With help from Alex Guillén, Eric Wolff and Zack Colman

Editor’s Note: Morning Energy is a free version of POLITICO Pro Energy’s morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.

President Donald Trump will visit California today for a briefing on the wildfires as he faces criticism that he ignored the disaster from the raging fires for weeks. Former Vice President Joe Biden will deliver his own remarks on the fires from Delaware.

Trump delivered a boost to the ethanol industry over the weekend, announcing he has cleared the way for filling pumps with higher-ethanol gasoline.

Twenty states are set to file two challenges to EPA’s recent methane rules for newly built oil and gas wells.

GOOD MORNING! WELCOME TO ANOTHER WEEK. I’m your host, Kelsey Tamborrino. The trivia win goes to Michael Platner of Van Ness Feldman, who was the first to name the Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, which is considered the birthplace of Major League Baseball’s spring training. For today: What former Supreme Court justice also played for the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers? Send your tips, energy gossip and comments to [email protected].

Check out the POLITICO Energy podcast — all the energy and environmental politics and policy news you need to start your day, in just five minutes. Listen and subscribe for free at politico.com/energy-podcast. On today’s episode: A closer look at Rick Perry’s role in Ukraine

TRUMP VISITS GOLDEN STATE AMID FIRE CRITICISM: President Donald Trump will visit California today as state authorities and first responders continue to fight deadly wildfires up and down the West Coast. The president will meet with local and federal personnel during a trip to McClellan Park, a former air base just outside the city of Sacramento, POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci reports.

Trump’s visit comes after criticism that he’s failed to mention the Western wildfires for more than three weeks. On Friday night, Trump made a reference to the disasters publicly on Twitter, thanking firefighters and other first responders battling wildfires across California, Oregon and Washington — the three states where smoke has posed a health hazard to millions and left at least 30 people dead, as The Associated Press reports.

“It’s taken three weeks. I’m glad he’s coming, but we need much more help,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Sunday. “When we have firefighters dying on the line and Washington refuses to help states and refuses to help local governments that are the first responders to emergencies like this, it’s unconscionable.”

Instead, Trump has sought to tie Democrats, including his presidential opponent Joe Biden, to a spate of earlier blackouts in the state and has reprised attacks accusing the state of causing the problem by not taking care of its forests. At a Nevada rally Saturday night, Trump told the crowd to remember the wildfires are “about forest management,” among other things. In August, Trump also told a crowd California has to “clean” its floors. “There are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up,” he said, a claim previously fact-checked as inaccurate.

Meanwhile, Biden has taken the opportunity to link the wildfires directly to climate change. “The science is clear, and deadly signs like these are unmistakable — climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life,” Biden said in a statement Saturday. “President Trump can try to deny that reality, but the facts are undeniable. We absolutely must act now to avoid a future defined by an unending barrage of tragedies like the one American families are enduring across the West today.”

Biden will deliver his own remarks from Wilmington, Del., today on the ongoing wildfires in the West and the need to tackle climate change, according to his campaign.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom also pledged Friday to accelerate his state’s response to climate change, Pro’s Debra Kahn reports. “While it’s nice to have goals to get to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, that’s inadequate to meet the challenges that this state, and I argue this nation, faces,” he said. “We’re going to have to fast-track our efforts. We’re going to have to be more aggressive in terms of meeting our goals much sooner.” Newsom will join Trump for today’s wildfire briefing, but the meeting will be private, Newsom officials announced Sunday night.

TRUMP GETS CORNY OVER THE WEEKEND: Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to give another boost to the corn ethanol industry by removing federal roadblocks to selling 15 percent ethanol at retail gas stations. “Subject only to State approval, our important Ethanol Industry will be allowed to use the 10% Pumps for the 15% BLEND. Thank you!” he tweeted. That would help allow any filling station to sell the higher blend of ethanol without having to replace their entire underground infrastructure, a major obstacle to increased E15 sales. The action follows Trump’s 2019 order to EPA to allow year-round sales of E15, another major favor granted to corn farmers struggling amid low fuel demand.

Trump, Bolsonaro extend ethanol quota 90 days: The U.S. and Brazil issued a joint statement late Friday extending a quota on duty-free ethanol exports to Brazil for an additional three months. The quota had expired on Aug. 31, putting a 20 percent tariff on all U.S. ethanol. Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro is under pressure from his sugar industry to let the quota end, but the U.S. ambassador to Brazil has also leaned on him to help Trump get re-elected. The 90-day extension puts the end of the quota well after November’s election. In the joint statement, the U.S. Trade Representative said the two countries would use the time to negotiate market access for ethanol, corn and sugar in both countries.

INTERIOR ENERGY ADVISER EXITS: Steven Wackowski, the Interior Department’s special adviser on Alaska energy development, has left the department as plans proceed to open the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, Pro’s Ben Lefebvre reports. Wackowski left Interior in the weeks before August to join the Alaska Aerospace Corp., two sources told Ben. Wackowski was brought to Interior in 2017 by then-Secretary Ryan Zinke and is considered one of the driving forces behind Interior’s efforts to open up a section of ANWR to oil and gas drilling.

STATES CHALLENGE EPA METHANE RULES: Twenty states led by California are set to file two lawsuits challenging EPA’s recent methane rules for newly built oil and gas wells and other facilities. The first suit, to be filed today, challenges EPA’s recession of the industry’s methane limits (Reg. 2060-AT90). The states also plan to sue over a related but separate rule (Reg. 2060-AT54) easing leak detection and repair requirements and making other changes to the remaining air rules that still apply to the industry. Together, EPA said the rules would lead to emissions of an additional 850,000 tons of methane, equivalent to 19 million tons of carbon dioxide, through 2030, as well as 140,000 tons of volatile organic compounds.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra noted in a statement that climate change is threatening all areas of the U.S., including contributing to the wildfires ravaging his state. “We won’t let the EPA gut critical pollution emissions standards and allow super pollutants like methane to destroy our atmosphere,” he said. The states will argue that EPA did not justify reversing the methane limits or lifting pollution controls on the transmission and storage sector of the oil and gas industry. Joining California and 19 other states are D.C., Chicago and Denver.

