On The Hill

Energy Update (August 24)

Aug 24, 2020 | SHARE  


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democratic leaders will call the House of Representatives back in session this upcoming week to address President Trump’s attempts to “undermine the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).”

The House is expected to vote as early as Saturday (Aug. 22) on a proposal to block the Trump administration’s plans to overhaul the USPS. Democrats have grown increasingly concerned that Trump is using the COVID-19 pandemic to force service cutbacks ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Senate Republicans are circulating a “skinny” COVID-19 relief package that would provide $300 a week in unemployment benefits, funding for schools, liability protections for businesses, a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, and changed terms of funding provided earlier this year to USPS. The proposal may be used as a counteroffer to the $25 billion USPS bill the House considers.[1]

Notably, the plan would exclude another round of $1,200 checks to the American public and state and local government funding.

DNC Climate Platform

This year, the Democratic party released its most ambitious climate platform in history. However, party officials removed a provision that called for an end to subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, upsetting climate activists on the left.[2]

Biden’s own platform calls for a “worldwide ban on fossil fuel subsidies.” The Democratic National Convention (DNC) said the campaigns of Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who worked together on a unity platform, agreed to the provisions omission.

The 2020 platform calls for net-zero emissions by 2050. To achieve that timeline, the DNC platform set a goal of eliminating carbon emissions from power plants by 2035, and includes the use of existing nuclear and advanced nuclear. The platform also sets a national goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030.

Additionally, the platform seeks to create a clean energy jobs “boom” around front-line communities. It pledges to commit 40 percent of the overall benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy to those communities.

Furthermore, the platform has specific goals that would rapidly transition the nation’s energy grid, and sets a five year goal of 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs, community solar energy systems, and 60,000 wind turbines.

For the first time, the Democratic platform looks to recognize the role of land use as a significant driver of climate change. The DNC hopes to treat land use as a primary way to mitigate climate change, and stated its goal to reach net-zero emissions in the agriculture sector. It also sets a goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 with the goal of preserving “America’s natural carbon sinks.”

To view the 2020 Democratic Party platform, click here.

ANWR Drilling

On Monday (Aug. 17), the Trump administration said it had officially approved a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil drilling. The plan has been in the works since 2017, when Congress mandated the Interior Department must auction off drilling leases in ANWR. This would open up the 1002 area, a patch of 1.5 million acres along the coast of the Beaufort Sea.[3]

Oil companies have long sought access to ANWR, however, the decision comes at a time few in the industry are expected to take a risk on unexplored properties with little data on the oil resources beneath the surface.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told reporters he believes there could be a lease sale by the end of the year. “I think a lot of people will bid without seismic data,” he told reporters.

Recently, oil companies have been leaving Alaska due to the high cost of drilling and shipping oil from the remote areas compared to quick and inexpensive oil from Texas and North Dakota.

Environmental groups said tapping into the resources from the area will exacerbate climate change in a region that is already seeing the impacts daily. The groups also claim drilling would negatively impact caribou herds and harm polar bears. A number of major global banks have said they will not provide financing for drilling in ANWR.

To view the Department of Interior’s press release, click here.

Energy Union Endorsement

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA), whose members work in industries such as oil and natural gas pipelines and nuclear, coal, and natural gas power plants, endorsed former Vice President and current Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president.[4]

The association said Biden’s “all of the above approach” to energy policy was a key factor in its decision to endorse him.

“This endorsement is about putting UA members to work and fighting for fair wages and good benefits. Under a Biden Administration, that’s exactly what we’ll get,” Mark McManus, the union’s General President, said in a statement.

Biden said he was “deeply honored” to receive the endorsement.

“I promise you this: if I’m elected, workers and unions will have the strongest friend they have ever had in the White House,” Biden said. “The middle class and unions are the backbone of this country, and the Biden-Harris Administration will fight for them every day,” he added.

UA is the latest in a line of energy-sector unions to back Biden.

House Leaders Urge Vote on Energy Bills

On Monday (Aug. 17), a coalition of close to 40 groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote to House leadership and urged for floor time to be allocated for a host of energy bills.

“While we may not agree on everything, we believe there is much common ground upon which all sides of the debate can come together to begin to address climate change, promote American technological leadership, and foster continued economic growth,” the letter said.

The American Wind Energy Association, American Chemistry Council, Edison Electric Institute, and Third Way signed the letter, among others.

To view the letter, click here.


On Thursday (Aug. 20), the Department of Energy granted Alaska LNG a license to export liquified natural gas. However, the massive project had gone dormant last year because of trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

The license allows Alaska LNG to ship up to 2.55 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from the Nikiski area of the Kenai Peninsula over a 30-year period. It follows a May decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allowing construction of a potential export facility.[5]

Earlier this week, environmental groups asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to vacate a final rule issued by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) that expands the type of containers that can transport LNG to include those that fit on tanker rail cars.[6]

The group argued the rule runs afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Environmental groups have argued transporting LNG by rail increases the risk of a major explosion if the tanker is pierced in an accident. PHMSA said in its final rule that it would impose extra safety measures for using tank cars.

To view the complaint, click here.


[1] Wilkins, Emily & Wasson, Erik. “Senate GOP ‘Skinny’ Virus Plan Funds Education, Unemployment Aid.” Bloomberg Government, 18 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/112d3ad8/u5Z89JIeBk2Cgkeg42fszg?u=https://about.bgov.com/news/senate-gop-skinny-virus-plan-funds-education-unemployment-aid/

[2] Waldman, Scott. “What changed – and what didn’t – in the climate platform.” Climatewire, 19 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/c5663d6c/00v7pPWtiUeSDAQphgndOw?u=https://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2020/08/19/stories/1063712009?utm_medium=email%26utm_source=eenews%253Aclimatewire%26utm_campaign=edition%252BiZ%252B%252FftFV%252B2LxUfHtN5bxJQ%253D%253D

[3] Lefebvre, Ben & Colman, Zack. “Interior approves opening ANWR for oil drilling.” Politico Pro, 17 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/408ce989/gLOthCUbs0SzvWUhBw9z9w?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/08/interior-approves-opening-anwr-for-oil-drilling-1980289

[4] Cama, Timothy. “Biden scores energy union endorsement.” Greenwire, 18 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/f3f6d4eb/taXcRbpkYku-uZe4mFhgjQ?u=https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2020/08/18/stories/1063711935

[5] Lefebvre, Ben. “DOE approves LNG export license for dormant Alaska project.” Politico Pro, 20 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/746e269e/k2tyo8PdHkeRWb4q8qaZgA?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/08/doe-approves-lng-export-license-for-dormant-alaska-project-1982694

[6] Lefebvre, Ben. “Green groups sue to stop LNG shipments in rail cars.” Politico Pro, 18 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/cfca7ce3/pPDBnyCI_ES-XcqhaKyohw?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/08/greens-sue-to-stop-lng-being-carried-in-rail-cars-1980762


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