Overnight Energy: US braces for back-to-back hurricanes

Overnight Energy: US braces for back-to-back hurricanes
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HARVEY RECOVERY ONGOING, AND ANOTHER HURRICANE’S ON THE WAY: Though Hurricane Harvey has disintegrated and is nearly a week and a half removed from its landfall with Texas, the storm's impacts are still reverberating around the United States.

Making matters worse: forecasters predicted on Tuesday that a second major hurricane is bearing down on the United States, with Irma, a Category 5 storm, churning toward Puerto Rico and, potentially, Florida.

FEMA funding dwindling: As lawmakers look toward covering the cost of cleaning up from Harvey, federal officials announced Tuesday that disaster recovery coffers are beginning to empty.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has just $541 million left for disaster management related to Harvey, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The agency also has an additional $472 million devoted to wildfire relief related to the blazes in Southern California and to prepare for Irma.

The combined $1.013 billion in the Disaster Relief Fund is unlikely to be enough for the extreme challenges created by Harvey and the other disasters. FEMA is already delaying reconstruction projects related to previous disasters while its funds are low.

Read more here.

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Gas prices jump: Harvey knocked up to one-quarter of American refining capacity offline when it stormed through the Gulf of Mexico, Houston and Louisiana last week.

Gasoline prices have shot up since then, hitting a national average of $2.65 per gallon on Tuesday morning, AAA reported. That was a $0.20 increase from Friday alone, and the highest price in nearly two years.

As of Monday evening, the Department of Energy reported that eight refineries, representing 9.6 percent of U.S. refining capacity, have begun the process of restarting. When they come back online, gasoline prices should eventually begin falling again, analysts say.

Colonial pipeline back online: Meanwhile, the Colonial pipeline, the nation's largest pipeline system and a key transportation mechanism for refined product markets on the East Coast, is back online.

Operators said Tuesday afternoon that the pipeline's Line 1 route, which delivers gasoline from Houston, had resumed full operations. Officials announced on Monday that another of its routes had come back online.

"Colonial is working closely with our customers to manage product shipments," the company said.

Read more about gas prices here, and the Colonial pipeline here.

 

FLORIDA EVACUATES AHEAD OF IRMA: Hurricane Irma, at Category 5, is on its way toward Florida, spurring mandatory evacuations in the Florida Keys.

"If ever there was a storm to take seriously in the Keys, this is it," Martin Senterfitt, the emergency management director for Monroe County, said in a statement. "The sooner people leave, the better."

The mandatory evacuation order for visitors is set to begin Wednesday morning at sunrise and comes as concerns grow over Irma's possible path, which appears aimed at south Florida.

Monroe County officials said Tuesday they will also issue a mandatory evacuation order for residents, though the timing for such a directive has yet to be determined.

While the evacuation order for tourists doesn't go into effect until early Wednesday, county officials are encouraging people to leave as soon as possible to avoid traffic congestion.

Read more here.

 

HARVEY FUNDING HITS THE HOUSE FLOOR WEDNESDAY: The House is due to vote Wednesday on its $7.85 billion bill for initial relief to areas harmed by Harvey.

The legislation, introduced over the weekend, would give $7.4 billion to FEMA's disaster relief fund, with the balance going to the Small Business Administration for its relief activities.

It answered Trump's request for funds that he sent to lawmakers late Friday.

"These funds are needed, and they are needed now," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Top House GOP appropriations staffer moves to lobbying shop Individuals with significant disabilities need hope and action MORE (R-N.J.) said in a statement.

Following House passage, the bill would go to the Senate.

But its future there is tricky. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTreasury staffer quits after being implicated in college admissions scandal: report China doesn't need World Bank's loans, just as Trump says Trump admin hits Iranian shipping network, airline with new sanctions MORE wants to tie an increase in the debt ceiling to the bill, and Senate leaders have endorsed the idea as well, which could complicate matters back in the House.

 

DEMS WANT FLOOD STANDARD BACK: Three Senate Democrats say Harvey should provide the impetus for Trump to reinstate the federal flood standard that he rolled back weeks ago.

In a Tuesday letter to the president, Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Julián Castro jabs ICE: 'Delete your account' Booker campaign unveils bilingual training program for Nevada caucus MORE (N.J.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzThere's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down Advocates hopeful dueling privacy bills can bridge partisan divide Key Senate Democrats unveil sweeping online privacy bill MORE (Hawaii) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenGOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling Democrats rip Barr over IG statement: 'Mouthpiece' for Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment MORE (Md.) argued that as Houston rebuilds, it makes sense to ensure that the new infrastructure and projects are built to withstand the future impacts of climate change.

"This common-sense, flexible approach provided agencies with many different options for complying with the new standard, including taking into account available climate science or building to withstand a 500-year storm -- the same kind of destructive event that the residents of eastern Texas just endured," they wrote.

Trump has been under fire by Democrats and some others in the wake of Harvey for undoing the climate change policy directed by former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump's intervention on military justice system was lawful and proper The mullahs seek to control uncontrolled chaos Poll: Majority of Democrats thinks Obama was better president than Washington MORE.

Under that policy, Obama directed federal agencies to develop policies to ensure that infrastructure and other federally funded projects can withstand future extreme weather events.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing on three bills. The measures target mineral mining royalty rates, expand state control over drilling on federal lands and call for a new study into onshore energy production.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: An Energy and Commerce Committee panel will hold a hearing on the EPA's implementation of Inspector General recommendations. According to a committee memo about the hearing, lawmakers are likely to probe the agency's approach to workforce management, its contractors and information security issues.

Rest of Wednesday's agenda ...

Another Energy and Commerce panel will meet to discuss the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act and its impact on consumers. Regulators, utility officials and industry groups are slated to testify.

Two House Space, Science and Technology subpanels will hold a hearing on the EPA's IRIS program, which focuses on chemical health issues.

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) will speak at an Atlantic Council event on NAFTA and North American energy.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

A team assembled to investigate the Oroville Dam crisis in California published a report Tuesday with wide-ranging criticisms of the state and federal dam inspection processes, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The Oregonian updates on a massive wildfire that has stretched into the Columbia gorge.

Scotland is set to phase out the use of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2032, eight years ahead of the timeline set by the United Kingdom government, the Independent reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Tuesday and the weekend ...

-Dems ask Trump to reinstate Obama flood standard after Harvey

-Mandatory evacuations set to begin in Florida over Hurricane Irma

-FEMA's Harvey funding down to $541M

-Key pipeline returns to service after Harvey shutdown

-EPA puts Trump political aide in charge of grant funding decisions

-Week ahead: Lawmakers to consider Harvey aid

-Rising gas prices after Harvey threaten Trump economy

-AP pushes back against EPA's criticism of Superfund story

-Dems prep for major fight over Trump USDA science pick

-EPA defends action on flooded Superfund sites in Houston

-Trump names former coal executive to top mining safety post

 

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