Overnight Energy: Draft grid study blames low demand for power plant closures

Overnight Energy: Draft grid study blames low demand for power plant closures
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WHAT DOES THE STUDY SAY? A draft version of the Department of Energy's (DOE) baseload power study blames declining demand and cheap natural gas -- not regulations or renewable power -- for changes in the electricity grid.

The grid has changed because of "a long-standing drop in electricity demand relative to previous expectations and years of low electric prices driven by high natural gas availability," according to a June 26 draft version of the report. ThinkProgess and Reuters both posted leaked versions of the report on Monday.

The report is likely to change before it's released, possibly this month. E&E News reported that the current version of the study pulls out its conclusions about cheap gas and electricity demand, and a spokeswoman told the paper the draft report is not current.

An Energy Department spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment from The Hill on Monday.

But the early version of the study is out of step with Trump administration rhetoric on energy policy. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who mandated the report in April, has said the study is designed to ensure regulations and the rise of renewables don't undercut the electric grid, a premise that renewable power supporters have repeatedly criticized.

Read more here.


EPA: NO NEW NITROGEN DIOXIDE LIMIT: The Trump administration says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not update its standards for nitrogen dioxide pollution concentrations.

The agency said it has completed a scientific review of the nitrogen dioxide standard from 2010 and determined that it is sufficiently protective of public health.

"EPA proposes that the current [standards] don't need to be changed because they provide the appropriate public health protection, with an adequate margin of safety, including for older adults, children and people with asthma," an agency spokeswoman said in a statement.

The EPA released a formal proposal Monday to keep the current limits in place. It will take public comments on the proposal before making it final.

Nitrogen dioxide is a pollutant from burning fossil fuels and comes primarily from vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities. Inhaling it can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

The current limit for nitrogen dioxide concentrations in ambient air are 53 parts per billion averaged over a year and a maximum 100 parts per billion for a one-hour period. The standard was last updated in 2010, and the EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, recommended in April to keep the existing standard, based on its review of the scientific literature.

Read more here.


ENERGY WEEK IN THE HOUSE: It might be "Made in America" week at the White House, but the House of Representatives has a different agenda.  

The House will vote on four energy or environment bills this week designed both to crack down on federal regulatory efforts and spur energy development in the United States.

The Rules Committee on Monday will begin the process of bringing to the floor Rep. Pete Olson's (R-Texas) bill to slow down the EPA's regulatory schedule for ozone pollution. Republicans and industry groups have rallied around the bill as a way to help states and localities come into compliance with current ozone standards before new ones roll out.

Later in the week, the House will vote on three energy bills. One would extend permitting for hydropower facilities; another would ease restrictions on energy imports and exports with Canada and Mexico; and the third would overhaul the permitting of interstate natural gas pipeline projects.    


DEPUTY INTERIOR PICK HEADING TO THE FLOOR: Senate leaders are teeing up a vote on a controversial Interior Department nominee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGiuliani: White House wants briefing on classified meeting over Russia probe GOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Trump now says Korea summit could still happen June 12 MORE (R-Ky.) filed cloture on David Bernhardt's nomination to be deputy secretary of Interior on Monday, putting the chamber on a path toward a likely procedural vote Wednesday, followed by up to 30 hours of debate before a final vote.

Bernhardt would be only the second nominee at Interior to get a confirmation vote, following Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Democrats have raised concerns about Bernhardt's lobbying work, which overlaps with a lot of the industries that Bernhardt would help to regulate at Interior.

The senators questioned his ability to act impartially as the No. 2 official in charge the bulk of the nation's public land, though Bernhardt promised to follow ethics rules regarding recusals from matters involving former clients.

Republicans broadly support Bernhardt, and the Senate Western Caucus last week urged McConnell to bring his nomination to the floor.

Read more here.


ON TAP TUESDAY I: The House Appropriations Committee will mark up its $31.4 billion Interior and EPA spending bill. In other spending moves, a Senate Appropriations Committee panel will mark up its energy and water spending bill. Senators will do the same with their version of the Interior and EPA bill later this week.

Read more about the rest of the week's schedule here.


ON TAP TUESDAY II: Perry and Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, will hold a press conference at the National Press Club.


Rest of Tuesday's agenda ...

A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will hold a hearing on energy markets.

Birol will testify at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on North American energy and resources security.

Two House Natural Resources Committee panels will hold hearings: one on the impact of natural resources laws and another on oil and gas development in Alaska.



A federal judge has ordered Virginia's largest utility to revise its plan for fixing a leaking coal ash storage facility, the Associated Press reports.

A California state Senate committee moved along the bill to extend the state's cap-and-trade program Monday, setting up the legislation for an evening final vote, the Los Angeles Times reports.

India has purchased its first ever crude oil shipment from the United States, Reuters reports.



Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

-Senate moves toward vote on Trump's Interior deputy nominee

-Draft DOE study blames low demand, not regs, for power plant closures

-EPA to retain standards for nitrogen dioxide pollution

-Greens launch ad campaign to defend EPA budget

-Week ahead: House panel taking up EPA, Interior spending bill

-Macron says Trump 'understood' importance of Paris climate deal


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