Oil execs expected to answer Oversight questions
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 a response to the House Oversight Committees search for answers from oil companies, White House efforts to reduce gas prices and the EPA considering new action on a common chemical used in sterilization.
Let’s jump in.
House Oversight Committee expects big oil executives to testify this month
The House Oversight and Reform Committee says it expects executives from Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron and Shell to testify at a hearing on climate disinformation, a committee spokeswoman confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday.
“We expect each of the executives we invited to appear before our Committee and testify under oath,” the spokeswoman said in an email.
“What we need from the fossil fuel industry is complete cooperation with our investigation, so the American people can understand the role the industry played in fueling the climate crisis,” she added.
The story so far: The committee last month invited the executives, as well as leaders from the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute (API) trade group, to testify at an Oct. 28 hearing.
The API confirmed Wednesday that its CEO, Mike Sommers, would participate in the hearing, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Matt Letourneau said President and CEO Suzanne Clark plans to testify.
“We look forward to discussing the Chamber’s work to forge bipartisan solutions to our climate challenge,” Letourneau said.
Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith confirmed that the company also would participate but said it is “still finalizing details related to the request and look forward to working with the Committee to address their questions.”
Smith later confirmed that Shell President Gretchen Watkins will testify.
A MESSAGE FROM EXXONMOBIL
ExxonMobil plans to offer certified or “differentiated” natural gas.
ExxonMobil’s plan to offer certified gas will help give customers information they need to purchase lower-emission products.
The emerging market, on top of methane regulations, could help accelerate emissions reductions.
White House asking companies for help lowering gas prices: report
White House officials have reportedly been in touch with representatives from major U.S. oil and gas companies about how to bring down prices in the U.S., Reuters reported Wednesday.
The Biden administration has been in touch with industry representatives after crude oil hit a seven-year high of $80 this week, according to Reuters, citing two sources with knowledge of the conversations.
The reported conversations occurred days after oil prices in the U.S. hit $81.50 a barrel, the first time since October 2014 that U.S. crude closed at more than $80.
The background: Energy shortages have also hit other parts of the world hard, including Europe, India and China. The White House earlier called on the Organization of the Petroleum-Exporting Countries to increase output.
Domestic U.S. production, meanwhile, saw a slump in 2020 during the initial wave of the coronavirus pandemic and has yet to fully recover. While President Biden imposed a temporary pause on domestic drilling on federal lands in January, U.S. energy officials have said the pause will not manifest in the market until next year.
At the daily White House press briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she was unaware of any conversations between officials and industry representatives. Representatives for Chevron and BP declined to comment to The Hill for this story. The Hill has also reached out to Shell and ExxonMobil for comment.
EPA may increase reporting requirements for carcinogen used in plastic sterilization
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday took a first step toward imposing broader reporting requirements for facilities that produce a toxic, flammable compound linked to cancer.
The EPA will broaden the scope of requirements for Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting for certain facilities’ releases of ethylene oxide (EtO), the agency said Wednesday. EtO, which is used in various processes for sterilizing textiles and plastics, has been linked to eye, skin and respiratory irritation in the short term and cancer in the long term.
Both EtO and ethylene glycol, which is produced using EtO, have been on the TRI list of toxic chemicals since it was first compiled in 1987. The EPA has notified 31 contract sterilization facilities it is considering requiring them to report all releases of EtO.
Why these facilities?: The 31 facilities in question were determined to use particularly high amounts of EtO, with the agency estimating amounts in excess of 10,000 pounds per year. The facilities were also identified based on a combination of history of releases of the compound and proximity to population centers and schools.
The facilities will have 30 days to respond with information such as whether they still use EtO. The EPA will weigh the information produced before making a decision on whether to order those facilities to report EtO releases.
‘CLEAR AND UNMISTAKABLE’
The leader of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said ahead of an upcoming climate summit that nations need to “give a clear and unmistakable sign” of their commitment to clean energy.
Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, made the comment in a statement announcing the release of the agency’s World Energy Outlook for 2021.
Birol said the push for clean energy is running against the “stubborn incumbency of fossil fuels in our energy systems.”
“Governments need to resolve this at COP26 by giving a clear and unmistakable signal that they are committed to rapidly scaling up the clean and resilient technologies of the future,” Birol said. “The social and economic benefits of accelerating clean energy transitions are huge, and the costs of inaction are immense.”
According to the IEA’s report, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar continued to grow, and electric vehicles set new sales records despite the economic impacts of shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the “rapid but uneven economic recovery” from the coronavirus-induced recession is now putting strains on the energy system, sparking sharp price increases in natural gas, coal and electricity markets.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Michigan tells majority-Black city not to drink tap water amid lead crisis, The Guardian reports
Brazil’s Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity at ICC for his record on the Amazon, CNN reports
Private Equity Funds, Sensing Profit in Tumult, Are Propping Up Oil, The New York Times reports
EPA Failed to Correct Industry Misinformation About Deadly Air Pollution at Public Meetings, The Intercept reports
A MESSAGE FROM EXXONMOBIL
ExxonMobil supports action on methane emission regulations
ExxonMobil believes achieving broad reductions in methane emissions requires uniform regulations supported by technology advancements. Learn how we are investing in new and better ways to reduce methane emissions.
And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: Detroit tiger
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.