In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):
- Looks like the White House set up a special email address for industry to comment on NEPA.
- The US DoE announces $38 million for hydrokinetic turbine technology development.
- Saudi Arabia and Russia agree to cut oil production.
The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.
Not-so-secret NEPA email address
In January, as Electrek reported, the Trump administration overturned the bedrock National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), enabling federal agencies to not have to consider the climate impact of projects. That will make it easier for fossil-fuel projects to proceed.
As we wrote:
Up until now, NEPA has required, with the backing of federal courts, that the federal government considers a project’s carbon footprint when it comes to leasing public lands for fossil-fuel projects.
Now Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has flagged up a transparency violation around NEPA in a letter on Thursday to Mary Neumayr, the chairwoman of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), according to the Hill. Carper wrote:
It has come to my attention that, in addition to receiving public comments on this rule through www.regulations.gov, the White House accommodated industry requests for the use of an email address, NEPA-Update@ceq.eop.gov, to receive comments on the proposed regulations.
This practice appears to violate Section 206(d) of the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires agencies to make dockets and comments submitted on proposed rules available online.
In doing so, the White House created a two track system to receive and process comments — one track for those working closely with the White House and another for the rest of the public
CEQ spokesman Dan Schneider said to the Hill:
CEQ did not create any additional email address on its own or at the request of any entity or for any group to submit comments on the proposed rule.
But Electrek tested the above email address today, and it most certainly is real and active; we received the below automatic response (try it yourself):
Hello, thank you for your email. Please note that the comment period for CEQ’s proposed rule titled ‘Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act’ has closed. CEQ will consider comments received through this email address during the comment period, which ended on March 10, 2020, and include them in the docket on Regulations.gov.
Why would the government need a separate email address if the ability to comment is on the regulation’s website? And why would Schneider lie about it?
DoE money for hydrokinetics
In the words of the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Hydrokinetic technologies produce renewable electricity by harnessing the kinetic energy of a body of water, the energy that results from its motion. Since water is 832 times denser than air, our tides, waves, ocean currents, and free-flowing rivers represent an untapped, powerful, highly concentrated and clean energy resource.
Now, the US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced $38 million for hydrokinetic turbine technology development.
The program, called Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems (SHARKS), seeks to design economically attractive hydrokinetic turbines for tidal and riverine currents.
Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes said:
America’s tidal and riverine currents remain a valuable resource for the generation of clean and reliable electricity. Developing efficient, economically attractive hydrokinetic turbine technologies will enable the United States to utilize those resources and continue to diversify our energy generation infrastructure and increase grid resiliency.
Saudi Arabia and Russia oil agreement
Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to cut oil production by 5 million barrels per day each, for a total of 10 million barrels, following a meeting of OPEC Plus yesterday. The cuts will be gradually phased out to April 2022.
The US and Canada will be asked to also cut production by a further 5 million barrels per day each at the G-20 energy ministers meeting today.
But it probably won’t make much of a difference. Reuters ran an exclusive story yesterday that stated:
Major US lenders are preparing to become operators of oil and gas fields across the country for the first time in a generation to avoid losses on loans to energy companies that may go bankrupt.
The industry is estimated to owe more than $200 billion to lenders through loans backed by oil and gas reserves. As revenue has plummeted and assets have declined in value, some companies are saying they may be unable to repay.
The banks include JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America Corp, and Citigroup Inc.
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