On The Hill

Energy Update (July 13)

Jul 13, 2020 | SHARE  
Interior-Environment Appropriations
On Friday (Jul. 10), the House Appropriations Committee approved their FY 2021 funding bill for the Department of Interior (DOI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies on a party line vote of 30-19.[1]
The committee voted down a handful of Republican amendments that would strip provisions to block the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks at EPA and increase funding for oil, gas, and coal programs. Additionally, Republicans expressed concern around the large scale impacts on the national debt.
The committee approved an amendment by Rep. David Price (D-NC) that would prohibit the implementation of EPA’s science transparency rule that the Trump administration is hoping to finalize in December.
Democrats expressed support for the increase in funding for ocean and water conservation and environmental justice programs, as well as the reduction of funds for offshore drilling.
The measure will now be considered by the full House of Representatives. Democratic leaders hope to wrap up votes on the full set of funding measures by the end of July.
Dakota Access Pipeline
On Monday (Jul. 6), a federal judge ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota to stop delivering oil, and vacated a federal permit that had allowed it to operate. Judge James Boasberg for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the pipeline must be emptied of oil by Aug. 5 while the Army Corps of Engineers conducts an environmental impact review.[2]
“When it comes to NEPA, it is better to ask for permission than forgiveness: if you can build first and consider environmental consequences later, NEPA’s action-forcing purpose loses its bite,” Boasberg wrote in his opinion.[3]
Developer Energy Transfer Partners is holding off on complying with the court order as it goes through the appeals office. The company warned stopping the project would cost billions and put thousands of people out of work.
“We believe Judge Boasberg exceeded his authority and does not have the jurisdiction to shut down the pipeline or stop the flow of crude oil,” Energy Transfer spokesperson Lisa Coleman said.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline
On Sunday (Jul. 5), Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced they are canceling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline after years of legal battles. The project would have shipped natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina and Virginia.[4]
The two companies cited a recent decision by a federal judge in Montana to revoke a water permit as the last straw for the pipeline. The project was already about four years behind and $3.5 billion over budget.
“This announcement reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States,” Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell and Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good said in a joint statement.
“Until these issues are resolved, the ability to satisfy the country’s energy needs will be significantly challenged,” they added.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) expressed disappointment in the decision and said the loss of the project would mean fewer jobs for people in their state.
Dominion also announced it would sell its pipeline business to Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
Keystone XL
The Supreme Court announced on Monday (Jul. 6) the Army Corps of Engineers can resume using its streamlined water-crossing permit for the construction of new oil and gas pipelines, but excluded the Keystone XL oil pipeline in its decision.[5]
The Trump administration asked the high court to step in on Nationwide Permit 12, a key tool the Army Corps of Engineers uses to speed the approval of projects that cross federally protected waters. The Supreme Court agreed to reinstate the permit for projects other than Keystone XL while the 9th Circuit appeals process proceeds.
A spokesman for TC Energy Corp. said the high court’s decision is positive for the oil and gas industry overall, but, “continues to delay large portions of construction on our Keystone XL project and the thousands of high-paying union jobs that come with it.”[6]
New Legislation
On Thursday (Jul. 9), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced legislation that would establish a federal clean energy standard for net zero power sector emissions by 2050.
The “Clean Energy Innovation and Development Act of 2020” includes provisions to tighten the net-zero deadline if it becomes technologically feasible. Additionally, utility companies could earn financial incentives for reaching net-zero before the deadline.[7]
The bill would also award a credit to companies for every megawatt-hour of electricity they produce. This would include nuclear and fossil fuels if their emissions are captured and sequestered. Companies could also earn a credit for each ton of carbon dioxide they remove from the atmosphere.
The legislation would create a new workforce transition office at the Department of Energy and a climate resilience corps that would hire workers to help communities against climate impacts.
The bill was developed with input from utility companies and green groups.
To view the bill, click here.
To view DeGette’s press release, click here. 
[1] Snider, Annie & Lefebvre, Ben. “Appropriators send Interior-EPA bill to the floor.” Politico Pro, 10 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/779f7765/19m6khqf60uQL9lZ8j6t9Q?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/appropriators-send-interior-epa-bill-to-the-floor-3982409
[3] Farah, Niina. “Dakota Access NEPA ruling may end ‘build first’ strategy.” Energywire, 9 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/e0e8c297/ZYiKpMMZbkOCqX3zLqYeiw?u=https://www.eenews.net/energywire/2020/07/09/stories/1063530513
[6] Skibell, Arianna; Northey, Hannah; & Anchondo, Carlos. “Army Corps ruling: ‘Nail’ in the coffin for Keystone XL?” Energywire, 7 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/18fe8970/AAO8lkLdEE_E3RVNSUASsw?u=https://www.eenews.net/energywire/stories/1063518799/search?keyword=keystone
[7] Aton, Adam. “House Dems to introduce clean energy standard legislation.” E&E Daily, 9 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/2049959a/g0tSDTDBmkaVJPHX4M1c3g?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/stories/1063532453


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