Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EPA & DOE Strategic Updates Released
The Department of Energy released its 2014 Strategic Plan. The DOE Strategic Plan is organized into 12 strategic objectives aimed at three distinct goals – Science and Energy, Nuclear Security and Management and Performance.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its fiscal year (FY) 2014 to 2018 Strategic Plan.
In the April 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA projects that regular-grade gasoline retail prices will average $3.57 per gallon (gal) during the current summer (April through September) driving season, similar to the $3.58/gal average of summer 2013. After rising into May, the retail price is expected to fall through the remainder of the summer because both crude oil prices and gasoline crack spreads (the difference between wholesale product price and the price of crude oil) decline. Daily and weekly national average prices can differ significantly from monthly and seasonal averages, and there are also significant regional differences, with prices in some areas exceeding the national average by 25 cents/gal or more.
On April 9, 2014, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) issued a letter addressed to fuel providers and aboveground storage tank (AST) owners that states that one of the two certified product transfer couplers shall be used while transferring gasoline from a cargo tank truck into an AST equipped with Phase I EVR. The certified product transfer couplers are a required component of the Phase I EVR Executive Orders (EO) VR-401 (OPW) and VR-402 (Morrison Brothers). The letter can be found here: http://www.arb.ca.gov/vapor/vapor.htm.
Rail yards must be stopped from emitting tons of harmful diesel pollution into neighborhoods surrounding Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, environmentalists told the 9th Circuit. The appeal arose from the dismissal of a federal complaint against Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, alleging that diesel-particulate-matter pollution has elevated the risk of cancer and respiratory illnesses in poor communities of San Bernardino, Riverside County, Long Beach and East Los Angeles. With the Southern California International Gateway, a planned rail yard a few miles from the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, the problem will only worsen, according to the complaint from the Natural Resources Defense Council. BNSF countered that the project will help reduce congestion on the city’s busy 710 freeway.
The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power approved H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, by a vote of 15 to 11. Authored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), H.R. 6 grants immediate approval of complete export applications currently filed with the Department of Energy and modifies the process moving forward to mitigate delays.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s inspector general today alerted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to the fact that sensitive information on potential physical security vulnerabilities of the electric grid should have been classified and protected from release at the time it was created. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) last month wrote to the inspector general requesting a review of the handling of the material and how it came to be published in The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. crude oil proved reserves, led by reserve additions in Texas and North Dakota, increased at a record pace in 2012 according to the U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves, 2012 report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Despite notable gains in the Marcellus and Eagle Ford shale gas plays, low natural gas prices drove down natural gas proved reserves in 2012, ending a 14-year run of consecutive increases in gas reserves. Proved reserves are estimated quantities of energy sources that analysis of geological and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions. Significant year-to-year price changes can directly affect the “existing economic” metric.
Proved oil reserves, which include crude oil and lease condensate, increased 15.4% in 2012 to 33 billion barrels (bbl), both the largest volumetric and percentage increase in oil reserves since 1970, when 10 billion bbl of Alaskan oil reserves were added to the U.S. total. Proved oil reserves in 2012 increased for the fourth year in a row and were the highest since 1976. Tight oil plays accounted for 7.3 billion bbl (22% of the U.S. total) of proved reserves of crude oil and lease condensate in 2012. U.S. production of crude oil and lease condensate increased 16% from 2011 to 2012, rising from 5.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) to 6.5 million bbl/d.
Natural gas proved reserves, estimated as wet natural gas that includes natural gas plant liquids, decreased 7.5% in 2012 to 323 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) as operators revised the proved reserves of their existing natural gas fields downward in response to lower natural gas prices. The average natural gas price during 2012 was 34% below its 2011 level, presenting more challenging economic conditions for estimating proved reserves. Before April 2012, the natural gas spot price at the Henry Hub had not been below $2.00 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) since December 2001. Despite the drop in natural gas reserves in 2012, U.S. natural gas marketed production increased about 5% from 2011 to 2012, rising from 65.9 billion cubic feet per day to 69.1 billion cubic feet per day.
Eleven U.S. Democratic senators urged PresidentBarack Obama on Thursday to make a final decision on whether to approve TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL crude oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast no later than May 31. Signing on were Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Begich of Alaska, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jon Tester and John Walsh, both of Montana, and Mark Warner of West Virginia. The White House said the administration did not intend to change its Keystone review plan.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to Lydia Wegman, former Director of the Air Quality Strategy and Standards Division at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regarding her role in developing and implementing the 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and particulate matter, specifically in conjunction with John Beale, former senior EPA official and convicted felon.
The Republican Senators on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee sent a letter to President Barack Obama regarding the proposed “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) released in late March. “The scope of CWA jurisdiction is one of the most important regulatory issues facing landowners, businesses, and municipalities today,” wrote the Senators. “The proposed ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule will exponentially impede economic recovery and is a significant step in the wrong direction. Mr. President, the decision to move forward would be a clear breach of your promise to cut through red tape.” The proposed WOTUS rule would expand federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to include streams, ditches, and ponds.
CBO Report: S. 2042, Clean Estuaries Act of 2014 S. 2042 would authorize the appropriation of $35 million annually over the 2015-2019 period for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) National Estuary Program. This legislation also would require EPA to evaluate and report on the effectiveness of the entire National Estuary Program every five years. CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would cost $151 million over the 2015-2019 period, assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts. Enacting S. 2042 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. S. 2042 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released a strategy to implement mitigation policies and practices at the Department that can more effectively encourage infrastructure development while protecting natural and cultural resources, according to the administration.
The Energy Department on April 8 awarded more than $3 million to Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy for a project that could increase U.S. competitiveness in the fuel cell market and give businesses more affordable, cleaner power options. This project will enhance the performance, increase the lifespan, and decrease the cost of stationary fuel cells being used for distributed generation and combined heat and power applications.
The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis will host the first public meeting to receive stakeholder input to the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), an administration-wide effort to make recommendations regarding key infrastructure needed for transmission, storage and distribution of energy.
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