TOP ENERGY NEWS
A ROCKY PATH TO CHINA FOR U.S. COAL. China's efforts to increase use of less-polluting fuels are bad news for U.S. coal producers seeking to boost exports, Bloomberg reports, noting that China's plans include a "possible cap on carbon emissions and limits on new coal-fired plants." The story states: "Mounting anti-coal sentiment in China and the U.S. imperils the ambitions of companies like Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) and Arch Coal Inc. (ACI) in the world's fastest-growing region." (David J. Lynch, Bloomberg)
BIG OIL STAYS THE COURSE WITH PUTIN IN RUSSIA. Oil and gas companies like Exxon, BP, and Shell are pushing ahead with projects in Russia in partnership with Vladimir Putin's government. "Despite the push by Western governments to isolate Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine, energy giants are deepening their relationships with companies here by striking deals and plowing more money into the country," The New York Times reports.
"The companies are taking a calculated risk, given the threat of further sanctions. But they also want to protect their long-term interests in Russia, the world's largest energy-exporting nation," the paper reports. (Andrew E. Kramer and Stanley Reed, New York Times)
HAS MONEY IN POLITICS FUELED CLIMATE DENIAL? The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin believes the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates for unlimited political spending, has "transformed the climate-change debate." Toobin writes: "Citizens United had the effect of taking money and power away from the political parties—which control only modest amounts of money, by contemporary standards—and handing that power to the people who write the checks. Certain of these people, the newly empowered rich, care a great deal about climate change—about denying its existence and fighting attempts to limit its impact." (Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker)
EPA'S CLIMATE CHOICES, EXPLAINED. MIT Technology Review has a short and useful piece laying out how EPA decided how much various states must cut power-plant carbon emissions—and why the plan's attempts to "mollify" coal-reliant states is calming the political backlash. "Despite this attempt to mollify coal states, politicians from some of these states still object to the proposed regulations. Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky, complains that the proposed regulations help states such as New York while hurting his own—even though the EPA plan requires New York to cut its carbon dioxide emissions (per megawatt-hour of electricity produced) by 44 percent, while Kentucky needs to cut its rate of emissions by only 18 percent," the story notes. (Kevin Bullis and Suzanne Jacobs, MIT Technology Review)
INSIDE A GREEN BILLIONAIRE'S BRAIN TRUST. Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer wants to put climate change front and center in American politics and he has assembled an all-star team of Democratic operatives in his bid to do it. Some have played public roles in Steyer's increasingly high-profile, big-money push to make global warming a top-tier issue in several 2014 contests and battle the Keystone XL pipeline. Others, such as the mastermind behind Obama's pivotal 2008 victory in the Iowa caucuses, have done their work behind the scenes. For a rundown of who's working for team Steyer, read more here. (Clare Foran and Ben Geman, National Journal)
OIL GIANT GETS GREEN LIGHT FOR DRONE FLIGHTS. BP has won federal permission to "use unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, to conduct aerial surveys of pipelines and other infrastructure on Alaska's North Slope, the first commercial drone flights over land," Reuters reports. (Ros Krasny, Reuters)
REPS DROP BILL TO BLOCK CLIMATE RULE. West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall, as promised, introduced a bill that would kill the White House climate rules with Republican David McKinley. Not only would the bill (H.R. 4813) bar the power plant rules, but it would require congressional approval for any similar EPA regulation for the next five years, a tactic to prevent "some sleight of hand maneuver." At its introduction, it had 68 cosponsors, with Rahall as the only Democrat.
CALIFORNIA SEEKS OZONE RELIEF. Six California representatives sent a letter to EPA asking that the state not be punished for exceeding federal ozone limits during an extended drought. The hot and dry conditions have caused more air pollution, so the legislators are asking that EPA declare the drought an "exceptional event" and not subject the state to the heavy penalties associated with violating the ozone standard.
OBAMA SIGNS OFF ON WATER BILL. The president put his signature on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act on Tuesday, touching off a bipartisan lovefest. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who both had a hand in passing the legislation, were both on hand and beaming with pride, despite the fact that the two are often at odds on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
UKRAINE AND RUSSIA RESTART ENERGY TALKS. The two countries will resume negotiations over natural gas supplies on Tuesday evening with European Union officials acting as an intermediary. (Vanessa Mock, Wall Street Journal)
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JOURNOS PROTEST EPA 'BACKGROUND' PRESSER. The Society of Environmental Journalists is protesting EPA's June 2 rollout of the sweeping proposal to cut power-plant carbon emissions. A press call with EPA officials that day was "on background," rather than putting the officials on the record.
"Given the complexity and significance of this regulation—and its importance to the public—it seems incongruous and myopic for the agency to give such short shrift to the role journalists could play in informing the public about it," SEJ said in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
The group also criticized McCarthy's decision not to take press questions after her speech announcing the proposal.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
SOME DEMOCRATS EMBRACE CLIMATE RULE. Conservative pundits are widely touting the idea that the climate rule won't go down well with voters. But not all Democrats in swing states are trying to distance themselves from the regulation. Mark Udall in Colorado has voiced support for the rule and Bruce Braley in Iowa has also made clear his support for federal efforts to cap carbon output. (Carl Hulse and Michael Shear, New York Times)
GRIMES SILENT ON COAL. Kentucky Senate hopeful Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is facing push-back after audio from a fundraiser she attended with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid surfaced in which she made no mention of coal or the White House climate rule. Grimes's campaign had previously stated the candidate, who is running to unseat Mitch McConnell, would use the opportunity to stand up for coal jobs in Kentucky. The campaign says that Grimes spoke with Reid privately about the issue, not during her remarks at the event. (Manu Raju and Burgess Everett, Politico)
ERNST HIT OVER ETHANOL. Liberal advocacy group Americans United For Change has bought up ad space in Iowa newspapers The Des Moines Register and The Cedar Rapids Gazette tying Republican Senate hopeful Joni Ernst to the Koch brothers. The ad implies that if Ernst is elected, she'd push a pro-Koch agenda, which includes opposition to the renewable-fuel standard. View the ad here.
HOW LANDRIEU SHED HER DEMOCRATIC SHADOW. The toss-up race for Louisiana's Senate race has in many ways defied party lines. Oil companies are giving to incumbent Mary Landrieu even though it might cost them a chance for a Republican majority, while environmentalists are staying silent. (Jason Plautz, National Journal)
WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING
WILL THE CLIMATE RULE BE A POLITICAL LIABILITY? The administration is moving forward with regulations to cap carbon emissions from power plants. But where does that leave moderate Democrats facing tough reelection fights?
"When it comes to a debate over the cost of basic necessities such as heat or electricity voters will not give candidates much wiggle room. The candidate who can make the case that their vote will support policies that make prices affordable is going to win over their electorate." —David Holt, president, Consumer Energy Alliance
CLEAN WATER ACT HEARING. The House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on water resources holds a hearing on the impact of proposed changes to the EPA's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
DOE BILL MARKUP. The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy holds a markup of the "Department of Energy Research and Development Act," which would reauthorize research and development in the department, including ARPA-E.
ENERGY POLICY DISCUSSION. Former Energy Committee chairman Bennett Johnston and former White House adviser Heather Zichal participate in a panel with the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled "Energy Policy: Looking Back, Looking Forward."
CLIMATE CARTOON BOOK DISCUSSION. Resources for the Future holds a discussion on the book "The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change."
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