Carbon capture, utilization, and storage has been picking up steam in Congress recently, and backers are meeting this week in Wyoming to try to keep the policy momentum going.
- The CO2NNECT 2019 event in Jackson Hole comes as two bipartisan Senate bills (S. 383, S.1201) are on the table to help drive more research dollars to the technology and break down barriers to its deployment. Speakers include Occidental Petroleum Corp. CEO Vicki Hollub, former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R), and Pratima Rangarajan, CEO of the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative’s investment company Climate Investments.
- Carbon capture separates carbon dioxide from the emissions of power plants and other industrial facilities so it can be stored or used, rather than released into the atmosphere, where it causes global warming. High costs have slowed its commercialization.
- Advocates for the technology—including a broad coalition of coal producers, oil and gas companies, labor unions, and environmental groups—are hoping to capitalize on the growing attention. More federal research money for carbon capture is a welcome step, supporters say, but more policy is needed at the federal and state level to drive commercial deployment, particularly on power sector and larger industrial facilities.
Florida ‘Reef-Ugee’ Mission
Thousands of Florida corals are being taken from subtropical ocean reefs to live in tanks in what researchers are calling an unprecedented rescue mission, Jennifer Kay writes.
- The initiative might be the best chance for these “reef-ugees,” as one advocate calls them, to survive a mysterious epidemic that has plagued Florida’s offshore waters for about five years. The disease is adding to the pressures already linked directly to climate change, researchers say.
- Florida’s reefs contribute $7 billion to the economy, particularly in the tourism-dependent Florida Keys, according to state wildlife commission figures. The protection they provide from coastal flooding and hurricane storm surge can be valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
What Else We’re Watching
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), one of the newest 2020 Democratic presidential aspirants, is releasing his climate-change plan today.
- The IRS starts taking comments today for 45 days on a major bipartisan tax incentive for carbon-capture technologies.
- Consolidated Edison Inc. and Vistra Energy Corp. hold their annual shareholder meetings.
- The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan is expected to be signed. The deal by Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming involves using less water to keep supplies in Lake Mead and Lake Powell from getting dangerously low.
Legal Spotlight: Babst Calland Expands Energy, Environment Work
Pittsburgh-based Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir PC is making moves to expand its energy and environment practice.
The firm recently brought aboard Julie Domike as a shareholder in its Washington, D.C., office. Domike’s background includes working as an attorney for the EPA, and she has represented numerous clients in negotiations with that agency and the Justice Department.
It also this month hired Gina Falaschi, who had worked at Haynes and Boone LLP, as an associate in its D.C. office. In addition to counseling on compliance issues, Falaschi has worked with energy companies in developing new projects and advised clients on regulatory issues.
The hirings came partly in response to client requests to provide environmental and mobile-source emissions services before the EPA, California Air Resources Board, and other regulatory agencies, said Donald C. Bluedorn II, Babst Calland’s managing shareholder.
“We think it’s a natural fit, because we do a tremendous amount of stationary-source emissions work,” Bluedorn said of the hiring of Domike and Falaschi.
Babst Calland also has grown with the boom in the Marcellus Shale in the Northeast and has decided to open an office in Houston. That office will initially focus on mineral title work and eventually expand into other areas, Bluedorn said.
The Case for Regulating All PFAS Chemicals as a Class
A single-chemical approach to assessing and regulating other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals is simply not possible, writes David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group. But the burden of proving the safety of any PFAS chemical must lie with the chemical industry, he said.
With PFAS One-Size-Fits-All Isn’t the Answer
PFAS is one of the most active examples of a push for a one-size-fits-all approach to restrictions and regulations, counters Jessica Bowman, a senior director with the American Chemistry Council and executive director of the FluoroCouncil, a global organization comprised of the world’s leading fluorochemical technology companies. Critics try to dispute the safety of all PFAS chemicals, discourage their use, and discredit those who seek to point out the facts about the chemistry’s health and safety profiles—but this effort has led to widespread confusion and concern about PFAS chemicals, she said.
Interior’s Data on Nation’s Mineral Wealth Is Spotty, GAO Says
The federal government doesn’t have a firm handle on how much gold, silver, copper, and other minerals it owns, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
Exxon Investors Urged to Vote to Split CEO, Chairman Roles
Exxon Mobil Corp. investors should vote in favor of a proposal to separate the roles of chief executive officer and chairman, according to the two leading shareholder advisory firms.
Italy’s Leading Party Downplays Climate Threat
Italy’s deputy prime minister gave a preview of what to expect on climate change if his far-right League party wins big in this month’s European elections as predicted.
This Week’s Events
On the Hill:
- Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. • Climate • Senate agriculture panel examines climate change and the agricultural sector.
- Tuesday, 10 a.m. • Nominations/Renewables/Efficiency • Senate energy panel considers nominations of Daniel Jorjani to be Interior Department solicitor and Mark Lee Greenblatt to be Interior’s inspector general, followed by a hearing on renewable and energy efficiency.
