Energy Update: Week of December 5

Energy Update - December 05, 2016


Welcome to the holiday party season.   And of course, on Wednesday, Southern Company hosts its annual holiday party at Union Station which always launches the season in style.

And now at least we know who the best four college football teams are…or maybe not.  At some point it seems the hybrid playoff format that keeps in the place the lucrative bowl game scene, just isn’t workable.   Either way, on New Year’s Eve we will see Alabama play Washington and Clemson take on Ohio State.  Too bad I guess for Michigan, Penn State and many others, including the 13-0 Western Michigan Broncos.

Let’s also get one other big thing out of the way.  Late yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers reversed itself and blocked a key section of the Dakota Access Pipeline. While our friends in the protest community are calling it a “historic” victory, it really seems to be nothing more than a “game-show parting gift.”  There is no doubt this will remain a rallying cry for fossil fuel opponents, but with the incoming administration focused on infrastructure and the jobs, economic benefits and reliability it creates, it is likely that we will finally be building many of these projects in the near future.

A lot going on this week both on the Hill and in the Trump transition. On transition, we are hearing officials may try to couple the energy/environmental cabinet appointments for an announcement as early as this week.  For timing and planning, keep in mind that on Thursday, Heritage and the Texas Public Policy Foundation are holding a forum featuring one rumored possible nominee, Karen Harnett-White.  White will speak along with Sen Jim Inhofe, House Science Chair Lamar Smith and House Energy committee member Pete Olson.  Of course, our friends at the WSJ weighed in over the weekend with an EPA-related story about Trump-supporter Carl Icahn.   Finally, while this will probably drive some inside the Trump Transition bonkers, Ivanka Trump (And also apparently the President-Elect) just met with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss climate change.  Should you have any questions about who what or when on any of this, we are happy to discuss.

On the Hill, it is “go time” for the CR, WRDA and/or the energy bill.  The pressure continues to increase on members regarding the expiring energy tax credits.  Last week, advocates were at the National Press Club pleading their case and when President-elect Trump went to Indiana to promote keeping Carrier’s jobs, geothermal heat pump industry advocates said not renewing the tax credit could cost Indiana thousands more jobs.  Legislative language is expected this week on the CR.  Expect WRDA language as soon as later today as they get to final agreement.  Finally, while energy is a long shot, we have heard they are scrambling to get a stripped-down conference report signed over the weekend.  Controversies still exist so keep your eyes open for a last push this week.

Already today, Gina McCarthy, Scott, Jason Grumet and Bob Perciasepe all spoke at the CSM Inhabit Forum and Jeff Speaks at an Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) EPA policy forum in Chicago.  Tomorrow,   House Transportation will hold a roundtable panel on self-driving cars and House Energy’s Oversight panel tackles the VW settlement with EPA officials; SEIA hosts its tax policy forum and CSIS hosts Jonathan Pershing on Wednesday; and Thursday the Heritage event goes off and BPC hosts a forum on Decarbonization.

Finally, on Friday, the President announced that he would act on the recommendation from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) and block the acquisition of the company Aixtron by a Chinese company.  The move may represent the beginning of a new era of the White House using CFIUS as both a security and economic weapon.  My colleague Josh Zive, a great expert on the topic, can discuss what this may mean for foreign investment in sectors such as energy.


Call with questions.



Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932



“Capture of CO2 from power plants for use in enhanced oil recovery can provide economic, environmental and national security benefits long into the future.”

Montana Democratic Governor Steve Bullock


“We have the resources in this country to become truly energy independent. I have advocated for an all-inclusive energy mix and believe that the responsible development of hydrocarbons is critically important.”

Wyoming Republican Governor Matt Mead



Chamber Blog: Coal Can Be Helped – Chamber Energy expert Dan Byers authored a blog post that tackles the ubiquitous but incorrect post-election narrative that President-elect Trump can’t help coal country. Byers writes Trump’s victory may not result in a comeback for coal, but his efforts to halt EPA’s crushing regulatory agenda should save countless coal jobs and ensure that coal continues to bolster the American economy with affordable, reliable energy.

OPEC Curbs Production – Last week in Vienna, OPEC members agreed to curb oil output for the first time since 2008 in a last-ditch bid to support prices.  The members agreed to cut its oil production from 33.8 million barrels a day (b/d) to 32.5 million b/d.

