Headlamp – Dear Congress: Stop picking winners and losers between energy sectors and EPA trims the fat.

Congress: Stop picking winners and losers between energy sectors. While President Trump promotes a much-needed agenda of lower taxes and job creation, Congress must do its share by addressing a critical issue regarding tax incentives. In 2015, Congress decided to change course on tax incentives for promising energy technologies by picking winners (primarily solar businesses) while taking away incentives from other industries, including fuel cells powered by refined natural gas and hydrogen. This was a very short-sighted decision, as fuel cell technology could revolutionize the way American power is generated within a few years. The time has come for Congress to fix the practice of arbitrarily picking winners and losers between energy sectors such as solar at the expense of an even more promising energy future.

Taxpayers pay for Tax Breaks? Norway’s government plans to make taxpayers rather than oil companies pay special U.N. fees for any offshore production from remote Arctic regions, according to letters sent to oil firms and seen by Reuters. The plan could serve as an example for other nations looking to fund exploration of the seabed ever further from land. It was criticized by opposition parties that want tighter limits on exploration in the fragile Arctic environment, just days before an election in which the future of Norway’s big offshore oil and gas sector is a major issue.

The calm AFTER the storm. Reconstruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s deadly gash through Texas could prove positive for the oil market in a few months, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. More than half of the U.S. oil refining capacity that was shut down because of Harvey’s winds and rain will be back online by Thursday, Goldman analysts including Damien Courvalin said in a Sept. 5 report. Dry post-storm weather should help minimize the loss of demand for gasoline and diesel, according to the bank.

Kenai loses jobs and business sales. Although most of the Kenai Peninsula’s demographic metrics stayed level in 2016 — population grew slightly and schools performed well — overall business activity fell about 10 percent and employment fell about 3.2 percent. The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District’s 2017 Situations and Prospects report, released Tuesday, noted that personal and per capita income increased, but gross business sales dropped about 10 percent between 2015 and 2016, from almost $3.7 billion in 2015 to approximately $3.3 billion in 2016.

A drop in the bucket. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) workforce is expected to dip to levels not seen since Ronald Reagan was president, an agency official confirmed on Wednesday. Between retirements and a buyout program the EPA instituted earlier this summer, the agency is expected to lose more than 500 employees by October, Reuters reported Tuesday. An agency official confirmed the numbers to The Hill. The EPA employs about 15,000 people. The tally after the fiscal year ends at the end of the month could decline to 14,428 staffers. That’s a level not seen since the 1988 fiscal year, when the EPA employed 14,440 officials.

There is no “I” in team. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met privately on Tuesday in a bid to repair their badly frayed relationship, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Trump and McConnell huddled privately for roughly 20 minutes ahead of a larger gathering of Republican leaders and officials working on tax reform. The meeting was an apparent attempt to clear the air after a contentious August recess between the two, mostly fueled by the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare.

First Reads:

Exclusive: Norway plans tax breaks for remotest Arctic oilfields – letters
Reuters, Alister Doyle, September 5, 2017

Goldman Sees Oil Gloom Clearing as Demand Rises in Harvey’s Wake
Bloomberg, Dan Murtaugh, August 5, 2017

By the numbers: KPEDD delves into economic data
The Peninsula Clarion, Elizabeth Earl, September 5, 2017

EPA: Agency staffing on pace to dip to 1980s levels
The Hill, Devin Henry, September 6, 2017

The federal government’s myopic energy strategy is still picking winners and losers
The Washington Examiner, Colin Hanna, September 6, 2017

Trump, McConnell meet after monthlong standoff
Politico, John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett, September 6, 2017