Energy Update: Week of July 9

Energy Update - July 09, 2018


While we were all celebrating the lighter traffic during July 4th week, EPA head Scott Pruitt resigned and Andy Wheeler has taken his place as acting head.  So much to say… Tryin’ to make some sense of it all, I feel like I’m Stuck In the Middle With You …but my friends in the press have already said most of it.  I will only add Jeff Holmstead in Utility Dive, Scott Segal on All Things Considered and me on NPR Saturday all added a few things about the new Administrator and the direction we expect him to take the agency.  Happy discuss more…  And our friend Dino Grandoni in this morning’s WaPo Energy 202 highlights who emboldened enviro activists may have in their sights next.

What Wheeler’s appointment is most likely to do is reduce the focus on environmental issues.  I can’t remember the last time the environment got 30 inches each in the Post, the Times, the Journal, etc…and this move will likely return it to its sleepy place in the public opinion’s eye because we are no longer talking about Chik-fil-a, hand lotion or sirens. I know a few of my reporter friends – who have all done pretty good work even though I might disagree with some story judgments – are quietly breathing a sigh of relief that they might get some of their free time back. Finally, I mentioned this on Thursday, but don’t count on this sidelining Pruitt’s political career.

Congress returns this week to some significant action.  It starts tomorrow morning with the Congressional Clean Energy Expo and Policy Forum on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn Foyer.  On Wednesday, Senate Environment looks at the long-term value of low-cost federal infrastructure loans, House Resources marks up water facilities and other legislation and Senate Energy looks at  legislation seeking to address the nearly $12 billion backlog of repairs and maintenance at the Park Service.  Then Thursday, the Senate Energy Committee discusses issues facing interstate delivery networks for natural gas and electricity.

Off the Hill, EPA holds public hearing on air quality standard for sulfur dioxide tomorrow, Ipsun Power holds a Wednesday lunch on the solar industry; the  Bipartisan Policy Center holds Thursday forum on oil and gas sector social enviro governance movement; and Friday energy economists host a luncheon on global oil and natural gas issues featuring former EIA head Guy Caruso.  And don’t forget to mark your calendar for next Wednesday’s EPA RFS RVO public hearing in Ann Arbor.  Also on Thursday, the International Energy Agency will release its closely watched monthly oil market report, the first since OPEC and Russia agreed to boost output.

The World Cup rolls on with very exciting games.  With four teams remaining, we know the winner will come from Europe as the France-Belgium semi-final is tomorrow while Croatia takes on England on Wednesday.  Wimbledon heads to the finals this weekend with the stars still playing.  Finally, the baseball world is continues to prep for the MLB All-Star game next Tuesday at Nationals Park.

On Wednesday, our friend Monica Trauzzi is launching a new NEI video series called Off the Menu with Monica.  It serves as the intersection of energy policy and DC’s thriving food scene.  Off the Menu is an innovative video series that will give viewers a seat at the table of DC’s power lunches and beyond.  The conversations – which start with ClearView analyst Kevin Book – are thoughtful and dynamic and dive in to the key energy policy issues of the day.

Finally, I close on a very sad note today hearing that my long-time friend and former McGraw-Hill oil/climate reporter Gerald Karey passed away last weekend in an accidental drowning in Pennsylvania.  While he retired a couple of years ago, Gerry stayed active In DC and our energy reporter circles.  He was an old-school reporter, funny author of books like Unhinged and great person.  It is a sad day that we have lost him too early.

Call with questions…Best,


Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

c. (202) 997-5932



“I hate to take a credit for a man losing his job, but I guess I’d have to say that I take the credit.”

A very classy move by Kevin Chmielewski, former EPA deputy chief of staff for operations, who told The Hill on Friday that he was critical to the eventual departure of the former administrator.  (MY NOTE: I guess he just doesn’t get it.  Who in Washington really does that?)


Columbia Podcasts Sits Down with OK Sect of Energy/Environment Teague – On a new episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff sits down with Mike Teague, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Energy and Environment. Mike, who was appointed to this role in 2013, is responsible for coordinating over 30 state agencies, boards, compacts, and commissions in advancing policies that encourage energy production and environmental stewardship throughout Oklahoma. Prior to his appointment, Mike served in the US Army for 30 years.



