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Politics Daily on Energy: Biden Gulf of Mexico drilling lease auction generates big interest

12:26  18 november  2021
12:26  18 november  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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AN EAGERLY AWAITED AUCTION: President Joe Biden can do no right when it comes to grappling with high energy prices.

Republicans are blaming Biden’s policies, including his pause on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, while giving him no credit for restarting auctions, rather than doing more to fight a court order.

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  Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden keeps Trump-era aircraft emissions rule Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-sign-up.Today we're looking at the Biden administration's decision to retain Trump-era aircraft emissions standards, an EPA finding that two types of "forever chemicals" are more toxic than previously thought and tomorrow's offshore oil and gas lease sale. For The Hill, we'Today we're looking at the Biden administration's decision to retain Trump-era aircraft emissions standards, an EPA finding that two types of "forever chemicals" are more toxic than previously thought and tomorrow's offshore oil and gas lease sale.

Democrats, meanwhile, are hitting Biden for complying with the federal court decision, with the most urgent example being a massive offshore oil and gas auction for drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico the administration held this morning.

Big results: Eagerly acting from months of pent-up demand, the oil and gas industry pounced on the auction, with 33 companies submitting 317 bids for 308 tracts covering 1.7 million acres, with a high bid of $191,688,984

Among the bidders for leases were U.S. oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, which bid on at least a third of the total tracts, along with other big players, such as Chevron, BP, Shell, and Talos Energy. Their motivation, in part, seemed to be that these could be the last leases sold under friendly terms, as Democrats in their climate and social spending bill have proposed new fees on offshore oil leases while increasing the royalties charged for oil and gas production along the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The Biden administration has suggested it plans to more tightly scrutinize leases in the future by more robustly analyzing greenhouse gas emissions.

Coming off climate talks, US to hold huge crude sale in Gulf

  Coming off climate talks, US to hold huge crude sale in Gulf NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday will auction vast oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico estimated to hold up to 1.1 billion barrels of crude, the first such sale under President Joe Biden and a harbinger of the challenges he faces to reach climate goals that depend on deep cuts in fossil fuel emissions. The livestreamed sale invited energy companies to bid on drilling leases across some 136,000 square miles (352,000 square kilometers) — about twice the area of Florida. It will take years to develop the leases before companies start pumping crude.

The number of bids this morning was at least triple the last Gulf auction in November 2020 held by the Trump administration, in what was seen then as a rush of interest ahead of Biden’s promise of a leasing ban during the presidential campaign.

Delay not good enough for critics: The new lease sale is part of the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022, a five-year program whose terms were established by the Obama administration. It was originally scheduled for March before Biden delayed it as part of his leasing pause.

Liberal climate activists attacked Biden for holding the lease sale at all, arguing he could have sought a stay of the court ruling by a Louisiana-based district judge, and saying he is effectively locking in future oil and gas development in violation of his climate pledges.

“This morning was met with extreme disappointment, depleted hope, and shattered trust. The Biden administration has opted to move forward with relinquishing all remaining parcels of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas interests,” said Hallie Templeton, legal director of Friends of the Earth, which led a letter from more than 250 groups demanding Biden cancel the lease sale.

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Not a fix for high prices: The lease sale, meanwhile, won’t help Biden’s problem of high oil and gasoline prices now, since it likely won’t be another seven to 10 years before companies actually develop the leases they bid on today.

And companies still must jump through hoops to receive drilling permits for the sites from the federal government.

Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writers Josh Siegel (@SiegelScribe) and Jeremy Beaman (@jeremywbeaman). Email jsiegel@washingtonexaminer.com or jbeaman@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.

MEANWHILE, WHITE HOUSE ASKS FTC TO INTERVENE ON GAS PRICES: Biden accused oil and gas companies of “anti-consumer behavior” and urged Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to investigate them as the White House works to communicate proactivity on the issue.

Biden suggested in a letter to Khan this morning that companies are engaging in illegal conduct because gasoline prices remain high and rising, “even though oil and gas companies' costs are declining.”

Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden calls for gas prices investigation

  Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden calls for gas prices investigation Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.Today we're looking at President Biden asking for an investigation of potential illegal activity in connection with gas prices, the official restart of oil and gas lease sales and the confirmation of the newest FERC commissioner.For The Hill, we're Rachel FrazinToday we're looking at President Biden asking for an investigation of potential illegal activity in connection with gas prices, the official restart of oil and gas lease sales and the confirmation of the newest FERC commissioner.

The move indicates that pressure to act has reached critical mass, with the nation’s average gas price standing above $3.41 per gallon. Administration officials have for weeks insisted that Biden is hamstrung and that prices are determined by a global market, not the White House, all while still maintaining that Biden has “tools” available to him to affect prices.

What the industry is saying: Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy at the American Petroleum Institute, called the request to FTC a “distraction,” blaming the “continued decision from the administration to restrict access to America’s energy supply and cancel important infrastructure projects” for the imbalance between supply and consumer demand.

DEMOCRATIC LEADERS TOUT CLIMATE PROVISIONS OF SPENDING BILL: House and Senate Democrats this morning promoted an array of clean energy policies included in a $1.85 trillion climate-focused spending package party lawmakers hope to pass the House this week.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on the Capitol steps with climate activists to declare Congress has “a moral obligation,” to address climate change. “We have a responsibility to future generations,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi plans to put the spending bill on the floor this week with a vote on passage as early as tomorrow. Lawmakers are awaiting more cost analyses from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

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Democrats described the infrastructure bill as a first step in addressing climate change and that the Build Back Better legislation will go much further.

“The investments in clean energy and transportation will put us on a path to delivering on the president's ambitious goal of a reduction of greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at the press conference. “That's an extremely ambitious goal. And we are going to do everything we can to meet it.”

Schumer said he plans to bring up the measure by Christmas, assuming the House passes the bill this week.

MANCHIN WATCH...HE’S COOL WITH A VOTE THIS YEAR: Sen. Joe Manchin has objected to the price tag of the Democratic bill, prompting leadership to trim the cost and its climate provisions, and has raised concerns that a too-expensive bill would contribute to rising inflation.

But Manchin told reporters this morning that he is open to a vote before the end of the year (without saying how he would vote).

"I'm not in charge of the timing,” Manchin said. “Whatever they want to do is fine with me. If we're gonna vote, vote.”

CARBON CAPTURE NATURAL GAS PLANT ACHIEVES BIG MILESTONE: A first-of-its-kind zero-emissions natural gas plant called NET Power announced yesterday that its test facility has delivered power to the Texas grid.

It marks the first time the 50-megawatt demonstration facility in La Porte, Texas, built in 2018, has successfully delivered power to the state's grid.

"This is a Wright-brothers-first-flight kind of breakthrough for energy," NET Power CEO Ron DeGregorio said in a press release.

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NET Power’s technology burns natural gas with oxygen instead of air, and uses supercritical carbon dioxide to generate electricity to drive a turbine rather than steam, while capturing leftover C02.

The company said it is working in various countries to develop utility-scale NET Power plants, projected to come online in the next five years, including one in Colorado and another in Illinois.

KIGALI FINALLY GETS ITS SENATE MOMENT: The Biden administration has sent the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for approval, which requires the backing of at least two-thirds of the chamber.

The move is long-anticipated and could pick up the support of some Republicans.

Kigali, a lesser-known global climate deal compared to the Paris Agreement, calls for the phasedown of potent greenhouse gas refrigerants known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

Last year, Congress passed a bipartisan measure setting domestic HFC restrictions in line with the Kigali Amendment. This year, the EPA finalized rules to implement them.

In June 2018, 13 Republican senators wrote to former President Donald Trump in support of the HFC agreement, asking him to send the deal to the Senate for a ratification vote, which he never did.

A broad coalition has backed the Kigali Amendment, including most of the appliance-makers and chemical companies that would be subject to its restrictions and typically Republican-leaning groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. More than 100 countries have already ratified it.

Business groups supported the HFC phaseout because companies collectively have spent billions of dollars researching a replacement coolant for use in air conditioners and refrigerators.

“This proves that smart policy can be a win for the economy and the environment,” tweeted the the National Association of Manufacturers, which urged bipartisan support for ratifying Kigali.

