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Energy and Environment

Daily on Energy: Now for the fight over Manchin permitting bill

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STATE OF PLAY FOR MANCHIN PERMITTING BILL: The release of Sen. Joe Manchin’s permitting legislationis widening the split between Democrats supportive of reforms, including leadership, and some liberals in both chambers of Congress who don’t want any part of it.

The big-name provisions in Manchin’s earlier permitting reform outline survived the weeks of political infighting — completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a statute of limitations for court challenges to agency actions (150 days), and clear timeline targets for completion of environmental reviews — as has Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s intention to include Manchin’s bill in a continuing resolution.

Manchin, in a statement yesterday, framed the success of permitting reform as a decisive factor in whether energy gets cheaper going forward, and other Democrats who were on the opposite side of Manchin throughout the whole Build Back Better saga have spoken favorably of the proposal, even if they haven’t committed to supporting it yet.

But the fissures that were repaired to get the Inflation Reduction Act through have been broken open again.

Latest reactions: “The Manchin side deal cannot cannot be included in any must pass legislation put forward by Congress,” Rep. Donald McEachin, who is among the roughly one-third of House Democrats urging leadership not to tie the permitting bill to the CR, told reporters this morning.

House Natural Resources Chairman Raul Grijalva, who has been running point for the opposition against the permitting deal,dismissed the notion that he is getting back at Manchin for cutting down Build Back Better.

“It could have been Schumer's name on that, and we would have opposed it. It could have been Durbin's name on it and we would have opposed it,” he said this morning. “The fact remains that this is bad policy.”

Grijalva said permitting reform has been a “euphemism by the extraction industry.”

But the bill would touch much more than fossil fuels: Pro-renewables groups read the bill in different light, arguing that permitting reform is necessary and would help the green energy sector make use of investments provided by the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Our current permitting system is overly cumbersome and mired in delays, hamstringing our ability to grow the clean energy economy,” said Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association. “We can’t afford to let our unnecessarily burdensome permitting process derail the promise of a clean energy future.”

Sen. Brian Schatz focused on the bill’s provisions to facilitate more electric transmission, which will be needed to accommodate all the new renewable generation planned and to meet rising demand for electric technologies.

“If we don't get transmission right, we're not going to meet our clean energy goals,” he said. “The whole strategy here is to electrify everything and to create a nationwide grid,” he said, “and that's part of permitting reform.”

What to watch for: Senate Republicans, who generally support permitting reform and put their own bill on the table in the last few weeks, don’t seem prepared to get behind the Manchin-Schumer permitting deal by-and-large for both political and substantive legislative reasons. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the effort “permitting reform in name only.”

That matters because the measure will need Republican support in the chamber, whether or not a significant number of Democrats pledge to vote the thing down, in order to overcome a filibuster of the continuing resolution.

Otherwise, leadership could still break the permitting bill apart from the CR and give it a standalone vote.

Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writers Jeremy Beaman (@jeremywbeaman) and Breanne Deppisch (@breanne_dep). Email [email protected] or [email protected] 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.

GOP WARNS BANKS ON CLIMATE ACTIVISM: Sen. Pat Toomey, the top Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, warned the four largest U.S. banks to stop “embracing a liberal ESG agenda that harms America,” when they take stances on non-banking social and political issues.

"I can't help but observe that when banks do weigh-in on highly charged social and political issues, they seem to always come down on the liberal side," the Pennsylvania Republican said at a hearing this morning.

Toomey’s remarks come after he sent letters to more than a dozen credit firms earlier this week requesting information on their ratings system used to assign ESG ratings to companies.

His remarks were echoed partially by Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, who told executives: "You will never win the uber-woke sweepstakes.”

The hearing comes after the SEC proposed two rule changes earlier this year aimed at preventing misleading claims and enhancing disclosures made by ESG funds.

…Meanwhile, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said yesterday that the prospect of banks refusing to invest in oil and gas projects would be the “road to hell” for America.

His remarks came during a House hearing, after Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, instructed the bank executives to “please answer with a simple yes or no: does your bank have a policy against funding new oil and gas products?”

"Absolutely not, and that would be the road to hell for America," Dimon responded.

He added that, in his view, the U.S. needs to invest more, not less, in fossil fuel projects: "We aren't getting this one right. The world needs 100 million barrels, effectively, of oil and gas every day. And we need it for 10 years," Dimon said. “To do that, we need proper investing in the oil and gas complex.”

NJ SETTING EAST COAST’S LARGEST WIND TARGET: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order yesterday to increase the state’s offshore wind goal to 11,000 megawatts by 2040, an increase of nearly 50% from its previous goal of 7,500 MW.

