Energy Update (June 15)
Early Friday morning (Jun. 12), the Senate voted 65-19 to advance S. 3422, the “Great American Outdoors Act.” The bill would provide $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and put $6.5 billion towards addressing the maintenance backlog in the Nation Park system.
The Senate will take three additional votes on Monday (Jun. 15) when it is expected to pass. The bill is on track to pass without any amendment votes.
To view the legislation, click here.
Oil Recovery Stalls
U.S. crude oil production dropped last week, even as more states are reopening their economies. Crude production fell by 100,000 barrels per day to 11.1 million for the week ending on June 5. The volume of oil in storage rose to a three-year high of $11.8 billion in barrels.
This marks the 11th week of output declines, however some oil companies have said the market has hit the bottom. Demand is expected to continue rebounding as more people begin to travel and utilize the economy.
Oil prices are on track for their first weekly decline in over a month. WTI was trading around $36.45 Friday (Jun. 12) morning. Worry over a second wave of COVID-19 is diminishing hope for a steady global economic recovery.
Prices remain below what it typically takes for companies to drill new wells and cover costs of operating existing wells.
Natural gas is also expected to see its sharpest annual decline on record this year due to demand shock. International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol said the record decline represents a dramatic change of circumstances for the industry. IEA said a gradual recovery is expected sometime next year.
On Thursday (Jun. 11), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced House Democrats will bring an infrastructure package to the floor.
The proposal, authored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), would lay out a plan to put millions of people back to work and is expected to include funding for broadband and internet access. The foundation of the package, the “Invest in America Act,” would authorize around $500 billion for roads, bridges, public transit, and rail.
DeFazio plans to mark up his bill in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on June 17. Hoyer said the package will go to the floor for debate and a vote between June 30-July 2.
“It’s going to be probably a three-day bill,” Hoyer said on a conference call.
The House will be returning on June 25 to vote on a policing reform package. After the Fourth of July recess, the House will work on the National Defense Authorization Act and the 12 appropriation bills for FY 2021.
Offshore Wind Faces Hurdles
On Tuesday (Jun. 9), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released their supplement to the draft environmental assessment for the Vineyard Wind facility. The assessment could lead to stricter conditions for developers seeking to build new facilities off of the Northeast coast.
The assessment found the project, and other offshore wind farms, could have a major “adverse” impact on commercial fisheries and other sea life. The supplemental study looks beyond Vineyard Wind and references industry concern that offshore wind turbines and transmission cables risk entanglement with fishing vessels and gear.
The analysis notes Vineyard Wind and other wind projects are anticipated to negatively impact fisheries due to navigational hazards, displacement of fishing areas, and habitat changes.
The document is an update to the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Vineyard Wind that BOEM issued in 2018. Last year, BOEM announced it would extend the permitting process for the 800 MW facility so it could assess the impacts of Vineyard Wind and other facilities planned in New England waters.
The report assesses a variety of scenarios for facilities, including the potential creation of a transit lane for fishing and sea traffic, as well as changes to the project’s turbine layout.
BOEM will take comment for 45 days from the document’s publication in the Federal Register.
To view the supplemental study, click here.
On Thursday (Jun. 11), the Senate Armed Services Committee released a summary of its $740.5 billion FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The committee approved the legislation in a 25-2 vote on Wednesday (Jun. 10).
An additional $10 million will be allocated to continue the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) health impact study on PFAS chemicals. The legislation would also authorize an additional $2 million for addressing PFAS near military housing. Additionally, the bill includes language that would increase energy efficiency and establish a reserve of strategic minerals and metals. The bill does not contain any new language to expand sanctions against the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Other provisions include adding the Army National Guard to environmental restoration projects connected to PFAS, modifying the military installation resilience project authority, and improving transparency of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s budget process.
The committee approved Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) amendment to require the Pentagon to rename bases named after Confederate military leaders. President Trump rebuked the amendment on Twitter, and said “Hopefully our great Republican Senators won’t fall for this!”
The debate over renaming bases could become a hurdle for passing NDAA.
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