OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Drilling, climate, power grid in focus

STATE OF PLAY: Call it the wonk before the storm.

President Obama and Mitt Romney are getting ready for their Wednesday debate that could feature them trading punches on energy and climate policy.

On Tuesday, ahead of the political fight, Washington, D.C., will be home to detailed policy events on creating a “smart” power grid, offshore drilling and carbon trading markets. Here's what's ahead:

Drilling: James Watson, the Interior Department’s top offshore drilling-safety regulator, is among the speakers at a Center for Strategic and International Studies forum on drilling safety.

Watson’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is implementing beefed up safety rules issued in the wake of the BP oil spill, and is also keeping watch over Shell’s politically controversial Arctic project.

Smart grid: A top power industry official is giving thumbs-up to a major initiative in President Obama’s 2009 stimulus law.

Thomas Kuhn, president of electric utility trade group the Electric Edison Institute, will give remarks at GridWeek, a Tuesday-through-Thursday conference on “smart” electric grid technology and policy.

Smart-grid technology sends real-time power data — such as prices and energy use — to “smart” meters via the Internet, with the goal of encouraging energy efficiency and letting utilities defer adding generation capacity.
Kuhn will discuss the state of "smart grid" efforts in the wake of the 2009 law that included programs to boost green energy and energy efficiency.He said about $3.5 billion in federal stimulus grants jumpstarted the industry, and that electric utilities are now starting capital-intensive upgrades on their own.
“There’s a number of projects that have gone forward and continue to go forward without stimulus money,” Kuhn told The Hill on Monday. “Since these things have proven themselves and proven their cost benefit, I think you’re going to continue to see them roll out even without government support.”

Click here for more on the conference.

Climate: Tuesday brings the second day of the International Emissions Trading Association’s Carbon Forum, which will feature speakers from major companies like Chevron, environmentalists and a range of others.

On Monday, the United Nations’s top climate official, Christiana Figueres, told reporters at the conference that she sees climate skepticism on the wane in the U.S.

Click here for more about Tuesday’s agenda.


Oil rises on manufacturing report

Oil prices increased Monday after a report showed a rise in U.S. manufacturing activity, the Associated Press reports.

FTC looks to curb deceptive ‘green’ ads

Reuters reports that the Federal Trade Commission is taking steps to make sure companies can back up claims that they’re making environmentally friendly products.

Report: Gulf spill deal taking shape

Some Gulf Coast states would get less money in the settlement shaping up between BP and the federal government for the 2010 spill that released more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, according to a news report.
“That deal, according to officials briefed by the Justice Department, would be structured to give the federal government more control over the billions of dollars in fines paid by BP as a result of the spill, shifting that authority away from the affected states,” reports Alabama.com.

Here’s a bit more from their piece:

The settlement, one of several alternatives proposed by the government in recent weeks, would divert a greater portion of the fines toward a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), reducing the amount paid in civil penalties for violating the Clean Water Act.

NRDA fines flow through the U.S. Treasury and have relatively strict guidelines requiring them to be spent on restoration of wildlife and habitats. They’re also tax deductible — a major incentive for BP.


Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Monday ...

— Top Republicans in Senate warn against tapping oil stockpile

— Nuke industry presses for change to proliferation rules

— UN official: Climate skeptics are losing

— Report: Large energy cuts can help avoid sequestration

— Ad hits Romney ahead of debate for opposing wind industry tax credit

— High court leaves Clinton-era rule intact, turning aside mining industry petition

— GOP looks to force reforms on EPA's Science Advisory Board

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Zack Colman, zcolman@thehill.com.

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