Senate Democrats fail to block oil and gas drilling in Alaska refuge

OIL & GAS: In a blow to environmentalists, Senate Democrats fail to pass an amendment to block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. (Washington Post)

ALSO:
• California may be a leader on climate change, but oil drilling in the state is especially bad for the environment due to low quality oil resources that require large amounts of energy and water to process. (Yale Environment 360)
• The sprawling oil infrastructure in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay offers a glimpse of what the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would look like if Congress opens the wilderness to drilling. (Audubon)
• A subsidiary of Houston-based Hilcorp wants to create an artificial gravel island off the coast of Alaska to hold oil production wells. (Associated Press)
• The amount of oil leaked into Gulf waters off Louisiana’s coast last weekend is significantly higher than first estimated.

Report: Trump plan to help coal plants will ultimately hurt sector

POLICY:
• A new report by The Brattle Group says the Trump administration’s plan to boost coal plants will ultimately disadvantage the sector because it wouldn’t curtail competition from natural gas. (Utility Dive)
• FERC commissioners seem to be divided over Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to prop up coal and nuclear plants. (Greentech Media)

BIOFUEL:
• President Trump has reportedly directed the U.S. EPA to table plans that would weaken federal biofuel mandates, apparently in response to pressure from top lawmakers from Iowa. (Bloomberg)
• President Trump personally tells Iowa’s governor that he is committed to supporting the federal biofuels mandate, but a White House spokesperson said the administration “didn’t make any assurances.” (Reuters)

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OIL & GAS:
• Republican senators introduce a bill that would fast-track applications to export small-scale volumes of liquefied natural gas “without modification or delay.” (The Hill)
• The U.S. wants to expand its natural gas exports to Asia, which would benefit export terminals being developed along the Louisiana and Texas coasts. (The Advocate)
• Republican lawmakers are exploring ways to expand drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Arctic and Atlantic oceans using congressional budget rules.

Another solar manufacturer will stop operating, citing cheap foreign imports

SOLAR: The San Jose-based, thin-film solar module manufacturer Stion says it will discontinue operations due to “intense, non-market competition from foreign solar panel manufacturers.” (Greentech Media)

ALSO:
• While opposed by many companies within the U.S. solar industry, proposed tariffs on imports of crystalline silicon solar cells could create opportunity for one Ohio manufacturer. (Midwest Energy News)
• Dominion Virginia is requiring bids that include potential tariff increases as the result of any import taxes that could be imposed from the Suniva-SolarWorld trade case. (PV Magazine)
• Florida’s largest community-owned utility approves five measures intended to expand the use of solar power in the northeastern part of the state. (WJCT)

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Trump administration approves tar sand pipeline from Canada to U.S.

PIPELINES: The State Department approves the expansion of an international pipeline that would transport oil sands petroleum from Canada to the United States for refining. (The Hill)

ALSO:
• Despite federal approval, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project still needs state permits and it is likely to face legal challenges from environmental advocates. (Progressive Pulse)
• More than two dozen people are arrested in Pennsylvania for protesting a $3 billion natural gas pipeline. (Associated Press)
• A public land preservation organization in Virginia approves easements to allow two natural gas pipelines to be built in mountainous areas of the state. (Associated Press)

***SPONSORED LINK: For the first time ever, a home energy use estimate is available for almost every home in the U.S. Find out how this new tool is emerging and what it means for the real estate industry in An MPG For Homes, a report from Rocky Mountain Institute.***

OIL & GAS:
• The country’s shale gas boom is creating a surge of exports that will remake the global gas market for decades to come.

Company will close two coal-fired power plants in Texas

COAL: Vistra Energy Corp says its subsidiary will close two coal-fired plants in Texas that are “economically challenged,” laying off about 600 people next year. (Greentech Media, The Hill)

ALSO:
• The upcoming closure of a coal-fired power plant in Arizona could economically devastate the Navajo tribe. (Bloomberg)
• The nation’s coal industry is finding little relief from the planned elimination of the Clean Power Plan. (Los Angeles Times)

PIPELINES:
• FERC conditionally approves the controversial Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines in a 2-1 vote, with the dissenter saying she could not support the projects “given the environmental impacts and possible superior alternatives.” (Associated Press)
• Experts say two high-profile setbacks dealt to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration are not necessarily a sign the project is in trouble. (Southeast Energy News)
• FERC rejected conducting an examination of how the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines fit in the nation’s energy policy and sidestepped concerns about the long-term environmental effects. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• FERC’s chairman says a court ruling in August that requires the agency to consider the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas pipelines won’t have a “significant” impact on its reviews.

