnerability assessments.

RBN CEO to Address Energy Economists – The National Capital Area Chapter of the US Assn of Energy Economists will hold its February luncheon on Friday, February 17th at Noon at Carmines featuring RBN CEO Rusty Braziel. Braziel is President and CEO of RBN Energy, a leading energy market analysis and advisory firm and is the author of The Domino Effect, bestseller book about understanding energy markets. Braziel will address the economics of new drilling and the recovery.

USEA to Host World Coal CEO – On Friday, February 17th at 2:00 p.m., USEA hosts Benjamin Sporton, Chief Executive of the World Coal Association.  Sporton will look at how the global coal market is changing and what happens to the Paris Agreement under the new Trump administration.

RFA Ethanol Conference Set of San Diego – The Renewable Fuels Association hold its 2017 National Ethanol Conference on February 20-22 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. The forum will address policy and market issues and what industry can do to develop both domestic and foreign markets, including expanding infrastructure, blends above E10, high octane fuels and exports.  At a key Panel on the first day, AFPM President Chet Thompson will join RFA CEO Bob Dinneen for a future of fuels policy discussion.  Our friend Rachel Gantz will also host a panel of journalists including WSJ’s Amy Harder to discuss media coverage of the policy issues.

ARPA-E Forum Set – The annual ARPA-E Innovation Forum will be held on February 27th through March 1st at the Gaylord at National Harbor. Summit is an annual conference and technology showcase that brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways. Now in its eighth year, the Summit offers a unique, three-day program aimed at moving transformational energy technologies out of the lab and into the market.  Among the speakers will be Duke’s Lynn Good (who will be interviewed by our friend Bill Loveless), Sen. Cory Gardner and Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs, as well as somebody from the new Trump Administration.

ACCF Panel Hosts former Commissioners to Look at FERC Challenges – The American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research will moderate a discussion on Tuesday, February 28th at 12:30 p.m. in 485 Russell.  The event will feature former FERC Commissioners Philip Moeller and James Hoecker on a wide range of policy issues facing FERC.   The discussion comes at a particularly interesting time for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which entered the new year with a full plate of issues, including the challenge of ensuring electric reliability in the face of increasing environmental pressures from outside advocacy groups. And the Commission does so without its full complement of commissioners, having now just two of its five seats filled after the sudden resignation of Norman Bay.  Our friend Glen Boshart will moderate.

CERAWeek Set for Houston – The 36th CERAWeek by IHS Markit will be held on March 6th through 10th in Houston at the Hilton Americas.  CERAWeek is the premier annual international gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial, and industrial communities – and energy technology innovators. Midst the turbulence and uncertainty in energy markets this year, CERAWeek 2017 will provide new insights and critically-important dialogue – and a very cost efficient way to engage on the most urgent questions with decision-makers from around the world.  A laundry list of other key energy speakers/CEOs will speak.  See the list here.

Southern NextEra Execs Address Transmission Summit – The 20th Transmission Summit will be held March 6-8th at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.  The event brings together policy makers with transmission industry leaders to develop strategies that will take advantage of opportunities created by emerging policy, regulatory and technological changes.  Topics will include post-election policy shifts and potential new opportunities for transmission infrastructure investment, dealing with the impacts of revisions to FERC’s Order 1000 processes on regional planning and competitive projects, integrating and interconnecting ever more renewable energy assets and using non-transmission alternatives and storage to defer new builds and replace aging infrastructure.  Key speakers include former FERC Chair Joe Kelliher of NextEra, Southern’s Bruce Edelston, and Georgia PSC Commissioner Tim Echols, among others.

GEA to Host DC Meeting – On March 7th, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) will hold its International Geothermal Forum in Washington, DC.

Pollution Control Agencies Set Spring Meeting – The Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies’ 2017 Spring Meeting will be held in Tucson, Arizona from March 27 – 29 at the Hilton Tucson East Hotel.  More on this in the future.