With help from Kelsey Tamborrino
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— It’s almost time to get into the nitty-gritty details of the Democrats’ budget resolution, with House and Senate leaders hinting it will not touch issues covered in the bipartisan infrastructure deal but will be integral to meeting Biden’s climate goals.
— Clean energy company NextEra Energy wants the Commerce Department to reject a recent petition to impose tariffs on solar parts imported from certain Asian countries over concerns they originate in China.
— The Nord Stream 2 pipeline hit another snag in a German court, which rejected its appeal to get exemptions from EU gas rules.
HAPPY THURSDAY! I’m your host, Matthew Choi. Former ACHP Chair Aimee Jorjani gets the trivia for knowing Marjane Satrapi went to the Lycée Français de Vienne in Austria. For today: Frédéric Chopin was born in what Polish village (if you’ve been there, please let me know)? Send your tips and trivia answers to [email protected]. Find me on Twitter @matthewchoi2018.
Check out the POLITICO Energy podcast — all the energy and environmental politics and policy news you need to start your day, in just five minutes. Listen and subscribe for free at politico.com/energy-podcast. On today’s episode: Attributing disasters to climate change.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) released a new analysis of the natural gas and oil industry’s impact on the U.S. economy and highlighted its importance to the nation’s post-pandemic recovery. The industry is a driver of every sector of the U.S. economy, supporting 11.3 million total American jobs in 2019 across all 50 states. The industry’s total impact on U.S. GDP was nearly $1.7 trillion, accounting for nearly 8% of the national total in 2019.
NO DOUBLE DIPPING: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hinted at next steps on Democrats’ budget framework during her weekly news conference Wednesday, saying it will “address the climate crisis in a way that was not addressed at all in the infrastructure bill, very minor, just electrification — electrification is important, but it’s not the totality of what we have to do, and we may want to do more.”
She alluded to the agreement between Senate negotiators and the White House that the budget resolution wouldn’t double dip into items covered in the bipartisan infrastructure deal — which could frustrate progressives who found many of the climate provisions in the deal deficient. James Bikales has more for Pros.
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer predicted that the bipartisan deal and the budget reconciliation measure would cumulatively curb greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 — and further congressional, state and administrative actions would reach Biden’s goal of slashing emissions by 50 percent within that time frame. Schumer said in a dear colleague letter Wednesday that his team aggregated the numbers from the “best available data from a wide range of organizations”. Schumer pointed to the clean electricity payment program and the clean energy and electric vehicle tax incentives pushed by the Senate Finance Committee as driving the lion’s share of emission reductions.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
“At the same moment that historic drought and wildfire threaten the West and powerful floods and hurricanes impact large swaths of our country, we are on the precipice of the most significant climate action in our country’s history,” Schumer wrote in the letter. “I do not believe we have the luxury of failure if we are to provide a good future for ourselves and our children.” Anthony Adragna has more on the letter for Pros.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? Clean energy company NextEra Energy is asking the Commerce Department to reject a recent petition from U.S. solar manufacturers to impose tariffs on panel imports from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, or else require the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention coalition to disclose its members. The initial investigation request filed at the International Trade Administration by the A-SMACC argued that some large solar manufacturers are avoiding tariffs by producing in China, but then shipping products to neighboring countries to export to the U.S. A-SMACC did not disclose its companies because it said doing so could lead to retribution against them.
In a letter this week to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, NextEra argued that the companies’ identities do not meet the standard to be considered business proprietary information. “The names of petitioners constitute general identifying information of litigants in a legal proceeding, and do not relate to the internal business operations of these entities,” the letter said. NextEra also called on Commerce to set a deadline for interested parties to submit comments related to A-SMACC’s requests.
A Commerce spokesperson confirmed to ME that the department received NextEra’s letter and “is currently evaluating the nature of its requests” but didn’t comment on its position in the dispute. A-SMACC said in a statement that “The Commerce Department’s regulations clearly permit confidential treatment when a company faces retaliation or other potential harm. Given China’s control of the solar supply chain and the influence of the Government of China, proprietary treatment is fully justified in a case like this.”
The letter underscores the long-running fight within the solar industry over the tariffs that the Biden administration will have to wade into. The Solar Energy Industries Association declared last week that it “aggressively” opposed the A-SMACC filing and said, should the tariffs be imposed, it could cause a “severe” disruption to the U.S. solar market.
NO SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR NORD STREAM 2: The Russia-Germany pipeline hit another roadblock in its quest to get an exemption from EU internal market rules. A German court rejected the pipeline operator’s argument that it was “completed from the perspective of economic functionality” before May 23, 2019, thereby making it eligible for an exception. The court ruling tracks with German regulators who said the project’s interconnection in German waters was not completed by the 2019 cut off. The operator can still appeal the decision in German federal court.
Without an exemption, the operator will be subjected to EU gas law, which could cause further delays in starting its operation. Gazprom, which is majority owned by the Russian state, would likely have to divest itself from Nord Stream for the pipeline to be certified by German regulators as compliant with EU rules, reports POLITICO Europe’s Aitor Hernández-Morales.
