News of the Day:
Biden’s pick for Interior secretary is a passionate foe of drilling in Arctic Refuge
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media, December 17, 2020
Haaland has voiced passionate opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As a congresswoman-elect in 2018, she spoke at an anti-drilling rally in front of the U.S. Capitol.
“I’m here to support my family in Alaska. To protect the Arctic Refuge. To protect the animals and the trees and everything that lives there,” Haaland said. “Because not everything should be based on how much money we can make.”
Alaska Native groups are on both sides of development in ANWR. Some, particularly on the Arctic Slope, say they need the jobs, and that drilling, and caribou can co-exist.
Despite Haaland’s opposition to one of his long-held goals, Alaska Congressman Don Young has praised her and called her a friend. They worked together on bills to provide contracting opportunities for tribes and to restore buffalo herds.
U.S. Oil Drillers’ Break-Even Costs Plunge 20% in 2020
Bloomberg NEF, December 18, 2020
- Producers made drastic cost cuts to adjust to new oil world
- Break-evens declined an average of $11.50 per barrel
This year has been rough for U.S. oil producers, with market prices declining by over $15 per barrel. In an effort to stay economically viable, they have managed to reduce break-even costs by an average of $11.50 per barrel in 2020 compared to last year, BNEF estimates.
Californians Can Now Pay Extra for Gas from Cow Manure
Mark Chediak, Bloomberg, December 18, 2020
Southern California residents now have the option to pay a little extra to get some of their natural gas from landfills and cow manure.
California state regulators signed off Thursday on a three-year plan by Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric to sell what the utilities call “renewable natural gas” or “biogas” that comes from capturing methane from manure lagoons at dairy farms, landfills and elsewhere.
The utilities, owned by Sempra Energy, say the strategy is a way to reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and help California meet its climate goals. Under their proposal, customers can pay a higher rate to have it blended into the natural gas piped into their homes and businesses.
Coal demand to rise 2.6% in 2021 after record decline
Mining.Com, December 18, 2021
Global demand for coal is set to jump 2.6% next year after a record pandemic-led drop this year, as recovering economic activity will lift use for electricity and industrial output, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday.
Demand for thermal and metallurgical coal should rise to 7,432 million tonnes in 2021, from 7,243 million tonnes this year, the Paris-based agency said in its Coal 2020 report.
Kathleen Rice beats out AOC for spot on coveted House committee
Sarah Ferris, Heather Caygle, Politico, December 17, 2020
Rep. Kathleen Rice has captured a prized seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee after a contentious showdown with fellow New Yorker, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Rice and Ocasio-Cortez have been battling behind the scenes for weeks to secure one of the few open seats on the exclusive committee, which oversees everything from health care policy to climate issues. Tensions spilled into the open Thursday in a private meeting of the Steering and Policy Committee, where Democrats were forced to choose between the two members in a tense — and awkward — secret ballot vote.
CLILMATE CHANGE CONVERSATIONS
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
LIBERALS WON THIS BATTLE President-elect Joe Biden last night officially confirmed his personnel picks for the major environmental and energy roles, which fully formed looks like a “dream team” to liberals, who essentially won all of the key battles.
That’s especially true with Biden’s newest picks, Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico to lead the Interior Department and Michael Regan to head the EPA. Haaland rode the possibility of being the first Native American cabinet secretary to beat out long-time Biden pal retiring Sen. Tom Udall, while Regan got the nod after liberals boxed out Mary Nichols, California’s air pollution chief who was once considered the favorite.
Now, liberals are poised to press their demands on policy and legislation, and if personnel is policy, they are in a better position to get what they want.
“It’s been a good week,” said Collin Rees, senior campaigner with Oil Change U.S., who has led a campaign of liberal groups pressing Biden on personnel.
“The pretty solid personnel picks this week give us better people to push, and also prove that Biden can be pressured to act,” Rees told Josh.
Haaland stands out as an outspoken progressive champion and original Green New Deal sponsor whose advocacy for transitioning the U.S. to 100% clean energy would suggest she is eager to fulfill Biden’s campaign pledge to ban all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
Haaland and Biden’s choice for Energy secretary, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, have aligned themselves with the “keep it in the ground” movement. In 2016, Haaland boosted her national profile by joining tribal leaders in rallying against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“We see Haaland as likely confirmation of Biden’s intent to end leasing,” the research group ClearView said in note last night, although she will be in a tricky spot given her home state is the top oil producer on federal lands.
Can Biden’s team stay on the same page? Brandon Hurlbut, a former Energy Department chief of staff in the Obama administration who is on the board of the liberal Sunrise Movement, noted Biden appointed a mix of experienced, relatively centrist former colleagues, along with fresher faces more widely embraced by liberals.
Biden has tapped the Obama administration well for his top economic adviser (Brian Deese), climate “czar” (Gina McCarthy), and climate diplomat (John Kerry).
“He has done a terrific job of choosing people who have experience and can hit the ground running on Day One and others who can bring in fresh thinking to represent people of color,” Hurbult told Josh.
To appease liberal groups, Biden has broken with his history of leaning on familiar faces (he had no previous relationship with Haaland and Regan). That could set up a clash of perspectives, but, Hurlbut said, “ultimately, the president makes the decision.”