Overnight Energy: Gary Cohn to meet climate ministers at UN

Overnight Energy: Gary Cohn to meet climate ministers at UN
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COHN TO HUDDLE WITH CLIMATE MINISTERS BEFORE UN: White House Economic Adviser Gary Cohn is organizing a meeting next week with world climate and energy ministers.

A Trump administration official confirmed Tuesday that Cohn is putting together the Monday breakfast meeting before the United Nations' General Assembly in New York City.

An invitation to the meeting called it "an opportunity for key ministers with responsibility for these issues to engage in an informal exchange of views and discuss how we can move forward most productively," said The New York Times, which first reported on the plans.

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The official said the National Economic Council Director is organizing the meeting to help the Trump administration figure out where it will go on climate policy after the Paris pullout announcement.

Trump said at the time of the June announcement that he would be open to reengaging on the international climate stage in some way, including negotiating a new pact. Most other nations have rejected such a proposal.

Read more here.

 

FEDS REACH OBAMA-ERA SOLAR GOAL: The Department of Energy has hit a key goal in its effort to reduce the cost of solar energy, officials announced on Tuesday.

The price of electricity generated by utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems fell to $0.06 per kilowatt hour this year, achieving a 2020 goal of the SunShot Initiative three years early. Prices for residential and commercial systems are 86 percent and 89 percent toward achieving their price goals, the Energy Department reported.

The department is now looking to expand the SunShot program, investing $82 million in new research funding into energy storage and grid resiliency efforts.

"With the impressive decline in solar prices, it is time to address additional emerging challenges," said Daniel Simmons, the agency's acting assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

"As we look to the future, DOE will focus new solar R&D on the secretary's priorities, which include strengthening the reliability and resilience of the electric grid while integrating solar energy."

Read more here.

 

DOE AWARDS MONEY FOR RESILIENCE, CYBERSECURITY: The Energy Department Tuesday is giving awards worth as much as $50 million to its national laboratories for energy infrastructure resilience and cybersecurity projects.

The department said hurricanes Harvey and Irma have reinforced the importance of federal funding to protect energy infrastructure, including the electric grid, pipelines and refineries.

"As round-the-clock efforts continue to help communities recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need to continue strengthening and improving our electricity delivery system to withstand and recover from disruptions has become even more compelling," Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryPerry’s grid plan will keep on the lights — and the Wi-Fi Eric Trump’s brother-in-law promoted at Department of Energy Official National Park account: There's 'overwhelming consensus' on climate change MORE said in a statement.

"By leveraging the world-class innovation of the national laboratories and their partners, this investment will keep us moving forward to create yet more real-world capabilities that the energy sector can put into practice to continue improving the resilience and security of the country's critical energy infrastructure."

Read more here.

 

PRUITT: 'NO ASSURANCES' TO ICAHN ABOUT FUEL STANDARD: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Senate confirms top EPA air regulator | Feds to roll back emissions rule for big trucks | Defense bill mandates climate study EPA seeks to repeal part of Obama emissions rule for big trucks Senate confirms top air regulator at EPA MORE says he met with refinery owner and former Trump adviser Carl Icahn on the Renewable Fuel Standard earlier this year, but that the meeting didn't yield any commitments on Icahn's key biofuel goals.

Icahn has advocated that the Trump administration shift the task of complying with the federal biofuels mandate away from refiners and onto a new segment of the fuel production line.

The Trump administration has so far ignored the request, and Icahn stepped down as a regulatory adviser for the Trump administration in August.

But Democratic senators had pressed Pruitt on Icahn's influence in the agency's administration of the biofuels standard. Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseTech companies grilled over Russian election interference Hitting GOP, Dems pitch raising 401(k) caps Democrats double down on calls for Congress to protect Mueller MORE (D-R.I.) had pushed Pruitt to explain his interactions with Icahn to determine whether there were any conflict of interests at play.

Pruitt denied such a charge in a Monday letter to Whitehouse.

"Mr. Icahn is one of many of the president's advisors that I met with during my confirmation process," he wrote. "During that meeting, I made no assurances with regard to the point of obligation or any other substantive issues."

 

DHS WAIVES REGS FOR BORDER SECURITY: The Department of Homeland Security is once again waiving numerous environmental laws in order to build Trump's border wall.

The waiver published Tuesday applies to border infrastructure near Calexico, Calif., and exempts it from laws like the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

DHS said in a statement that the Calexico area is "an area of high illegal entry," where border agents last year alone caught thousands of attempted border crossers, thousands of pounds of marijuana and more than a hundred pounds of cocaine.

The agency has authority under a decade-old statute to waive any law it needs to in order to build and operate border infrastructure.

Last month, DHS waived numerous laws for a border wall section near San Diego.

Read more here.

 

COURT WON'T STOP EXXON SUBPOENA: New York's top appeals court declined Tuesday to stop the state's attorney general from subpoenaing Exxon Mobil Corp.'s auditing firm.

The case means Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) can carry on with his demands that PriceWaterhouseCoopers hand over decades of documents as part of his probe into whether Exxon committed fraud or other crimes in how it told the public and investors about climate change risks.

"Exxon had no legal basis to interfere with PwC's production," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Our fraud investigation continues to move full speed ahead, despite Exxon's continued strategy of delay."

Exxon has been using numerous means to fight investigations by Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D).

Schneiderman has said he found "significant evidence" that Exxon misled the public on climate, a claim that the company denies.

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The House Natural Resources Committee will mark up seven bills. A list of the bills can be found here.

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will meet to discuss carbon capture technology for power plants.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

Oil production in OPEC nations fell in August for the first time since March, CNBC reports.

The Trump administration will halt pollution controls for Utah's oldest coal-fired power plants, the Deseret News reports.

Coal executives in India expect the fuel to remain dominant in the country through at least 2040, Platts reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check Tuesday's stories...

-Trump's top economic aide to meet with foreign climate officials

-Energy Department expands goals for solar power initiative

-DHS moving to speed construction of border barriers in California

-Energy Dept. funds infrastructure resilience, cybersecurity projects

 

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

 

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