Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will meet Monday with oil industry officials in Louisiana to talk about offshore drilling permits. The session is part of the deal that ended Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) months-long obstruction of Jacob Lew's confirmation as White House budget director.
The department has promised a closed-door “informal discussion” with Salazar “to discuss the
challenges affecting the offshore oil and gas industry and to hear the secretary’s path forward to issuing permits and getting this vital
industry back to work,” according to Interior's invitation.
Industry sources believe Salazar may announce the processing of some shallow-water drilling permits, and perhaps a nebulous roadmap for deepwater projects. Oil-and-gas companies bashed the deepwater drilling freeze imposed after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill began, and have also criticized a slowdown in permits for shallow-water projects that were not covered by the formal ban.
the department lifted the official deepwater ban in October,
industry critics claim a de facto freeze remains for both deep-
and shallow-water projects. Interior has imposed a suite of new rig safety mandates in recent months, but says it wants to work with industry to get permits rolling under the beefed-up standards.
Monday's 10:30 a.m. CST meeting will be held at a facility owned by Gulf Island Fabrication Inc. — which constructs offshore drilling and production platforms and vessels — in Houma, La. The meeting is expected to last an hour and will be followed by media briefings.
Joining Salazar will be Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich and Assistant Interior Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland. The invitation went out to major oil and gas producers, as well as trade groups.
Shallow-water drillers lay out wish list
Jim Noe, executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, will attend and wrote an op-ed Sunday laying out his stance coming into the meeting. “This is not our first meeting with Secretary Salazar, but we are hopeful that it will be our most productive,” Noe wrote in the Houma Courier.
The coalition is an industry lobbying group formed months ago to seek faster approval of shallow-water drilling permits, which slowed after the BP spill began.
Permit approvals need “to return to normal level, and a regulatory process that is open and transparent,” including “regular, open channels of communication” with Interior, Noe wrote.
There also needs to be “a regulatory system that understands the differences between shallow-water and deepwater drilling,” and one “that provides enough advance notice of regulatory changes, so that the industry can make business decisions with a certain amount of confidence,” Noe wrote.
Industry cheers Landrieu
Noe also praised Landrieu for playing hardball with the White House by blocking Lew's Senate confirmation until last week.
“While we met with regulatory leaders and voiced our concerns, we did not feel like we were being heard,” Noe wrote regarding meetings industry held with Salazar and other federal officials while the deepwater drilling freeze was in place. “Sen. Landrieu’s hold on a White House nomination certainly didn’t win her many friends among Washington elites or bureaucratic office suites. But her forthright action definitely got the attention of the White House and ensured that our voices were heard.”
Landrieu on Thursday lifted a hold on Lew’s nomination to head the White House Office of Management and Budget, which she initially placed in September to protest the administration’s deepwater drilling ban. Landrieu kept the hold in place due to concern over the pace of both deep- and shallow-water drilling permits.
Landrieu on Thursday said she was “convinced” that the Obama administration has made "notable progress" in backing away from its moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. Landrieu said Salazar is expected to issue several drilling permits in the coming weeks, and his trip Monday is to reiterate his "commitment to the future of the Gulf."
China’s coal habit fuels import binge
The New York Times has a front-page look Monday at how China is powering its growing economy.
“Even as developed countries close or limit the construction of coal-fired power plants out of concern over pollution and climate-warming emissions, coal has found a rapidly expanding market elsewhere: Asia, particularly China,” they report.
The piece looks at the evolution of global coal markets, and environmentalists’ dismay.
“Traditionally, coal is burned near where it is mined — particularly so-called thermal or steaming coal, used for heat and electricity. But in the last few years, long-distance international coal exports have been surging because of China’s galloping economy, which now burns half of the 6 billion tons of coal used globally each year,” the Times reports.
“As a result, not only are the pollutants that developed countries have tried to reduce finding their way into the atmosphere anyway, but ships chugging halfway around the globe are spewing still more.
“And the rush to feed this new Asian market has helped double the price of coal over the past five years, leading to a renaissance of mining and exploration in many parts of the world.”
2010 carbon emissions to hit record high, report says
“Global emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide are on track to hit a record in 2010, a leading annual study said on Monday, driven largely by booming economies in China and India and their reliance on coal.
“The Global Carbon Project, a consortium of international research bodies, also said annual emissions dipped 1.3 percent in 2009 from 2008 because of the global financial crisis. But the fall was less than half the decrease estimated a year ago.”
Coalition wants new California Gov. Jerry Brown to step up climate focus
“A task force of California politicians, business people, academics and environmentalists is calling on incoming Gov. Jerry Brown to appoint a climate risk council within his office to focus statewide attention on adapting to the effects of global warming,” the Los Angeles Times reports Monday.
“In a report to be released Monday, the 23-member California Adaptation Advisory Panel, a group convened by the Los Angeles-based Pacific Council on International Policy calls for stepped-up data-gathering, monitoring and coordination among state agencies and in the private sector to prepare for a steep sea level rise, diminishing water supplies and the spread of wildfire, as studies have predicted.”
Fred Upton has a parking pass for EPA — and lots of questions
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) — who is battling to wield the Energy and Commerce Committee gavel next year — says he will roll out the welcome mat for the Environmental Protection Agency.
“[EPA Administrator] Lisa Jackson and others, we will give them their own parking place in the horseshoe of the Rayburn building to make sure they can come in and share with us what they intend to do, so that we can look at it and see whether it really is the intent of Congress and what we have to do to respond,” Upton said in an interview that aired Sunday on Platts Energy Week.
Upton is vowing tough scrutiny of what he calls “job-killing” EPA regulations.
We have more tidbits from his interview here and here.
Taking the long view on global climate talks
The snail’s pace of global climate talks isn’t surprising when compared to multilateral efforts to tackle other complex matters, according to one prominent expert.
“It took decades for negotiators to write treaties that curb nuclear warheads and settle trade disputes between nations, and by that measure, efforts to limit global warming may just be getting started,” Bloomberg reports.
"United Nations climate talks starting in Mexico next week will resemble ‘sitting in Bretton Woods in 1944,’ said Harvard University Environmental Economics Director Robert Stavins, referring to meetings that devised a new world financial system and envisioned an agency governing international trade.
“Climate negotiations are going to be an ongoing process, much like trade talks, not a single task with a clear endpoint,” Stavins said in a telephone interview. “It took 50 years to build the institutions that led to the World Trade Organization. It wasn’t something that was done in a moment.”
In case you missed E2 over the weekend
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