Energy Update: Week of October 29

Energy Update - October 29, 2018


Last week was very trying given the tragic events in Pittsburgh Saturday, as well as the bomb scares in Florida and other places.  Our hearts and prayers go out to those in Pittsburgh, including our friend and former WaPo reporter Cindy Skrzycki who was a member of one of the Tree of Life Temple congregations and lives in that neighborhood.

Maybe Halloween on Wednesday will give us a little bit of cheer.  Of course, I am already dialed up for “special recipe” pumpkin seeds, my annual Halloween tradition in the PRG office.

Just over a week to go until the midterm elections. There is a lot of activity and we will see how things play out.  Please mark your calendars for next Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. when Bracewell's Policy Resolution Group (PRG) will once again offer political and policy analysis of the 2018 midterm elections – an award-winning and insightful mix of webinars, written materials and podcasts.  To get a taste of where things are headed, my colleague Scott Segal joined the PRG podcast team Friday to highlight a few key races and preview a few other things we’re watching.  Also, tune into Sirius XM’s Press Pool on Thursday where I’ll visit with my friend Julie Mason to discuss the role of the environment in the mid-terms.

Still some events this week: Tomorrow, there will be a great webinar sponsored by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and Pew Trust.  The webinar will feature the release of the latest Interim Report of the Institute’s “Mitigation Saves” multi-year study. The new report builds on the results presented earlier this year that every $1 invested in disaster mitigation through federal grants saves society $6 in future disaster costs. These latest results examine the return-on-investment associated with resilient infrastructure related to transportation, electric grid and water systems.  A great expert who can tackle many of these issue on cost and ROI is MIT’s Jeremy Gregory ( 

Today, activists will be rallying in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Juliana v U.S., the landmark climate lawsuit filed by Our Children’s Trust that was stayed last week by Chief Justice Roberts. We have long suggested that the courts are an inappropriate mechanism to address a policy issue as complex as climate change.  The prospect of a 50-day climate show trial seems inconsistent with core constitutional principles like separation of powers.  Perhaps the activists should march a few blocks in either direction to push members of Congress on the issue.

The EPA will close the comment period for its ACE rule on Wednesday so we will have comments for you from utilities and others.  And on Friday, my colleague Caitlin Andrews will be the featured speaker at Women’s Energy Network (WEN) luncheon forum at API. Caitlin will present some real-world strategies to help people define themselves as issue experts and raise their profiles as industry leaders.

Finally, Congrats to Red Sox Nation, clinching last night’s World Series in 5 games.  It was a really awesome series including that 18-inning marathon (which turned out to be the only LAD bright spot.)  The Red Sox won 108 games beat two AL clubs with 100 and 103 wins to get to the World Series, and then mauled a very good Dodgers team that was in the World Series last year. They have pitching, hitting, speed, defense and the intangible all great teams have - someone always ready to step up.  Pretty impressive. Hannah and her Wellesley friends are getting out of class to be at the parade tomorrow, attending her third World Championship parade in last two years.

Congrats to all those who competed in yesterday's Marine Corps Marathon. It is always an exciting and wonderful effort. One week to the New York City Marathon, which rolls off next Monday.  Remember, the Queen movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, hits theaters on Friday!  If you need insight/perspective on anything, please call with questions.  Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

C. (202) 997-5932



“Consumers are speaking loud and clear. These numbers reinforce the need for the Administration to reconsider this decision to allow year-round sale of E15.  Voters understand that allowing sale of a fuel that is not designed for nearly 75 percent of cars on the road today puts consumers at risk. American families should not have to be burdened with an unexpected car repair bill because of a fuel that our government essentially pushed into the marketplace against the clear letter of the law.”

API Vice President of Downstream and Industry Operations Frank Macchiarola after API released poll numbers today on Consumer views of E15.


Segal Talks Energy, Environment in Mid-Terms on PRG Podcast– This week, Scott Segal joins the Bracewell Lobby Shop Podcast to discuss climate change and how it is likely to impact Midterm voting.  The episode is now live on Stitcher, SoundCloud, and Google Play Music.

Living On Earth: Dykstra Hits Sports, Endangered Species – With professional baseball, football, hockey and basketball all active this past week, our friend Peter Dykstra gives Living on Earth Host Steve Curwood an ecological scorecard for the real and sometimes endangered animals that are mascots for professional sports teams. Also, how some late-night comedians are choosing to poke fun at public perceptions of climate change. And an historical note about three grey whales that rose to celebrity status about three decades ago.