Oil, Gas Industry Ready for Hurricane Season – Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association and former Texas agriculture commissioner, said the men and women in the Texas oil and natural gas industry and its public and private sector partners are ready for the 2018 hurricane season in the San Antonio Express-News on Sunday. Staples said after Hurricane Rita in 2005, Texas created the Task Force on Evacuation, Transportation and Logistics, which developed a comprehensive slate of recommendations to fortify hurricane preparedness, response and recovery plans. Since then, Texas has become nationally renowned for our “lessons learned” approach of revisiting and strengthening hurricane plans and procedures as technology and best practices evolve. As part of ongoing work to innovate and improve, the energy sector is part of a collaborative effort among private and public sector entities such as the Department of Public Safety, Texas CEQ, the Railroad Commission, TDOT, Texas ports, FEMA, health care facilities and local emergency management officials. The oil and natural gas industry is part of the Fuel Team, which works with the Emergency Management Council to ensure Texans have sufficient access to the gasoline and diesel they need before, during and after a natural disaster.


What other news is there besides Pruitt…

Houston Chronicle: Where Rubber Meets Road Could Kill Gas Mileage – The Houston Chronicle reports that scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology think they have found ways of stretching more miles out of a gallon by addressing what type of pavement a vehicle drives on. Researchers are studying what they describe as “Pavement-Vehicle Interactions,” namely how road quality or the lack thereof effects vehicle efficiency.

DOE Invests in Techs to Innovate Power Systems – The DOE has selected 15 projects to receive nearly $8.8 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects to develop innovative technologies that enhance fossil energy power systems.  The newly selected projects fall under DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy’s Crosscutting Technology Research Program, which advances technologies that have a broad range of fossil energy applications. Specifically, the program fosters innovative R&D in sensors and controls, modeling and simulation, high-performance materials, and water management.  DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the selected projects.


Brown to Speak at Solar ConferenceIntersolar North America will be held in San Francisco today through Wednesday.  The event’s exhibition and conference both focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production technologies, smart renewable energy and solar thermal technologies.

Forum to Look at States on Climate Action – Tomorrow morning, Route Fifty will hold a forum to explore state and local governments’ climate goals–and making changes locally, regionally, and internationally to achieve them. From the future of vehicle emissions to regional partnerships, we’ll delve into the policy issues at play–and the stakes. The event will cover States rights in setting emission standards, State and local governments’ work to set their own climate goals–and work internationally, regional cap & trade agreements between states and health equity – emissions impact on the least able citizens.

Clean Energy Forum on Schedule – The 2018 Congressional Clean Energy Expo and Policy Forum will be held tomorrow and brings together up to 45-55 businesses, trade associations, and government agencies to showcase renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Speakers include Sen. Dean Heller (NV), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (MD), Sen. Jack F. Reed (RI), Rep. Paul D. Tonko (NY), Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA), and Rep. Peter Welch (VT).

Senate Environment to Look at Infrastructure Loans – The Senate Environment Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. on the long-term value to U.S. Taxpayers of low-cost Federal infrastructure loans.

Forum to Look at State of Solar – On Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Ipsun Solar holds a summer forum on passive design, solar design and the current state of the Solar Industry.

WCEE Forum Talks To Women Entrepreneurs – The WCEE Career Building Section holds a discussion to gain ideas and inspiration from some of the daring women who stepped outside their comfort zones and challenged themselves to pursue their dreams. Hear what inspired them to get started, what challenges and obstacles they overcame, and their thoughts on helping you launch your own enterprise. Panelists include Véronique Bugnion, co-founder and CEO of ClearlyEnergy, which provider of innovative search solutions to simplify energy decisions; Amy Konigsburg, the founder of She Wolf, is steeped in the energy industry with over a decade experience providing communications services to private sector and government clients and Molly Seltzer is the founder & chief storyteller of Electric America, a photojournalistic series and affiliated media outlet dedicated to highlighting stories of the American energy sector.

