U.S. Energy News

Senate: Republican proposal to drill in Arctic refuge requires environmental review

OIL & GAS: A Senate official rules that a Republican proposal to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling is subject to an environmental assessment by the Interior Department, which could take months or years to complete. (Reuters)

ALSO:
• A U.S. subsidiary of a Netherlands-based maker of offshore oil drilling equipment pleads guilty to paying bribes to officials in five oil-producing countries and must pay $238 million as part of a settlement. (Associated Press)
• A commission overseeing water quality moves to enact a formal ban on fracking within the Delaware River Basin watershed, which supplies Philadelphia and half of New York City with drinking water. (Associated Press)

PIPELINES:
• FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee tells a meeting of natural gas industry officials that climate activists are delaying the approval of natural gas pipelines by waging legal battles, saying their lawyers understand how to “frustrate pipeline development.” (Reuters)
• Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline highlight the project’s environmental justice impact, pointing out that over a quarter of North Carolina’s Native Americans live along its proposed path. (Southeast Energy News)
• Michigan officials are taking a closer look at what it would take to tunnel Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac, as many unanswered questions remain. (Midwest Energy News)

COAL: Former West Virginia coal executive Don Blankenship launches an advertisement in his bid for the U.S. Senate that says he was wrongly convicted for playing a role in a mine disaster that killed 29 people and calls the incident “Obama’s deadliest coverup.” (The Hill)

WIND: Oregon-based Avangrid Renewables strikes a deal to sell 196 megawatts of power to Google, which will result in the construction of two 98-megawatt wind farms in South Dakota. (Portland Business Journal)

SOLAR:
• Bankrupt Georgia-based solar manufacturer Suniva is evaluating a potential sale, which could influence President Trump’s pending decision on imposing tariffs on imported panels. (Bloomberg)
• “Manageable and rational” regulations help explain why Massachusetts has 130 megawatts of privately developed community solar, while California still has none. (Utility Dive)
• We Energies’ announcement to close a 1,200 MW coal plant in Wisconsin follows plans by the utility to build 350 MW of solar by 2020. (pv Magazine)

STORAGE: A financial advisory firm’s recent report on the costs of energy storage downgrades estimates for lithium battery efficiency, which could be a major issue for the industry. (Greentech Media)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Hawaiian Electric will allow drivers to pay for public EV charging per kilowatt-hour, rather than a flat-rate price, and offer a lower rate during the day when solar is available. (Pacific Business News)

NUCLEAR:
• Critics speak out against a plan to close California’s last operating nuclear plant, saying it doesn’t commit to replacing the nuclear power with zero-carbon energy resources, among other issues. (Greentech Media)
• The company that built the original Summer nuclear plant in South Carolina discovered numerous problems when its engineers returned in 2016 to assess the construction of two new reactors. (The State)
• More than 100 mayors urge Canadian officials to reject plans to bury nuclear waste in Ontario near Lake Huron. (Associated Press)

UTILITIES: Industry, consumer and environmental groups support a utility-reform bill in Ohio that is meant to protect customers from “subsidizing the operations of utility corporate affiliates.” (Midwest Energy News)

ADVOCACY: Power-hungry tech firms are becoming advocates for clean energy, which is putting them at odds with a Trump administration proposal to prop up coal plants by raising electricity rates. (Bloomberg)

CLIMATE: A federal judge questions ExxonMobil’s attempts to block investigations by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts into whether it committed climate fraud. (InsideClimate News)

POLICY:
• In an effort to open federally protected lands to fossil fuel development, President Trump will announce a proposal to drastically shrink two national monuments in Utah. (Washington Post)
• An official with a regional grid operator says the Trump administration’s plan to federally subsidize coal and nuclear energy would impose a “sledgehammer” on competitive power markets and discourage investments in energy development. (Washington Examiner)

POLITICS: Trump administration officials say the White House is planning to push out former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. (New York Times)

COMMENTARY: A provision to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling needs to be cut from the Senate tax bill by amendment, says the Arctic program director for The Wilderness Society. (The Hill)

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