NEPA CHANGES TO TAKE EFFECT: The Trump administration’s new rules on implementing the National Environmental Policy Act take effect today after a federal judge declined to block the changes on Friday, Pro’s Alex Guillén reports. The rule (Reg. 0331-AA03), out of the Council on Environmental Quality, eases the requirements federal agencies must follow to study the environmental impacts of permitted infrastructure and other major work, including instituting shorter deadlines and changes that make agencies less likely to consider climate impacts. A judge ruled Friday the environmental groups challenging the rule did not make the requisite “clear showing” that they are likely to win on the merits to secure a preliminary injunction.

ON TAP THIS WEEK: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the nominations of Democrat Allison Clements and Republican Mark Christie on Wednesday to become FERC commissioners.

GROUPS CALL FOR ACTION ON ENERGY BILL: More than 70 organizations across the energy sector are urging congressional leaders to pass the American Energy Innovation Act, S. 2657 (116), during this Congress. The bipartisan energy bill had been stalled earlier this year because of an impasse over hydrofluorocarbons, but senators announced last week a compromise over the coolant and potent greenhouse gas, opening a potential path forward for the legislation.

“We believe that the AEIA represents one of the most consequential legislative initiatives for modernizing our nation’s energy policies since the enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act more than a decade ago,” the groups write in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday. Signers of the letter include National Association of Manufacturers, Microsoft, oilfield services giant Baker Hughes, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, oil and gas producer Occidental and The Nature Conservancy.

PELOSI, G-7 PARLIAMENTS COMMIT ON CLIMATE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hosted a virtual meeting of G-7 heads of Parliament this weekend, which Pelosi said “reflected the need for strong, urgent and coordinated international action” to address the disparities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis. The G-7 members also issued a joint declaration that committed “to act with urgency to provide a healthy, clean and sustainable environment for our children and grandchildren and generations to come.”

DAMMED IF YOU DON’T: House Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and fellow committee Democrats, Jared Huffman (Calif.) and Deb Haaland (N.M.), urged Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett to move forward with an agreement to remove four aging dams on the Klamath River in a letter Friday. The dams are owned by Buffett’s holding PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway. “These aging PacifiCorp dams regularly fuel massive toxic algal blooms that are harmful to human health, disrupt sacred tribal ceremonies, and significantly harm tribal resources, salmon runs and the environment,” the Democrats write, adding that PacifiCorp has “talked for more than a decade” about removing the dams, but recent statements suggest that dam removal progress may be stalled.

BP: OIL DEMAND MAY HAVE ALREADY PEAKED: The era of steady oil demand growth is over, BP said in a new report out today. As Bloomberg reports, even under BP’s most bullish scenario, demand is no better than “broadly flat” for the next two decades as the world moves away from fossil fuels — contrasting many in the industry who have said oil consumption will see decades of growth. BP’s energy outlook “shows consumption slumping 50% by 2050 in one scenario, and by almost 80% in another,” Bloomberg reports. “In a ‘business-as-usual’ situation, demand would recover but then flatline near 100 million barrels a day for the next 20 years.”

INSIDE THE LATEST AMERICA’S PLEDGE: Bottom-up action by U.S. states, cities and businesses can still curb greenhouse gas emissions 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 even as the nation digs itself out of the economic and human toll of the global coronavirus pandemic, said America’s Pledge, a report initiated by former California Gov. Jerry Brown and ex-New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The annual update to the effort that launched in 2017 offered stock takes on five emissions sources: electricity, transportation, methane, buildings and HFCs.

The report found increased confidence in reducing HFCs given recent state actions and in meeting electricity emissions goals given sharp declines and retirements of coal-fired power coupled with strong renewables investment. But the authors offered only “moderately increased” confidence in meeting transportation emissions targets, noting “public transit is facing an existential budget shortfall,” and in slashing methane pollution, as leaks from existing infrastructure are rising. The assessment of achieving reductions in buildings emissions remained unchanged.

MEETING MINUTES: A new recording shared with The New York Times of an energy industry meeting last year shows participants worried that producers were intentionally flaring too much natural gas and threatening the industry’s image. “We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, at the June 2019 gathering convened by the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “This pesky natural gas,” he said, according to the Times. “The value of it is very minimal,” particularly to companies drilling mainly for oil.

Ness added that practice of burning it off represented a “huge, huge threat” to the industry’s efforts to portray natural gas as a cleaner and more climate-friendly energy source, according to the Times. “What’s our message going forward?” Ness said. “What’s going to stick with those young people and make them support oil and gas?” Read the full story.

— Former Maryland lawmaker and presidential candidate John Delaney joined the governing board of Citizens’ Climate Education, a sister organization of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

— “If California won’t enact a plastic waste overhaul, will anyone?” via POLITICO.

— “Longtime climate science denier hired at NOAA,” via NPR.

— “Exxon used to be America’s most valuable company. What happened?” via The Wall Street Journal.

— “Emergency shutdown at Weymouth compressor station after unplanned gas release,” via WBUR.

— “Solar power plunges as smoke shrouds Calif.,” via E&E News.

— “BP’s Looney stakes future on producing less oil,” via Financial Times.

— “Tropical Storm Sally expected to make landfall as a hurricane near New Orleans,” via CNN.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here