ClearPath: Colorado, NREL Remain Innovation Leader – While Colorado remains a leader in traditional energy production, what is striking is the leadership role the state plays in emerging advanced energy solutions, ClearPath Executive Director Rich Powell and Jon Anderson, director of the Western Way, note in a new op-ed in the Denver Post.  Colorado’s position as an advanced energy leader is without question driven by strong, innovative companies that have tapped into the state’s remarkable workforce. But the fountain and foundation of this success in emerging energy markets can be traced to one important place: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Its research has gone far beyond just renewable power to include hybrid energy systems, nuclear deterrence, technologies that can capture carbon emissions from fossil fuel production, airport security and lead-free solder used in welding.


API Says Consumer Reject E15 – The American Petroleum Institute released the results of a new national poll conducted by Harris Poll, showing that the vast majority of voters are concerned about the Trump administration’s proposal to allow the year-round sale of higher ethanol blended E15 gasoline.  Key poll results:

  • 79% of voters are concerned about expanded E15 sales and vehicle incompatibility.
  • 83% of voters are concerned that consumers could shoulder higher pump prices if service stations are forced to invest in new infrastructure to accommodate certain types of fuels.
  • 68% of voters are concerned about consumers mistakenly using E15 and causing damage to their engines.
  • 81% of voters are concerned that government requirements could exceed the 10% level of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply which studies have shown could increase gasoline prices by up to 26 cents per gallon.

The poll results are posted on the API website.

Gas Study reconciles persistent gap in Methane Emissions Measurements – A new study offers answers to questions that have puzzled policymakers, researchers and regulatory agencies through decades of inquiry and evolving science: How much total methane, a greenhouse gas, is being emitted from natural gas operations across the U.S.? And why have different estimation methods, applied in various U.S. oil and gas basins, seemed to disagree?   The Colorado State University-led study, published Oct. 29 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, resulted from a large, multi-institutional field campaign called the Basin Methane Reconciliation Study. The researchers found that episodic releases of methane that occur mostly during daytime-only maintenance operations, at a few facilities on any given day, may explain why total emissions accountings have not agreed in past analyses.  With invaluable assistance from industry partners, the researchers have significantly advanced basin-level emission quantification methods and shed new light on important emissions processes.

"Our study is the first of its kind, in its scope and approach," said Dan Zimmerle, senior author of the PNAS study, and a senior research associate at the CSU Energy Institute. "It utilized concurrent ground and aircraft measurements and on-site operations data, and as a result reduces uncertainties of previous studies."

The Basin Methane Reconciliation Study included scientists from CSU, Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado Boulder, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Other scientific partners were University of Wyoming, Aerodyne, AECOM, Scientific Aviation and GHD. The field campaign took place in 2015 in the Fayetteville shale gas play of Arkansas' Arkoma Basin.

Study is Part of Coordinated Effort to Measure Emissions – The campaign involved more than 60 researchers making coordinated facility- and device-level measurements of key natural gas emissions sources. The campaign also included a series of aircraft flyovers to collect measurements during the same period when researchers were taking measurements on the ground. The flights took place when meteorological conditions allowed accurate regional emissions estimates.  The research team set out to investigate the persistent gap between two widely used methods of estimating methane emissions from natural gas operations. "Bottom-up" estimates, such as those used in the EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, are developed by measuring emissions from a representative sample of devices, scaled up by the number of devices or emission events. In contrast, "top-down" measurements can be performed at a regional scale, such as flying an aircraft upwind and downwind of a study area to derive total emissions from methane entering or leaving a basin.  In the past, most aircraft-based, basin-scale emissions estimates have been statistically higher than estimates based on bottom-up accounting. 

Significant Hydropower Reform Signed Into Law – Significant hydropower reform became law upon the signing this week of the Water Resources Development Act, including a bipartisan bill from Reps. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) that would trim federal reviews of small conduit (or energy-recovery) hydropower projects. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) pushed similar language in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The Promoting Conduit Hydropower Facilities Act (H.R. 2786) aims to aid projects that are typically low environmental impact because they are constructed as part of existing water infrastructure, such as irrigation canals and pipes that deliver water to cities and for industrial and agricultural use, which is one of the most promising untapped sources for new hydropower.