SAFE Says ‘Here We Go Again’ – SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond said “Again, we see the OPEC cartel engaging in blatant oil price and supply manipulation which would never be permitted by western companies. Today’s decision is just the latest move in a long line of destructive decisions that contribute to oil price volatility—which harms businesses and consumers—and undermines a fair, free, and transparent oil market.  Policymakers have sat idle for far too long, allowing the status quo in which a cartel and national oil companies can whip oil prices around through production cuts or even mere rhetoric. It is time for action that protects U.S. interests.”

SAFE Issue Brief Hits Saudi Market Influence – SAFE also released the latest in a series of Issue Briefs focusing on the future of the cartel. The paper addresses how OPEC’s strategy is influenced chiefly by Saudi Arabia, and how the country’s domestic changes affect the group’s policy.  The Issue Brief finds that Saudi Arabia’s strategy of maintaining production to hurt U.S. and other non-OPEC producers has not only caused rifts within OPEC members, but has also caused complications within the Kingdom. These problems, the paper adds, could be exacerbated by a range of domestic issues ranging from subsidy reform to Saudi royal disputes. The Issue Brief concludes that oil price volatility created by Saudi Arabian policies has created a highly uncertain investment environment, and has significantly affected American jobs. The best way for the United States to protect itself from this uncertainty is to reduce our near-total dependence on oil in the transportation sector, increase fuel efficiency and accelerate the development and deployment of advanced transportation fuels including electricity and natural gas.

Western Govs Call on Congress to Pass CCS Credit – The Western Governors’ Association sent a letter to congressional leaders on Wednesday urging them to attach legislation (S. 3179) expanding and extending a carbon capture and sequestration credit to end-of-year bills.  Montana Gov. Steve Bullock also sent his own letter to House and Senate Leaders urging their support for efforts to increase utilization of enhanced oil recovery.

Report Highlights CCS Opportunities – Speaker of Western Govs, Wyoming’s Matt Mead and Bullock, along with colleagues and officials in 12 other states, released a new report on Friday outlining growing opportunities for capturing carbon dioxide for use in enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) with geologic storage.  The new report – Putting the Puzzle Together:  State & Federal Policy Drivers for Growing America’s Carbon Capture & CO2-EOR Industry – includes detailed analyses and federal and state recommendations of the State CO2-EOR Deployment Work Group, which consists of representatives from 14 states, leading private sector stakeholders and CO2-EOR experts.  The report notes that market forces and federal and state policy are driving the energy industry to reduce carbon emissions and that carbon capture with CO2-EOR compares cost-effectively with other emissions reduction options.  States can also assist by optimizing existing taxes commonly levied by states to complement federal incentives in helping carbon capture projects achieve commercial viability, the Work Group says.  Analysis undertaken for the Work Group shows that an optimized approach to state taxes can add the equivalent of roughly $8 per barrel of oil to the economics of a carbon capture project.

Capital Crude Aims at RFSPlatts Capitol Crude looks at the Obama administration’s work on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Now, questions turn to President-elect Donald Trump’s plans. Will Trump move to lower the amount of biofuels in the US fuel supply? Might he look at moving RFS obligations away from refiners? Tim Cheung with ClearView Energy Partners walks us through the possible outcomes and Josh Pedrick, a Platts biofuels editor, talks RINs prices.

Ryan Targets Regulations on 60 Minutes – If you watched 60 Minutes yesterday, Speaker Paul Ryan said the new Republican-led Congress will go after a host of regulations that are “crushing jobs” from “day one” of the Trump presidency.  While he didn’t get to the specifics, Ryan mentioned “coal miners in the Rust Belt that are getting out of work” as suffering under Obama administration regulatory efforts.

Conservative Energy Group Set Energy Blueprint – The American Energy Alliance and the Institute for Energy Research released a list of energy policy recommendations for the Trump administration. The recommendations are their own blueprint which I think represents the most recent thinking of conservatives within the transition on the e/e issue space.  It’s short but definitely worth a look! You can view the full list of recommendations here.



