Friday, December 14, 2018

Federal News

Democrats Express Support for Manchin as ENR Ranking Member

While the prospect of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) becoming ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has upset environmentalists and climate hawks, the coal-state senator’s party colleagues last week expressed support for him in the role.

Current ranking member Maria Cantwell (Wash.) is expected to become ranking member of the Commerce Committee, and none of the other senators on the ENR Committee who have seniority over Manchin — Ron Wyden (Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) — have expressed interest in leaving their posts as ranking members of the Finance, Budget and Agriculture committees, respectively.

Democratic senators said Manchin would work well with other members of the party and pointed to his vote last week against Bernard McNamee becoming a FERC commissioner. They also noted that other committees, such as Environmental and Public Works, could also be charged with writing or reviewing climate-related legislation.

More: Politico

Groups Tell Congress to Act on Spent Nuke Fuel

A coalition of industry trade groups, state regulators, labor unions and clean energy organizations last week wrote to congressional leaders urging them to revive the federal used nuclear fuel program.

“Another year without progress on the Yucca Mountain repository license application and consolidated interim storage is untenable,” the groups said. “It is time for the federal government to meet its statutory and contractual obligations. Utilities and their electricity customers have done their part.”

The 15 groups — including the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the Nuclear Energy Institute and the Edison Electric Institute — noted the $40 billion sitting in the Nuclear Waste Fund, unused because of local and political opposition to the Yucca Mountain project.

More: Coalition Letter

Naval Academy to Raise Seawall as Water Levels Rise

The Naval Academy will raise its Farragut Seawall along the Severn River in Annapolis, Md., to ward off sea level rise for 75 years, Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter announced last week.

The project is still in the design phase but will likely begin construction in 2020, an academy spokesman said.

The Severn could rise up to 3.6 feet by 2050, according to an oceanography professor at the academy. The project would entail adding another 2.62 feet to the 5.4-foot wall.

More: Capital Gazette

Kudlow: White House Seeking to End EV Subsidies

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters last week he believed that federal subsidies for electric vehicles would end by 2020 or 2021.

Kudlow, President Trump’s top economic adviser, did not say how the administration would attempt to eliminate the subsidies, which would require an act of Congress. “We want to end, we will end those subsidies and others of the Obama administration,” Kudlow said.

His comments came after Trump lashed out at General Motors on Twitter after the company announced plans to cut up to 15,000 jobs and close five U.S. factories.

More: Bloomberg

Dominion Asks 4th Circuit to Reconsider ACP Halt

Dominion Energy last week asked the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to clarify or reconsider its decision to suspend a federal permit to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and order a halt to all construction of the $7 billion project.

The court suspended the Fish and Wildlife Service’s permit for the project over the agency’s biological opinion of the project’s effects on four endangered species living in its route. Dominion said the order “grants significantly broader relief than necessary” and asked that the construction of the 600-mile project be allowed to continue except for the 100-mile segment where the species live.

FERC had ordered a halt to construction in August after the court suspended a portion of the opinion, as well as another permit from the National Park Service, but allowed the project to continue in September after FWS issued a new permit. The court has also stayed a permit from the Forest Service and is expected to rule on it soon.

More: Richmond Times-Dispatch

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