Overnight Energy — Presented by Chevron — EPA proposes biofuel mandate increase | US wants allies to stop Iran oil imports | Cities' climate suits get tossed

Overnight Energy — Presented by Chevron —  EPA proposes biofuel mandate increase | US wants allies to stop Iran oil imports | Cities' climate suits get tossed
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PRUITT SEEKS MODEST BIOFUEL INCREASE: The Trump administration is proposing to modestly increase the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that the nation's oil refiners have to blend into the gasoline and diesel they sell.

Under the proposal released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the overall biofuel mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would be 19.88 billion gallons in 2019, a 3.1 percent increase over the 2018 levels.

Only 15 billion gallons of that could be traditional ethanol made from feedstocks like corn and soy, while the rest would have to be other biofuels like cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel.

The proposal comes amid efforts by President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE to balance strong ethanol interests in the country's heartland and oil and refinery interests, both of whom are lobbying aggressively for changes to how the EPA enforces biofuels rules.

EPA head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittFormer EPA chief Scott Pruitt registers as lobbyist in Indiana We're not effectively protecting Americans from measles, air pollution or food poisoning The problem for Trump appointees MORE focused in his Tuesday statement on the fact that he is on track to get the 2019 mandate final by Nov. 1, the legal deadline, which the Obama administration often missed.

"I've traveled to numerous states and heard first-hand about the importance of the RFS to farmers and local communities across the country," Pruitt said in a statement.

"Issuing the proposed rule on time meets Congress's statutory deadlines, which the previous administration failed to do, and provides regulatory certainty to all impacted stakeholders."

EPA also proposed Tuesday to set the 2020 biodiesel level at 2.43 billion gallons, up from 2.1 billion gallons in 2019.

Ethanol advocates said the increase didn't go far enough, though oil companies weren't pleased either.

"It would seem a hollow and cynical exercise to praise or thank EPA Administrator Pruitt for appearing to follow the statute with this [proposal]," Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said in a statement.

"While we acknowledge that the implied 15-billion-gallon requirement for conventional biofuels like corn ethanol should, in theory, send a positive signal to the market, it comes with the backdrop of 1.6 billion gallons of demand destructed by illegal waivers to small refineries and no commitment that EPA is changing its approach to granting these exemptions."

The American Petroleum Institute said the proposal doesn't change the RFS program's flaws.

Read more.


Happy Tuesday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.


US WANTS ALLIES TO STOP IRAN OIL IMPORTS: The U.S. is pressing its allies to cut all oil imports from Iran by Nov. 4, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

Teams of State and Treasury Department officials have been dispatched to Europe and Asia in recent weeks to garner support for the Trump administration's Iran strategy, telling allies that they are expected to cease oil imports from the country, the official said.

The diplomatic efforts will affect several key U.S. allies that import significant amounts of Iranian oil, including Japan, South Korea and Turkey. The Trump administration is not planning to issue waivers that would allow allies to continue importing oil from Iran, according to the State Department official.

"I think the predisposition would be no, we're not granting waivers," the official said during a background briefing with reporters.

U.S. crude prices shot up Tuesday to more than $70 per barrel – their highest point since May – after it was revealed that the Trump administration is urging allies to end oil imports from Iran.

The State Department official said the U.S. plans to engage with other countries in the Middle Easter to "ensure that the global supply of oil is not adversely affected by these sanctions."

Read more.



CITIES' CLIMATE CASE DISMISSED: A federal judge dismissed a pair of lawsuits that two California cities filed against major oil companies for their roles in climate change and its effects.

The ruling is a blow to San Francisco and Oakland and environmentalists who have long tried to hold fossil fuel companies liable for climate change.

Judge William Alsup stated in his late Monday ruling that his decision did not hinge on climate science and that there was no dispute about the harms of fossil fuels.

But Alsup, nominated to the bench by former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump team spurns Adam Smith with its trade stance New Broadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' debuts Trump will allow Americans to sue companies in Cuba MORE, ultimately felt that the core questions raised in the case were best left up to the federal government, Congress and international organizations.

"Questions of how to appropriately balance these worldwide negatives against the worldwide positives of the energy itself, and of how to allocate the pluses and minuses among the nations of the world, demand the expertise of our environmental agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate," Alsup wrote.

"Nuisance suits in various United States judicial districts regarding conduct worldwide are far less likely to solve the problem and, indeed, could interfere with reaching a worldwide consensus," he continued.

"The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case."

Read more.



The World Gas Conference will continue. Major speakers will include State Department assistant secretary for energy Frank Fannon, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOn The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job Cain says he won't back down, wants to be nominated to Fed Pro-life Christians are demanding pollution protections MORE (D-W.Va.), European Commission energy vice president Maroš Šefčovič and government and industry leaders from around the world.



Evacuations expanded Tuesday for the Pawnee Fire in California, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Italy has set a goal of getting 1 million electric cars on the road, Bloomberg News reports.

Saudi Arabia is planning to produce 11 million barrels of oil per day in July, setting a new record, Reuters reports.



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Marty Hayden of Earthjustice says the House's recently passed farm bill should be called the "harm bill."

Paul Bledsoe of the Progressive Policy Institute says natural gas needs to be treated more like a national treasure.



Check out Tuesday's stories ...

- US wants allies to cease oil imports from Iran by Nov. 4

- Energy nominee agrees to press admin on cyber strategy, leadership

- EPA seeks to boost biofuels mandate

- Judge dismisses California cities' climate lawsuits against oil companies

- Leading California's legal charge