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Senator Harry Reid: Tesla Could Be ‘Playing’ Nevada On Battery Project

6:13 a.m. -- Nevada Sen. Harry Reid is warning against counting unhatched chickens when it comes to his state landing Tesla Motors' huge "Gigafactory" battery plant. Nevada is one of several states competing for the multi-billion dollar project, and the electric automaker has done preliminary site work near Reno. But the Reno Gazette-Journal reports that Reid, the Senate's majority leader, noted the bidding war for the plant and cautioned against "counting jobs" too soon. "I will say, I'm not sure they aren't playing us," said the Nevada Democrat said at a news conference Monday. Reid reminded reporters that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a capitalist. "I have spoken with him many, many times and he is a brilliant man. And that is probably an understatement. But he is in it to make money. And he's going to take this Telsa project where he can make the most money," Reid said. Reid also praised Gov. Brian Sandoval's efforts to land the project. --Ben Geman

Arctic Drilling Rules Under White House Microscope

6:12 a.m. -- The Interior Department is getting closer to unveiling draft drilling safety rules for oil companies that hope to produce energy in Arctic waters off Alaska's northern coast. On Friday Interior's offshore safety branch sent the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The rules are designed to "promote safe, responsible, and effective drilling activities . . . while also ensuring the protection of Alaska's coastal communities and the marine environment," according to OMB's website. Royal Dutch Shell and other companies that hold leases in the region hope to tap large deposits under the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. But environmentalists say the region is too ecologically fragile to develop and that the industry lacks the ability to contain potential spills in the remote seas. --Ben Geman

Court Serves Up Clean Energy Victory

11:45 a.m. -- A federal appeals court served up a big win for clean energy advocates on Friday. The three-judge panel moved to uphold an order handed down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an agency that oversees the nation's electric grid, that requires the commission to take clean energy policy into account in regional grid planning. Environmental groups cheered the decision, with groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council calling it a "major win for clean energy and the environment."  Read the ruling here.  -- Clare Foran

Russian Gas Giant, a Sanctions Target, Hires U.S. Lobbyists

10:10 a.m. -- OAO Novatek, a big Russian natural gas company that President Obama has targeted with limited sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, has brought on a U.S. lobbying firm. A disclosure filing shows that OAO Novatek, which is Russia's second-largest gas producer, has hired the lobbying and public affairs company Qorvis MSL. Lobbying topics include executive sanctions and sweeping Senate GOP legislation , floated in May, called the "Russian Aggression Prevention Act" that would impose tough sanctions and boost U.S. security aid to eastern Europe (among many other provisions). The "effective date" of the lobbying registration is July 10, which is a week before the Treasury Department announced sanctions that limit OAO Novatek's access to new debt financing from U.S. institutions, though it was already clear that the White House was readying new measures against Russia. -- Ben Geman

New Arctic Envoy Heads For Alaska

3:53 p.m. -- Retired Coast Guard Adm. Robert Papp, the State Department's top diplomat on Arctic issues, is visiting Alaska Aug. 12-19 for a suite of meetings with local officials, indigenous leaders, environmentalists and others. The trip arrives as the U.S. prepares for its stint at chair of the multinational Arctic Council next year. "Admiral Papp's meetings in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Barrow will focus on climate change, economic, environmental, and security issues in the Arctic region as the United States prepares to assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015," the department said. Secretary of State John Kerry named Papp as the department's first "special representative" to the Arctic in July, and the trip to Alaska is Papp's first Arctic visit since taking the job. Diminishing Arctic ice is expanding access to the region for shipping, and bringing both new competition for energy resources and environmental risks. -- Ben Geman

Coal Makes a Comeback (For Now)

12:48 p.m. -- Coal is gaining back some of the ground it has lost in U.S. power markets. The federal Energy Information Administration reports that U.S. coal use is forecast to rise by 2.5% this year due to higher electricity demand and natural gas prices in the power sector that are 22% above last year's levels. "Coal's share of U.S. electricity generation in the second half of 2014 will average almost 41% compared with about 39% last year," said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski in comments alongside EIA's latest Short-Term Energy Outlook . But the comeback may be brief. The agency predicts that consumption will fall 2.7% in 2015. That's because more coal-fired power plants are going offline in response to EPA air toxics rules, slowing electricity sales growth, and natural gas prices coming back down relative to coal prices. Sieminski also noted that U.S. coal exports are lower this year due to weaker demand growth, lower foreign prices, and higher production from other exporte...

EPA Taps Replacement for Departing Number Two Official

3:46 p.m. -- EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, the departing second-in-command at the agency, will be replaced on an acting basis by a top lieutenant. Lisa Feldt will be elevated from associate Deputy Administrator to Acting Deputy Administrator. Feldt has previously served as deputy assistant administrator for EPA's solid waste and emergency response office. Perciasepe, who has served in senior EPA roles under Presidents Obama and Clinton, is leaving the agency to head the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. "EPA is losing a cherished colleague and leader who poured everything he had into the agency's mission," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told EPA personnel at a meeting Thursday, according to her prepared remarks. McCarthy said his service has been "legendary" and that she'll miss hanging out with him. "I'm going to miss the baseball, the bobbleheads, and the birds. I'm going to miss you wearing jeans on Friday, only to realize that you have to change into a su...

John Norris Announces Resignation From FERC

4:55 p.m. -- John Norris today said he would resign from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take a position with the Department of Agriculture in Italy. Norris' resignation was reported yesterday by SNL Energy , which said that Arkansas Public Service Commission chairman Colette Honorable -- who also heads the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners -- is expected to be named as a replacement. Norris, whose resignation will take effect August 20, had previously served as chief of staff to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. A statement was posted earlier today to FERC's website and removed, but has since been restored. -- Jason Plautz

Green Group Joins Forces With Major Trade Union in Michigan Senate Fight

1:30 p.m. -- The League of Conservation Voters announced Thursday that it will work together with the American Federation of State, COunty and Municipal Employees to launch a direct mail campaign aimed at defeating Republican Michigan Senate hopeful Terri Lynn Land. The campaign will cost $2.1 million and will also include efforts to spur voter turnout in support of Democratic senate candidate Gary Peters the race. -- Clare Foran

Al Gore’s Advice: Dump Coal Stocks Before ‘Major Market Correction’

12:45 p.m. -- Al Gore is making the case to investors that they should divest their holdings in coal companies and related assets for financial as well as environmental reasons. In a new Financial Times column (sub. req'd), the former vice president says there's growing odds of a "major market correction that will reprice coal assets unfavourably." "[T]he repricing of carbon-intensive assets is likely to happen more suddenly and turbulently than many investors expect, as the growing negative effects of carbon emissions – and the market's reaction – will be neither gradual nor linear," he writes. Gore argues that the growth of renewables (especially solar photovoltaics), stricter environmental rules like EPA's big power plant regulation, and rising social discontent with coal's climate impact will together drive the value of coal holdings downward. -- Ben Geman

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