Forum to Look at Mexico Election Impacts – The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. on the Mexican election results and its impacts on energy and trade.  President-Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador won with almost 54 percent of the vote on July 1. This historic election comes at a critical moment for Mexico’s future. López Obrador campaigned on a transformative vision and will face several immediate tasks upon taking the office on December 1, including:  establishing new mechanisms to combat corruption; reducing crime in the short term while tackling its root causes in the long term; creating new economic opportunities while finalizing NAFTA talks; and navigating the shifting nature of US-Mexico relations.  As the transition of power begins, we will discuss the priorities he laid out on the campaign trail and the resulting road ahead.

Senate Energy Tackles Energy Delivery – The Senate Energy Committee will convene a hearing Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to consider the policy issues facing interstate delivery networks for natural gas and electricity.  The hearing will address primary challenges and opportunities for energy delivery networks and their customers today, as well as investment in building or upgrading pipelines, electric transmission lines, and other infrastructure keep pace with energy needs and how federal regulators are responding.

BPC Forum to Examine Oil, Gas Issues – On Thursday at 10:30 a.m., the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) convenes a panel of experts to examine the current state of the Environmental Social Governance (ESG) movement in the oil and gas sector and explore what’s coming next. This movement continues to gain traction in a time when the regulatory agenda has changed significantly under the Trump Administration. ESG is particularly significant for the energy sector, specifically as shareholder resolutions surrounding climate change continue to take center stage in the media and in the boardroom.

Wilson Forum to Look at China Environment – The Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum (CEF) holds a discussion on Thursday at 2:00 p.m.  to look at sweeping reforms to streamline environmental governance in order to more rapidly mitigate China’s crushing air, water, and soil pollution.  CEF has invited three speakers to unpack the drivers and impacts of this major reform in China. Liu Zhuoshi (Environmental Law Institute) will detail how legal and regulatory authorities around pollution and climate issues are changing. He will also reflect on hurdles Chinese government faces to expand these reforms at the subnational level. Hu Tao (WWF – U.S.) will explore how the new MEE could act more holistically to manage complex pollution issues, like a better coordination on the joint management of air pollution and carbon emission regulations. Liu Shuang (Energy Foundation China) will reflect on the implication of China’s recent governance reforms on efforts to create a national carbon emissions trading systems and what other policies and institutional changes are needed to make it succeed.

Schools as Resilience Infrastructure – On Thursday at 3:00 p.m., the Congressional Green Schools Caucus will hold a briefing on Schools as Resilience Infrastructure, looking for new opportunities to strengthen disaster preparedness.  The event will look at the role that public school buildings play in strengthening community resilience through strategic investment.  Rep. Alan Lowenthal speaks.

GWU to Look at Protecting Energy Infrastructure – On Friday morning at 9:00 a.m., George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs holds a discussion with senior security representatives from the utility industry and government on securing critical energy infrastructure. The panel will discuss physical and cybersecurity for the North American power grid, infrastructure resilience, and how industry and government partner to mitigate threats. Center for Cyber & Homeland Security Director Frank Cilluffo will moderate the session. Speakers include DOE Pat Hoffman, DHS’s Jeanette Manfra, EEI’s Scott Aaronson, PG &E’s Bernie Cowens, Duke Energy’s Brian Harrell and Entergy’s Chris Peters.

Energy Economists Look at Oil, Gas View – The US Energy Economists in the National Capital Area holds its monthly luncheon on Friday at Chinatown Gardens to offer a view Of US Oil and gas issues with former EIA head Guy Caruso, now at CSIS and CRS policy expert Michael Ratner.



NAS to Hold Truck Fuel Economy Meeting – The National Academies of Science’s Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences is hosting an event next Monday in the afternoon assessing technologies for improving fuel economy of light-duty vehicles.  Speakers include NHTSA, EPA DOE, Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association and many others.

Forum to Look at Nuke Decommissioning – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) holds a briefing next Monday at 2:00 p.m. on the urgent need to safely decommission nuclear power plants, which are increasingly shutting down. Leading scientists, policy experts, NGO advocates, and local elected officials with experience of decommissioning will speak at the briefing. It will cover the impacts of decommissioning, current decommissioning options, waste storage vs. transport, thorny unsolved problems and best practices, financing and liability, a just transition for communities and workers, how communities and states can and can’t weigh in on these issues, and how they should inform the fast-changing legislative and regulatory landscape.  Speakers for this forum are Zion Illinois Mayor Al Hill (home of the decommissioned Zion Nuclear Power Station), former Department of Energy Senior Policy Advisor Robert Alvarez, NRDC’s Geoffrey Fettus and Kevin Kamps, of Beyond Nuclear.

