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Politics Daily on Energy: Infrastructure nuclear aid too late for Illinois’ at-risk plants

20:03  02 august  2021
20:03  02 august  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

Daily on Energy: Industry growing impatience with Biden administration delay on leasing pause

  Daily on Energy: Industry growing impatience with Biden administration delay on leasing pause Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with what's going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $1.00 an issue! © Provided by Washington Examiner DOE Default Image - July 2021 WAITING ON INTERIOR: Industry groups growing impatient with the Biden administration’s indefinite oil and gas leasing pause saw this week as a prime opportunity for the Interior Department to release its report on the future of the leasing program.

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DOE Default Image - July 2021 © Provided by Washington Examiner DOE Default Image - July 2021

TIME IS TIGHT FOR ILLINOIS NUCLEAR PLANTS: The bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill, officially out last night, strives to save economically struggling nuclear plants from closing, but it’s very likely too late for a pair of plants in Illinois at greatest risk.

Utility Exelon says it will shut down its most vulnerable plants, Byron and Dresden, this fall, and that the federal aid won’t be enough to stave off that result.

America’s aging nuclear weapons come under scrutiny as Russia and China build up their arsenals

  America’s aging nuclear weapons come under scrutiny as Russia and China build up their arsenals CHINA’S MASSIVE MISSILE FIELDS: Using commercial satellite imagery, the Federation of American Scientists has documented an ambitious program by China to dramatically expand its ability to launch hundreds of nuclear weapons, identifying two fields of missile silos under construction which would accommodate roughly 230 ICBMs. © Provided by Washington Examiner DOD header 2020 The group calls the silo construction “the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever.

“While we are encouraged by growing support in Congress to preserve nuclear energy to help combat climate change, the policy proposals currently under consideration face a highly uncertain future and could take months to pass the full Congress and years to come to fruition, if at all,” Exelon said in a statement provided to Josh.

Instead, Exelon is banking on state subsidies to be approved by Illinois’ legislature as part of a sprawling clean energy package pushed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, but a breakthrough on that effort has been stalled for months.

“The proposed Illinois clean energy legislation is the only solution that can pass in time to provide the certainty we need,” Exelon said.

The problem facing Exelon is that the Illinois plants need to be refueled soon (Byron in September and Dresden in November), but the utility won't proceed with that investment without assurance of state subsidies.

Infrastructure deal: Senate suddenly acts to take up bill

  Infrastructure deal: Senate suddenly acts to take up bill WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted to begin work on a nearly $1 trillion national infrastructure plan, acting with sudden speed after weeks of fits and starts once the White House and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on major provisions of the package that’s key to President Joe Biden’s agenda. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted to begin work on a nearly $1 trillion national infrastructure plan, acting with sudden speed after weeks of fits and starts once the White House and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on major provisions of the package that’s key to President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“We can’t risk taking those losses with no guarantee of a legislative solution,” Exelon said.

Brent Rampal, director of nuclear innovation for Clean Air Task Force, also notes assistance from a federal credit program would take time to cycle through because the authorized funding would have to be subsequently appropriated by Congress.

“The credit programs are good, but aren’t enough to save all the plants and require ongoing appropriations, which makes things very hard,” Rampal told me.

Make no mistake though: The Senate infrastructure bill’s creation of a $6 billion four-year credit program for nuclear reactors would provide a big boost to existing nuclear reactors, including potentially others in Illinois, which would be very helpful in the fight against climate change.

Exelon has warned that two more plants, Braidwood and La Salle, face premature retirement in a few years due to low power prices as a result of competition from natural gas, which is cheaper.

Infrastructure bill would transform energy, but maybe not enough

  Infrastructure bill would transform energy, but maybe not enough The bipartisan infrastructure bill in the Senate would spend billions to shift toward a less carbon-centric power sector in the United States, as some advocates say they are looking for more to be done or question the direction of the legislation altogether. The bill, which includes both baseline and new spending, was devised during weeks […] The post Infrastructure bill would transform energy, but maybe not enough appeared first on Roll Call.

The infrastructure bill requests that owners of endangered nuclear plants submit information about how much pollution there'd be if their plants closed, and directs the Secretary of Energy to focus on helping plants with dirty substitute power waiting in the wings to fill in.

It even allows nuclear plants benefitting from existing credit programs implemented in several states to also qualify for federal aid. Nuclear provides more than half of the country’s carbon-free electricity, and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has said the Biden administration can’t “achieve our climate goals if nuclear power plants shut down.”

Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writer Josh Siegel (@SiegelScribe). Email jsiegel@washingtonexaminer.com for tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email, and we’ll add you to our list.