CHINA SEES RARE OPPORTUNITY IN AFGHANISTAN: Though political turmoil has long blocked mineral extraction in Afghanistan, the country is home to some of the largest deposits of rare earths in the world, valued at about $1 trillion. And China is seeing a chance to enter the market amid the Taliban takeover, Bloomberg reports.
The Taliban is hoping for international recognition, particularly from China. Beijing says it can offer the country “political impartiality and economic investment,” unlike the West, which has frozen Afghan assets and resoundingly rejects the idea of granting the Taliban legitimacy with its current human rights record. China already has a number of infrastructure lines that could connect its urban core to Afghanistan’s natural resources and has been eager to expand its reach in Central Asia. Read more from Bloomberg.
FINISHING FOSSIL FUELS: Denmark and Costa Rica are cooking up an alliance of countries to set a sunset date for oil and gas production and stopping permits for new exploration, Reuters reports. The alliance, dubbed the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, hopes to launch at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, this year.
Despite the U.S.’ focus on eliminating emissions and several calls from progressive lawmakers, it has not made any pledges to end fossil fuel extraction — and several energy-centered lawmakers in both parties find doing so off the table. France has committed to eliminating fossil fuel exploration and production by 2040, and Spain by 2042, according to Reuters.
FOLLOWING UP ON EJ: House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney is hosting a roundtable on environmental justice in Queens today, featuring a number of New York-based EJ leaders. The roundtable will focus on the impacts of power plant pollution on vulnerable communities during times of peak generation. It builds on a hearing the committee held on environmental justice priorities in Biden’s infrastructure plans back in July. You can watch the event from the committee’s website.
JAN. 6 PROBE ON INTERIOR: The congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is requesting Interior Secretary Deb Haaland give up materials related to the attacks, particularly National Park Service permits or permit applications for election-related events between Nov. 3 and Jan. 20, E&E News’ Emma Dumain reports. NPS granted one public gathering permit on Jan. 6 for a rally requested by “Women for America First.” The committee set a Sept. 9 deadline to hand over the materials.
FIRST IN ME: New climate-change fighting organization Clean Energy for America is announcing its inaugural board of directors today, which includes some bigwig environmental veterans from Congress, presidential administrations and the private sector. Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, former Assistant Energy Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dan Reicher, UtilityAPI CEO Devin Hampton, former Harry Reid adviser Alexander McDonough and Vien Truong of Nike and Tom Steyer’s PAC are among the 13 members of the board.
“These board members will provide the strategic and tactical guidance needed to promote a clean energy economy and create millions of new jobs nationwide,” said Andrew Reagan, the group’s executive director. “I am eager to work alongside this team to fulfill our important and urgent mission with a focus on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion both in our internal structure and with the leaders and policies we support.” Read the group’s release with its full new board.
AMERICAN WIND, AMERICAN GRID: Offshore wind operators Ørsted and Eversource will use a U.S.-made wind substation for their planned South Fork Wind Project — a move Ørsted Offshore North America CEO David Hardy said was a “big step” in bringing the wind supply chain to the U.S. Currently, a majority of offshore substations are built in either Europe or Asia. Kiewit Offshore Services, based in Texas, will build the substation, which will connect the wind energy to the grid. The substation will be built in Corpus Christi, Texas, with more than 350 U.S. workers expected to work on the project.
Still, Hardy says the industry will need federal assistance — an area where a number of lawmakers are trying to make moves. Sens. Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez unveiled legislation this month to boost U.S. manufacturing and offshore wind development through investment tax credits. And Democrats’ budget package and the bipartisan infrastructure deal include provisions to both boost ports and offer tax credits for renewable generation. Pro’s Kelsey Tamborrino has more.
CALIFORNIA IN THE MONEY: California got more than $1 billion from its quarterly sale of greenhouse gas allowances, with allowances for current-year emissions sold for $23.30 per ton. That’s $5.59 above the state floor price and their highest ever prices. The high demand could be a factor of increased energy use amid a post-vax economic recovery, as well as lowered hydro power due to recent low water levels. Debra Kahn has more for Pros.
— “China’s Sinopec flags new oil and gas find in Xinjiang,” via Reuters.
— “The Climate Crisis Is Worse for Women. Here’s Why,” via The New York Times.
— “‘Hijacked by polluters’: Fossil fuel and mining groups pressured regulators to blame Asia for ozone violations in Salt Lake City, emails show,” via The Salt Lake Tribune.
— “Will Biden keep Trump’s Fed chair amid rising climate risk?” via E&E News.
— “EPA Dismissed Biden Officials’ Criticism of Auto Emissions Plan,” via Bloomberg.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!
The American Petroleum Institute’s recently released PwC study shows how the natural gas and oil industry is essential to economic recovery in other sectors, like manufacturing, agriculture, industrial and more, as well as opportunities for job creation. As economic activity, travel patterns and consumption continue to grow during the post-pandemic recovery, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects global oil and liquid fuels consumption to surpass 2019 levels in 2022. In addition to accounting for nearly 8% of the U.S. GDP in 2019, the natural gas and oil industry generated an additional 3.5 jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy for each direct job in the U.S. natural gas and oil industry. Learn how the industry is powering each state’s economy by using the interactive map linked here.