Overnight Energy: Construction resumes on Dakota Access pipeline

Overnight Energy: Construction resumes on Dakota Access pipeline

SHOVELS IN THE GROUND: The developer building the Dakota Access pipeline restarted construction on a disputed section in North Dakota shortly after getting the final easement late Wednesday.

Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Vicki Granado confirmed that crews started work in the 1.5-mile Lake Oahe section right after the company received its Army Corps of Engineers easement that President Trump expedited.

The Lake Oahe section is the final portion of the pipeline to be built. Since the middle of last year, Energy Transfer ran into numerous delays, including from the Obama administration, environmental activists and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Tribe seeks court intervention: The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, which has been helping the Standing Rock Sioux in its federal litigation against the project, filed court papers late Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to get the easement revoked and an immediate stop to the construction.

"The granting of the easement and resulting construction activity violates the tribe's and its members' constitutional rights, and will result in immediate and irreparable harm to the tribe and its members before this court will be able to rule on the merits of this claim," the tribe, which is based in a nearby reservation, told the court.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Cheyenne River tribe is arguing, among other points, that since it considers Lake Oahe to be sacred, the pipeline construction amounts to a violation of its religious liberty. A federal judge will hear the challenge on Monday.

The Standing Rock tribe is also likely to seek new court action against Dakota Access soon.

Read more here.

White House celebrates Dakota Access, American steel: The White House on Thursday said it was pleased that Dakota Access construction has started again.

"The administration is pleased that Americans will be going to work building this pipeline, and building it with American steel, wherever possible," Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during his press briefing.

Building pipelines with American steel has been, to a certain extent, a goal of the Trump administration. While he promised to insist on using American steel in pipelines during his presidential campaign, Trump's January executive actions only called for a study of the subject, and no mandate for either Dakota Access or the Keystone XL pipeline.

Even so, Dakota Access developer Energy Transfer Partners said 57 percent of the 1,170-mile project -- "the total available capacity at that time" -- is made of American steel, with the rest imported from Canada.

WIND POWER HITS MILESTONE: Wind power is now the country's largest source of renewable energy capacity, an industry group announced on Thursday.

The industry had its second-fastest quarterly growth ever during the last three months of 2016, according to the American Wind Energy Association. With the boost in wind installations, the industry officially passed hydropower dams to become the largest source of renewable energy capacity in the U.S.

"American wind power is now the number one source of renewable capacity, thanks to more than 100,000 wind workers across all 50 states," AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said in a statement.

Electricity capacity measures the maximum potential electric output for a generator. Electricity generation is the amount of power a source actually produces. As of 2015, wind was the fourth-largest source of electricity generation in the country at 4.7 percent, though AWEA aims to generate 10 percent of the country's power by 2020.

Read more here.

SHELBY REPLACES SESSIONS ON ENVIRONMENT PANEL: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has a new member: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP set to release controversial Biden report Trump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs Ocasio-Cortez, Velázquez call for convention to decide Puerto Rico status MORE's (R-Ala.) retirement from the chamber on Wednesday following his confirmation as attorney general opened up a position on the EPW Committee, where Republicans have a one-seat majority.

Sessions's replacement in the Senate, Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), was appointed to the Agriculture, Armed Services, Energy and Budget panels. To prevent a deadlocked EPW committee, Shelby took Sessions's spot.

CARTER PUSHES TRUMP ON CLEAN ENERGY: Former President Jimmy Carter is pitching clean energy to Trump as a job creator.

Carter told the Associated Press that he recognizes the resistance to climate policies among Republicans, but clean energy can be a winner for Trump.

"Sometimes there's a philosophical objection to this by some -- I'll say right-wing Republicans -- but he has a high priority of job creation," Carter told AP.

"If they just remember the tremendous potential of creating millions of jobs in America just from renewable energy sources, that would be a very good counter-argument to those who oppose the concept of global warming being caused by human activity."

Carter was the first president to put solar panels on the White House. But Trump has shown deep skepticism of climate science, and has promised to reverse Obama's main climate policies.

TOMORROW IN THE HILL: Trump's had a busy first few weeks, and with the help of the GOP Congress, energy policy has been no exception.

While it hasn't been Trump's priority, he and lawmakers have taken some major actions that mark a dramatic shift in how the country deals with energy and climate change.

Read more tomorrow in The Hill.

ON TAP FRIDAY: The Infrastructure Summit from Americans for a Clean Energy Grid continues in Washington.

AROUND THE WEB:

West Virginia's new (Democratic) governor says he will rein in his state's Department of Environmental Protection, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.

FiveThirtyEight travels to the "darkest town in America," and examines light pollution.

Wind has surpassed coal to become the second-largest source of electricity in Europe, behind only natural gas, Fuel Fix reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories ...

-House panel to consider 'modernizing' Clean Air Act, environmental laws
-Wind tops nation in renewable energy capacity for first time
-Trump: We spent $6T in Middle East and didn't even get a 'tiny oil well'
-New regs for Friday: Bumblebees, farmers, fishermen
-Dakota Access pipeline restarts construction
-Feds grant final construction easement for Dakota Access pipeline

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