E2 Round-up: Oil execs say fossil fuels remain king, the UN picks reviewers for embattled climate panel, and China and India sign up for Copenhagen deal

The future of fossil fuels was front and center in Houston Tuesday during the first day of the huge annual Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference.

The event is an energy industry Oscars of sorts, drawing a lineup of top CEOs, government officials, analysts and many others.

Dow Jones reports that execs with big state-owned oil companies emphasized that crude oil will remain king despite increased interest in alternative fuels.


White House climate discussion yields pledge to keep talking

President Obama met for over an hour with 14 senators and several cabinet officials late Tuesday afternoon to discuss climate and energy legislation.

The bipartisan White House meeting didn’t produce any breakthroughs, but it wasn’t designed to be legislative horse-trading session anyway.

A White House aide said Obama “expressed his strong support for a bipartisan effort to establish clean energy incentives that will create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”


NRG wins Energy Department grant

NRG Energy will get $154 million from the Energy Department for a carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced Tuesday. NRG will match the amount of investment.

The project will demonstrate technology to reduce greenhouse gases and assist in oil recovery efforts in a nearby oil field. With carbon capture and storage, carbon dioxide is captured from a power plant and directed and stored underground to prevent its release into the atmosphere.

NRG’s award is part of the Clean Coal Power Initiative, which is funded with both federal and private sector money.

Under the agreement, NRG will construct a 60 megawatt carbon capture demonstration facility at a plant in Thompsons, Texas.


Climate advocates: White House meeting shows Obama engaged in Capitol Hill push

Senators trying to salvage climate legislation this year are heralding a bipartisan meeting with President Obama slated for later today as a sign that the White House will spend political capital to move a bill.

Obama is meeting late Tuesday afternoon at the White House with a group of roughly 15 senators and several cabinet officials, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said the administration has been engaged on the climate effort, but that the upcoming meeting is Obama’s first session personally with senators to discuss the compromise legislation that Kerry is trying to craft with colleagues.


Mountaintop mining critics descend on Washington

Critics of mountaintop mining are in Washington this week to lobby for bills that would restrict the practice by prohibiting the "fill" that's blown off to provide access to coal seams from being dumped in streams and other waters.

A spokeswoman for the Alliance for Appalachia said 250 supporters of a mountaintop mining ban were expected to door-knock as part of the 5th Annual End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington. The group is holding a reception on Tuesday night from 6 – 8 p.m. in 406 Dirksen.

Mining companies defend the practice as important to the local economy, but critics argue mountaintop removal degrades the environment.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told an audience at the National Press Club on Monday that her agency wasn’t looking to halt mountaintop mining, only minimize or stop pollution to water sources.  EPA will issue new guidance to mining companies on mountaintop mining soon, Jackson said.


Wind execs mount offensive against Schumer’s 'Buy American' plan

Senior executives of major wind energy companies are lobbying senators this week to oppose legislation that would require stimulus-funded renewable power projects to use domestically-sourced components.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and three colleagues hope to impose "buy American" requirements on all renewable power projects funded through stimulus grants.

The senators are concerned that stimulus grants for building new U.S power generation projects are creating wind turbine manufacturing jobs overseas.


E2 Round-up: Bleak outlook for climate accord, House climate bill authors cast wary eye to Senate, Spain's cautionary green jobs tale

Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate change, gives a bleak assessment of prospects for a global treaty in Mexico City, in the Financial Times.

“To get every detail set in the next nine months looks very difficult,” she said.

Governments had been hoping to forge a final treaty at a global conference this December in Mexico, after failing to do so in Copenhagen. However, Hedegaard said this was more likely to happen at a follow-up meeting next year in South Africa, reports the FT.

Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones examines whether Waxman-Markey was a waste of effort, given that the Senate climate trio appears to be ditching the idea of an economy-wide permit trading program to lower carbon dioxide emissions. 


Shell defends decision to stick with climate group

Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser heads the only oil company that’s still with the U.S. Climate Action Partnership after BP and ConocoPhillips said they were abandoning the industry-enviro coalition last month.

The coalition, which formed in 2007, is a mix of green groups, power companies, automakers and other corporations pushing for cap-and-trade legislation.

“We have a belief that we need a market-based energy legislation in this country. And by the way, in all the other countries as well. We feel that we can do more by being inside U.S. CAP together with the other stakeholders represented there in order to actually achieve the right outcome,” Voser tells the Wall Street Journal in a wide-ranging interview published Monday.

Here’s the whole thing.


EPA toughens stance against climate rule time-out

EPA had a cautious response (or non-response) last week when Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced his bill that would block regulation of greenhouse gases from power plants and other industrial facilities for two years.

But EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson reacted more boldly on Monday to the bill, which has also been introduced in the House.

“I am not in a position where I am going to stand here and support the idea of EPA not being able to use the Clean Air Act,” Jackson told reporters after a speech at the National Press Club.