Washington Examiner

Everyday Energy Update: Manchin & Allies Optimistic about Reform Progress Despite Schumer’s Opposition

The summary‌ of ⁤the⁤ text is about⁤ the ongoing optimism among some Senate⁤ Energy Democrats regarding the success of permitting⁤ reform, despite Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s skepticism. Key figures ⁢such as Joe ​Manchin and John Barrasso are negotiating to streamline energy project approvals, amidst challenges and‍ differing projections on⁣ energy demand. CalPERS plans to invest billions in green private investments.

PERMITTING REFORM LATEST: There’s still optimism from some Senate Energy Democrats that permitting reform will cross the finish line – even after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday it would be “virtually impossible” to get something done.

“Everyone who’s involved with permitting reform understands, we’ve got to have permitting reform,” Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin said in a brief interview with reporters yesterday. “Senator Schumer understands that, we all understand, we’ve had good conversations, and I anticipate that we will get a good permitting bill done.”

When pressed further about Schumer’s comments, he suggested, “Maybe he misspoke.”

And he’s not the only one exhibiting optimism: Democratic Rep. John Hickenlooper, a transmission booster and Manchin’s ally on permitting, advocated on Manchin’s behalf in a single sentiment: It’s not over until the West Virginian Democrat says it’s over.

“I think Joe Manchin is one of the most tenacious, persistent people in the Senate,” Hickenlooper said. “And when he tells me to give it up, then I’ll say, ‘Well, it’s over.’”

Why it matters: Manchin and ENR Ranking Member John Barrasso have been negotiating for months on a deal to streamline the approval process for energy projects. For Manchin, it’s been a yearslong battle – since the 2022 passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the senator has been working to move forward on a permitting bill. Part of his negotiations with Schumer to get the IRA passed was to get a vote on his permitting bill – a vote that failed last December, since Republicans had little incentive to deliver a legislative win to Manchin.

Manchin and Barrasso then began negotiations with the aim of delivering permitting reforms across a wide sector of energy projects.

In an interview yesterday, Barrasso continued to point the finger at Schumer. “It’s dead because Schumer is going to kill it,” Barrasso said. “Sen. Manchin and I have been working closely together, and Sen. Schumer has other ideas – and he’s not really interested in helping permitting reform that helps all forms of energy.”

The key here: The comments from Schumer came after the release of long-awaited rules from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that would direct grid operators to plan new transmission infrastructure to deliver more renewable energy across the country. This gave a win to Democrats who were hoping to advance renewable energy projects without ceding to Republican demands to streamline fossil fuel projects by amending environmental laws, like the National Environmental Policy Act.

The release of the transmission rules weakens Republicans’ bargaining position by addressing Democratic priorities to advance renewable projects. Furthermore, Schumer mentioned in Monday’s call with reporters that any legislative measure addressing transmission was likely to get pushback from House Republicans.

Still, Hickenlooper called the FERC rule a “band-aid on Congress’ inaction” and called for legislation to pass in a statement yesterday, arguing that his transmission bills – the BIG WIRES Act and the SPEED and Reliability Act – would do more to reform the permitting process than the rule.

What remains to be seen: If a permitting deal will emerge from the Senate Energy Committee duo.

Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment writer Nancy Vu (@NancyVu99), with help from policy editor Joseph Lawler. Email nancy.vu@washingtonexaminer dot com for tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email, and we’ll add you to our list.

RUBIO WANTS TARIFFS ON CHINESE GAS CARS, TOO: Sen. Marco Rubio asked President Joe Biden yesterday to extend his new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles to internal combustion engine vehicles as well, saying that imports of gas cars threaten domestic producers and their ability to compete in both gas and electric vehicles.

Rubio wrote that the lack of tariffs on gas cars was a “reckless, half-baked decision that will jeopardize the future of America’s automakers.”

Polis hits back: While Biden’s new tariffs on Chinese goods generally received praise from Democrats, Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado came out strongly against them. Polis, who has pursued a relatively libertarian agenda as governor, called the tariffs “horrible news and a major setback for clean energy.”

OIL SLIPS AS IEA LOWERS DEMAND FORECAST: Oil prices slipped this morning after the International Energy Agency projected lower demand in its monthly oil market report.

The IEA said that global oil demand will rise by 1.1 million barrels per day in 2024, down 140,000 bpd from the previous forecast. It cited weaker demand in advanced nations and a mild winter in Europe as the reasons for the downward revision.

Brent crude prices fell by more than 1% to under $82 following the publication of the report, before recovering later in the day.

IEA and OPEC further out of sync: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had projected yesterday that demand would rise by 2.25 million bpd in 2024. Now, the gap in expected demand between the IEA and OPEC is 1.15 bpd, about 1% of world demand and the largest such difference between the two groups since at least 2008, according to Reuters. The two groups have been in open conflict over their differing projections for oil and gas.

CALPERS TO INVEST MORE THAN $25B INTO GREEN PRIVATE INVESTMENTS: The California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS – which is the largest public pension plan – aims to plow more than $25 billion into nonpublic green investments, including private equity, real estate and infrastructure markets, particularly in Asia and Europe.

Peter Cashion, CalPERS’ managing investment director, sustainable investments, said in an interview with the Financial Times that private market assets “have very evident climate investment opportunities” and thus will account for half of the $53 billion the fund committed in November to investing in low-carbon assets.

With those investments, CalPERS will become one of the world’s largest investors in climate solutions, the FT notes, even as funds in Republican-led states are moving to curtail ESG investing and penalize firms that prioritize ESG.

We noted last week that CalPERS also is weighing a move against Exxon Mobil’s CEO over the oil major’s efforts to quash activist climate investor efforts.

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS HEAD TO THE VATICAN TO TALK CLIMATE RESILIENCY: Three Democratic governors are attending a three-day summit at the Vatican this week, in hopes of creating a climate resilience blueprint that can be used in cities and states, E&E News reports.

Govs. Gavin Newsom of California, Kathy Hochul of New York, and Maura Healey of Massachusetts will attend the event at the Vatican Gardens, hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences. Pope Francis will attend Thursday’s session.

The goal: To draft a plan on climate resilience that will later be submitted to the United Nations. All three governors have made climate change a focus in their governance. Read more on that here.


Financial Times A turbine blade fell off in Norway. Does the wind industry have a quality problem?

New York Times Wildfire Approaches Canada’s Largest Oil-Producing Area. Again.

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