December 17, 2010

“Statoil finds more oil in Brazil,” ReadHeadlines out of Oslo and Rio; We of Course have a Permitorium, so Don’t Expectto Read This in US Papers Anytime Soon. UPI (12/17) reports, “Norwegian energy company Statoil announcedthat it struck oil at a shallow-water basin about 90 miles from the Braziliancoastline. Statoil said it encountered an oil reservoir that was about 230 feetthick in the Espirito Santo Basin off the coast of Brazil. Analysis indicatesthe prospect contains medium crude oil. "We are very pleased to havestruck oil here and the result will have an important bearing on our decisionregarding further exploration activity in this area," Tim Dodson,Statoil’s vice president of international exploration, said in a statement. Thecompany said it plans to operate three exploration wells in Brazil next year.Statoil formed a consortium during the summer with Chinese conglomerate SinochemGroup to develop Brazil’s offshore Peregrino field in order to start productionin early 2011. That field is about 50 miles offshore in the oil-rich CamposBasin in 325 feet of water. Statoil estimates the field holds at least 300million barrels of oil.”

Interior Announces 10,000 Page SolarEnergy Plan, Says They’ll be “Quite a bit of Incentive for the Companies.”Million Dollar Question? Do Consumers Want to Pay for this ExpensiveElectricity? Washington Post (12/17) reports, “The Obamaadministration issued proposed guidelines Thursday for solar development onpublic lands in the West, a move that could speed renewable-energy projectsthat have been mired in environmental controversy. The detailed analysis, knownas Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, identifies 24"solar energy zones" in six states that Interior Secretary KenSalazar said would be most suited "for environmentally sound,utility-scale solar energy production. " "We think it provides acommon-sense and flexible framework through which to grow our nation’srenewable energy economy," Salazar told reporters in a conference call.Under the 10,000-page plan, which is now subject to public comment for 90 days,developers would have a higher level of confidence that they could receivefederal permits establishing solar ventures in specific areas in statesincluding Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah."There’ll be quite a bit of incentive for the companies to focus ondevelopment" in the zones, said the bureau’s director, Bob Abbey, addingthat he and his colleagues have tried to identify areas that are less prone toconflicts over environmental concerns, such as harm to endangered species ordrains on local water supplies." NOTE: IER blogs on Salazar’s Renewed Commitment to Unreliable Energy.

Come Hell or High Water, W.Va. Senatorwill Force Vote EPA Carbon Criminalization Regs, Looks for Two Year Delay. Politico (12/17) reports, “Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is pressingforward on his drive to vote this month on his plan to delay Obamaadministration climate regulations for two years, threatening to go directly tothe Senate floor and force a vote to include it in a catch-all spending bill.Rockefeller has told Senate leadership “that he will insist on a vote” on hismeasure to block the Environmental Protection Agency global warming rules setto take effect next month. “If left with no other option, Senator Rockefellerwill seek to suspend the rules on the Omnibus Appropriations bill to bring uphis legislation,” his office said in a statement. Such a maneuver would require67 votes, which he is unlikely to get. A POLITICO analysis shows at least 56senators would likely support Rockefeller’s amendment. Rockefeller has beentrying for months to get Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedulea vote on his amendment. The West Virginia Democrat has said he would hold Reidto a promise he gave Rockefeller to hold a vote this year. "The time hascome for us to make a decision on the energy future of our country,"Rockefeller said in a prepared statement. "While there are still ongoingdiscussions about how Congress should proceed, I want to make it clear that Iintend to get a vote this year on my EPA-suspension legislation. I know thereis bipartisan support for this legislation, and if necessary, I will seek tosuspend the rules and bring this up for a vote. This is too important for us todelay any further."

Who’s In, Who’s Out? Rent-Seeking, WallStreet Fat Cats that Lobbied for Cap-and-Raid Scratching Their Heads on What todo Next. Politico (12/17) reports, “Energy-themed tradegroups can measure their level of influence with the next Congress to somedegree by the amount of work they did over the past two years to pass globalwarming legislation. Some lobby shops actively supported the Obamaadministration and its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, sensing a goldenopportunity to reshape the nation’s energy policy. Others played along,figuring it made sense to be at the bargaining table to shape a cap-and-tradebill as best they could. But now that the proposal is dead, groups like theAmerican Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association mustdeal with the awkwardness of trying to work with the same Republicans whoopposed their efforts to put a lid on greenhouse gases. Uncomfortable days mayalso be ahead for the Edison Electric Institute, the trade group forinvestor-owned utilities that was at the center of negotiations on theHouse-passed climate bill. An electric utility industry lobbyist saidindividual companies would be smart to rely on their own Capitol Hill contactsrather than approach members through the trade group. But EEI’s stock might beat its lowest with House Republican leaders who have clear memories of thetrade association’s decision to use Brian Wolff, a former top political adviserto House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as its chief message and lobbying manon climate change. Wolff has also worked part time for Democratic congressionalcandidates.“I don’t think it’s as bad as it may seem for EEI, but it’s prettydamn bad for certainly the foreseeable future,” said a former House GOP stafferwho works on energy issues.”

Old News, But Nontheless News. Upton NamesChairs/Vice-Chairs, Next Question? Sub. Comm. Rosters and Staff. The Hill (12/16) reports, “The structure ofthe powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee under GOP rule has come intofocus. The plan includes cleaving the Energy and Environment Subcommittee intotwo separate panels, incoming full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.)announced Thursday. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) will be chairman of the Energyand Power Subcommittee, with Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) selected as vicechairman. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), meanwhile, will be chairman of the newEnvironment and Economy Subcommittee, with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) in the vicechairman’s role. Upton told reporters Thursday the Energy and PowerSubcommittee will oversee the Clean Air Act, a key fact because Upton and otherRepublicans plan to attack EPA initiatives to regulate greenhouse gases underthe statute. Other EPA matters will fall under the Environment and Economypanel, Upton said. Elsewhere, as expected, Upton has named former committeechairman and ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) as “chairman emeritus” —a position that includes two staff members and a seat on each of the sixsubcommittees, Upton said.”

BetterLate than Never: Sens. Bayh and Bond Float Plan to Promote Domestic Policy/Planon Rare-Earths. E&E News (subs req’d, 12/17) reports, “Tworetiring Midwestern senators this week floated bipartisan legislation thatwould promote development of a domestic rare-earth minerals industry. Sens.Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.) introduced S. 4031 Wednesday to buildup a domestic rare-earth minerals supply chain. Rare earths, a group of 17elements critical to the clean energy sector, are primarily sourced from Chinadespite vast domestic reserves. And China has locked up a near monopoly onprocessing. The materials are used in wind turbines, energy-efficient lightbulbs, catalytic converters for diesel engines and hybrid car components, amongother applications. Bayh and Bond’s measure would set up an interagency taskforce to study rare earths, expand an existing federal loan guarantee programto include the companies developing the technologies used to produce rareearths, establish an Energy Department research and development program tostudy rare earths and authorize $50 million to establish domestic rare-earthprocessing and magnet manufacturing facilities. The measure expands onlegislation that passed in the House earlier this fall (H.R. 6160) and onlegislation previously introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lisa Murkowski(R-Alaska) (S. 3521). "Without a secure, domestic supply of rare earthmetals, our country is forced to rely on China for these materials, anunacceptable situation that jeopardizes our economy, our energy supply and ournational security interests," Bayh said this summer when he sent a letterto Energy Secretary Steven Chu calling for an expansion of the loan guaranteeprogram to include rare earths.”

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