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GOP energy platform includes easier permitting, no EPA CO2 regs; coal finds strong support


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GOP energy platform includes easier permitting, no EPA CO2 regs; coal finds strong support

TheRepublican policy platform for the 2016 elections includes calls to speed uppermitting for energy projects, support all forms of energy "that aremarketable in a free economy without subsidies," and block the U.S. EPAfrom regulating carbon dioxide emissions.

Theplatform underscores the party's resistance to many Obama administration energyand environmental regulations and echoed presumed GOP presidential nomineeDonald Trump's energy goals,including approving TransCanadaCorp.'s proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The document, released lateon July 18 at the start of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland,blasted the Democratic Party's energy policies, which Republicans said wouldhinder domestic energy production, cost jobs and raise energy costs forlow-income Americans.

AsRepublicans kicked off the party convention in Cleveland on July 18, itsplatform emerged with a focus on promoting the continued use of "clean"coal and pushing back on Obama administration environmental policies oftencited for the industry's prolonged decline.

"TheDemocratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean,affordable, reliable domestic energy resource," the party wrote in thefinal version of the platform. "Those who mine it and their familiesshould be protected from the Democratic Party's radical anti- coal agenda."

Thefuture world of Donald Trump's top energy adviser has natural gas, coal andrenewables fighting it out in a free market, unencumbered by federalregulations that add costs and tilt the market toward "preferred"fuels.

NorthDakota Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer is willing to allow natural gas tokill coal in the market, despite his candidate's pledge to bring back hundredsof West Virginia coal mining jobs eliminated by cheap shale gas by reducingregulations on coal production and power plants.

"Ifwe have a wide open free market and the price of coal can't compete with theprice of natural gas and that's what drives coal out of business, well, there'snot a lot you can do about that," Cramer S&P Global Market Intelligencereporters in a phone interview July 15.

PresumedGOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is expected to take his message on energyto the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, likely repeating to cut federal regulationin a bid to achieve total U.S. energy independence.

S&PGlobal Market Intelligence spoke with a key Trump energy adviser, U.S. Rep.Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.,ahead of the GOP convention. Cramer helped Trump craft his first major energypolicy speech, which contained pledges to undo many Obama administration rules and policies,including the Clean Water Rule and the U.S. commitment to the Paris climateaccord.

"Therollback of regulations is really the heartbeat … of restoring our energy security,or building on our energy security and the renaissance that we're enjoying inthis country, at least in the oil and gas industry," Cramer said. He notedthat energy plays an important role in two of the Trump campaign's key themes:national security and job creation.

Theselection of Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence as GOP presumptive nomineeDonald Trump's running mate has provided the country's ailing coal industryanother ally on the campaign trail, with Pence providing a lengthy record ofsupporting the sector and pushing back on Obama administration regulations.Earlier this year, Pence praised the U.S. Supreme Court's to stay the carbon planuntil legal challenges to it could take place, criticizing the president's "waron coal."

"Hoosiersknow that coal means jobs and low-cost energy for our state, and tonight'sSupreme Court decision to put President Obama's carbon dioxide regulations onhold is a win for Indiana," Pence said at the time. "The Clean PowerPlan exceeds the authority granted to the EPA under the Clean Air Act, and I ampleased that it will not be enforced while the lawsuit filed by Indiana and 28other states and state agencies moves through the courts. Hoosiers may beassured that our state will continue to use every legal means available tofight President Obama's war on coal."

U.S.Republican senators are demanding that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell end themoratorium and government review process on the federal coal-leasing program,calling the process "compromised" and "prejudiced."

RepublicanSens. John Barrasso, Wyo.; Roy Blunt, Mo.; Shelley Moore Capito, W.Va.; SteveDaines, Mont.; Michael Enzi, Wyo.; Cory Gardner, Colo.; Orrin Hatch, Utah; JohnHoeven, N.D.; and Mike Lee, Utah, sent a letter to Jewell dated July 14 thatsays a reportpublished by President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisors on June 22set out to answer questions being addressed by the ongoing U.S. Bureau of LandManagement review.

"Indoing so, the Executive Office of the President has compromised the integrityand prejudiced the outcome of BLM's review process in violation of the[National Environmental Policy Act]," the letter said. "We,therefore, ask that you suspend BLM's review process and associated moratoriumon new coal leases for the remainder of the administration."

TheU.S. House of Representatives passed a $32.1 billion appropriations July 14 to fund the U.S.Department of the Interior, U.S. EPA and related agencies for fiscal year 2017.

Thelegislation seeks toblock funds for the EPA's Clean Power Plan to regulate carbon emissions fromexisting power plants, as well as the agency's greenhouse gas standards for newplants. The EPA would also be unable to fund any methane emissions rules foroil and gas wells under sections 111(b) and 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Thebill would delay the EPA's 2015 ground-level ozone standards by eight years, inline with a separate proposalfrom Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas.

15 states appeal to Congress to limit reach, impact of federal 'guidance'

Attorneysgeneral from 15 states issued an appeal for congressional action to limit thereach of federal agencies that create and enforce regulations, alleging thatthey often circumvent the law, fail to consider related costs and override thelegal systems of the state.

"Weurge Congress not simply to consider legislation but to take action,"wrote West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. "We have fought, andwill continue to fight, this problem on a case-by-case basis in the courts. Butthe time for broader action by Congress is long overdue."

Anew federal rule has been shown to have had a significant impact on coal miners'exposure to "dangerous levels of coal mine dust," according to theU.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

In aJuly 18 release, the agency stated that approximately 99% of respirable coalmine dust samples collected during the second quarter of this year were incompliance with MSHA coal dust standards.

"Thesepositive results are due to the extraordinary efforts of MSHA and industry workingto clean up the air that miners breathe and successfully implement the criticalrespirable dust rule to protect miners from a disease that has claimed tens ofthousands of lives," said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor formine safety and health.

Apair of Democratic senators teamed up to support continued coal use in the U.S.with the introduction of a bill aimed at expanding tax breaks and eligibilityfor companies pursuing carbon capture and storage, or CCS, projects on July 13.

Introducedby Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., the CarbonCapture Utilization and Storage Act would increase existing 45Q tax breaks forpermanently stored CO2 and carbon dioxide used for enhanced oil recovery.

Additionally,the bill would expand the applicability of the cap for the credit, whileestablishing different thresholds for different stages of CCS projects.