DOE to Launch Water Challenge – The Department of Energy launched the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House initiated, DOE led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water.  Using a coordinated suite of prizes, competitions, early-stage research and development funding opportunities, critical partnerships, and other programs, the Water Security Grand Challenge sets the following goals for the United States to reach by 2030:

  1. Launch desalination technologies that deliver cost-competitive clean water
  2. Transform the energy sector’s produced water from a waste to a resource
  3. Achieve near-zero water impact for new thermoelectric power plants, and significantly lower freshwater use intensity within the existing fleet
  4. Double resource recovery from municipal wastewater
  5. Develop small, modular energy-water systems for urban, rural, tribal, national security, and disaster response settings.

DOE will partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Water Security Grand Challenge, and is pursuing additional opportunities to collaborate with other agencies, industry, and stakeholders. In that vein, DOE is hosting a stakeholder workshop today at NREL to gather input from external experts on potential DOE prizes and next steps. As the Challenge matures, DOE expects to continue to bring new partners on board and identify additional prizes and other program contributions.



Georgetown Groups Host Novelli – This evening at 5:00 p.m., Georgetown’s SFS Centennial Fellowship, Enviro Law, GREEN and IRC are hosting Catherine Novelli, former Under-Secretary of State for Economic Development, Energy and the Environment (2014 - 2017), Apple Inc. VP of Worldwide Government Affairs (2005 - 2013), and School of Foreign Service Centennial Fellow for a "townhall" discussion on business, innovation, environment and international affairs.

NAS to Look at Coral Reefs – The National Academy of Sciences' Ocean Studies Board will hold a meeting tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. looking at interventions to increase the resilience of Coral Reefs.  Discussions at the meeting will explore the advantages and limitations of various decision tools that may be used to evaluate the risks and benefits on implementing novel approaches for improving coral resilience.

Forum to Look at Fissle Material – Tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in 602 Lindner Family Commons at George Washington University, the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy will host a briefing and panel discussion on the results of a two-year project on reducing nuclear risks from weapons-usable nuclear material. With generous support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Fissile Zero Future project identified gaps in governance of weapons-usable nuclear material and explored new norms for closing those gaps in three areas: stockpile transparency for states with nuclear weapons, civil plutonium management and naval nuclear fuel.  These three areas have stubbornly resisted legally binding restrictions for decades, but might be amenable to voluntary measures to rein them in.  Our panel of experts will discuss the status of risks, potential measures to ameliorate them and practical steps for moving forward. 

WCEE Forum to Look at Climate Kids Case – Tomorrow at Noon, the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will host a Lunch & Learn forum featuring a lively dialogue between a lawyer and a reporter who will provide insight into the significance of the Juliana case and a discussion of how it fits into the larger landscape of climate lawsuits being brought against governments and corporations in states, cities as well as internationally.  Our friend Amanda Reilly of E&E News and Georgetown Law Center’s Ariel Nelson will speak.  WCEE also hosts a happy hour that evening at Archipelago.

Building Institute to Look at Infrastructure Resilience – The Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Institute of Building Sciences will host a joint webinar tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. looking at the Business Case for Building Stronger, Smarter Infrastructure.  The webinar will feature the release of the latest Interim Report of the Institute’s “Mitigation Saves” multi-year study. The new report builds on the results presented earlier this year that every $1 invested in disaster mitigation through federal grants saves society $6 in future disaster costs. These latest results examine the return-on-investment associated with resilient infrastructure related to transportation, electric grid and water systems.  Speakers will include Pew’s Forbes Tompkins, Ryan Colker and Philip Schneider the National Institute of Building Sciences and Iowa City Civil Engineer Melissa Clow.  Sign up here.

AEE Hold Election Preview – Advanced Energy Economy experts weigh in on the impending midterm election and role that energy will play. In ways big and small, the advanced energy industry has much at stake in the upcoming election. In the webinar, AEE’s state and federal policy experts about what to look for in key races around the country. Panelists include Malcolm Woolf, Dylan Reed and J.R. Tolbert.

CO2 Group to Release Paper – Tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. in 485 Russell, the CO2 Coalition will present a panel discussion of its latest White Paper: Climate Change and Health. This study, by Australian physician D. Weston Allen, examines past, present and possible future impacts of climate change on a range of human health areas from nutrition to social and mental health, with insights into energy supplies and sufficiency. The panel discussion will be followed by a question and answer period.

