Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — Interior to continue oil leasing plans

AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File

Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Energy & Environment,your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here.

Today we’re looking at the Interior Department’s announcement that it is continuing oil leasing after a court reinstated its ability to calculate climate costs, the SEC’s upcoming rule on climate risk disclosure and India reportedly buying 3 million barrels of Russian oil.

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

Let’s jump in.

 

Climate ruling enables Interior to continue leasing

The Interior Department said Friday that it can move forward with planning for oil and gas leasing on federal lands after previous delays stemming from a court move blocking a climate accounting tool. 

Previously, the department had said there would be delays in “permitting and leasing for the oil and gas programs” after a lower court barred the Biden administration from using a tool allowing it to calculate the climate costs of such actions. 

But an appeals court this week halted that decision.   

Interior spokesperson Melissa Schwartz said in an emailed statement on Friday that the department now “continues its planning for responsible oil and gas development on America’s public lands and waters,” in light of the new ruling.

Schwartz declined further comment on leasing, but she clarified that permitting had never been halted, saying the court ruling has impacted fewer than 20 permits. 

The American Petroleum Institute (API), an oil and gas lobbying group, cheered the announcement, but also called for additional action in a statement.  

The background: “We welcome the Department of the Interior’s announcement today and urge the administration to hold onshore lease sales under the Mineral Leasing Act with sufficient acreage and fair terms,” said API senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs Frank Macchiarola. 

The latest news comes after an appeals court this week halted a lower court injunction that had prevented the Biden administration from using values known as the “social costs of greenhouse gases.” 

The administration uses these “social costs” in analyses behind regulations and permitting to help it figure out an action’s climate consequences, and the costs or benefits that those consequences will have on society.

Read more about the situation here. 

 

COMING SOON, TO A WALL STREET NEAR YOU

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to issue proposed rules Monday on climate risks public companies must disclose. 

The proposal would be the first update to SEC rules on the matter in over a decade.  In 2010, the commission issued disclosure requirements incorporating climate change, but shareholders have repeatedly called for more stringent requirements in the years since. 

The rule is also expected to require disclosures on the risk of transitioning away from fossil fuels, as well as byproducts of climate change such as higher temperatures and increased drought conditions. 

While the specific provisions of the proposal are not yet public, topics under discussion have included whether companies are required to disclose only their direct greenhouse gas emissions or those accrued over the supply chain and the company energy use.  

Environmental advocates have lobbied  for the rule to incorporate not only emissions directly caused by a company’s operations, but also emissions that it indirectly causes, such as those stemming from the products a company sells. They argue that these “Scope 3” emissions present a hidden risk for investors if not properly disclosed.

paper by the organization Principles for Responsible Investment estimated failure to disclose Scope 3 emissions would mean up to three-quarters of companies’ overall carbon emissions were not addressed.

 

India buys 3 million barrels of Russian oil: report 

India’s state-run oil company purchased 3 million barrels of Russian crude this week as numerous other nations bar such imports due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported on Friday

Indian Oil Corp. made the purchase despite international pressure, led by the U.S. and other Western nations, to freeze Russia out of the global energy market over the incursion. India, the world’s largest democracy, imports about 85 percent of the oil it uses. 

The largest portion of India’s oil, 27 percent, comes from Iraq, followed by Saudi Arabia with 17 percent, the United Arab Emirates with 13 percent and the U.S. at 9 percent. 

How we got here: The U.S. and much of Europe have already applied heavy sanctions to Russia along with the U.S.’s energy import ban. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said Indian purchases of Russian oil would not run afoul of U.S. sanctions, but that Indian leaders should “think about where [they] want to stand when history books are written.” 

“India imports most of its oil requirements. We are exploring all possibilities in the global energy market. I don’t think Russia has been a major oil supplier to India,” said Arindam Bagchim, a spokesman for India’s External Affairs Ministry. 

The AP’s report comes days after Reuters reported that Indian officials were considering a purchase of deeply discounted Russian oil. 

The country previously reached an agreement with the U.S. to release 3.5 million barrels from its reserves, as part of coordinated release amid international spikes in gas prices. India has about 31 million barrels of oil in its emergency reserves currently. 

Read more about the announcement here.

 

GOP senators introduce bill to ban uranium imports 

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and several other Republican senators introduced legislation on Thursday that would ban imports of Russian uranium as an additional way to economically isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

The legislation would further steps already taken by the U.S. to prohibit Russian energy imports after President Biden last week announced a ban on imports of oil, natural gas and coal from the country. 

“The time is now to permanently remove all Russian energy from the American marketplace,” Barrasso, who is the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “We know Vladimir Putin uses this money to help fund his brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine.” 

“While banning imports of Russian oil, gas and coal is an important step, it cannot be the last. Banning Russian uranium imports will further defund Russia’s war machine, help revive American uranium production, and increase our national security.” 

Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) joined Barrasso in introducing the legislation. 

“This is a country that has repeatedly shown a willingness to weaponize their energy exports for geopolitical advantage, and have used those profits to finance their aggressive and unprovoked war against the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” Marshall said in a statement. “Enough is enough – energy independence means energy independence and that must include uranium.” 

Read more from The Hill’s Caroline Vakil.

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK 

On Wednesday: 

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled “Promoting American energy security by facilitating investments and innovation in climate solutions.” 

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

Trump’s EPA chief Scott Pruitt weighing Senate run in Oklahoma (CBS News)

A $400 tax rebate to offset California’s high gas prices? Here’s how it would work (The Los Angeles Times)

Contaminated Columbia River island added to Superfund list (The Seattle Times)

Industry pressured EPA to scrap key Ohio air quality rule (E&E News)

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: The perfect crime.

 

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 Monday.  

Tags Cynthia Lummis Jen Psaki Joe Biden John Barrasso Kevin Cramer Roger Marshall Scott Pruitt Vladimir Putin
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