Overnight Energy: Regulators kill Perry plan to boost coal, nuclear | 2017 sets new record for disaster costs | Cliven Bundy walks free

Overnight Energy: Regulators kill Perry plan to boost coal, nuclear | 2017 sets new record for disaster costs | Cliven Bundy walks free
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FERC SAYS 'NO' TO PERRY: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryFive things to know about Trump’s new coal power plan Overnight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate Perry: US to become net energy exporter within 18 months MORE's plan to prop up coal and nuclear power plants Monday.

In a unanimous rebuke to a controversial piece of the Trump administration's energy policy, the five-person commission -- four of whom President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE nominated -- said Perry and other supporters of the proposal failed to show that current electricity markets are not just or reasonable.

Those findings that would be necessary in order to mandate the higher electricity payments that Perry sought in the notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR).

"The [Federal Power Act] is clear: in order to require [grid operators] to implement tariff changes as contemplated by the Proposed Rule ... there must first be a showing that the existing [grid] tariffs are unjust, unreasonable, unduly discriminatory or preferential," the commission wrote. "Neither the Proposed Rule nor the record in this proceeding has satisfied the threshold statutory requirement of demonstrating that the [grid] tariffs are unjust and unreasonable," it said.

"In addition, the extensive comments submitted by the [grid operators] do not point to any past or planned generator retirements that may be a threat to grid resilience."

Perry proposed the action in September. It would have required certain grid operators to pay power producers for their costs plus a reasonable profit, if the power plant at issue has at least 90 days of fuel on site -- a standard that only coal and nuclear could meet.

Supporters said that coal and nuclear plant closures, which have been increasing in recent years due to cheap competition and regulations, threatened to make the electric grid less resilient and more prone to long blackouts.

Perry said he was glad to start an important conversation about threats to resilience.

"As intended, my proposal initiated a national debate on the resiliency of our electric system," he said in a statement.

"What is not debatable is that a diverse fuel supply, especially with onsite fuel capability, plays an essential role in providing Americans with reliable, resilient and affordable electricity, particularly in times of weather-related stress like we are seeing now," Perry continued, promising to keep working with FERC on the matter.

The American Council on Renewable Energy said FERC's dismissal was the right move.

"We believe FERC has laid out a sensible approach to gathering the vital information needed to support any changes to electricity markets, and we are confident that, in the end, the record still will not support market intervention," Gregory Wetstone, the group's president, said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

$306 BILLION IN MAJOR US DISASTERS IN 2017: The United States set a new record last year for the total cost of weather and climate change-related disasters that exceeded $1 billion, driven largely by wildfires and hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Center for Environmental Information said in a Monday report that the 16 disasters that cost more than $1 billion added up to $306 billion. The total number of disasters tied with 2011 for a record, while the total cost was a new high.

"The damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria alone are responsible for approximately $265.0 billion of the $306.2 billion," Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithWaPo columnist rips Trump for his 'possibly stupidest tweet ever' Democrat Kim Schrier advances in Washington primary It’s a mistake to associate the Western canon with strictly conservative principles MORE, an economist at NOAA, wrote in a blog post. "Each of these destructive hurricanes now joins Katrina and Sandy, in the new top 5 costliest U.S. hurricanes on record."

The $306 billion total is also a new cost record worldwide for one country for a year.

Smith attributed the new cost record to increasing wealth and population, as well as effects of climate change like drought and flooding.

Read more here.

 

JUDGE DISMISSES CLIVEN BUNDY CASE: A federal judge on Monday dismissed the charges against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons and a militia member for their role in a 2014 standoff with federal officers.

Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the charges against the men "with prejudice," meaning they can't be put on trial again, The Arizona Republic reported. She said the conduct of prosecutors in the case had been "outrageous" and violated due process rights.

Navarro also ordered Bundy be released from prison.

Navarro last month declared a mistrial in the criminal conspiracy case against Bundy and his sons, saying federal prosecutors had improperly withheld evidence that could have changed the outcome of the trial.

Read more here.

 

SCOTUS WON'T HEAR CASE OVER EPA JOBS REPORT: The Supreme Court Monday declined to hear a coal mining company's appeal arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must regularly report on the impact to coal jobs from its regulations.

Murray Energy Corp.'s case was one of dozens the court declined to hear without any explanation.

The rejection means that the previous ruling stands, in which the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that the EPA does not have to regularly produce the jobs reports.

Murray Energy is headed by Bob Murray, an outspoken coal mogul and frequent litigant against the Obama EPA and others he has perceived as anti-coal, as well as a strong supporter of President Trump.

The case started years ago, under the Obama administration, amid industry and Republican accusations the administration was killing thousands of jobs with its environmental rules.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY I: American Petroleum Institute head Jack Gerard will give his annual "State of American Energy" speech. The event is the oil lobby's way to set its agenda for the year and celebrate its recent accomplishments.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY II: The House Energy and Commerce Committee's subpanel on energy will hold a hearing to kick off its consideration of ways to reorganize the Department of Energy. The hearing will include Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar and National Nuclear Security Administration head Frank Klotz.

 

Rest of Tuesday's agenda ...

The House Natural Resources Committee's subpanel on federal land will hold a hearing on Rep. John Curtis's (R-Utah) bill to codify the two national monument units Trump created when he greatly reduced the size of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

Sunoco Pipeline estimated Monday that its Mariner East 2 pipeline, whose construction was recently halted by regulators, would add $9.1 billion to the economy, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The National Park Service helped to release 400 cold-stunned turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico from Texas, the Associated Press reports.

Wyoming's Supreme Court sent a case back to a lower court in a dispute between a coal company and an oil company with competing claims over the same land, the Casper Star Tribune reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check stories from Monday and the weekend ...

- Energy nominee who wrote controversial op-ed on gay troops withdraws

- Regulators kill Perry's proposal to prop up coal, nuclear power plants

- Maine senators oppose Trump's offshore drilling plans

- Judge dismisses charges against Cliven Bundy, orders him freed from prison

- US sets new cost record for major disasters

- Supreme Court rejects case over EPA coal jobs reports

- Week ahead: House GOP looks to revamp Energy Department

- Park Service official who ignored environmental rules picked for senior agency post: report

- New Hampshire's GOP governor opposes Trump's offshore drilling expansion