Columbia Energy Forum to Feature IEA – The Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy will hold a presentation and discussion of the IEA's Gas 2018 Medium Term Market Report and Global Gas Security Review 2018.  The event will feature Jean-Baptiste Dubreuil, Senior Natural Gas Analyst at the International Energy Agency.

Energy Service Companies Meet in Orlando – The National Assn of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO) holds its 35th annual Conference & Vendor Showcase on Wednesday through Friday at the Omni Orlando.  You can see the long list of speakers here

Webinar to Feature Offshore Wind Discussion – E2 will host a webinar to hear from public and private sector representatives who are working hard to make offshore wind a reality on both of America’s coasts. E2 Advocacy Director Grant Carlisle will also discuss the recently released Offshore Wind: Generating Economic Benefits on the East Coast, which analyzes the economic potential of offshore wind up and down the Atlantic Coast.

Forum to Look at Grid Resilience – On Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., USEA will host a panel on one of the hottest topics in the electric power industry – resilience of the power grid.  Resilience is generally defined as increasing the ability of the power system to prevent or mitigate the impact of unusual – in particular catastrophic – events (e.g., storms, fires, earthquakes, cyber and physical attacks). With the increase in the incidence and severity of such events, and with the unquestioned criticality of secure power supplies to our lives, resilience is on the top of many utilities’ and regulators’ agendas, including a major ongoing proceeding at the FERC.  Panelists will include members of NERC, EPRI, UPenn’s Kleinmann Center and USEA.

Forum to Look at Energy Storage – EnerKnol and New York University's Institute for Policy Integrity hold a webinar on Thursday looking at energy storage regulation.  Topics will include State energy targets, regulatory roadblocks, and other key takeaways.  Speakers include our friend at former Bloomberg energy Reporter Jon Crawford, now at EnergyKnol and NYU’s Institute for Policy Integrity Energy Policy Director Dr. Burcin Unel.

Forum to Look at Trade – The Washington International Trade Association holds a discussion on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement. The forum will be a deep-dive on investor-state dispute settlement.  The American Chemistry Council’s Ed Brzytwa and API’s Aaron Padilla will be among the speakers. 

GW Energy Conference Set – The George Washington University Energy Club hosts a morning energy conference on Friday looking at the transformation and democratization of energy in Duquès Hall starting at 9:30 a.m.

Georgetown Clean Energy Bootcamp Set – The Clean Energy Leadership Institute, in partnership with the Georgetown Energy Club, will host the second annual Clean Energy 101 Bootcamp on Saturday.  The Clean Energy 101 Bootcamp is designed to give current students, recent graduates, and those interested in pursuing a career in clean energy an introduction to fundamental concepts of clean energy technology, finance, business development and policy. The event will also offer extensive opportunities to network and learn from current professionals about what it means to work in government, industry, advocacy, science, and entrepreneurship roles across the clean energy sector.


ELECTION DAY – November 6th

BPU Head to Keynote NJ Solar ConferenceSolarWakeup Live! Jersey City will be held on November 6th at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City.  New Jersey BPU President Joe Fiordaliso and SEIA President Abby Hopper will headline.

Grid Conference Set for SF – ACORE's Renewable Energy Grid Forum will be held on Thursday November 8th at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco to debate challenges and opportunities presented by new energy market reforms and the evolving grid. 

Congress Returns for Post-Election Congressional Session – Wednesday November 14th

Senate Energy to Hear from FERC, DOE Nominees – On Thursday November 15th, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hear from FERC nominee Bernard McNamee and Rita Baranwal to head the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.  Baranwal has extensive and senior nuclear policy experience includes as director of the Gateway for Acceleration Innovation in Nuclear effort housed at Idaho National Laboratory since August 2016. She was previously director of technology development and core engineering/nuclear fuel at Westinghouse Electric and a manager at Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.

Brookings to Host Sustainable Energy Exec – On November 19th, the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate will host Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, in a discussion facilitated by initiative Co-Chair David G. Victor.  The pair will discuss how to provide energy services to the world’s poorest and how to encourage the development of greener and more efficient energy systems.

THANKSGIVING DAY – November 22nd

Wilson to Look at Global Water Issues – On November 28th, the Wilson Center along with US AID and the World Wildlife Federation will host a forum taking stock on the 1st year of the 1st U.S. Global Water Strategy.  The forum will explore new research and practice on water, peace, and conflict; and highlight the centrality of water to global prosperity.  Speakers will include Sen. Chris Coons and many more.