Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — Oil companies rebuff House chairman

Greg Nash

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

Today we’re looking at three oil companies refusing to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee, a Democratic plan for energy independence and a warning from the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency. 

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.

 

Natural Resources chair says oil execs won’t testify

Three oil company CEOs have refused a request by the House Natural Resources Committee to testify on disparities between oil and gas prices, Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said Tuesday morning. 

Which companies? Grijalva said in a statement that executives from EOG Resources, Devon Energy Corporation and Occidental Petroleum had declined to appear at the hearing, set for next Tuesday. The hearing will be canceled as a result of the executives’ refusal, Grijalva said.  

“As rising gas prices started hurting Americans, fossil fuel industry trade groups and their allies in Congress wasted no time placing blame on the Biden administration and pushing for a drilling free-for-all. But when you look at oil companies’ record profits, these claims don’t add up,” Grijalva asserted.  

“I invited these companies to come before the Committee and make their case, but apparently they don’t think it’s worth defending. Their silence tells us all we need to know—that cries for more drilling and looser regulations are nothing more than another age-old attempt to line their own pockets.”

The story so far: President Biden and Democrats in Congress have sought to blame oil companies for continued consumer pain at the pump, even after a more recent dip in oil prices. Industry experts, however, have said the lag between price drops is common and not the result of any deliberate action. 

Meanwhile: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) has called a similar hearing set for April 6. The broader list of companies asked to send a representative to that hearing — BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Pioneer Natural Resources and Royal Dutch Shell, along with Devon Energy — told The Hill earlier this month that they were reviewing the request. 

Read more here. 

 

RENEWABLES CHIEF CALLS FOR ‘RADICAL ACTION’ 

Francesco La Camera, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said “radical action” is needed for world powers to transition off fossil fuels in time to avert catastrophic warming. 

La Camera made the remarks in conjunction with the release of IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook, a report on the state of the transition to renewables and the actions necessary to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

To achieve the 1.5-degree target, the goal set out by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, renewable energy capacity must be deployed at triple the current rate, according to the report. It calls this goal achievable with the right upgrades to infrastructure; however, individual countries must also update their existing regulatory structures, many of which were developed with only fossil fuels in mind. 

Staying on track for the goal will require renewable energy to comprise 65 percent of electricity generation, or an additional 8,000 gigawatts, by 2030, the report states. This includes quadrupling onshore wind capacity to about 3,000 gigawatts and a 30 percent increase in hydropower. 

Direct electricity’s portion of total final energy consumption, or the total energy used by end users, must increase nearly 10 percent, from 21 percent to 30 percent, according to the report. 

Electric vehicles, which were 8.3 percent of global car sales last year, are already expected to increase in proliferation in the years ahead. However, IRENA said this must be accompanied by a major ramping-up of infrastructure for such vehicles. By 2030, it says electric vehicles should be the majority of car sales. 

Read more about the report here. 

 

Senate climate hawks announce 500-day plan

Senate Democrats who are part of the chamber’s Climate Change Task Force are calling for a multi-step strategy to achieve energy independence by transitioning to renewable energy over the next 500 days. 

At a meeting of the task force Tuesday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) outlined a series of reforms that he said would achieve the goal without increased reliance on fossil fuels. 

What’s involved? The group has called for lawmakers to permanently codify President Biden’s ban on Russian oil imports through the SPIGOT Act, which Markey introduced at the beginning of the month. 

They also are pushing for passage of another Markey-sponsored bill, the SAVE Consumers Act, which is co-sponsored by task force member Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). The bill would offer short-term consumer relief by releasing the equivalent of 500 days of Russian oil imports from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and authorize the president to set emergency energy efficiency targets.  

The task force is further calling for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, one of the major environmental prongs in the sweeping Build Back Better Act (BBB). Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) seemingly torpedoed the bill in December when he said he would not vote for it, but he has said BBB’s climate provisions are among the aspects he supports and could back in a smaller package. 

Markey was joined at the task force meeting by Heinrich and Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). 

“Real energy independence is about freedom. It’s about freedom from a volatile globalized oil commodity, from high gas prices, and from pollution, dirty air, and dirty water—especially within Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, which bear the heaviest burden of pollution,” Markey said at the group’s meeting. 

Read more about the proposals here. 

 

On Tap Tomorrow

  • The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Trusting the Tap: Upgrading Americas Drinking Water Infrastructure 

 

What We’re Reading

  • Oil industry report warns of revenue bleed without new leasing (E&E News)
  • Climate change’s hidden impact: landslides (The Atlantic)
  • Waning Russian demand for oil another potential source of volatility, says former U.S. energy secretary (CNBC)
  • Birds are laying eggs earlier, a new study shows. Scientists blame the climate crisis (CNN)

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: The long arm of the Jaws 

 

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 Ed Markey Jeff Merkley Joe Biden Joe Manchin Martin Heinrich Tina Smith Tom Carper

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