Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — Granholm: Biden would veto House SPR bill 

ISSY LES MOULINEAUX, FRANCE – OCTOBER 9, 2020: French headquarters of Microsoft, American multinational company which develops, manufactures, licenses and sells computer software and electronics

House Republicans are preparing a vote on a bill limiting Strategic Petroleum Reserve purchases. Meanwhile, a new study outlines the way forward for Puerto Rican renewables, and a report puts a price on the Biden administration’s wind power goals. 

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House tees up vote for bill restricting SPR purchases

The House this week is expected to vote on legislation that would restrict purchases of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the nation’s emergency oil supply.  

Republicans are pushing back on the Biden administration’s largest-ever release of SPR barrels last year as part of an effort to bring down gasoline prices after Russia invaded Ukraine.  

  • The bill would, except in emergencies, require the federal government to develop a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands that are leased for new oil and gas production in order to withdraw oil from the strategic reserve.
      
  • schedule released by the office of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) indicated that the bill, known as H.R. 21, would be taken up later in the week.  

The background: The Russian invasion caused gasoline prices to spike. In an effort to combat this, the Biden administration said it would release 1 million barrels per day for the next six months, resulting in a total release of about 180 million barrels. The SPR holds up to 714 million barrels. 

Admin pushes back on the new bill: The Biden administration, meanwhile, is arguing that the move would raise gasoline prices.  

  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also said that he would “needlessly aim to weaken the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s usefulness as a tool to ensure energy security in America.” 
  • Granholm added that the bill “risks raising these gas prices and making it harder to offer Americans relief,” and that Biden would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.  

The defense: In response to similar criticism of the bill last week, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said in a statement that the bill would have “absolutely no effect” on emergency authorities, but instead addresses “the politically-motivated use of the SPR.” 

“If the President declares an emergency resulting from an energy supply disruption, the Secretary has full authority to utilize the SPR—HR 21 will not change or hamper that,” she added. “Additionally, under this bill, if the President chooses to use the SPR without declaring an emergency—a non-emergency sale—then the Secretary of Energy must prepare a plan to increase domestic energy production.” 

Following Granholm’s remarks, the White House Office of Management and Budget put out a formal statement expressing opposition to the bill and affirming that the President would veto it. 

Study calls for rooftop solar in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico should install rooftop solar panels in locations such as airports and industrial areas to reach national renewable energy goals, a federal office said in a study published Monday 

  • Puerto Rico passed legislation in 2019 requiring the island to redesign its electric grid after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria, including a requirement to transition to 100 percent renewables by 2050. 
  • More than $12 billion in disaster funds were announced in early 2022 for recovery and the redesign. In December, Congress appropriated another
    $1 billion for the grid, less than both the $3 billion requested by President Biden and the $5 billion for solar panels a coalition of House Democrats said was needed. 

The details: The two-year study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that there is not sufficient land available on the island for enough wind-power infrastructure to meet the goal and Puerto Rico should instead install solar infrastructure on sites such as brownfields, industrial areas and airports. 

The study estimated that Puerto Rico’s transmission system can bear the projected renewables growth over the next five to 15 years but that further grid upgrades will be necessary in the longer term, particularly for wind power. 

  • The island is currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels for electricity production, with petroleum products in particular accounting for about 60 percent of energy consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). 
  • Puerto Rico has higher electricity costs than any U.S. state except Hawaii, which the EIA attributes to its reliance on fossil fuels. The preliminary report estimated installing new renewables would be more cost-effective than maintaining the existing system and in terms of operating costs is already on track to be more cost-effective by 2025. 

Researchers ran simulations of future hurricanes and found that it was easier to restore power when using infrastructure that is spread out more broadly rather than with a handful of larger, centralized hubs. 

Read more about the study here. 

Supply chain for offshore wind will cost $22.4B

Fulfilling President Biden’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 would require the rapid scale-up of a domestic supply chain and at least $22.4 billion in infrastructure investments, a new report has found. 

The success of such a build-out would rely upon “resilient, sustainable and equitable manufacturing” of primarily U.S.-based facilities, ports and vessels, according to the report, published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other partners on Monday. 

While the necessary investments would be substantial, individual states and companies could leverage existing manufacturing capabilities to create a new workforce and bring economic benefits nationwide, per the report, released with the Business Network for Offshore Wind. 

  • “A manufacturing supply chain is already emerging in more than a dozen locations up and down the U.S. coast in support of the offshore wind industry,” Ross Gould, vice president for supply chain development and research at the nonprofit, said in a statement
  • “To meet our ambitious clean energy national goals, American manufacturers must play a larger role to accelerate our transition,” Gould added. 

Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin.  

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Faucets in McCarthy’s district are running dry after years of drought. Constituents want him to do more (CNN
  • EPA takes charge of Alabama landfill fire after finding carcinogens in air samples (AL.com
  • Wind Turbines Taller Than the Statue of Liberty Are Falling Over (Bloomberg
  • Depleted Under Trump, a ‘Traumatized’ E.P.A. Struggles With Its Mission (The New York Times

🐕 Lighter click: But can you teach him new tricks?

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.  

Tags Biden Cathy McMorris Rodgers Jennifer Granholm
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