The goal is in line with the state’s climate goal, which calls for 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.

“This is an aggressive target, but it is an achievable one,” Murphy said yesterday, announcing the goal at a climate event in New York City.

Murphy’s goal will generate enough offshore wind power to supply roughly 10 million homes for one year, and puts New Jersey on track to be the highest offshore wind power generating state in the East Coast.

Murphy also announced $10 million in new investments to be directed towards creating new, high-paying green jobs in New Jersey, and private sector partners such as Unilever, IKEA, DSM North America, and Siemens USA also signed on to an agreement supporting those goals.

SENATE PASSES KIGALI EMISSIONS-CURBING TREATY: Senate lawmakers successfully passed the Kigali Amendment yesterday, voting on a bipartisan basis of 69 to 27 to ratify the global climate treaty calling for the phasedown of potent greenhouse gas refrigerants known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

The Biden administration submitted the amendment to the Senate last year for ratification. Since it was a treaty vote, it had to clear the chamber by a two-thirds majority to become law, earning support from both Republicans and Democrats in the chamber.

Congress in 2020 passed a bipartisan measure calling for an 85% reduction in domestic HFCs by 2035, which was finalized by the EPA last September. Kennedy co-sponsored that effort, along with Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE).

In addition, the Kigali Amendment had earned support from appliance manufacturers, chemical companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—in part because business groups have invested a combined total of billions of dollars to research a replacement coolant for HFCs.

Still, the majority of Republicans voted against the agreement on the grounds that it includes less-restrictive rules for China.

EU EYES OIL PRICE CAP AND EXPORT CURBS IN NEW RUSSIAN SANCTIONS: The European Union has agreed to pursue new sanctions against Moscow in response to its escalation of the war in Ukraine, including an oil price cap on Russian crude, curbs on high-tech exports to Russia, and more individual sanctions on diplomats and individuals in Moscow, Reutersreports.

Three EU diplomats said the new sanctions would “center” around the oil price cap plan that G-7 ministers agreed to pursue earlier this year. In the months since, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other senior department officials have traversed the globe in an attempt to build out a coalition of leaders to support the plan, including efforts to win over China and India, considered to be two key holdouts to adopting the price cap plan.

The new EU measures were drafted at an “ad hoc” meeting of EU leaders, Reuters notes. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters the new measures would include "additional export controls on civilian technology.” "We also fully expect more individual listings," another individual said of the sanctions.

UK SEEKS U.S. LNG AHEAD OF ENERGY SUPPLY CRUNCH: The UK is seeking to secure long-term supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. producers as it braces for an energy supply crunch expected to last for years.

Though talks are still in the early stages, Bloombergreports, the UK’s energy supply task force is seeking supplies for as long as 20 years. Reports of the LNG discussions come roughly six months after Kwasi Kwarteng, who was the UK’s energy secretary at the time, traveled to Washington to meet with U.S. LNG developers.

“Clearly the Truss government is engaged on this issue at the highest levels of government to lock in long-term supplies at affordable prices just like the Germans,” Fred Hutchison, president of U.S. industry lobby group LNG Allies, told Bloomberg. “The other European nations better step up pretty fast. What’s left in the United States is almost sold out.”

The talks come as other governments in Europe seek to procure alternative sources of energy, including LNG. Germany is also nearing agreement with Qatar for a long-term LNG contract from its North Field Expansion project, which is slated to come online in 2026. (That contract, slated to be announced in the coming days, is expected to last 15 years.)

UK ENDS FRACKING BAN: The British government announced a formal end to the national moratorium on fracking today, a decision Prime Minister Liz Truss and others in her Cabinet have described as a way to increase domestic energy supplies and help insulate Brits against volatility in the global energy market.

The announcement came alongside the release of a report from the British Geological Survey, which had been ordered in April to review the latest science on fracking and the relationship between it and tremors.

The BGS noted the difficulties of forecasting earthquakes and the limitations of predicting the degrees to which fracking for shale gas in a given area could contribute to tremors.

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said the government “will always try to limit disturbance to those living and working near to sites,” although he said “tolerating a higher degree of risk and disturbance appears to us to be in the national interest given the circumstances” of energy market dynamics.

The Rundown

Financial Times Why Al Gore is feeling upbeat as COP27 approaches

Wall Street Journal High natural-gas prices push European manufacturers to shift to the U.S.

Associated Press The Muscogee get their say in national park plan for Georgia

Law.com 'Seemingly Illogical': California Supreme Court agrees bees can be fish under environmental law

Calendar

MONDAY | SEPTEMBER 26

The 6th annual, five-day National Clean Energy Week kicks off in Washington, D.C.