Lawmakers grill Energy Secretary on plan to support coal and nuclear

POLICY:
• Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee grill Energy Secretary Rick Perry on his proposal to financially support coal and nuclear plants, saying the rule would be anti-competitive and destroy electricity markets. (The Hill)
• Meanwhile, Rick Perry tells the congressional hearing that his plan to support nuclear plants with incentives will boost national security. (Reuters)

POLITICS: A new Frontline documentary details the Trump administration’s effort to cater to the fossil fuel industry by scrapping environmental regulations. (Common Dreams)

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CARBON TAX: Research shows that most voters support a carbon tax and are willing to pay nearly 15 percent more for energy to help support one, but the Trump administration refuses it consider it. (Huffington Post)

CLIMATE:
• Coal boss Robert Murray tells interviewers that “mankind is not affecting climate change” and “the Earth has cooled for the last 19 years.”

EPA report slashes estimated cost of CO2 emissions

CLEAN POWER PLAN: An EPA document that analyzes the costs and benefits of repealing the Clean Power Plan calculates the cost of CO2 emissions at between $1 and $6 per ton, down from a $45 per ton estimate made by the Obama administration. (Washington Post)

ALSO:
• A 38-page, four-year EPA plan fails to mention climate change or greenhouse gas emissions. (The Hill)
• For the power industry, the repeal of the Clean Power Plan may be more symbolic than significant. (Greentech Media)
• Ohio advocates say repealing the Clean Power Plan would not outweigh other factors that are making coal plants uneconomic there, and warn of the health impacts of delaying a transition away from coal. (Midwest Energy News)
• San Antonio’s city-owned utility says the EPA’s decision to scrap the Clean Power Plan does not affect its plans to decommission a coal-fired power plant next year. (San Antonio Business Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Recognizing the work some the many Midwest clean energy leaders — a list of Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 honorees is now online.***

POLICY:
• An energy policy think tank that endorsed President Trump says a DOE proposal to prop up coal and nuclear plants is “excessive and unnecessarily distortive.” (The Hill)
• FERC denies requests from energy industry groups to slow down a 60-day review of a DOE proposal to prop up coal and nuclear plants. (Greentech Media)
• An unusual coalition of business and environmental groups oppose the DOE’s plan to boost nuclear and coal power plants and are pressuring the Trump administration to shift course.

Experts say it could take years to replace Clean Power Plan

CLEAN POWER PLAN: Industry leaders and environmental activists say the Trump administration could delay replacing the Clean Power Plan for years. (New York Times)

ALSO:
• The EPA formally begins the process of rescinding the Clean Power Plan, ending an Obama-era rule designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. (Washington Post)
• The Clean Power Plan would have averted up to 3,600 premature deaths and saved up to $34 billion in health costs each year, and abandoning it deals “a one-two punch to human health and the environment.” (Vox, Quartz)
• Climate advocacy groups and the state of New York are pledging to take the EPA to court for repealing the Clean Power Plan. (Albany Business Review, Common Dreams)
• A new analysis shows how each state will be affected by the Clean Power Plan repeal. (New York Times)

***SPONSORED LINK: Recognizing the work some the many Midwest clean energy leaders — a list of Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 honorees is now online.***

MICROGRIDS: California’s energy agencies want to boost the state’s microgrid market.

EPA chief to announce formal plan to repeal Clean Power Plan today

CLEAN POWER PLAN: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tells coal miners in Kentucky that he will repeal the Clean Power Plan today, ending an Obama-era rule designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. (Washington Post)

ALSO:
• Massachusetts is pledging to sue the Trump administration for scrapping the Clean Power Plan. (Associated Press)
• Repealing the Clean Power Plan could thwart Maryland’s efforts to decrease air pollution emitted from out-of-state plants. (Baltimore Sun)
• The repeal is also unlikely to help the coal industry in Montana and New Mexico. (Billings Gazette, New Mexican)
• Rolling back the Clean Power Plan won’t happen overnight, as the administration will need to gather public input and then likely face court challenges.

Utility announces closure plans for giant coal plant in Texas

COAL:
• An 1,800-megawatt coal-fired plant in Texas will close permanently in 2018. (Houston Chronicle)
• Up to 30 workers at an underground coal mine in Montana could run out of work by the end of the month due to a judge’s ruling, as Signal Peak Energy fights to appeal the order. (Associated Press)

OIL & GAS:
• An Alaskan senator may use drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a bargaining chip for tax reform. (Vox)
• Oil companies are working to restore operations after Hurricane Nate. (Bloomberg)

PIPELINES:
• An environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline is going to take longer than expected, with a completion date in April 2018.