TOP ENERGY NEWS
TRADE REGULATORS: DON'T MESS WITH TESLA. Three senior Federal Trade Commission aides are bashing state laws, which are backed by politically powerful auto dealers, that thwart electric automaker Tesla from selling directly to consumers.
"We hope lawmakers will recognize efforts by auto dealers and others to bar new sources of competition for what they are—expressions of a lack of confidence in the competitive process that can only make consumers worse off," they said in a blog post Thursday.
The post is by the FTC's Office of Policy Planning Director Andy Gavil, Bureau of Competition Director Debbie Feinstein, and Bureau of Economics Director Marty Gaynor. (It states that it represents their views and "do not necessarily" reflect the view of the commission.)
They note that Tesla's 22,000 vehicle sales in 2013 are just a small share of the 15 million cars sold in the U.S. last year and that "this hardly presents a serious competitive threat to established dealers."
"What it could represent is a real change to the way cars are sold that might allow Tesla to expand in the future and prove attractive to other manufacturers, whether established or new ones that have yet to emerge, and consumers," the post states.
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES GIVES KEYSTONE NOD OF APPROVAL. The Democratic challenger seeking to defeat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky midterm race has come out in support of the oil-sands pipeline. (Adam Beam, Associate Press)
OIL GROUP PRESSES SEC TO SOFTEN DISCLOSURE RULE. The American Petroleum Institute has written a new letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission that calls on regulators to steer clear of prescriptive mandates on disclosure of payments to foreign governments. The letter, and a related mid-April meeting with SEC staff, arrives as the agency is rewriting the rule that's required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. National Journal has much more on that here.
MONIZ TALKS METHANE. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Dan Utech, a top White House energy aide, met Thursday with labor unions and manufacturing industry reps to chat about ways to cut emissions of methane from natural-gas development.
It's the second of five stakeholder "roundtables" Moniz is hosting under the umbrella of a broader White House plan to help stem emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
The meeting included officials of the United Steelworkers, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, U.S. Steel, and several others.
"The primary goal of these roundtables is to catalyze action to reduce methane emissions from distribution, transmission, storage, and processing segments of natural-gas systems," according to the Energy Department.
Emissions from those phases as well as gas production threaten to erode the huge greenhouse-gas advantage that gas holds over coal when burned to create electricity. Check out our coverage of that topic here.
FAMILY WINS $3 MILLION OVER FRACKING POLLUTION. Plano-based Aruba Petroleum has been ordered to pay $3 million to a Texas family who sued the company over spills and emissions related to hydraulic fracturing. (James Osborne, Dallas Morning News)
MEDIA EXAGGERATES STUDY ON MEDIA EXAGGERATION. Hong Kong researchers who published a study about how some media members have incentive for exaggerating the impacts of climate change were surprised to find that some outlets had misinterpreted their study. Several conservative-leaning outlets, including Townhall.com, reported the study as justifying climate-change exaggeration, while the researchers say their study simply examined the phenomenon. (Coco Liu, Climatewire)
THREE-FIFTHS OF CHINESE WATER POLLUTED: REPORT. An official government report found that nearly 60 percent of Chinese water was either seriously or moderately polluted in 2013, while just over 10 percent ranked as "high quality." The polluted water figures are up from 2012, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources. (Josh Chin, Wall Street Journal)
RESEARCH LINKS CALIFORNIA DROUGHT TO CLIMATE CHANGE. An upcoming study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters asserts that ongoing water shortages in the Golden State can be traced to global warming. (Seth Borenstein, Associated Press)
STEYER HAS A WAY TO GO TO GET TO $100 MILLION. Tom Steyer is hoping to raise $100 million to support midterm candidates who will push hard for climate action, but so far his political organization NextGen Climate Action Committee has netted just one $10,000 check. (Julie Bykowicz, Bloomberg)
NOAA HEAD MAKES TIME 100. Kathryn Sullivan, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, made Time magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people. Also on the list is Texas Tech climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.
WHITE HOUSE DISPUTES REPORT ON KEYSTONE. Rolling Stone reported Wednesday that Obama had "all but decided to deny the permit for the pipeline," but according to the White House: "Nobody who knows POTUS' thinking on Keystone is talking and nobody who is talking knows." (Jason Plautz, National Journal)
UKRAINE EYES EUROPEAN GAS. Ukrainian authorities continue to look for alternate ways to bring natural gas into the country to end the nation's dependency on Russian supplies. (Sean Carney, Wall Street Journal)
WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING
ARE STATES MISSING OUT ON MILLIONS FROM THE FRACKING BOOM? Can a balance be found to make sure state residents benefit from the boom without driving drillers away? Or are the policies that already exist detrimental to the industry?
"It isn't a matter of whether the state is letting the gas companies run off with somebody else's share of the wealth. It's a question of how much of the landowners' wealth the state wants to claim. This claim would be on top of income, sales, and property-tax revenues that will rise as incomes (of the landowners, those working on the gas wells, the merchants where all this activity is taking place, etc.), retail activity, and property values rise.." –David Kreutzer, research fellow, Heritage Institute
KEYSTONE PROTEST. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance holds events titled "Reject and Protect," part of a weeklong series of actions by farmers, ranchers, and tribes to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.
WILDFIRE TWITTER CHAT. The U.S. Forest Service holds a Twitter chat, beginning at 11 a.m., on wildfire preparedness and safety "in anticipation of another severe wildfire season in 2014."
U.S.-CHINA ENERGY EVENT. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission holds a hearing on "U.S.-China Clean Energy Cooperation: Status, Challenges, and Opportunities."