On The Hill

Energy Update (September 14)

Sep 14, 2020 | SHARE  

Trump Drilling Announcement

On Tuesday (Sep. 8), President Trump announced a ban on oil drilling off the coast of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The decade-long ban will reverse Trump’s earlier 2017 proposal to open U.S. coasts to drilling operations.[1] 

The current moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico expires in 2022. The new move is expected to be enacted through Presidential Memorandum. Industry officials working with the Interior Department on offshore exploration issues said the administration never mentioned extending the moratorium, and that the newest plans came as a surprise.

Recently, Trump has worked to position himself as the “best environmentalist the White House has seen,” and round out his environmental agenda. At recent events, Trump has touted the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, his focus on cleaning up Superfund sites, and the Trillion Trees Initiative.[2] 

“The contrast between our vision and the radical left has never been more clear. They talk a big game, and they do nothing,” Trump said.

After the announcement, Democrats said Trump was looking to “cover” his environmental record.

To view Trump’s Memorandum for the Secretary of the Interior, click here.


Democrats Unveil Roadmap

On Thursday (Sep. 10), Congressional Democrats and progressive groups unveiled an election-year roadmap for how the U.S. should seek to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn, environmental crisis, and racial strife.

More than 80 Democratic lawmakers support the resolution that will be introduced in both chambers of Congress.

“This is the force for the future: climate advocates, labor unions and those focused on addressing racial and economic justice coming together as one,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

“We must pursue a bold, just, visionary and comprehensive plan of action that rebuilds our economy in a way that delivers for those most vulnerable and those communities who have been marginalized for far too long,” he added.

Language in the resolution echoes the Green New Deal and demands the federal government facilitate “a bold and holistic national mobilization” to solve the climate crisis.

The plan outlines eight pillars for recovery, and calls for: creating 16 million jobs with strong union protections, aggressive action to phase out fossil fuels, and direct investments towards communities of color and indigenous communities.

The American Federation of Teachers, Center for American Progress, League of Conservation Voters, and the Communications Workers of America have all expressed support for the resolution.[3] 

To view the roadmap, click here.


HFCs Deal

This week, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), and Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) announced a deal that would phase out and reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFC). The plan would reduce the amount of HFCs used in the U.S. to 15 percent of 2011-2013 levels by 2036.[4] 

The group plans to introduce their agreement as an amendment to the broad, bipartisan energy bill that had been stalled due to disagreement around HFCs.

The deal prohibits states and localities from writing their own stricter rules on HFCs. It also prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from accelerating the timeline of reductions, and ensures that HFCs can still be used in specific applications listed under the law.

“The agreement announced on the HFCs phasedown is welcome news and will make a good addition to our already bipartisan energy innovation bill,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said.[5] 

“I’m working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring our bill back to the floor as soon as possible, but also recognize that given the calendar, that will require cooperation and good faith from members and stakeholders alike,” she added.

The original bill from Murkowski and Senate ENR Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) would authorize around $23 billion in new Department of Energy (DOE) research and development activities for technologies including storage, renewables, advanced nuclear, and carbon capture.

The House is set to take up a similar package by the end of the month after Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced it would be part of the September agenda.



On Wednesday (Sep. 9), attorneys general from more than a dozen states announced they are suing the Trump administration to block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The challenge is the first state-driven lawsuit against the Department of Interior’s decision to open ANWR to oil and gas drilling.[6] 

Last month, Native tribes and environmental groups filed lawsuits against Interior’s plans.


U.S. Oil Production

On Thursday (Sep. 10), the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released data that showed the U.S. only produced 10 million barrels of oil a day the week ending on Sep. 4. Gasoline demand continues to weaken, and production remains at the lowest level since January 2018.

Oil output had reached record highs early in the year, 13.1 million barrels a day, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit fuel demand.[7] 




On Wednesday (Sep. 9), the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a pair of bills to enhance energy storage technical assistance grants and DOE management practices. The bills both passed by voice vote, and will likely join a broader energy package scheduled for a floor vote later this month.[8] 

H.R. 8159 would direct DOE to review management practices to identify efficiencies and improvements, and H.R. 4447 would authorize $25 million over the next five fiscal years for DOE grants to build and assist with energy storage and microgrid projects. The legislation would help rural electric cooperatives adopt clean energy technology. 

Senate Vote on Skinny Bill

On Thursday (Sep. 10), the Senate voted on a “scaled back” stimulus bill. The proposed package did not meet the 60-vote threshold, and failed with a vote of 52-47. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only Republican to vote against the bill. The legislation included funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, expanded unemployment benefits, schools, the U.S. Postal Service, and liability protections for businesses, schools, and health care providers.


FERC Nominations

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee scheduled a hearing for Wednesday (Sep. 16) to consider President Trump’s nominees for two open Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioner spots. Nominees include Democrat Allison Clements and Republican Mark Christie.



[1] Lefebvre, Ben & Colman, Zack. “Trump expands oil drilling moratorium for Florida.” Politico Pro, 8 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/c9e0d903/TheqZ1nPw0_y3tccnJbIVQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/09/trump-to-expand-oil-drilling-moratorium-for-florida-1990176

[2] Dumain, Emma; Cama, Timothy; & Richards, Heather. “Trump scrambles talking points with offshore drilling ban.” E&E Daily, 9 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/237f70a8/BWCyDzl4IU2JuVOEcp9g0A?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/2020/09/09/stories/1063713209

[3] Adragna, Anthony. “Democrats unveil roadmap to address pandemic, economic, racial and climate crises.” Politico Pro, 10 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/5a594d9d/FiiNIqDKF0a5uNBTVHQ7Vg?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/09/democrats-unveil-roadmap-to-address-pandemic-economic-racial-and-climate-crises-3983810

[4] Wolff, Eric. “Barrasso, Carper, Kennedy cut deal on coolant phaseout.” Politico Pro, 10 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/8bd21c96/LIrV1pL85Emax-dgYl-93Q?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/09/barrasso-carper-kennedy-cut-deal-on-coolant-phaseout-3983823

[5] Dillon, Jeremy. “HFC deal earns praise, may jump-start energy bill debate.” E&E Daily, 11 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/17d536ee/fnt7sY9zBkGrw8Yt3buRmQ?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/stories/1063713463

[6] Lefebvre, Ben. “States sue Trump administration over ANWR drilling plans.” Politico Pro, 9 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/e9a083f2/sOlp3A4h1UWoVMnM2isQ-g?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/09/09/states-sue-trump-administration-over-anwr-drilling-plans-1316198

[7] Lefebvre, Ben. “U.S. oil production at lowest level since January 2018.” Politico Pro. 10 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/4c2b73e4/OSHbhtn7jkiLiweet7qv6w?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/09/us-oil-production-at-lowest-level-since-january-2018-3983811

[8] Dillon, Jeremy. “Committee approves storage, DOE management bills.” E&E Daily, 10 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/bbfb87f8/sw25y8cL1kaR4yXYJw7A6w?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/2020/09/10/stories/1063713335


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The Week Ahead

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