Forum to Look at Nuke Energy Trends – Next Monday at 4:00 p.m., the Institute of World Politics hosts a lecture on the topic of “Energy Trends: Nuclear and Non-Nuclear” with Professor Henry D. Sokolski.  With the Trump administration’s proposed financial relief of the coal and nuclear industries in the name of national security, energy economics has re-emerged as a topic for national debate. So far, much of this discussion has been cast as a contest between market economics and national security.

Duke CEO, CARB Chair, Others Headline POLITICO Summit – POLITICO is hosting its second Pro Summit on July 17th at the Renaissance Hotel. The Pro Summit brings together Pro subscribers, expert reporters, key decision-makers, and others who are shaping the policy landscape for a full day of incisive conversations. Summit speakers include Rep. Joe Crowley, Duke CEO Lynn Good, FERC Chair Kevin McIntyre, Amy Myers Jaffe of the Council on Foreign Relations, Coal CEO Bob Murray, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols and many others.  Duke Energy is the main event sponsor.

EPA to Hold RVO Hearing – EPA is announcing a public hearing in Ypsilanti, MI on July 18th at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti to look at the proposed rule “Renewable Fuel Standard Program Standards for 2019 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2020.

Forum to Look at Digitalization in Energy – The CSIS Energy & National Security Program and the Technology Policy Program host a discussion on Wednesday July 18th at 10:30 a.m. featuring Timothy Lieuwen (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Barbara Humpton (Siemens USA) about the new services and opportunities created for companies and regions as the energy industry continues its trend toward digitalization.  The session will begin with a presentation by Dr. Lieuwen, who will explain the findings of Georgia Tech’s recent study, Industrial Data in Power Generation.  The study is the first phase of an ongoing study of industrial data and regional economic development.  Following the presentation, Barbara Humpton will join Dr. Lieuwen to provide perspective on the ecosystem emerging around the digitalization of the energy industry, examining digitalization’s potential to simultaneously help increase reliability, decrease cost, and reduce environmental impacts. Speakers will also explain the behavioral standards for those firms handling data from the industrial sector, the role policy plays in the regulation of data transparency/ownership, and which actors have the most influence to establish and define values in this emerging sector.

Forum to Look at Iran Oil Issues – The Atlantic Council hosts a panel discussion on Wednesday July 18th at 1:00 p.m. focused on a goal of drastically reduce Iran’s oil exports is realistic and the impact the US campaign is having on global production and prices as well as on Iran. This event is jointly sponsored by the South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative, the Global Energy Center and the Global Business & Economics Center.

Health in Buildings Forum Set – The Department of Environment at the National Institutes of Health will gather government leaders and experts on Friday, July 20th across the health and buildings sectors to discuss new developments in research about health in buildings in our HiBR 2018, Health in Building for Today and Tomorrow conference.  Speakers and attendees will examine the many developments in this sector through lively conversations about buildings including innovation, energy, policies, building practices, community solutions and emerging technologies.

Grid Forum Set for Iowa – The TransGrid-X 2030 Symposium will be held on July 26th in Ames, Iowa. The event will showcase the long-awaited NREL Seam Study—a concept featuring bi-directional high-voltage transmission; 600 GW of wind, solar and gas-fired generation; and a trillion-dollar economic event, if fully built.  Our friends Rob Gramlich and former FERC Chair Jim Hoecker will be among the speakers.

EPRI Hosts Electrification Conference – The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) hosts the inaugural Electrification 2018 International Conference and Exposition on August 20th to 23rd in Long Beach CA. Hosted by the and sponsored by more than 20 major utilities and organizations, this annual conference will bring together utility leaders, regulators, researchers, academia, vendors, economic development groups, and energy users from diverse manufacturing, transportation, industrial, and agriculture sectors around the globe.  SoCo CEO Tom Fanning is among the many speakers.