Saudi Arabia Set to Raise Oil Output Amid Recovery in Prices
Summer Said and Benoit Faucon, The Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2021
Saudi Arabia plans to increase oil output in the coming months, reversing a recent big production cut, say advisers to the kingdom, a sign of growing confidence over an oil-price recovery.
The world’s largest oil exporter surprised oil markets last month when it said it would unilaterally slash 1 million barrels a day of crude production in February and March in an effort to raise prices.
But the kingdom plans to announce a reversal of those cuts when a coalition of oil producers meets next month, the advisers said, in light of the recent recovery in prices. The output rise won’t kick in until April, given the Saudis have already committed to stick to cuts through March.
Dakota Access Pipeline Ruling Points the Way for Regulators, Not Issue Advocates
Patrice Douglas, Real Clear Energy, February 14, 2021
The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals provided some much needed, common sense clarity on the future of the Dakota Access Pipeline last month after months of legal limbo.
In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge court upheld U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg’s decision last year that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – which is responsible for weighing the potential impacts of major infrastructure projects and providing recommendations about whether they should be permitted – should have conducted an additional environmental impact statement for a 1,000-foot section of pipe under Lake Oahe.
The appellate court disagreed, however, with the lower court’s ruling that the pipeline should be shuttered and emptied until the assessment can be completed – an extensive process that could take a year or longer.
Some believe this decision is a blow to the pipeline operator. Some believe it hurts the challengers. It shouldn’t be either. In fact, it is an opportunity to let regulators do their job and let the facts speak for themselves once the full and final analysis is available.
At issue isn’t whether the entire pipeline is safe – more than 1,000 permits and approvals and some 600 hearings and consultations suggest it is – but rather whether the thousand-foot section, less than 0.02% of the full development, is safe. The fact that the court ruled that operations should continue indicates the Corps’ initial evaluation was sufficiently thorough—a piece was just missing.
If anything, the ruling should restore confidence in the regulatory process. The perceived omission can now be addressed by the experts.
China Eyes Rare Earth Export Curbs for U.S. Defense, FT Says
Bloomberg, February 16, 2021
China is exploring whether it can hurt U.S. defense contractors by limiting supplies of rare-earth minerals that are critical to the industry, the Financial Times reported.
Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly companies in the U.S. and Europe would be affected if China restricted rare-earth exports during a bilateral dispute, the FT reported, citing people it didn’t identify involved in the consultation.
The move throws the spotlight back on the group of elements that are used in everything from smartphones to fighter jets, and have previously been a focus in the deteriorating trade relationship between China and the U.S. The Asian country controls most of the world’s mined output, with an even tighter hold of the processing industry, leaving American industries with few avenues to immediately secure short-term supply if curbs were to be put in place.
Anchorage Republican Rep. Sara Rasmussen breaks from Alaska House’s minority caucus
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, February 16, 2021
Republican member of the Alaska House of Representatives from Anchorage has created a breakaway minority caucus of her own, she said Tuesday.
Rep. Sara Rasmussen, who represents Anchorage’s Sand Lake neighborhood, said she will serve in the House as an independent Republican without ties to either the 21-member coalition House majority or the 18-member House Republican minority.
It’s an approach last taken by Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, in the prior Legislature.
In the Alaska Legislature, minority groups receive committee seats based on their size. By shrinking from a 19-member minority to an 18-member one, the Republican minority loses one seat on the House Finance Committee, which drafts the state budget.
The majority has tentatively assigned that seat to Rasmussen. Committee assignments are not final until approved with a majority vote on the House floor.
Rasmussen sent a written statement by text message:
“Representative Sara Rasmussen campaigned on controlling spending, a sustainable PFD, and opposing an income tax. At this time she feels the best path forward to accomplishing those goals is to work as an independent member of the House Finance Committee, meaning she is not a member of either the majority or minority caucus. She is committed to putting aside partisan politics in order to do what’s best for the state of Alaska and accomplish the priorities that her constituents in Sand Lake sent her to work on. Representative Rasmussen looks forward to being an integral part of crafting long term fiscal policies that will move the economy and Alaska forward.”
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
INDUSTRY WANTS TO WEIGH IN ON NEW SOCIAL COST OF CARBON: Nearly a dozen major industry trade groups are asking the Biden administration to provide “ample channels and opportunities” for public input as it crafts a new social cost of carbon, used to weigh the benefits and costs of climate regulations.
The Biden administration is slated to unveil a new interim value for the social cost of carbon, likely to be much higher than the drastically reduced value put out by Trump officials as soon as Friday.
Industry groups, however, are worrying the value could be developed in a black box.
“It is not clear what the process is to solicit public and stakeholder input for developing the interim estimates” or the final estimates by January 2022, wrote the industry groups in a letter to White House officials yesterday. The groups include the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers.