Today’s Rasmussen Poll:
The third Monday in February is observed as a federal holiday to honor our nation’s first president, George Washington, born February 22, 1732. It is commonly known as Presidents’ Day, to include Abraham Lincoln (born February 12, 1809) in the honor, but Americans don’t favor a separate holiday for Lincoln’s birthday.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that only 35% of American Adults say there should be a separate federal holiday for Lincoln’s birthday. Forty-seven percent (47%) are against making Lincoln’s birthday a separate holiday, and 18% are not sure.
Interior Secretary Nominee on Collision Course With Oil Industry
Timothy Puko, The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2021
Deb Haaland is poised to make history on two fronts, as both the first Native American cabinet secretary and as the architect of what could be a landmark change in the U.S. government’s relationship with oil.
First, she will need to be confirmed by the Senate as President Biden’s nominee for interior secretary—and Republicans are girding for a fight.
The Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico has joined with pipeline protesters, supported the Green New Deal and opposed fracking on public lands. For a cabinet post that oversees the government’s longstanding, multibillion-dollar partnership with drillers on federal lands, Ms. Haaland’s environmental politics are in contrast to those of her predecessors.
“Fracking is a danger to the air we breathe and water we drink,” she wrote in 2017, the year before she was elected to Congress. “The auctioning off of our land for fracking and drilling serves only to drive profits to the few.”
Fracking has become the source of most oil and gas produced in the U.S., and Ms. Haaland’s history of criticizing it has alarmed leaders from fossil-fuel-producing states. Many come from the West, home to nearly all of the drilling on federal land, and where states benefit from the money.
“To have a nominee who has taken the most radical positions, supports the most radical policies on natural resources is unprecedented,“ Sen. Steve Daines (R., Mont.) said in an interview. “A lot of our Western states…depend on the revenue that comes out of those federal lands to fund governments.”
The Senate Energy committee hasn’t set a date for Ms. Haaland’s confirmation hearing. Mr. Daines said he would seek to use procedural powers to delay the appointment if she can’t satisfactorily address his concerns.
An outright rejection of her nomination isn’t considered likely, but Republicans could seek help from moderate Democrats from fossil-fuel-producing states—including committee chairman Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.). Mr. Manchin hasn’t announced a decision on Ms. Haaland but told the trade publication E&E News he will “be deferential and try to help every one of Joe’s appointees.”
Regardless of who becomes secretary, the oil-and-gas industry is on a collision course with the new administration, often centered on the Interior Department. President Biden has ordered a temporary ban on new oil-and-gas leases on federal land as he seeks to promote conservation and alternate sources of energy to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.
U.S. Gas Prices Explode On Freezing Weather
Irina Slav, OilPrice.Com, February 15, 2021
U.S. natural gas prices hit record highs last week after the temperature in many parts of the country fell far below forecasts.
In Oklahoma, gas traded at as much as $600 per million British thermal units during the long weekend, pushed up by freezing temperatures across much of the central and western U.S., Bloomberg reported, citing traders who wished to remain unnamed.
In southern California, natural gas traded at $195 per mmBtu as a result of the weather.
Wholesale electricity prices were also soaring sky-high, reaching between $3,000 and $7,000 per megawatt-hour on Sunday. In Texas, wholesale electricity prices hit $7,000 that day. This compares to an average of $25 per MWh on the state’s grid, the Financial Times reports.
As temperatures drop into single-digit territory, Texas’s wind power might is being compromised, too. The biggest producer of wind energy in the United States saw half of its wind turbines frozen by the icy winds blowing from Canada to parts of the U.S. unaccustomed to such temperatures. Of a total 25 GW in wind power capacity, 12 GW were knocked out by the freezing spell. At the same time, there is a shortage of natural gas, likely because of the sudden spike in demand.
Following these developments, the Texas Electric Reliability Council has asked Texans to try and conserve energy as much as they can despite record-breaking demand.
“We are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units,” ERCOT said.
For natural gas producers, the cold spell has turned some wells into profitable territory again, according to World Oil. This is prompting some companies to even reconnect older conventional wells that have been shut for quite some time, now that the economics support doing so.
Court nixes Trump move to open 10 million acres to mining
Rachel Frazin, The Hill, February 12, 2021
A federal judge on Thursday ruled against a Trump administration decision to open up 10 million acres of land to mining that had previously been protected as habitat for the sage grouse bird.
Lynn Winmill, a federal judge in Idaho, ruled that the administration did not sufficiently justify its decision to remove the protections given to the area.
Winmill said he was not persuaded by the Bureau of Land Management’s argument that its decision to withdraw protections from the lands, located in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, was based on new data.
Today, Senator Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, chairman of the Senate Resources Committee released the following statement after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals halted winter work at the Willow project on the North Slope.
“Today’s order by the 9th Circuit Court is a body blow to Alaskans already struggling to stay afloat in an economy ravaged by a once-in-a-century pandemic, low oil prices, and budget constraints. In the Willow project lies the hope of hundreds of millions of barrels of oil in the pipeline and thousands of good-paying jobs for decades – all developed using the strictest environmental standards on the planet. The primary beneficiaries of today’s ruling – spearheaded by the misguided crusade of Outside special interest groups – will be other petroleum regimes, many of whom are adversaries of the United States and do not adhere to the same high standards. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we stand up for our statehood right to develop our natural resources for the benefit of all Alaskans and Americans. I remain hopeful that, in the end, the law and common sense will prevail.”
Bill Gates: Forget the climate policy tweaks and go for the big stuff
Kelsey, Tamborrino, Politico Energy & Environment, February 15, 2021
Forget unrealistic notions about abolishing fossil fuels in a decade, or modest efforts to make electric vehicles a little cheaper. Bill Gates says President Joe Biden needs to go big on climate change — by fostering the major technological changes that can eliminate greenhouses throughout the economy by the middle of the century.
With his new book “How to Avoid A Climate Disaster,” Gates argues that leaders need to shift their focus to long-term strategies aimed at creating a zero-carbon future, a task that scientists warn must be accomplished in a handful of decades to head off catastrophic changes.