OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Obama vs. the Koch brothers on Solyndra

The solar panel company declared bankruptcy in September about two years after receiving the $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration.

AFP, in the statement, also slammed Obama for rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline Wednesday.

"We will continue to support private industry and job growth, even as the President blocks efforts like the Keystone pipeline that would create good paying private sector jobs and help our economy recover,” the group said.

“Unfortunately, President Obama’s idea of job growth is increasing unemployment benefits, which does little other than keep unemployment high while causing our national debt to skyrocket."


Debate Watch

Expect the remaining GOP White House hopefuls to attack President Obama over his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline at tonight’s debate in South Carolina.

As always, check E2 for coverage of the candidates’ energy comments.

The debate starts at 8 p.m. on CNN.

Issa presses EPA, DOE on 'fracking'

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) pressed the Energy Department Thursday for an interview with senior officials about the agency’s plans to examine the risks of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Issa also sent a separate letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson asking about the agency’s “views on hydraulic fracturing and whether you have prejudged that hydraulic fracturing poses an environmental threat, even before the agency has completed a congressionally-mandated review of the practice.”

Hydraulic fracturing is a drilling technique in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the ground in order to gain access to valuable natural-gas reserves.

Vermont power plant can stay open, court says

The Associated Press reports: “Vermont’s only nuclear plant can remain open beyond its originally scheduled shutdown date this year, despite the state’s efforts to close the 40-year-old reactor, a federal judge ruled Thursday.”

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders: Trump thinks like an authoritarian Democrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor Trump's America fights back MORE (I-Vt.), a long-time critic of the plant, immediately criticized the decision.

“The court today has made a decision that is, in my view, wrong on the merits and ripe for appeal,” he said in a statement. “I believe the law is very clear, and that states have the right to reject nuclear power for economic and other non-safety reasons.”

Alberta Premier has Keystone hope ...

Canadian officials are hopeful that the Obama administration hasn’t closed the door on permitting the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline despite rejecting the project Wednesday.

“The fact that the president has said that the decision was not based on the merits we take as a signal that there is an opportunity to make a decision that is in the national interest that allows the project to go ahead,” Alberta Premier Alison Redford tells The Associated Press.

The administration, which said a GOP-imposed deadline left no other choice, has invited TransCanada Corp. to reapply, and the company plans to do so.

... while White House downplays pipeline’s jobs potential

The White House, under assault from Republicans for rejecting the oil sands pipeline, is making the case that President Obama’s environmental and energy agenda is a better job creator than Keystone could ever be.

“The truth is that just two of the Administration’s programs — the DOE Loan Guarantee Program and the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards — will create more than 10 times the amount of jobs generated by the Keystone XL pipeline, which will only generate a few thousand temporary jobs,” White House energy aide Heather Zichal writes on the White House blog.

But her post also contains plenty of shout-outs to the administration’s efforts to expand oil-and-gas production.

Cornell profs defend controversial ‘fracking’ study

Cornell Professor Robert Howarth is doubling down on his controversial view that natural gas from shale formations is worse, from a climate change standpoint, than other fossil fuels.

Howarth, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and two colleagues unveiled a new paper Thursday that updates a 2011 study.

From their new paper to be published in the journal Climatic Change:

Using all available information and the latest climate science, we conclude that for most uses, the GHG footprint of shale gas is greater than that of other fossil fuels on time scales of up to 100 years. When used to generate electricity, the shale-gas footprint is still significantly greater than that of coal at decadal time scales but is less at the century scale. We reiterate our conclusion from our April 2011 paper that shale gas is not a suitable bridge fuel for the 21st Century.

They argue that the decade-scale is what really matters “given the urgent need to avoid climate-system tipping points.”

Howarth’s contrarian stance has received heavy criticism from the natural-gas industry and other advocates of accessing gas from shale formations through hydraulic fracturing.

An Energy Department advisory panel, in a report last year on natural gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, noted that the Cornell conclusion is “not widely accepted,” but also called for more data.

America’s Natural Gas Alliance, an industry trade group, bashed the new Howarth paper Thursday.

“While we are still looking at this latest offering, it does not appear that there is anything new here, and so what we have is a recycling of inaccurate information and a clear attempt to pass off already-debunked research to reporters,” said Daniel Whitten, a spokesman for the group.

Dems press Upton for climate hearings

Top House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats are pressing the panel’s GOP leaders to hold a hearing on scientists’ fears that thawing permafrost could release massive amounts of greenhouse gases.

“Some scientists fear the melting permafrost could become a ‘tipping point’ that may be impossible to stop, creating a ‘chronic source of emissions that will last hundreds of years.’ Other scientists urge more research to understand whether observed methane emissions are new, increasing, or simply recently detected,” states a letter Thursday to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

The letter is from committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, the top Democrat on the Energy and Power subcommittee. The letter, also sent to Energy and Power subcommittee Chairman Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? Overnight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science MORE (R-Ky.), takes committee Republicans to task for failing to respond to earlier requests for hearings on climate change.

It states:

You and your colleagues say that you do not accept the scientific consensus that climate change is real and is caused by man because the science is 'not settled.' Yet you and other House Republicans have voted to cut funding for climate science, and you have refused to hold hearings to inform the Committee about the state of the science.

Commerce opens trade probe on Chinese wind towers

Dow Jones reports that the Commerce Department has opened a probe into “whether Chinese and Vietnamese companies are selling wind turbine parts at unfairly low prices in the U.S.”

The probe could lead to tariffs on the imports.


Here's a quick roundup of Thursday's E2 stories:

— Senators look to advise Treasury on Iran sanctions
— EPA air chief groans about agency's acronyms
— EPA won’t promise final power plant carbon rules before 2012 elections
— Dems propose 'Reasonable Profits Board' to regulate oil company profits
— Former EPA, Senate staffer opens law and policy practice
— Obama parries Solyndra attacks in first campaign ad

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Andrew Restuccia, arestuccia@thehill.com.

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