News of the Day:
Democrats put scrapping Trump rules on the back burner
Kelsey Burger, E & E News, February 18, 2021
Talk about the Congressional Review Act flared in early January, after Democrats won the Georgia Senate races and secured the chamber majority.
The once rarely cited 1996 law was thrust into the national spotlight as Democrats and regulatory policy wonks speculated about which Trump regulations might be quickly repealed.
In early January, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called rolling back the Trump deregulatory regime through CRA one of the first orders of business, Politico reporter Burgess Everett tweeted.
Now, talk about using the law has subsided.
Democrats have in recent weeks been distracted by other priorities, including coronavirus relief legislation and the impeachment trial of former President Trump.
Sources on and off Capitol Hill say using CRA to revoke rules on environment and public health impacts has not disappeared entirely. Rather, it’s still early.
The act allows lawmakers and the White House to reverse regulations finalized in roughly the last six months with a simple majority vote in Congress.
As a practical matter, it’s only useful when there is a change in administrations and one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.
“We hope and expect Congress will use whatever tools in the toolbox to get rid of these Trump rollbacks of environmental protections and take transformative climate action needed to protect us from the worst impacts,” said Matthew Davis, a lobbyist with the League of Conservation Voters.
The window for lawmakers to introduce CRA resolutions opened on Feb. 5, and it closes in 60 legislative days, which is longer than 60 calendar days. So there’s still plenty of time.
But in general, Democrats tend to be wary of the law, which inherently favors Republicans, who tend to be more hostile to federal regulations.
Texas Freeze Causes Largest Ever U.S. Oil Production Decline
Irina Slav, OilPrice.Com, February 18, 2021
U.S. crude oil production has plunged by as much as 40 percent due to the Polar Vortex that brought freezing temperatures to swathes of the United States, most notably including Texas, where wellheads and pipelines froze. Now, this is turning into a global problem.
Bloomberg’s Alex Longley writes that according to estimates by Citi, the total lost U.S. production by early March could reach 16 million barrels. According to traders, however, the lost production could be twice as high.
“The market is underestimating the amount of oil production lost in Texas due to the bad weather,” Ben Luckock, co-chief of oil trading at Trafigura, said as quoted by Bloomberg.
Hilcorp seeks to drill gas exploration wells near Anchor Point
Megan Pacer, Peninsula Clarion, February 17, 2021
The oil and gas company Hilcorp Alaska is seeking to move forward with a project to drill gas exploration wells near Anchor Point.
The Texas-based company submitted a Lease Plan of Operations Permit application to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources in January requesting authorization to drill two wells in Whiskey Gulch — one gas-only, and one combination oil and gas well. The Whiskey Gulch site is approximately 3 miles northeast from Anchor Point.
Part of Hilcorp’s proposal is to construct a 2.75-acre gravel pad on private surface lands at the end of Cape Ninilchik Avenue.
130-year-old Hecla stays on cutting edge
Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News, February 17, 2021
Established in 1891, Hecla Mining Company has survived two global pandemics, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and numerous crests and troughs of a cyclical metals market that has sunk many of the silver miner’s contemporaries over the past 130 years. One of the reasons for this long-lived success is a readiness to adapt to change and the vision to adopt new technologies that maximize safety, improve efficiency, and reduce the environmental footprint of its operations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
“The one thing that is certain is change, so we have to continue to get better each and every day, in every aspect of what we do,” said Hecla Mining Vice President of External Affairs Luke Russell. “We don’t rely on ‘well that is the way we did it yesterday,’ there may be a better way.”
This mindset of utilizing the latest technologies to continually improve operations is on full display at Hecla’s Greens Creek Silver Mine in Southeast Alaska.
Thanks in large part to the implementation of 21st century technologies, such as high-speed wireless and semi-autonomous mining equipment, Greens Creek produced 10.5 million ounces of silver in 2020, which is roughly 77% of the 13.5 million oz recovered from all of Hecla’s operations last year.
“This definitely is not your grandfather’s mine,” Hecla Greens Creek Mine penned on the innovations page of its website.
Anchorage Democratic Rep. Geran Tarr breaks from Alaska House’s coalition caucus
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, February 18, 2021
A Democratic member of the Alaska House of Representatives will become an independent Democrat in the House, creating the possibility that the House will organize on Thursday without any side controlling a majority of its 40 votes.
Late Wednesday, Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage said she will not remain a part of the House’s multipartisan coalition. That decision leaves the coalition with only 20 members, one short of a majority.
Even though she will not be a member of the coalition, Tarr said she will still vote in favor of a plan of organization that leaves coalition members in charge.
“I am hoping we’ll be on the floor tomorrow, we’ll vote on the committee on committees report,” she said. “That will pass as soon as possible and we will get to work.”
She said a 21- or 22-member House majority is “marginal,” and that by withdrawing from the coalition, she may force the creation of a larger “committee of the whole” that includes additional Republicans.
Follow the Science—and Do the Math—on Clean Energy
Heather Reams, Real Clear Energy, February 18, 2021
The “go big or go home” mentality is killing the climate conversation. And it’s not what voters want, either.
Recent polling shows Americans have strong preferences for commonsense, bipartisan, and all-of-the-above solutions—including fossil fuels and renewables—to achieve U.S. energy independence and sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
But for some reason, how to address our changing climate remains a very polarizing issue. While it’s tempting to blame pervasive climate denial, polling has found widespread acceptance and concern about climate change among voters across the board—including a majority of conservatives. The true political divide falls on where to concentrate our efforts.
There is good to be found in the climate measures enacted in the past few weeks, and even some conservatives recognize the value of taking bolder action on climate than the previous administration. However, imposing broad political maneuvers without any attempt to reach across the aisle is a story that Washington watchers know all too well. Pandering to the political base of one party creates policies that will be as short-lived as the terms of the officials who enact them.
The bottom line is this: we cannot afford to make the environment a red vs blue issue—it’s a red, white, and blue issue that affects us all. Congress and the White House must embrace affordable, rational, reliable energy solutions that Americans support and that support America.