RENEWABLE ENERGY CEO EYES NEXT ROUND OF INFRASTRUCTURE AID: The CEO of one the largest developers of wind and solar farms in the country is warning Congress to not “squander” an opportunity to boost his industry, which must scale rapidly to achieve President Joe Biden’s climate goals and catch competitors such as China.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill gives taxpayers a good bang for their buck

  The bipartisan infrastructure bill gives taxpayers a good bang for their buck The bipartisan infrastructure bill makes a transformative investment in the foundation of our economy and the future of American infrastructure.One of the reasons infrastructure projects cost significantly more in the United States than similar ones in other countries is our byzantine permitting process. The bill directs permitting agencies to cut average approval times to less than two years for major projects and includes several provisions to help make that happen without sacrificing important social and environmental protections.

Sheldon Kimber, CEO of San Francisco-based Intersect Power, says a massive amount of renewable energy in the United States will remain on the sidelines unless federal policymakers take a pair of “simple steps.”

“We are in a good position regardless of what happens,” Kimber told me in an interview for a story posted this morning. “The issue becomes what more we as an industry can do. We have a tremendous opportunity as a country to assert geopolitical and industrial leadership we haven't had for many years.”

The bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill does relatively little to help wind and solar power, which are spreading rapidly and cheaper than natural gas in some parts of the country but need to grow massively to meet Biden’s target of using 100% carbon-free power by 2035.

The big asks: Kimber says Biden and Democrats in Congress in a subsequent larger climate-focused infrastructure bill must deliver on their pledge to boost clean energy tax subsidies and require electric utilities to generate power from nonpolluting sources by passing a clean electricity standard (or something like it).

Specifically, lawmakers must enable clean energy developers to claim renewable tax incentives as direct cash payments in order to expand the scope of companies that can take advantage of the credits.

Why isn't the government telling us about Chinese nuclear weapons?

  Why isn't the government telling us about Chinese nuclear weapons? The U.S. government used to keep the public apprised of threats to national security. © Provided by Washington Examiner Recall, for example, when President John F. Kennedy went on national TV to inform the public about Soviet missiles in Cuba. Such news was never welcome, but the public appreciated knowing the hard truths. Today, it is increasingly common for the public to get this kind of news from private organizations, with Washington later acknowledging it only grudgingly, if at all.

Kimber said Biden’s target is “phenomenally aggressive” but not “completely unrealistic” if policymakers take those steps.

MORE ABOUT THE SENATE FRAMEWORK: The Washington Examiner’s Emily Brooks reported on the introduction of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation last night.

Finalized during a rare weekend session, the legislation, which is called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, clocks in at 2,702 pages. The $1.2 trillion bill includes approximately $550 billion in new spending over five years. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hopes to have a vote on final passage "in a matter of days."

The bill is expected to pass with bipartisan support as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled support for the bill, and more than a dozen Republican senators supported procedural votes last week to begin debate on the legislation.

CLIMATE PROVISIONS AMOUNT TO A BIG DEAL: Most of the clean energy and climate provisions summarized last week as being a part of the bipartisan infrastructure deal made it into the actual legislation.

Xan Fishman, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s director of energy policy and carbon management, told me it’s wrong to say the legislation is not a significant climate change mitigation effort.

“If you really care about cutting emissions and acting against climate change there is a lot to like,” Fishman said. “We shouldn’t pretend like it’s nothing even if there are other really good things to look toward in future legislation.”

In addition to the nuclear credit program, the bill spends $7.5 billion on the first federal effort to build a network of electric vehicle chargers across the country, about half of what Biden originally asked for to build 500,000 stations nationwide.

Biden praises Senate passage of bipartisan infrastructure bill

  Biden praises Senate passage of bipartisan infrastructure bill President Joe Biden marked the Senate passage of a bipartisan infrastructure plan Tuesday with a speech from the White House touting the big political win. "After years and years of infrastructure week, we're on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America," Biden said in triumphant remarks delivered from the White House East Room.

Don’t take this part for granted: The bipartisan bill would fully fund more than a dozen clean energy demonstration projects originally authorized under the Energy Act of 2020 approved at the end of last year, including for energy storage, advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, direct air capture, and renewables.

“This funding can be enormously impactful for advancing the technologies we need to deploy at scale to fight climate change,” Fishman said. “Until the money gets appropriated, it can’t get spent, so actually appropriating this money is a really big deal.”

More details: The bill also creates a $4.7 billion program to combat methane emissions by employing oil workers to plug leaking “orphan” oil and gas wells. And it provides $2.1 billion for pipelines to transport captured carbon dioxide, and billions in funding to support the creation of hydrogen and direct air capture infrastructure hubs.

The legislation gives tens of billions toward improving and modernizing the country’s electricity grid, enabling "the building of thousands of miles" of electric transmission lines, critical to expanding the use of renewable energy.

It would set up a new “Grid Authority” within the Energy Department to speed the approval process and also gives leeway for DOE to designate corridors of national interest, permitting quicker construction. Under the bill, FERC could also issue construction permits for some interstate transmission if states deny applications. It would spend $39 billion to modernize the nation’s public transit systems, the largest such investment in U.S. history.

BUT….HOUSE LIBERALS WANT MORE: If and when the infrastructure proposal passes the Senate, it faces more hurdles in the House, where Democrats hold a tiny majority.