Biden sets out oil, gas leasing reform, stops short of ban

  Biden sets out oil, gas leasing reform, stops short of ban WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday recommended an overhaul of the nation's oil and gas leasing program to limit areas available areas for energy development and raise costs for oil and gas companies to drill on public land and water. The long-awaited report by the Interior Department stops short of recommending an end to oil and gas leasing on public lands, as many environmental groups have urged. But officials said the report would lead to a more responsible leasing process that provides a better return to U.S. taxpayers. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - A flare burns natural gas at an oil well Aug. 26, 2021, in Watford City, N.D.

FERC NOMINEE PHILLIPS CONFIRMED BY SENATE: The Senate approved by voice vote last night Willie Phillips Jr. to be the next commissioner at FERC, giving Democrats a 3-2 majority.

During his confirmation hearing, Phillips said he would take a “balanced” approach to his job and does not support a total transition off fossil fuels. But he also suggested he would side with FERC’s sitting Democrats who want to take a more critical look at emissions’ downstream effects when reviewing pipelines and LNG projects, meaning he could be the swing vote on such matters.

Phillips was chairman of Washington D.C.’s Public Service Commission, the utility regulator, and was previously assistant general counsel for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

A moderate respected by the utility industry, Phillips worked at several law firms and also led efforts to implement the D.C.’s aggressive clean energy and climate goals at the PSC targeting 100% renewable energy by 2032.

JUDGE KEEPS LINE 5 BALL IN HER COURT: U.S. District Judge Janet Neff rejected Michigan’s request that its lawsuit against Enbridge Energy and the Line 5 pipeline be remanded to a state court, delivering a big win for the Canadian firm in its fight to maintain operations of the pipeline.

Neff ruled yesterday that the suit, which Michigan filed in a state court last November but which Enbridge successfully removed to federal court, was properly within the district court’s jurisdiction and that the issues of federal law Enbridge presents in its briefs “raise vitally important questions that implicate the federal regulatory scheme for pipeline safety and international affairs.”

TERRAPOWER CHOOSES SITE FOR ADVANCED REACTOR PLANT: The Bill Gates-backed nuclear firm has selected Kemmerer, Wyoming, to be home to its Natrium Reactor Demonstration Project, subject to full regulatory approval, in another step forward for the federally-funded demonstration plant.

The company plans to build its 345-megawatt sodium-cooled fast reactor on the property of the coal-fired Naughton Power Plant, whose two remaining coal units are scheduled to retire in 2025, and to make use of the plant’s existing infrastructure and workforce to support Natrium’s commercial operations.

The project just secured a major funding boost in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which puts $2.5 billion toward the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, of which Natrium is part.

TerraPower’s project has a chance to establish itself as an industry benchmark, not only on the advanced reactor technology front, but also on the overall viability of coal-to-nuclear conversion, which some utilities are eying as they look to move off fossil fuel-powered plants while maintaining a source of reliably dispatchable power.

The Rundown

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Reuters Retooling auto plants for EVs will cost billions. Biden wants to help

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Calendar

WEDNESDAY | NOV. 17

1 p.m. Green 2.0 will host a webinar to mark the release of its 2021 Transparency Report Card.

THURSDAY | NOV. 18

10:00 a.m. House Natural Resources Committee Republicans will host a forum entitled "Supporting African Communities: Highlighting International Conservation Efforts Worldwide."

10:00 a.m. FERC HQ. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold its monthly meeting.

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Tags: Energy and Environment, Daily on Energy

Original Author: Josh Siegel, Jeremy Beaman

Original Location: Daily on Energy: Biden Gulf of Mexico drilling lease auction generates big interest

Biden sets out oil, gas leasing reform, stops short of ban .
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday recommended an overhaul of the nation's oil and gas leasing program to limit areas available areas for energy development and raise costs for oil and gas companies to drill on public land and water. The long-awaited report by the Interior Department stops short of recommending an end to oil and gas leasing on public lands, as many environmental groups have urged. But officials said the report would lead to a more responsible leasing process that provides a better return to U.S. taxpayers. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - A flare burns natural gas at an oil well Aug. 26, 2021, in Watford City, N.D.

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