- Tuesday, 10 a.m. • Climate/Transportation • House science panel’s oversight subcommittee looks at preparing U.S. transportation infrastructure for climate change.
- Tuesday, 10 a.m. • Mercury • House Energy and Commerce’s oversight panel scrutinizes EPA’s recent proposal that says limiting mercury and other air toxics from coal and oil-fired power plants is not “appropriate and necessary” under the Clean Air Act.
- Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. • Markup • House Appropriations Committee marks up fiscal 2020 energy and water spending bill.
- Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. • Interior • Senate Appropriations panel looks at Interior Department’s fiscal 2020 budget request.
- Wednesday, 10 a.m. • PFAS • Senate environment panel explores legislation to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
- Wednesday, 10 a.m. • Infrastructure • House Energy and Commerce Committee discusses H.R. 2741, Democrats’ infrastructure proposal.
- Wednesday, 10 a.m. • Biodiversity • House Natural Resources’ wildlife panel examines a global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- Wednesday, 10 a.m. • National Parks/Public Lands • House Natural Resources’ national parks and public lands panel holds hearing on 14 bills.
- Wednesday, 10 a.m. • Budget • House Transportation and Infrastructure’s water resources and environment panel looks at White House’s fiscal 2020 budget request.
- Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. • Markup • House Appropriations panel marks up Interior-EPA spending bill.
- Wednesday, 2 p.m. • Disaster Preparedness • House Transportation and Infrastructure’s water resources and environment panel assesses disaster preparedness.
- Thursday, 9 a.m. • Climate • House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis discusses creating a climate-resilient country.
- Monday, 2 p.m. • Energy Poverty • U.S. Energy Association holds briefing on addressing U.S. energy poverty.
- Tuesday-Wednesday, All Day • Carbon Pricing • American Sustainable Business Council and CERES hold carbon pricing lawmaker education event.
- Tuesday-Wednesday, All Day • Wind • American Wind Energy Association holds WINDPOWER conference in Houston.
- Tuesday-Wednesday, All Day • Defense/Energy • Defense Logistics Agency holds 2019 Worldwide Energy Conference.
- Tuesday, 10 a.m. • Electric Grid • Edison Electric Institute, GridWise Alliance, and National Electrical Manufacturers Association sponsor “Grid Innovation and Infrastructure EXPO” on Capitol Hill.
- Tuesday, 1 p.m. • Wildfire Smoke • EPA holds webinar on mitigating health impacts of wildfire smoke.
- Tuesday, 2 p.m. • Nuclear • Atlantic Council sponsors discussion on U.S. nuclear energy leadership with Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
- Tuesday, 2 p.m. • Algal Blooms • EPA holds webinar on harmful algal blooms.
- Tuesday, 3 p.m. • Disaster Security • Authors of the new book “Disaster Security: Using Intelligence and Military Planning for Energy and Environmental Risks” discuss planning for environmental disasters.
- Wednesday, 10 a.m. • South Africa • U.S. Energy Association sponsors briefing on South Africa’s energy storage program.
- Wednesday, Noon • Sustainability • International Bar Association, National Agriculture Law Center, and Environmental Law Institute hold webinar on sustainable investment in agriculture.
- Wednesday, 3 p.m. • Biogas • American Biogas Council and Environmental and Energy Study Institute hold briefing on benefits of renewable biogas.
- Thursday, All Day • Energy • U.S. Energy Association holds annual meeting featuring Federal Energy Regulation Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
- Thursday, 8 a.m. • Fuel Cells • Carnegie Mellon University’s energy innovation center sponsors Capitol Hill briefing on how fuel cells could Impact vehicles, buildings, and utilities.
- Thursday, 10 a.m. • Regulation • Coalition for Sensible Safeguards holds forum on how congressional Democrats are confronting the Trump administration on health, safety, environmental and worker regulations with Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
- Thursday, 11 a.m. • Puerto Rico • Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Institute for a Competitive and Sustainable Economy, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Center for the New Economy, and Rocky Mountain Institute take part in panel discussion on Puerto Rico’s energy policy.
- Thursday, 11:30 a.m. • Japan • Atlantic Council hosts discussion on how energy dependence on the Middle East is shaping Japan’s quest for energy security, prospects for U.S.-Japan strategic cooperation, and the future of energy security in Asia.
- Thursday, 2:30 p.m. • Iceland • Wilson Center hosts discussion on Iceland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
- Thursday, 5 p.m. • Massachusetts • Environmental Business Council of New England holds program in Boston on environmental, energy, and climate programs for Boston and Massachusetts featuring Kathleen Theoharides, the state’s new Energy and Environment secretary, and Christopher Cook, Boston’s chief of environment, energy, and open space.
Around the Web
- Todd Willens is becoming the Interior Department’s chief of staff. Willens joined the department in July 2017 as associate deputy secretary and assumed the duties of acting chief of staff in January.
- The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper has updated its style guide to substitute “climate change” with “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and to swap “global warming” for “global heating,” though it says the original terms aren’t banned.
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has introduced a bill that would open up federal highways to logging trucks that meet state requirements. Those trucks currently must use state highways and local roads.
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