Today’s Key Takeaways: Survey Says: What’s ESG? The best of both worlds – Alaska’s carbon offsets while embracing oil. Energy shortfalls are facing most of North America this summer. Exxon ventures into the hunt for lithium – in Arkansas. DC House Oversight hearing on new gas stove rule.
NEWS OF THE DAY:
FEW AWARE OF ESG: Public awareness of environmental, social, and governance framework in investing – or so-called “ESG investing” has not increased in the past two years, according to a new Gallup poll, despite a wave of pro- and anti-ESG legislation.
According to the survey, just 37% of Americans said they are “very” or “somewhat” familiar with ESG investing, nearly unchanged from two years ago, when 36% of voters said the same. Another 22% said they are “not too familiar,” while the majority of respondents, 40%, said they are “not familiar at all” with ESG.
In addition, a majority of respondents, or 59%, said they have “no opinion” when asked if they view the movement toward ESG as a positive or negative development, while the remaining 4 in 10 were nearly evenly split, with 22% saying they held a positive view of ESG investing, versus the 19% who held a negative view. Read the full survey here.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy
‘Leap of faith:’ Alaska pursues carbon offset market while embracing oil
Becky Bohrer, AP, May 23, 2023
Alaska’s push to become a bigger player in the clean energy market is in the spotlight this week at a conference convened by its Republican governor, even as the state continues to embrace new fossil fuel production, including the controversial Willow oil project on the petroleum-rich North Slope.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy successfully pushed through the legislature a bill he is expected to sign Tuesday that would allow the oil-reliant state to cash in on the sale of so-called carbon credits to companies looking to offset their carbon emissions. Projects could include credits for improving a forest’s health through thinning or by allowing trees to grow bigger, thereby increasing a forest’s potential to hold carbon.
Lawmakers cast the bill as allowing Alaska to have the best of both worlds — continuing to permit oil drilling, mining and timber activities while also stepping into the potentially lucrative market for sequestering carbon dioxide. But some watching Alaska’s foray into this sector wonder if the program will gain traction as Dunleavy and lawmakers have said the aim isn’t restricting emissions but generating a new revenue stream.
Most of North America at Risk of Energy Shortfalls This Summer
Andreas Exarheas, Rigzone, May 23, 2023
Two thirds of North America is at risk of energy shortfalls this summer during periods of extreme demand, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has revealed.
According to the NERC’s Summer Reliability Assessment, which was released recently, the Midcontinent ISO (MISO), NPCC-New England, NPCC-Ontario, SERC-Central, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), Texas (ERCOT), and U.S. Western Interconnection areas “face risks of electricity supply shortfalls during periods of more extreme summer conditions”.
In a statement accompanying the report, NERC noted that areas in the U.S. West are at elevated risk due to wide-area heat events that can drive above-normal demand and strain resources and the transmission network and highlighted that, in SPP and MISO, wind energy output will be key to meeting normal summer peak and extreme demand levels due to little excess firm capacity.
The risk of drought and high temperatures in ERCOT may challenge system resources and may result in emergency procedures, including the need for operator-controlled load shedding during periods of low wind and high generator outages, NERC said in the statement, adding that the SERC Central region is forecasting higher peak demand and less supply capacity, “creating challenges for operators to maintain reserves in extreme scenarios”.
Exxon Joins Hunt for Lithium in Bet on EV Boom
Benoit Morenne, Collin Eaton, The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2023
Oil giant quietly laid plans this year for producing mineral in Arkansas.
The Texas oil giant recently purchased drilling rights to a sizable chunk of Arkansas land from which it aims to produce the mineral, a key ingredient in batteries for electric cars, cellphones and laptops, according to people familiar with the matter.
Lithium is far removed from the fossil-fuel business, which has powered Exxon’s XOM 1.68%increase; green up pointing triangle profits for more than a century, and signals the company’s assessment that demand for internal combustion engines could soon peak, the people said. It would also mark a return for the company to an industry it helped pioneer almost 50 years ago.
Exxon bought 120,000 gross acres in the Smackover formation of southern Arkansas from an exploration company called Galvanic Energy, according to some of the people. The price tag was more than $100 million, people familiar with the matter said, a relatively small transaction for a company of Exxon’s size.
House Oversight Republicans set hearing on gas stove rule
Nico Portuondo, E & E Daily, May 22, 2032
The hearing will probe a Department of Energy rule that could disqualify 50 percent of gas stoves currently on the market.
The House Oversight and Accountability Committee will hold a hearing this week to examine a proposed Department of Energy efficiency regulation on new stoves that has caused an outcry on the Hill.
Lawmakers on the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy and Regulatory Affairs will scrutinize a proposed rule that could disqualify about 50 percent of gas stoves on the market today, according to DOE’s own analysis.
“DOE has released the kitchen sink of progressive regulation aimed at American consumers who are already feeling the crunch of inflation and rising energy costs,” said subcommittee Chair Pat Fallon (R-Texas).
“The Biden administration’s delusional regulations attempt to micromanage every aspect of Americans’ lives by eliminating consumer choice — including how they choose to cook their food.”
The hearing reflects a broader push by House Republicans to make the case that DOE efficiency regulations on consumer products are a prominent example of the Biden administration’s climate regulatory overreach on Americans’ lives.
The agency is moving forward with the rule along with other efficiency standards, including for distribution transformers, washing machines and refrigerators.
Republicans have also alleged that DOE’s analysis that 50 percent of gas stoves on the market today would qualify under the rule is a sloppy overestimation.
Industry groups found that 20 of 21 DOE-tested gas stove models failed to comply with the threshold of 1.2 million British thermal units set by the proposed rule in the 525-page technical support document.
“DOE’s first approach was to send a requirement with the proposed rule at max tech requirements, which DOE itself said would eliminate 96 percent of the products available today,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) at a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.
“After the pushback, it appears that DOE revised their information … and it appears that they pulled the [50 percent] number, quite frankly, out of thin air.”
Lesko led the passage of H.R. 1640, the “Save Our Gas Stoves Act,” through an Energy and Commerce subcommittee last week. The bill would prevent the agency from moving forward on the gas stove rule or any that is “substantially similar.”
DOE has said the 50 percent number represents an intentional effort to make sure that gas stoves on the market today with two common features would qualify under the rule. Many gas stoves could also eventually qualify if efficiency adjustments are made.
The gas stove rule has also raised concerns with key moderate Democrats. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blocked the nomination of Jeff Marootian, President Joe Biden’s pick to lead DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, over the proposed rule.
“While I appreciate that these rules would only apply to new stoves, my view is that it’s part of a broader, administration-wide effort to eliminate fossil fuels,” Manchin said.
DOE estimates that its proposed stove standards would reduce energy use by about 30 percent for both gas models and for electric smooth-top models — relative to the least efficient products of each of those types on the market today.
The regulation has the support of key consumer interest groups such as the Consumer Federation of America and National Consumer Law Center.