President Biden’s energy secretary met with oil executives Thursday as the administration faces pressure to cut sky-high gas prices. Meanwhile, the Fish and Wildlife Service has reinstated endangered species protections from Trump.
This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news on energy, the environment and more. For The Hill we are Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Subscribe here.
Energy Dept. says oil meet was ‘productive’
Oil executives and industry groups said at a meeting Thursday with the energy secretary Jennifer Granholm was “constructive”.
- “Today’s meeting was a constructive conversation about addressing both near-term issues and the longer-term stability of energy markets,” said Mike Wirth, CEO and Chairman of raftersin an opinion.
- “We remain optimistic about our ability to work together to achieve these shared goals. We appreciate Secretary of State Granholm’s invitation to take part in the talks, which was an important step towards greater energy security, economic prosperity and environmental protection,” he added.
That American Petroleum Institute and the American fuel and petrochemical manufacturersrepresenting the oil industry in general and oil refiners in particular, expressed similar views.
“Today’s meeting of Secretary Granholm with American refiners was a constructive discussion on how to address rising energy costs and create more security for global energy markets,” the organizations said in a joint statement.
A transcript of the Department of Energy meeting also described it as “productive.”
“The meeting productively focused on analyzing current global supply and refining issues and provided an opportunity for the industry to work with the government to bring needed relief to American consumers,” the department said.
Relationship status It’s complicated: The positive comments from both sides come amid a time of tensions between the Biden administration and oil companies. In a recent letter to oil refiners, Biden criticized their high profits.
- “In times of war, refinery profit margins well above normal and passed directly to American families are unacceptable,” he wrote in the letter.
- And before the meeting, Wirth wrote a letter to Biden criticizing what he called attempts to “slander” the oil industry.
- “Despite these efforts, your government has largely sought to criticize, and sometimes denigrate, our industry. These actions are not conducive to addressing the challenges we face and are not what the American people deserve,” he wrote Tuesday.
The actions: Granholm was scheduled to meet with executives from ExxonMobil, Shell, Valero, Marathon, Phillips 66, BP and Chevron on Thursday.
According to the Department of Energy, attendees discussed what companies are doing to maintain existing operations and the hurdles to increasing domestic refining, which turns oil into gasoline.
Read more about the meeting here.
The Biden administration is restoring habitat protection
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service on Thursday announced a new rule that reverses a Trump-era definition of “habitat” in relation to endangered animals.
Under the 2020 Rule, the definition of federally protected habitats for endangered species was narrowed to those in which a species might currently inhabit, excluding those that a species might someday conserve. On Thursday, FWS reversed that, saying it violated the intent of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.
- When it narrowed the definition, the Trump administration argued that its changes were more consistent and transparent to landowners.
- But environmentalists said the government should be able to protect land that could support an animal in the future, calling Trump’s move a “giveaway to the industry.”
“The growing extinction crisis underscores the importance of the Endangered Species Act and efforts to conserve species before declines become irreversible,” Shannon Estenoz, deputy secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, said in a statement.
“Today’s action will bring implementation of the law back in line with its original purpose and intent, and ensure that the restoration of species is guided by transparent, science-based policies and conservation efforts that preserve America’s biological heritage for future generations. ”
Read more here.
GET WIND ABOUT IT
The White House announced Thursday that it is forming an offshore wind partnership with 11 East Coast states.
- The partnership includes building the offshore wind energy supply chain, expanding the workforce and addressing regional issues such as fishing and grid connection.
- The states involved in the push are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, according to The Verge.
The federal government, New York and Maryland will also jointly fund the development of an offshore wind “supply chain roadmap.”
The Department of Transportation will also prioritize applications for funding for offshore wind vessels under the Federal Ship Financing Program
Mining of draft finds would endanger a watershed
A federal study released Thursday found that hard rock quarrying in a Minnesota wilderness area puts the region at risk of contamination.
- In its assessment, the US Forest Service said copper-nickel mining would pose a major risk to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Although the assessment is a draft, it proposes a 20-year ban on copper mining on federal land in the watershed.
- Potential consequences of mining in the region include “creating permanently stored waste materials” upstream that could result in the release of acidified water and metal contamination, the assessment said.
“The greatest potential risk to the water quality of the wilderness area and lands within the catchment areas arises from the catastrophic failure of a wet pool tailings dam,” the assessment added.
“Storage of tailings in wet basins poses a risk of dam failure and the potential release of a large volume of contaminated sediment (tailings) and water into a nearby water body with potential transport to downstream water bodies and receptors.”
The assessment comes nearly six months after the Interior Department announced cancellations of two mining leases in the area granted under the Trump administration in 2019. The January legal opinion found that the Trump administration had unlawfully renewed the leases in 2019 after originally approving them the year before.
Read more about the draft finding here.
ON TAP TOMORROW
The House Climate Crisis Committee will hold a hearing on reducing methane emissions
WHAT WE READ
- Lake Mead nears dead pool status as water levels hit another historic low (NBC News)
- The last nuclear power plant in California – and the unexpected attempt to save it (The Guardian)
- Forest Service grazing decision angers environmental group (The Associated Press)
- OPEC+ ponders when to fire its last bullets on oil production (Bloomberg)
- Manchin criticizes “stupid” EV push, citing Chinese supply chain (E&E News)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Visit The Hill’s energy and environment page for the latest news and reports. we will see you tomorrow
VIEW FULL VERSION HERE