TOP ENERGY NEWS
EPA: GREEN GROUP DIDN'T WRITE CLIMATE PLAN. EPA is talking up the importance that "literally thousands" of stakeholders played in drafting its plan to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants after The New York Times reported on the role of the Natural Resources Defense Council in the proposal. The Times said that a policy outline by NRDC staff served as the "blueprint" for the clean-power plan.
In a blog post this morning, acting EPA air chief Janet McCabe detailed the months-long process the agency took to craft the rule, including outreach to states, power companies, environmental groups, and others. "If you look closely you may see some of the threads you contributed or heard throughout the outreach process," McCabe wrote on the broad input.
So were the two linked? An EPA spokesman said the Times article "has something to do with" McCabe's post.
ISSA TO OBAMA: TIME TO OUST CSB HEAD. Following up on his report detailing mismanagement at the Chemical Safety Board, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is calling on President Obama to get rid of CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso. The letter says CSB is plagued by "a hostile work environment that is undermining the agency's ability to investigate industrial chemical accidents efficiently and effectively," an environment that was "a byproduct of Chairman Moure-Eraso's posture towards his colleagues … and his hostility toward staff with dissenting opinions."
The letter comes several weeks after Issa himself called for Moure-Eraso to step down after an Oversight Committee report detailed management problems and accusations that CSB was stymieing an investigation into a whistle-blower leak. Read more about that hearing here.
WILL OBAMA, DEMS SWALLOW BITTER PILL ON COAL-PLANT FUNDING? A White House-led initiative to thwart public funding for building coal plants overseas could become a casualty of the political battle over the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Sen. Joe Manchin's bill to reauthorize the bank's expiring charter would weaken a bank policy that restricts financing for construction of coal-fired power plants abroad. Conservative Republicans are trying to kill the Ex-Im Bank outright. So it's not clear whether Democrats fighting to reauthorize the bank—who are allied with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in defending the agency—will fight a provision in Manchin's bill that could help attract Republican support.
Neither the White House nor Senate Majority Harry Reid's office responded to inquiries on Monday about the coal provision in Manchin's bill. Nor did aides to Sen. Barbara Boxer, the leader of the Environment and Public Works Committee who's usually an advocate for tough climate-change policies. The coal language in Manchin's bill to re-up the bank's charter mirrors a shorter-term restriction on the coal policy that was tacked onto a big federal spending bill signed into law early this year.
MORE ON THE EX-IM BANK COAL KERFUFFLE. The Ex-Im Bank's restrictions on coal-plant financing already had an exception for projects in the world's poorest nations, as long as there's no economically feasible alternative to building a coal plant without carbon capture. Manchin's bill would expand the countries eligible for that exception.
Manchin, a coal-industry ally, says the provision in his bill is aimed at enabling the export of technologies that help burn coal more cleanly. "The United States burns less than one ton of the eight billion tons of coal that is burned around the world each year. If we are truly committed to protecting and cleaning up our global environment, the U.S. should lead the world in clean-coal technology and export those technologies to countries worldwide," a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Democrat said.
But the provision drew pushback from environmentalists. "Ex-Im Bank's past coal projects have been environmental and human-rights debacles. With Ex-Im Bank's coal restrictions, we turned the corner towards the future, but Manchin's bill would be a U-turn to the past," said Doug Norlen of Friends of the Earth.
The Ex-Im Bank provides loans and other financing tools for projects in other countries that use U.S. goods. It's charter expires Sept. 30. The Senate may vote on reauthorizing legislation in coming weeks, but that path forward in the House is far less certain. The Ex-Im Bank's coal policy, finalized in late 2013, is part of a broader White House effort to curtail public financing for coal plant construction.
LCV SLAMS GOP SENATE HOPEFUL. The League of Conservation Voters is out with a new ad targeting Iowa Republican Joni Ernst in her bid to win a Senate seat. The ad claims that Ernst has a radical agenda that would include shutting down EPA. Watch the ad here.
GREENS TAKE LEGAL ACTION TO PROTECT HONEYBEES. The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a legal petition with EPA asking for a type of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, to be taken off the market. NRDC cites "mounting scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are toxic to bees," as the primary reason for its plea. Environmentalists have long said that neonics harm honeybees, and scientific evidence is accumulating in support of those claims. A recent review of the academic literature on pesticides and bees found that bees are highly vulnerable to the chemicals. All this has pesticide makers worried. As a result, pesticides manufacturers like Bayer are loading up on high-powered lobbyists to ward off criticism of their products.
COMMERCE SECRETARY: 'SERIOUS CONVERSATIONS' UNDERWAY ON OIL EXPORTS. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said Thursday that her department is grappling with its approach to the nation's decades-old ban on most crude-oil exports at a time when "technology is advancing faster than the existing regulations." (Ben Geman, National Journal)
OUTSIDE GROUPS FUELING EXPENSIVE DOE TRAVEL. Energy Department employees have taken more than 300 trips since April 2011 that were funded in part by outside groups, collecting more than $700,000 for official travel. The trips, reported in agency documents, are within the bounds of government ethics rules and reflect tighter agency budgets. (Kevin Bogardus and Robin Bravender, Greenwire)
EPA CHIEF SELLS CONTROVERSIAL WATER REGS. EPA is trying to improve the reputation of its regulation to better define which types of waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. Administrator Gina McCarthy will hold a call with reporters on Tuesday to preview her trip this week to Missouri, where she'll try to allay agriculture industry fears. Republicans and business groups call the rule a power grab, while EPA says it's simply clarifying the reach of its existing authorities.
WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING
SHOULD WALL STREET CARE ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING? Environmentalists are trying to turn the attention of the financial sector to climate change. The question is: Will it work?
"The financial sector has a critical role in tackling climate change because it controls where capital is invested. And to prevent catastrophic climate change, we know more than $1 trillion must be invested in clean energy.... Investors, companies, and policymakers alike must take stronger action to boost clean energy investments exponentially to more than $1 trillion a year. No doubt, Wall Street will be critical in moving that money from dirty to cleaner energy sources." --Mindy Lubber, president, Ceres
SENATE LOOKS AT EUROPEAN ENERGY. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing titled "Renewed Focus on European Energy Security," which will include discussion of natural-gas exports.
SUSTAINABILITY BRIEFING. The Environmental Law Institute hosts a conference call titled "The End of Sustainability?"
SMART GRID WEBINAR. The Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid holds a webinar on the impact of the clean-power plan for existing power plants on demand response.