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Energy Edge

EPA No. 2 Heads for Green Group

July 17, 2014

TOP ENERGY NEWS

By Ben Geman (@ben_geman) and Jason Plautz (@jason_plautz)

EPA NO. 2 TO HEAD GREEN GROUP; NO REPLACEMENT IN PLACE YET. Bob Perciasepe, the longtime EPA deputy administrator, will depart to become president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions next month, the agency said. Perciasepe has been in the No. 2 spot at EPA since 2009 and served as acting administrator between the tenures of Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy.

There's no replacement in hand for Perciasepe yet, EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said this morning, but she added that one would be named before he departs. Perciasepe's new gig begins Aug. 11.

 

In a statement, Perciasepe said he was excited to join C2ES, which he said has "done so much to build common ground for practical climate and energy solutions." He added that he was ready to continue his work "to bring diverse interests together to protect both our environment and our economy."

FLORIDA GOV, UNDER FIRE ON CLIMATE, WILL MEET WITH SCIENTISTS. GOP Florida Gov. Rick Scott is taking scientists up on their offer to discuss how global warming threatens the Sunshine State, the Associated Press reports.

Ten professors from colleges and universities in Florida delivered a letter to Scott earlier this week seeking the meeting. Scott, whose state is threatened by sea-level rise, has come under fire for saying "I'm not a scientist" to deflect a question about whether human-induced climate change is real.

EXXON'S RUSSIAN DEALS AVOID SANCTIONS' BITE. New U.S. sanctions against Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft aren't jeopardizing its multibillion-dollar development projects with Exxon, Rosneft's chief said, according to Reuters. But the same item notes: "The result is likely to be an increase in the cost of financing for Rosneft, which has grown increasingly reliant on pre-financing oil-supply deals with firms including Glencore and BP. It may need to seek out new banks for loans, and could eventually slow investment in new projects." (Joshua Schneyer and Edward McAllister, Reuters)

OUTLOOK GLOOMY FOR HOUSE CHEMICAL BILL. Rep. Paul Tonko of New York said that talks to reach a bipartisan compromise to reform the nation's broken chemical system have stalled, but he hopes to pick it up again soon. Tonko and other Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee had been working with Republican John Shimkus of Illinois on the Chemicals in Commerce Act, but those talks appear to have stalled last month. Republican aides have said that Democrats made an unreasonable counteroffer, and Tonko said there has been no discussion since that offer was made.

We looked at the difficulties in crafting a compromise bill here.

BIG OIL, INVESTORS CLASH OVER CARBON RISK. Will major oil companies' reserves become "stranded assets" in a carbon-constrained world? It depends who you ask. (The Economist)

NOAA CHIEF: REPORT UNDERSCORES HOW PLANET IS 'BECOMING A WARMER PLACE.' The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its big annual "State of the Climate" report Thursday, which is chock-full of data on temperatures, sea-ice, greenhouse-gas levels, weather, and more. "These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place," NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said. The report notes that "[f]our major independent datasets show 2013 was among the warmest years on record, ranking between second and sixth depending upon the dataset used."

SEC FACES LAWSUIT OVER DELAYED OIL-PAYMENTS DISCLOSURE RULE. Oxfam America is getting pretty annoyed with Securities and Exchange Commission foot-dragging on regulations that will force oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. In a new letter to the SEC, Oxfam threatens to sue the commission unless it agrees by next month to finalize the delayed regulations by the end of this year.

The rule, a priority for antipoverty and transparency groups, is required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law but has faced a rocky road. A federal judge, siding with business and oil industry groups, tossed out an earlier version last summer. The latest SEC rulemaking agenda released in May projects that a revised draft proposal won't surface until next March, which Oxfam calls an unacceptable and illegal delay. Click here and here for more coverage of the rule that's aimed at fighting the "resource curse" that plagues some energy-rich nations in Africa and elsewhere.

STEYER STRUGGLES TO RAISE CASH FOR MIDTERM CLIMATE PUSH. Billionaire activist Tom Steyer's effort to raise big money to transform climate change into an election-season wedge issue is falling short thus far.

The Associated Press reports that Steyer's NextGen Climate group has brought in just a small fraction of the $50 million that Steyer hopes to raise (he also plans to spend $50 million of his own money). And, Politico reports, "The numbers show just how hard it may be for Steyer to persuade rich liberals to spend their millions on climate change while voters focus on the economy, immigration, and Obamacare."

ENERGY NOMINEE TO FACE SENATE GRILLING. President Obama's choice for the No. 2 slot at the Energy Department, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, is slated to appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee next Thursday. Sherwood-Randall, currently a White House adviser on nuclear nonproliferation, would replace outgoing Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman if confirmed.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS DECRY AUSTRALIA'S CARBON-TAX REPEAL. Green groups and politicians have been slamming prime minister Tony Abbott for pushing through a repeal of the country's carbon tax, making Australia the first country to scale back such a tax. Greens Party leader Christine Milne said, "History will judge Tony Abbott harshly for his denial of global warming and his undermining of Australia's effort to address it." (Michelle Innis, New York Times)

For the latest energy news throughout the day, check out National Journal's Up-To-The-Minute Energy.

WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING

WHAT'S AT STAKE WITH THE EX-IM BANK? Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia is pushing legislation that would reauthorize the expiring charter for the Export-Import Bank, but with a provision weakening a White House effort to limit the bank from lending money to foreign countries to build coal plants. Should the legislation succeed, what would be the economic and environmental consequences?

"At a time when clean energy markets around the world are growing swiftly and offer opportunities for U.S. exports, the Ex-Im bank plays a critical role in project financing for renewable energy projects. Business, investors, and workers in the clean energy sector hope that Congress will work together to create policy certainty." -- Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's energy program.

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders.

HAPPENING TOMORROW

LIVING EARTH SYMPOSIUM. The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) hosts a Living Earth Symposium, featuring discussion of the work Native Americans have done on environmental issues.

NUCLEAR ENERGY DISCUSSION. The Center for Strategic and International Studies and others host a workshop on nuclear Centers of Excellence in Asia.

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