Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden calls for faster gas price drop

Associated Press / Marcio Jose Sanchez

Biden calls for faster gas price drop

Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. 

Today we’re looking at President Biden calling on oil companies to lower gas prices amid a dip in oil, more approvals for liquefied natural gas exports and a warning on the Bears Ears National Monument.

For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with tips: rfrazin@thehill.com and zbudryk@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @RachelFrazin and @BudrykZack

Let’s jump in. 

 

Biden tells companies not to ‘pad’ profits

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President Biden called on companies to decrease gas prices Wednesday morning, stating that the cost at the pump should reflect the recent decrease in oil per barrel. 

“Oil prices are decreasing, gas prices should too. Last time oil was $96 a barrel, gas was $3.62 a gallon. Now it’s $4.31,” the president wrote in a tweet. “Oil and gas companies shouldn’t pad their profits at the expense of hardworking Americans.” 

Biden’s tweet comes the week after average U.S. gas prices reached the highest point ever recorded and crude oil prices reached a 14-year high. 

How we got here: Gas prices are determined by numerous factors, many of them outside the direct control of the White House, but the pain at the pump has been accompanied by lagging approval ratings for Biden. Gas prices plunged at the beginning of the pandemic, but soared ahead of supply as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in 2021. 

Last week, Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports in response to the nation’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Although most U.S. oil imports come from elsewhere, Biden warned in the ban announcement that it would likely lead to further gas price increases. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had previously stated that the White House was leery of imposing a ban for fear of further unsettling the market. 

But it’s not that simple: Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, told The Hill that when oil prices increase, gasoline prices tend to shoot up, but they come down more slowly when oil prices drop. “It’s always been a rocket and a feather,” he said. 

Read more about Biden’s call here. 

 

Officials approve more natural gas exports

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The Biden administration said Tuesday that it would issue orders that expand the amount of liquified natural gas (LNG) that it exports, as Europe seeks to reduce its reliance on Russian gas. 

The Energy Department said that two authorizations it issued would give two facilities the ability to export an additional 720 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. In the first half of last year, the U.S. exported an average of 9.6 billion cubic feet per day.  

The department said that its latest move would give every U.S. LNG export project the ability to export at full capacity.  

Russia supplied 40 percent of Europe’s natural gas last year. As the world has tried to isolate the Kremlin following its invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s dependence on the country for fuel has come into the spotlight. That has led to calls for the U.S. to expand exports of LNG. 

The background: LNG is natural gas that has been cooled down to a liquid state so that it can be transported and stored.  

Climate advocates have raised concern about the fuel’s contribution to climate change. Reuters reported last week that a potential administration review of ways to increase LNG exports was shelved amid climate concerns. 

Read more about the announcement here. 

 

Uranium mill a ‘radioactive waste dump’

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The White Mesa uranium mill, located just a mile from Bears Ears National Monument, now houses more than 700 million pounds of toxic waste — making the Utah desert site “America’s cheapest radioactive waste dump,” a new report has found. 

Among the contents of the dump are remnants of the World War II-era Manhattan Project, as well as radioactive waste from around the country, according to the report, which was published on Monday by the Grand Canyon Trust. While the White Mesa Mill was built to process uranium ore, the site eventually became home to a waste-disposal service, despite its proximity to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s White Mesa Community. 

“Polluters are finding that the cheapest place to send unwanted radioactive waste is the White Mesa Mill — but it’s not a waste dump, it’s a uranium mill,” Tim Peterson, director of cultural landscapes at the Grand Canyon Trust, said in a statement. “If the White Mesa Mill wants to act like a radioactive waste dump, it should be regulated like one.” 

The Grand Canyon Trust, based in Arizona, is an environmental advocacy nonprofit focused on Grand Canyon and Colorado Plateau conservation. 

Bears Ears has received increased attention in recent years after the Trump administration reduced the boundaries of the monument by about 85 percent in 2017. President Biden officially restored environmental protections to Bears Ears in October, describing the spot as “a sacred homeland to hundreds of generations of native peoples,” as The Hill reported. 

Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Usadin. 

 

PRICE IS RIGHT

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) on Wednesday sent letters to six oil company CEOs asking them to testify about their business practices during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and amid a surge in gas prices.

In the letter, Pallone noted that numerous oil companies have seen record profits in recent years and that the fossil fuel drilling industry currently has more than 9,000 unused drilling permits across over 26 million acres of public lands. 

Recipients of the letter includes executives from BP, Chevron, Devon Energy Corporation, ExxonMobil, Pioneer Natural Resources and Royal Dutch Shell. Pallone is asking them to testify on April 6. 

“As American families confront high gasoline prices caused by the volatility of global energy markets and Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, I am deeply concerned that the oil industry has not taken all actions within its power to lower domestic gasoline prices and alleviate Americans’ pain at the pump,” Pallone wrote in the letters.  “Instead, the industry appears to be taking advantage of the crisis for its own benefit.” 

Read more about the letters here. 

 

QUOTE OF NOTE

“No country has ever been able to weaponize clean power, and ultimately, moving in that direction is the greatest solution for energy security for us and for our allies in Europe” – Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, in response to the Ukraine crisis 

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Kathryn Huff to be the Energy Department’s top nuclear energy official  
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. nuclear legacy in the Marshall Islands 

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Biden’s effort to contain wildfires threatened by staffing woes (Politico
  • Californians used more water as state braces for another dry year (CalMatters
  • The Big Sneeze: Climate change to make pollen season nastier (The Associated Press
  • EPA: ‘Forever chemicals’ in pesticide barrels may be illegal (E&E News

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: Girls like swarms of lizards, right? 

 

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 Thursday.   

Tags Jen Psaki Jennifer Granholm Joe Biden Vladimir Putin

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