Forum Launches USAID Climate Review – The Wilson Center launched USAID’s Climate Action Review this morning.  For many years, USAID has been a leader in assisting partner countries to pursue low-carbon economic growth and build their resilience to the impacts of a changing climate. Through investments in clean energy and adaptation and support for sustainable forestry and agriculture, and by integrating best practices across its development portfolio, USAID’s approach to building the capacity and confidence of partners has yielded major achievements as well as lessons learned. Please save the date for an exploration of the successes and lessons learned in a time of rapid technological innovation, policy evolution, and environmental change.

CSM Hosts McCarthy, Segal – The Christian Science Monitor held a breakfast briefing this Morning that will feature exiting EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and my Bracewell colleague Scott Segal at the St. Regis Hotel. She will be interviewed by Deputy Energy and Environment Editor, Zack Colman.  The discussion will be looking back on the current administration, and thoughts for the future of the EPA as we transition to a new administration in the coming months.

Rep. Blumenauer Addresses AVs at Brookings Forum – Also this morning, the new Brookings Institute Center on Regulation and Markets hosted an event releasing new research on the congestion reducing benefits of autonomous vehicles and the consumer surplus stemming from the sharing economy.   SAFE Amitai Bin-Nun attended and call provide Insights should you need them.  The panel discussion focused on the benefits, costs, and prospects for autonomous vehicles. Rep. Earl Blumenauer also delivered a keynote address focusing on what role Congress plays in transportation and how autonomous vehicles can fix the nation’s infrastructure.

Holmstead to Discuss Energy, Enviro Policy at Chicago Forum – My Bracewell colleague Jeff Holmstead will lead a panel of experts in Chicago today at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.  With Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, most observers are expecting a significant shift in U.S. energy and climate policy in the coming years. President-elect Donald J. Trump has promised a review and rollback of U.S. climate regulations and increased access to fossil fuel resources on public lands. He has also suggested he will renegotiate or withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. Yet, clean energy enjoys widespread support, and market forces increasingly favor lower carbon sources. Moreover, the two parties have worked together on common priorities such as reduced oil dependence and tax credits for renewable electricity in the recent past.  Holmstead will be joined by former CEQ head James Connaughton.

Forum to Help Climate Digital Media – The Connect4Climate DIgital Media Zone is holding a three day-long communication initiative today through Thursday at the World Bank. The event, complementary to the LJD Week 2016 and the Annual Meetings for the Climate Investment Funds annual meetings, will offer an interactive media hub and gathering space for conference attendees, students, NGOs and private sector representatives. The People’s Media Zone is designed to facilitate interaction and engagement between the high level policy sessions/discussions and relevant mainstream media and civil society. The overarching narrative for the People’s Media Zone will be climate action and implementing solutions, as viewed through a legal and youth lens.

Briefing to Focus District Energy, Micro Grids – Tomorrow, the International District Energy Association (IDEA), the Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC), and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) are hosting a briefing in Dirksen G-50 providing policy guidance and showcasing proven technologies and exemplary cases that illuminate the potential for more robust U.S. investment in district energy microgrids.

House Panel to Look at AVs, Policy – The House Transportation Committee will host a roundtable tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on self-driving cars and how could impact the nation’s transportation system during a policy roundtable next week.  The Highways and Transit Subcommittee will hear from experts like Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Policy Blair Anderson and David Strickland, former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator who is Now with the group Self-driving Coalition for Safer Street.  Other Panelists include David Zuby of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and City of Pittsburgh chief development officer Kevin Acklin.

House Energy Panel to Look at VW Settlement – The House Energy Oversight subcommittee is holding a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. with regulators to discuss the $14.7 billion agreement.  EPA Enforcement chief Cynthia Giles and Air office head Janet McCabe will testify.  I care because I am waiting for my pay out for our 2013 VW Jetta Diesel.

SEIA Holds Tax, Empowerment Events – The Solar Energy Industry Assn continues its Empowerment Series on Wednesday with an panel focused on educating, connecting, and providing thought leadership in the solar industry. Speakers Include Hunton & Williams Laura Jones, Partner, Angelin Baskaran of  Morgan Stanley, Vickie Dalsanto of Morgan Capital Corporation and SolSystems Jessica Robbins.  This event is taking place the evening before SEIA’s Fall Finance & Tax Seminar which is on Wednesday and Thursday.