Liberal Democrats say a Senate plan to pass a two-part infrastructure and social spending package falls short, and they plan to seek changes if it reaches the House, the Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio reports.

Daily on Energy: Oil lobby boosts carbon pricing as it addresses fallout from Exxon lobbyist sting video

  Daily on Energy: Oil lobby boosts carbon pricing as it addresses fallout from Exxon lobbyist sting video Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with what's going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $1.00 an issue! © Provided by Washington Examiner DOE Default Image - July 2021 OIL AND CARBON PRICING: Mike Sommers, CEO of American Petroleum Institute, insists the oil and gas lobby’s newfound support for carbon pricing is genuine, and says he is advocating for the policy even as it has failed to gain traction on Capitol Hill and with the Biden administration.

“Right now, we are pushing for a little bit more,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who heads the influential House Progressive Caucus. “Because if we really want to make a difference, this is what we are going to have to do.”

Schumer hopes to pass the bipartisan bill and move on to the larger $3.5 trillion package, with significant climate mitigation measures, that could pass with only Democratic support.

House Democrats are signaling they may reject the bipartisan infrastructure package meant to serve as a springboard to Senate passage of the $3.5 trillion deal.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, said the Senate version falls short on transit spending, leaving out key policy provisions to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

DeFazio said he’s hoping to add the missing elements and add spending to the $3.5 trillion measure.

US VOWS RESPONSE TO IRAN ATTACK ON OIL TANKER: The United States says “an appropriate response … will be forthcoming” after a drone attack on an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea that the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Israel are blaming on Iran, the Washington Examiner’s Jamie McIntyre reports.

“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement yesterday. “There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior. These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, international shipping and commerce, and the lives of those on the vessels involved.”

Blinken said the U.S. is consulting with allies in the region about “next steps,” and he said the Liberian-flagged tanker Mercer Street was “a commercial ship that was peacefully transiting through the north Arabian Sea in international waters.” The vessel was owned by a company based in Japan but was managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime. Israeli officials alleged this was the reason the ship was targeted.

The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. is considering new sanctions targeting Iran’s use of drones and missiles to carry out precision attacks. Iran has denied responsibility for the attack.

BIDEN… ‘CAN’T IGNORE’ CLIMATE CHANGE WORSENING WILDFIRES: Biden touted the bipartisan infrastructure agreement’s focus on wildfire prevention during a virtual meeting with governors to talk about blazes raging across the West.

“One of the important aspects of the bipartisan infrastructure deal that is before the Senate now is it includes billions of dollars to strengthen wildfire preparedness, resilience, and response,” Biden told the group of governors on Friday, a mix of Democrats and Republicans.

Biden said the bill includes funding for prevention efforts, like forest management, and to restore millions of acres of high-risk areas to protect homes and public water sources.

He stressed that global warming is making wildfires worse, saying “overlaying all of this is the necessity to successfully confront climate change.”

The U.S. is 200% above the 20-year average for the number of fires by July.

“We can’t ignore how the overlapping and intertwined factors of extreme heat, prolonged drought, and supercharged wildfire conditions are affecting the country,” Biden said.

The Rundown

Bloomberg Climate goals at risk if only rich countries adopt electric cars

Wall Street Journal Coal projects in Asia face dwindling financing as climate pressure mounts

Wall Street Journal Behind the rise of US solar power, a mountain of Chinese coal

Financial Times Fossil fuel groups urge US regulator to dilute climate reporting rules

New York Times A brain drain among government scientists bogs down Biden’s climate ambitions

Wall Street Journal Towns trying to ban natural gas face resistance in their push for all-electric homes

Calendar

TUESDAY | AUG. 3

10 a.m. 366 Dirksen. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nominations of Geraldine Richmond to be DOE’s under secretary for science, Cynthia Weiner Stachelberg to be an assistant secretary of the Interior for policy, and Asmeret Berhe to be director of DOE’s Office of Science.

10 a.m. E2 and United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters will hold a remote press briefing on the economic impact from replacing all of America’s lead pipes.

WEDNESDAY | AUG. 4

10 a.m. 406 Dirksen. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing to consider EPA nominees Amanda Howe to be assistant administrator for mission support, David Uhlmann to be assistant administrator for enforcement, and Carlton Waterhouse to be assistant administrator of land and emergency management.

THURSDAY | AUG. 5

10 a.m. 366 Dirken. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to examine the role of and programs within Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Tags: Energy and Environment, Daily on Energy

Original Author: Josh Siegel

Original Location: Daily on Energy: Infrastructure nuclear aid too late for Illinois’ at-risk plants

Daily on Energy: Oil lobby boosts carbon pricing as it addresses fallout from Exxon lobbyist sting video .
Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with what's going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $1.00 an issue! © Provided by Washington Examiner DOE Default Image - July 2021 OIL AND CARBON PRICING: Mike Sommers, CEO of American Petroleum Institute, insists the oil and gas lobby’s newfound support for carbon pricing is genuine, and says he is advocating for the policy even as it has failed to gain traction on Capitol Hill and with the Biden administration.

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