Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — Gas prices down year-over-year

Gasoline prices are now lower than they were at this time last year. Meanwhile, the defense spending bill has officially moved without Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform, and Virginia is slowly advancing in its attempts to exit a regional climate agreement.  

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forward you this newsletter? Sign up here or in the box below.

Gas prices fall below December 2021 level

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. is lower than it was a year ago, after many months of elevated prices marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The country’s average price for a gallon of gasoline stood at about $3.33 on Thursday, just under the $3.34 this time last year, according to the AAA.

Gas prices are now at their lowest point since January. 

In February, prices shot up following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, as some turned away from Russian fuel in protest, reshuffling the market. Prices peaked in June, averaging more than $5 per gallon.  

For the past few weeks, gas prices have seen sharp declines. Likewise, oil prices have fallen over the past month. 

But why? Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at gasoline price site GasBuddy, said a range of factors were contributing to the lower prices including: 

  • reduced oil demand from COVID-19 related lockdowns in China 
  • economic concerns as the Federal Reserve is expected to raise rates  
  • high levels of activity at refineries that turn oil into gasoline   

What might the future hold? De Haan said that prices at the pump still have a way to fall to reach parity with the decline in crude oil prices.  

He said that the national average price is “likely” to drop below $3 per gallon, which he said could occur “right around Christmas.” 

The politics: Several White House officials on Thursday highlighted the news on Twitter

Read more about gasoline prices here.  

HOUSE PASSES DEFENSE BILL WITHOUT PERMIT REFORMS 

The House on Thursday passed the annual defense authorization bill, sending the mammoth, $847 billion measure to the Senate for consideration ahead of the year-end deadline. 

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in a bipartisan 350-80 vote. It was approved under suspension of the rules, an expedited process to pass legislation in the House that requires a two-thirds majority.  

The NDAA, legislation seen as a must-pass for Congress annually, includes an
$817 billion top line for the Defense Department and about $30 billion to fund nuclear activities in the Department of Energy. 

If you’re just now catching up: One stumbling block throughout negotiations was whether to include a deal on energy project permitting reform, which Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) had been pushing for. The initiative was ultimately excluded from the text, handing a significant victory to progressives who wanted it left out while dealing a blow to Manchin. 

Read more here, from The Hill’s Ellen Mitchell and Mychael Schnell.  

Virginia moves toward exiting multistate climate pact 

Virginia’s air quality board on Wednesday voted to leave an interstate emissions-reduction partnership, bringing the state closer to fulfilling Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) vow to withdraw from the program earlier this year even as critics say the process needs legislative approval. 

The state Air Pollution Control Board voted 4-1 to continue the exit from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), with two abstentions, an official confirmed. The board comprises four Youngkin appointees and three members appointed by his Democratic predecessor, Ralph Northam. 

  • Virginia joined the RGGI, which counts 11 predominantly northeastern states as members, in 2021, a year before Youngkin took office.  
  • Member states require their power plants to buy carbon credits to offset their emissions. 

Youngkin vowed to exit the partnership shortly after taking office, while environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers argued that since the Virginia General Assembly voted to enter the contract, a governor could not unilaterally leave it.  

Youngkin signed an executive order requesting the board to consider withdrawal from the RGGI, blaming it for rate increases to utility customers. 

The state utility, Dominion Energy, has heavily lobbied for the board to vote for withdrawal, saying in an October letter to the state Department of Environmental Quality that until withdrawal is official, “RGGI compliance costs will continue to accrue in the interim, and subject to regulatory approval, be passed on to customers.” 

Read more about the latest step here.  

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Puerto Rico was promised billions for safe water. Taps are still running dry. (The Washington Post
  • Okefenokee Titanium Mine Fight Escalates With Interior Letter (Bloomberg Law
  • Exxon, Chevron to spend billions more on oil projects next year (Reuters
  • A tiny Wisconsin town tried to stop pollution from factory farms. Then it got sued. (Grist
  • The Big Oversight Flaw for the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (The Dispatch

🎤 Lighter click: Dems invoke Taylor Swift in messaging against Big Oil 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.  

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