TOP ENERGY NEWS
TOP REPUBLICAN LEADER: ENERGY WOULD BE FOCUS IN THE MAJORITY. Senate Republicans will focus heavily on energy policy if they reclaim the Senate majority in this fall's elections, a member of the GOP leadership team said. Sen. John Barrasso, head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, said there's bipartisan interest in the Keystone XL pipeline and expanding liquefied natural-gas exports. "We have huge opportunities with energy," Barrasso said on the C-SPAN program Newsmakers airing this weekend.
EPA'S CLIMATE PR BLITZ ISN'T SLOWING DOWN. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will appear at a number of events next week to talk up the recently released power-plant rule, part of a major effort by the White House to sell the plan to the American public and the energy sector. On Monday, McCarthy will speak at the Edison Electric Institute annual conference in Las Vegas. From there, she'll fly over to Colorado Springs, Colo., on Tuesday to talk about the rule at the Western Governors' Association annual meeting. She'll finish up the week back in the nation's capital on Thursday, touting the expected benefits of the rule at an energy-efficiency forum in Washington.
WHITE HOUSE HAMMERS HEALTH MESSAGE ON CLIMATE RULE. Friday brought more evidence that President Obama's sales pitch for new curbs on power-plant carbon emissions will be heavy on emphasizing public-health benefits. The White House released a report on the health risks from climate change. "As temperatures rise, the amount of ozone tends to increase. Ozone which is associated with the increased risk of premature death in adults and diminished lung function, also can result in increased hospital admissions and emergency-room visits for asthma, particularly in children," the report states. It also notes the health risks of heat waves and other risks.
As we wrote about Saturday, Obama is also playing up near-term health benefits from cuts to smog-forming pollution and soot that blow out of smokestacks alongside carbon emissions.
WEST VIRGINIA HITS BACK ON CLIMATE RULE. The West Virginia state attorney general has sent a letter to EPA asking the agency to void the proposed power-plant regulation due to legal objections. Read the letter here.
OBAMA ADVISER: CLIMATE 'DENIER' CAN'T WIN WHITE HOUSE. White House adviser John Podesta argued Friday that denying human-induced climate change is a recipe for Republican defeat in 2016. "Anyone who tries to run as a climate denier in 2016 is going to have a very hard time running on that nationally," he told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. (Benjy Sarlin, MSNBC)
KOCHS LOAD UP FOR BATTLE AGAINST WIND CREDIT. Koch Companies Public Sector has brought on The Nickles Group (headed by former Oklahoma GOP Sen. Don Nickles) to lobby against extension of the wind-energy production tax credit.
EUROPE BACKS OFF OIL-SANDS RULE . . . The Globe and Mail reports that "the European Union appears to be backing away from a contentious fuel regulation that would hit oil-sands producers, as governments there worry increasingly about their dependence on Russian energy imports."
A bit more from their piece: "The European Commission has removed the most contentious part of the fuel-quality directive that would impose new hurdles for Canadian imports, and would instead require refiners to report emissions on their feedstock regardless of the source of the crude, according to a draft document seen by Reuters news service." (Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail)
. . . AS CANADA LOOKS BEYOND THE U.S. FOR OIL-SANDS SALES. The Wall Street Journal is out with a deeply reported story about Canada's quest to find overseas markets for its oil sands. Right now, almost 100 percent of Canada's oil exports go to the U.S., but the U.S. domestic production boom, delay of the Keystone pipeline, and interest in fetching higher prices for Canadian crude on global markets has spurred heavy interest in shipping abroad.
"While the U.S. debates whether to loosen a decades-old prohibition on shipping its oil overseas, Canada is quietly positioning itself to become a significant exporter of North American oil beyond the continent," The Journal reports. (Chester Dawson, Wall Street Journal)
STEYER SETS UP DISASTER FUND. Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer announced that he and his wife Kat Taylor are putting aside $2 million to create a fund that will help victims of extreme weather events. (Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle)
HOUSE GOP READIES ENERGY PUSH. Republicans plan to bring legislation to the floor this month that would expedite approval of oil-and-gas pipelines and power transmission projects that cross the U.S.-Canada or U.S.-Mexico borders. The House will also vote on legislation to speed approval of liquefied natural gas export proposals, according to a memo from Majority Leader Eric Cantor about the June agenda. The LNG bill will "allow the U.S. to take advantage of the growth in domestic natural gas production," the memo notes.
LABOR-ENVIRO COALITION GROWS. The BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of unions and environmental groups, is adding new members. The coalition said Friday that EDF Action, which is the political arm of the Environmental Defense Fund, and the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers has signed on. That brings the coalition's membership to 16 groups. The BlueGreen Alliance was founded in 2006, growing out of informal collaboration between the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club. Other members include the Utility Workers Union of America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Service Employees International Union, and others.
CHEMICAL-SAFETY GROUP ASKS FOR TOUGHER SAFETY STANDARDS. The Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group has handed in its final report, a survey undertaken to suggest safety improvements in the wake of a fatal explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. The recommendations call for a set of 10 policy and regulatory proposals, including a requirement for companies to pay higher fines and penalties for violating safety standards. (Benjamin Goad, The Hill)
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
IS OBAMA SABOTAGING DEMOCRATIC SENATE HOPES? The president reportedly has told his close allies that losing the Senate would be "unbearable," but his administration is doing everything possible to make things difficult for his party's most vulnerable senators. On energy issues alone, the administration's decisions to impose new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal-fired plants and indefinitely delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline could help burnish his long-term environmental legacy, but at the expense of losing complete control of Congress. (Josh Kraushaar, National Journal)
THE POLITICS OF BEING GREEN. The regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday limiting carbon emissions from power plants will likely stand as President Obama's most consequential second-term domestic policy initiative. But the rules will also reinforce his presidency's central political dynamic: Both demographically and geographically, Obama's climate push will likely strengthen Democrats where they are already strong and weaken them in states trending toward the GOP. Taken together, that dynamic could solidify the balance of power that tilts the White House toward Democrats and Congress toward Republicans. (Ron Brownstein, National Journal)
WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING
Next week's National Journal Energy and Environment Insiders Discussion asks the question: Will the climate rule be a liability? Will Republicans succeed in tying lawmakers like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mark Begich of Alaska to the climate rule? Or have predictions of its impact on electoral politics been exaggerated?
EPA CHIEF TALKS UP CLIMATE RULE. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will speak about the recent rollout of the climate rule at the Edison Electric Institute Board of Directors annual meeting in Las Vegas.
ENERGY-TRANSPARENCY EVENT. The Brookings Institution's Development Assistance and Governance Initiative and the Revenue Watch Institute hold a discussion on "Transparency and Natural Resources: How the U.S. Can Regain Its Leadership," focusing on requiring all oil, gas, and mining companies to publish payments to governments around the world.