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In This List

US likely to exit Paris climate deal; EPA takes steps to halt 'sue and settle'

Essential Energy Insights - September, 2020

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Bull market leaves US utilities behind in August

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US likely to exit Paris climate deal; EPA takes steps to halt 'sue and settle'

Trump to announce Paris decision at White House

President Donald Trump at 3 p.m. ET on June 1 will announce his decision on U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement on climate change. In a tweet that repeated his campaign slogan "Make America Great Again," Trump, late on May 31, said he will make the announcement from the White House Rose Garden.

FERC nominee dodges climate change question during Senate confirmation hearing

With a Senate committee chairman vowing to move the process along quickly, Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee appear well on their way to being cleared to sit on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after facing relatively few difficult questions during their May 25 confirmation hearing. If that turns out to be the case, FERC once again will have the three-member quorum it needs to vote out major orders, which it has lacked since early February when former Chairman Norman Bay left the agency.

Pruitt takes steps to halt 'sue and settle' despite debate over its existence

Many Democrats say it does not exist. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has concluded on more than one occasion that there is no such thing. Nevertheless, some Republicans and the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency leadership are taking steps to eradicate "sue and settle" regulation. "The sue/settle concept is real," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said May 24 at a conference in Washington, D.C.

Industry measured, greens furious over possible Paris climate pact exit

Reports that Trump will likely pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change have angered environmental groups and proponents of climate action. But domestic electricity generators and other energy producers appeared unfazed, with the industry already anticipating a rollback in federal climate policies under Trump that could be offset by action at the state and local level.

Congress could hinder but not stymie Trump's plans for EPA

Congress is guaranteed to push back against Trump's proposals to sharply cut funding for the federal agencies charged with addressing energy issues and their energy programs. Nevertheless, the president has other ways to accomplish his agenda, including trimming executive branch positions through worker attrition and redirecting available staff to work on his priorities.

EPA seeks comment on efforts to delay effluent rule

The EPA has taken official steps to postpone deadlines associated with the effluent guidelines for steam electric power plants. Through a proposal signed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency seeks to postpone compliance dates for the "new, and more stringent," technology and pretreatment requirements set under the effluent rule. The delay would apply to waste streams from fly ash transport water, bottom ash transport water, flue gas desulfurization wastewater, flue gas mercury control wastewater and gasification wastewater.

Scientists put EPA chief's climate claims to the test

A group of prominent scientists has issued a new study aimed at refuting statements made by Pruitt during his February confirmation process regarding climate change. In "Tropospheric Warming Over The Past Two Decades," eight scientists fired back against the administrator's claims, when responding to senators' questions, that global warming leveled off over the past few decades. "We test this claim here," the scientists wrote.

As EPA seeks new members for science board, chair pledges no loyalty

The EPA has put out a call for new nominations to its Board of Scientific Counselors, which suggests research areas and makes recommendations to the agency on how science should be conducted. The BOSC, which does not make direct recommendations on regulatory matters, has been in the news since the EPA earlier in May declined to renew the terms of nine members eligible for reappointment. The members previously had been assured by the new administration that they would be offered a second term, as members typically serve for more than one. The EPA instead declined to do so, explaining that its new leadership did not wish to "rubberstamp" the prior administration's appointees.

NRC authorizes combined license for proposed reactor at Dominion's North Anna

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the issuing of a combined license for Dominion Virginia Power's proposed North Anna 3 unit near Mineral, Va. The NRC announced May 31 the decision authorizing the agency's Office of New Reactors to give permission to the Dominion Energy Inc. subsidiary to build and operate the proposed 1,600-MW economic simplified boiling water reactor at the current North Anna nuclear plant.

US government watchdog agency releases report on restarting Yucca Mountain

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued a report assessing how the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing process for an unfinished permanent nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain could be restarted and proceed to completion. Released by the nonpartisan federal government watchdog agency, the report identified four key steps that likely would need to be taken before the shelved nuclear waste repository project in Nevada could be constructed.

DOE selects energy consultant to write controversial grid report

Independent energy consultant Alison Silverstein has been selected for a prominent role with respect to a controversial electric grid reliability study being conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy. Silverstein will be writing the final report on the study being led by economist Travis Fisher, a DOE official confirmed. Energy Secretary Rick Perry in an April 14 memo to his chief of staff gave the agency 60 days to study critical long-term grid reliability issues, citing an increasing number of coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric power plant retirements and maintaining that baseload power is critical to the electric grid functioning properly.

Murkowski: DOE nominee should not be delayed over budget concerns

The nomination of Daniel Brouillete for deputy energy secretary should not be delayed over concerns related to Trump's full fiscal 2018 budget request, according to Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the chairman of the committee that must confirm his nomination. Funding for the Department of Energy's research, technology and renewable energy programs would be slashed dramatically under the budget request released by the Trump administration May 23.