DOE’s SunShot to Outline 2030 Goals – Speaking of solar, also tomorrow at Noon, the SunShot Initiative will host a webinar to discuss the recently-announced 2030 goals, which set a target to halve the cost of solar from 2020 to 2030 to achieve a levelized cost of electricity of just $0.03 per kilowatt hour from utility-scale solar. The webinar will discuss the importance of moving solar energy into the next decade and the role SunShot plans to play. SunShot director Charlie Gay will lead the discussion as SunShot begins to focus on the next decade.  The webinar will provide more detail about how the 2030 goals were formulated and how they will impact future work.

Forum to Discuss Ocean Policy – The Center for American Progress will host a discussion Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. that will feature distinguished experts from government and the private sector for a discussion on the next chapter in U.S. ocean policy. Leaders will inherit a unique governance structure built to balance the needs of ocean industries as well as the priorities of state, local, federal, and tribal governments. The forum will discuss opportunities to enhance these developments in ocean governance and ensure the long-term health of marine ecosystems.  Speakers will include Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), U.S. Coast Guard Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Michel and Deepwater Wind official Aileen Kenney.

Pershing to Address COP-22 Results – The CSIS Energy & National Security Program will host Dr. Jonathan Pershing, Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. Department of State, on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. to discuss the evolving risks of climate change, the outcomes of the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) recently concluded in Marrakech, and the future of international climate cooperation. Pershing previously served as the Senior Climate Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and the Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis at the Department of Energy (DOE).

Mexico Energy Forum Set – The US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first U.S.-Mexico Energy Forum on Thursday and Friday at The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center in Texas.  Given the importance of the energy sector for economic growth and recent developments that have positioned the North American region in a path towards energy independence, we are presenting a unique opportunity to discuss the different factors that have contributed to this major shift in the energy industry.  Main speakers will be Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former PEMEX CEO and Mexican Ambassador to the US Jesús Reyes Heroles.

Conservative Groups to Host Climate Forum – The Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Heritage Foundation will host a forum on Thursday to discuss energy and climate policy issues.   “At the Crossroads III: Energy and Climate Policy Summit,” will feature national policymakers, leading energy experts, and the field’s most innovative minds to explore what’s next in energy policy, what’s coming in climate science, and how you may affect both. Keynote Speaker will be Jim Inhofe.  Among the other speakers will be Sen. Mike Lee, House Science Chair Lamar Smith, potential EPA administrator Kathleen Hartnett White and Rep. Pete Olson.

Webinar to Look at Energy Toolkit – The Worldwatch Institute will launch a webinar on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. looking at the newly updated Energy Toolkit produced by the Low Emissions Development Strategies Energy Working Group (LEDS EWG) of the Global Partnership (LEDS GP). The LEDS Energy Toolkit is a collection of leading instruments and methodologies for sustainable energy planning. The Toolkit aims to provide energy practitioners, policymakers, and experts a quick reference guide to some of the best established energy planning instruments that are available at no or low cost.  The result is a compilation of 26 tools from agencies around the world. This webinar will present an overview of the newly updated publication of the toolkit and feature some of its leading tools: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)’s Jobs and Economic Development Impact Model (JEDI) and the Natural Resources Canada’s RETScreen Clean Energy Management Software.

BPC Forum to Look at Energy Transition – The Bipartisan Policy Center will host a forum on Thursday at the Marriott Marquis to bring together a broad range of stakeholders for a discussion on shared objectives and the best way to achieve our goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The viability of pathways for “deep decarbonization” — generally defined as reaching at least an 80 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from current levels by 2050 — are increasingly coming into focus as the key to managing this transition. But from the “keep it in the ground” movement to the “embrace energy abundance” viewpoint, energy and climate policy stakeholders across the spectrum have very different ideas on the policies, strategies, and tactics that will best chart the country on a course to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades while also ensuring continued supplies of reliable and affordable energy.



AGU Meeting to Focus on Climate – The Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union will be held on December 12-15 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.

Forum to Look at Latin American Energy – The Institute of the Americas and the Inter-American Dialogue will host a panel discussion on Tuesday December 13th 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 – On Tuesday, December 13th 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 – Next Tuesday, 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 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 – On Tuesday, December 13th 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.

Forum to Look at Climate Opinion in US, Canada – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Canada Institute will host a panel on Thursday, December 15th 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, December 16th 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.