Overnight Energy: Trump's Keystone XL approval coming soon

Overnight Energy: Trump's Keystone XL approval coming soon
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HERE COMES KEYSTONE: The White House is preparing to formally approve the Keystone XL pipeline, setting off another major political fight over one of the most contentious energy projects in recent history.

A person familiar with the matter told The Hill on Thursday that the White House is planning to issue a cross-border permit for the Canadian pipeline project by Monday.

That’s the deadline for a 60-day review of the project directed by President Trump in January.

Tom Shannon, the State Department's undersecretary for political affairs, is expected to recommend the approval Friday and send the recommendation to the White House.

Issuing a permit for Keystone would reverse one of the highest-profile decisions of President Obama’s tenure in office.

In 2015, Obama’s State Department formally rejected Keystone developer TransCanada’s request to build the 1,179-mile pipeline, which would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil each day between the Alberta oil sands to existing pipelines in the United States

Because the pipeline crosses an international border, it requires formal approval from the State Department. Obama rejected the project on environmental grounds, saying it would undercut his administration’s climate change goals.

Read more here.

GOP LAWMAKER HAS PROPOSALS FOR PARIS: A GOP congressman is pushing the White House to stay in the Paris climate deal, but significantly roll back the promises President Obama made to fellow signatories.

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who was an energy adviser for Trump during has campaign last year, laid out his arguments for a revised commitment in a letter outlining three conditions he wants Trump to abide by if he decides to stay in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

First and foremost, Cramer said Trump should reduce former President Obama’s pledge that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent.

“The U.S. should present a new pledge that does no harm to our economy,” Cramer wrote. “Unlike President Obama’s opaque process to determine his pledge, the determination should be transparent, reflect a range of economic scenarios, and take inadequate input from the private sector and other interested parties.”

Cramer said Trump should not pay any more money into the Green Climate Fund, beyond the $1 billion Obama submitted to the international fund meant to help poor countries cut greenhouse gases and deal with the effects of climate change. He also asked Trump to use the United States’ position to promote domestic companies, like manufacturing and energy.

Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris accord during his campaign. But he hasn’t yet taken action on the matter, while he considers opposing viewpoints from within his administration.

Read more here.

GREENS LOSE REGULATORY FIGHT: A federal court has rejected arguments that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has an unacceptable bias in favor of natural gas pipelines.

A lawsuit from Delaware Riverkeeper Network focused on the proposed PennEast pipeline in Pennsylvania, but its bias argument was wide-ranging and a federal judge ruled it did not rise to the level of previous cases of agency bias.

“FERC stands to gain no direct benefit from the approval of a particular pipeline project,” Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote.

“If FERC does not approve any one project, its budget remains the same, with the proportional volumetric charge per gas company being slightly higher. If FERC commissioners also had ownership interests in gas companies, they might individually have a financial stake in granting certificates because it would reduce the proportional charges on their own companies,” she said.

The lawsuit was the latest attempt by environmental groups to crack down on FERC.

Greens have long argued the agency is acting as a rubber stamp to fossil fuel industries as pipeline infrastructure grows, fueled by sharply rising domestic energy production.

Read more here.

INTERIOR GOES TO THE DOGS: Interior Secretary and known pooch pal Ryan Zinke announced Thursday that he would start allowing Interior employees to bring their dogs to work, making it the first agency to do so.

The “Doggy Days at Interior” will at first be limited to two Fridays each in May and September.

Zinke, who made the dog-friendly workplace promise on his first day in the job, used the announcement to talk up his own dog, Ragnar, a black and white Havanese.

“I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with [Ragnar] riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola [his wife] and I went on with the little guy. But I can tell you it was always better to have him.”

Zinke added employees who “would rather not interact with dogs at the workplace” can telework when the animals are present or have “other flexibilities.”

Zinke tweeted some photos of Ragnar Thursday, which happens to be National Puppy Day, in case you haven’t seen a sharp increase in puppy photos.

One of the photos shows Zinke, his wife Lola, and the dog, and the other shows Ragnar on Zinke’s first day at Interior, standing in front of the Teddy Roosevelt portrait in his office.

ON TAP FRIDAY: 

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoAfter Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp Major GOP donor Friess to enter Wyoming governor race EPA to conduct 'full review' of information requests for Pruitt records MORE (R-Wyo.) will speak at the Heartland Institute’s annual conference in Washington.

AROUND THE WEB:

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) is still getting flack days after a constituent town hall in which he suggested God polluted the Chesapeake Bay, the York Dispatch reports.

Madison, Wis. has committed to a 100 percent renewable energy goal, The Capital Times reports.

Kinder Morgan says it plans to build a natural gas pipeline from West Texas to the Gulf Coast, the San Antonio Express-Times reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday’s stories ...

-GOP rep asks Trump to roll back US climate commitment
-Trump administration to approve Keystone pipeline
-Court rejects green group’s claim of pro-pipeline bias at regulator
-Interior to allow employees to bring their dogs to work: report
-Rick Perry questions student government election of Texas A&M president

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill