Energy Update (August 31)
Prior to the Republican National Convention (RNC), the Trump campaign released a set of core priorities for a second term. Energy related plans include: continue deregulation for energy independence, build the “world’s greatest” infrastructure system, continue access to the cleanest drinking water and air, and partner with other nations to clean up the planet’s oceans.
At the final night of the RNC, President Trump said Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden’s plan to tackle climate change would threaten millions of jobs and hurt the economy. He emphasized that Biden’s $2 trillion plan embraces green energy as one plank of a “radical left” agenda that would lead to open borders, higher taxes, loyalty to China, and unrest in the streets.
“Biden has promised to abolish the production of American oil, coal, shale and natural gas, laying waste to the economies of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico,” Trump said.
“Destroying those states, absolutely destroying those states and others,” he added.
Trump blamed renewable energy for California’s recent rolling blackouts, and said the policies led to the crippling power outages. Additionally, the president discussed his approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and said he “ended the unfair and costly Paris climate accord and secured, for the first time, American energy independence.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) both touted Trump’s energy record at the convention. Drew said under Trump, the U.S. is energy independent while also protecting the environment.
To view a transcript of President Trump’s speech, click here.
On Monday (Aug. 24), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its first-ever approval of a product that kills the novel coronavirus for up to seven days after being applied to a surface.
SurfaceWise2, an electrostatic spray manufactured by Allied BioScience, can now be used by American Airlines inside its planes and at orthopedic clinics in Texas.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said further requests could probably be approved quickly. “If we receive it from another airline, it would probably be a fairly quick assessment by the agency, but we would have to make sure their surfaces would also be effective for this product,” he said.
American Airlines Chief Operating Officer David Seymour told reporters that he hopes other states seek approval for the spray soon. SurfaceWise2 will be available for public purchase once it receives approval from EPA.
To view EPA’s authorization, click here.
Senate Democrats Release Climate Strategy
On Tuesday (Aug. 25), Senate Democrats laid out their strategy for tackling climate change if the party wins control of the chamber in November. The 260-page climate report recommends trillions of dollars in investments and a wide-ranging federal effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The report said to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, the country will need wide ranging new regulatory policies and federal spending on climate that amounts to around two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually, roughly $400 billion based on current estimates.
“Those who deny the scientific evidence threaten all of us, and the report makes clear that immediate, focused action is critical to avoid the worst climate effects and achieve a clean energy future,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said.
Regarding the filibuster, Schumer said, “we’re not taking anything off the table.”
The document says that failing to address climate change would permanently damage the economy, but also says that the U.S. already has many of the technologies to avoid the worst damage if deployed.
Notably, the plan avoids using the term “Green New Deal” but does align broadly with progressive goals. However, some progressives have criticized the report because it does not address leases for fossil fuel extraction on public lands.
On the policy side, the report focuses on standards for the power and transportation sectors as the mechanisms for long-term decarbonization. Clean energy standards have become a popular option in some advocacy circles, rather than carbon pricing. The Senate report says Congress should enact, “a federal clean energy standard, emission standards, a carbon price, and/or other market mechanisms to ensure the rapid adoption and scale-up of proven technologies today.”
Democrats noted their plan aims to create ten million new jobs and ensure 40 percent of the benefits from new federal spending would be directed toward “communities of color and low-income, deindustrialized, and disadvantaged communities.”
The report covers several areas, including electricity generation, industrial emissions, agricultural impacts, technological innovation, military readiness, and financial sector risks.
To view the full report, click here.
To view a press release on the plan, click here.
On Monday (Aug. 24), the Army Corps of Engineers said developers of the Pebble Mine must undertake substantial environmental protection measures to offset “unavoidable adverse impacts” that would result in significant degradation to aquatic resources.
To view the letter, click here.
Both of Alaska’s Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, came out in opposition to permitting the proposed Pebble Mine on Monday (Aug. 24). Their opposition came after the turnaround from the Trump administration on the likely impact of the development in the headwaters of Bristol Bay.
“I have been clear that given the important aquatic system and world-class fishery resources at stake, Pebble, like all resource development projects in Alaska, has to pass a high bar — a bar that the Trump administration has determined Pebble has not met. I support this conclusion … that a federal permit cannot be issued,” Sullivan said.
Murkowksi said she agreed the permit should not be issued.
On Monday (Aug. 24), the Gwich’in tribe in Alaska said it is suing the Interior Department over its decision to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The tribe said the agency violated environmental laws.
The tribe is the first group to file a lawsuit against Interior’s decision to open the 10-02 area of the refuge. The complaint alleges the decision violated the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Wilderness Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.
Last Friday (Aug. 21), bipartisan Representatives Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Troy Balderson (R-OH) introduced a bill to establish a pipeline safety enhancement pilot program at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
The legislation, the “Pipeline Safety Pilot Program Act,” matches language attached to the House’s broader PHMSA reauthorization bill.
“There are nearly 2.5 million miles of existing pipeline in this country — Texas is home to many of them,” Fletcher said in a statement. “It is vital that we modernize outdated regulations to help improve pipeline safety across the board,” she added.
The measure has the backing of the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines.
To view a press release on the legislation, click here.
To view the legislation, click here.
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 Guillén, Alex & Colman, Zack. “Army Corps letter calls for substantial mitigation projects for Pebble Mine permit.” Politico Pro, 24 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/eb3a742b/IpbCVyktaU_OPYZEdycubQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/08/army-corps-letter-calls-for-substantial-mitigation-projects-for-pebble-mine-permit-1984327
 Marshall, James & Wittenberg, Ariel. “Alaska senators back Army Corps: No permit for Pebble.” E&E News 24 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/416b8181/A11qPzLJBEKmjwi1mU2jFA?u=https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/stories/1063712363/search?keyword=pebble%2Bmine
 Lefebvre, Ben. “Alaska tribe to sue Interior over ANWR drilling plan.” Politico Pro, 24 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/75aeda03/Surtkj__uEa2peHs9bvEgw?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/08/alaska-tribe-to-sue-interior-over-anwr-drilling-plan-1984449
 Dillon, Jeremy. “House lawmakers introduce safety innovation bill.” E&E Daily, 24 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/83dbd7a8/GBQKMRXtukyULICHfa1FLw?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/stories/1063712277/search?keyword=pipeline%2Bsafety%2Bact