News of the Day:
Biden Swings Waters Pendulum With Final Resolution Still Elusive
Bobby Magill, Bloomberg Law, January 29, 2021
- Attorneys see waters litigation continuing despite stays.
- Some pushing courts to resolve federal jurisdiction question.
The Biden administration is swinging the pendulum of repeated changes to water regulation back to expanding after those regulatory powers contracted under President Donald Trump.
But the swing isn’t likely to be permanent, legal scholars say.
The expansion of regulation has turned the question of federal jurisdiction over waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, from an arcane rule into a facet of America’s culture wars, given its impact on how private property is developed. Trump claimed—inaccurately, his critics said—that WOTUS “gave bureaucrats virtually unlimited authority” and “basically took your property away from you.”
Environmental litigators are urging the new administration to act fast.
“We want to it to be proper. I want them to follow science and develop a rule relatively quickly, so we’re not left with a complete lack of protection,” said Janette Brimmer, an Earthjustice attorney who is litigating several WOTUS cases.
Political compromise is unlikely, however, until the Supreme Court or Congress can settle the issue once and for all, the observers say.
The pendulum is likely to continue swinging “indefinitely, unless one party establishes political dominance,” said Dave Owen, a professor at the University of California, Hastings College of Law.
5 Oil And Gas Predictions For 2021
Robert Rapier, OilPrice.Com, January 27, 2021
When I made my 2020 predictions a year ago, the world was on the cusp of a pandemic that would upend the oil markets. In the process, it upended two of my energy sector predictions, but three others ended up being correct. The Covid-19 pandemic last year was a black swan event that caused an unprecedented fallout across the energy sector. The evolution of the pandemic this year will be the largest variable impacting the energy sector. Yes, larger even than any policies our new President will enact.
The energy sector is already off to a fast start in the equity markets this year, as the market is anticipating a return to normal. But if those expectations falter and it takes longer than expected to get the pandemic under control this year, there is a risk of a significant pullback.
Against that backdrop, below are my predictions for some of the significant energy trends I expect this year. As I usually point out, the discussion behind the predictions is more important than the predictions themselves. That’s why I provide extensive background and reasoning behind the predictions.
I also make predictions that are specific and measurable. At year’s end, there are specific metrics that will indicate whether a prediction was right or wrong.
No More Gas Pipelines? Gas Pipeline Owners Eye Hydrogen Potential
David R. Baker, Vanessa Dezem & Gerson Freitas Jr., Bloomberg, January 29, 2021
Three million miles of natural gas pipelines criss-cross the U.S., and the fight against climate change could render them all obsolete.
The last two weeks alone illustrate the stakes. President Joe Biden canceled the permit for the $9 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline on his first day in office, a clear signal any new fossil fuel pipeline project in the U.S. will face long odds. His climate envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry, warned that natural gas pipelines could become “stranded assets” within 30 years as the administration seeks to end carbon emissions from power plants. And NextEra Energy Inc. wrote off $1.2 billion of its investment in the Mountain Valley gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia, which has been tied up in regulatory and legal delays.
So pipeline owners are eyeing another, possibly future-proof fuel: hydrogen.
What Should We Do About Mining?
Alexander Kaufmann, HuffPost, January 29,2021
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders that paused new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, directed the government’s international financing entities to phase out funding for fossil fuel projects overseas, and created a Civilian Climate Corps.
Biden’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, met the usual climate obstructionist talking points with clear, confident responses at a White House press briefing.
But on the same day, in the Senate confirmation hearing for Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm, a more complex side of the clean energy revolution was under discussion: mining. Granholm repeatedly said that she supports ramping up U.S. mining to help meet the demand for raw materials required to make the batteries that power electric vehicles and store renewable electricity.
“We are missing a massive opportunity for our own security, but also for a market for our trading partners who may want to have access to minerals that are produced in a responsible way,” Granholm, the former Michigan governor, told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “We know we can mine in a responsible way.”
At one point, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) pressed Granholm for a commitment that she would follow the law passed in December to set up a $75 million strategic uranium reserve, which would boost domestic mining of uranium.
“I will certainly act upon the instructions of Congress,” Granholm said.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
GOOD LUCK HASHING IT OUT: Republican Senators John Kennedy of Louisiana and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, along with more than 20 other GOP colleagues, yesterday requested a meeting with Biden to discuss his actions targeting fossil fuel leasing and infrastructure.
“We have been surprised by your immediate actions upon taking office that have targeted hundreds of thousands of these jobs in our states and which run counter to your stated goal of creating good-paying jobs and helping struggling American families,” the senators wrote in a letter.
We are surprised they are surprised, since Biden is doing what he campaigned on. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said today that Biden has no plans for a meeting with Republicans as a group, but that he engages regularly with members individually. She also joked that the proposed gathering “sounds like a lot of people for a meeting during COVID.”
It Is Time for Environmentalism 3.0
Kenneth P. Green, The Reason Foundation, January 28, 2021
Many of the policies promoted to address the most serious and high-profile environmental problems—climate change, declining biodiversity, oceanic dead zones, and tropical deforestation—simply aren’t working.
The modern environmental movement, founded on the very best of principles—protecting people and the planet—is failing.
To put it bluntly, many of the policies promoted to address the most serious and high-profile environmental problems—climate change, declining biodiversity, oceanic dead zones, and tropical deforestation—simply aren’t working. Worse, some of those policies have become politically divisive and, in more than a few cases, actually make the problems worse.
It’s time to reconsider what we’re doing.