With help from Alex Guillén
Editor’s Note: This edition of Morning Energy is published weekdays at 10 a.m. POLITICO Pro Energy subscribers hold exclusive early access to the newsletter each morning at 6 a.m. Learn more about POLITICO Pro’s comprehensive policy intelligence coverage, policy tools and services at politicopro.com.
— Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s Ukrainian trips have put the Trump administration’s energy diplomacy under a microscope.
— The former special envoy for Ukraine negotiations — who has worked closely with Perry — will testify today as part of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
— EPA again upped the ante in its battle with San Francisco, notifying its water utility that it has violated Clean Water Act standards.
WELCOME TO THURSDAY! I’m your host, Kelsey Tamborrino. Pebble Partnership’s Peter Robertson gets the win for correctly identifying Idaho as the only state with a state seal designed by a woman. For today: After George Washington, which former president has appointed the most Supreme Court justices? Send your tips, energy gossip and comments to [email protected].
IMPEACHMENT PROBE SHINES LIGHT ON TRUMP’S ENERGY DIPLOMACY: Rick Perry’s pitch to spread U.S. energy supplies to Eastern Europe to ward off Russian influence might have gotten him mixed into the House’s impeachment probe into the president, but it’s also shining a light on the realities of the Trump administration’s “America First” energy diplomacy, Pro’s Ben Lefebvre and Zack Colman report this morning.
The U.S. has become a major exporter of oil and gas, which in turn has given the Trump administration a powerful lever in its relations with both allies and rivals, according to people at the State Department, oil companies and foreign embassies. It also has raised concerns that buyers could be subjected to political pressure from a White House that has not shied away trade fights.
Perry helped strike a deal in 2017 for Ukraine to buy U.S. coal — one of several deals that Perry helped craft to sell U.S. energy supplies to customers around the world, particularly in Eastern Europe. “Perry has just really become the cheerleader and just the glue that holds the whole administration together on LNG. I think it would be really hard to overstate his role,” said Fred Hutchison, president and CEO of LNG Allies.
But the Energy secretary’s role has also struck some as unusual, the pair reports, since that effort has typically been led by the Commerce secretary, and it offers a window into how the Trump administration views foreign relations. Frank Fannon, assistant secretary to lead the State Department’s Energy and Natural Resources Bureau, said in an interview with POLITICO that the State Department’s current attitude contrasts with earlier U.S. policies that were still being influenced by the oil shocks of the 1970s and fears of fuel scarcity.
And officials in foreign embassies and at oil companies said in interviews that America’s rise as a major energy producer has also altered the diplomatic playing field, allowing them in some cases to partner with an ally who can reduce their dependence on Russia and the Middle East. “That way of framing the energy secretary’s role — instead of promoting good energy policy, functioning markets, and good technology — only makes sense in the case of an administration that is fundamentally and persistently transactional in nature,” said Jonathan Elkind, former DOE assistant secretary for the Office of International Affairs in the Obama administration.
UKRAINE ENVOY TO APPEAR: Former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker is scheduled to appear today for a House deposition before several committees amid the chamber’s impeachment inquiry into Trump. Volker, who was mentioned several times in an intelligence community whistleblower report that sparked the impeachment inquiry, resigned as envoy one day after the report was released.
Volker is also tied to Perry, as POLITICO has reported. He joined Perry and U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland at a May 23 meeting — details from which are part of a vast House subpoena issued to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has said Volker helped connect him with Ukrainian officials, and Sondland described himself, Perry and Volker as the “three amigos” on Ukrainian issues in an interview with a Ukrainian broadcaster in July.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported Volker met last year with a top official of Burisma Group, the gas company whose board Hunter Biden joined in 2014 and has since left — even as Giuliani was “pressing Ukraine’s government to investigate the company and the Bidens’ involvement with it.” The meeting occurred on the sidelines of a think tank event organized by the Atlantic Council, though further details were not immediately available, the AP reports.
Perry has not yet been a direct target of any Democratic subpoenas, but the House Oversight Committee is expected to issue a subpoena on Friday calling for records from the White House involving Perry (as well as Volker). Perry on Wednesday pledged to “work with Congress” amid the increased scrutiny, Pro’s Anthony Adragna reports. Perry called Ukraine “a really important country” from the standpoint of being able to show that the U.S. is “a really good partner as they face the challenge with Russia and Russian gas.”
EPA GOES AFTER SAN FRANCISCO AGAIN: EPA notified the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday of violations related to the city and county’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. The violation cites discharges from the city’s combined wastewater and sewer system based on inspections and field visits in 2015 and 2016 and subsequent data monitoring, Pro’s Debra Kahn reports.
“Historically, the City’s data, which we also note are materially incomplete in numerous ways that likely masks the true nature and scope of certain violations, show it is discharging approximately one and a half billion gallons of combined sewage annually onto beaches and other sensitive areas, including areas where recreation takes place,” EPA’s letter to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Harlan Kelly said. EPA said Wednesday it “expects San Francisco to share its concern for the protection of public health and surface water resources and to address its ongoing Clean Water Act violations with significant and meaningful measures to ensure a prompt return to full compliance.”
The letter follows Kelly’s own letter to EPA this week, which ME highlighted, that shot back at EPA’s claim the city has a pollution problem caused by its homeless population. On Wednesday, the city also filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking EPA communications from the past three months on the city’s sewer system, Trump’s comments or any of the subsequent letters.
BERNHARDT, FIRST LADY TO MAKE TRIP OUT WEST: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and first lady Melania Trump will travel today to Wyoming — home to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks — to visit the parks and promote Trump’s “BE BEST” initiative, according to the White House.
TRUMP, FINLAND: MELTING SEA ICE A CONCERN: The president acknowledged the realities surrounding melting sea ice in the Arctic in a joint statement with the Finnish president released Wednesday by the White House. “The Arctic provides new economic opportunities, but environmental changes such as the diminishing of sea ice raise environmental concerns,” the statement said. “The United States and Finland share a commitment to clean air and water and environmental protection, including the reduction of particulate matter, and with it, black carbon.” The statement adds that the countries will use “old-weather proficiency, understanding, and technology to advance our cooperation in the Arctic, including with respect to the production of new icebreakers.”
During a joint press conference on Wednesday, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö called melting Arctic sea ice “very crucial,” adding, “I used to say that if we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe.”
AMEREN APPEALS ENFORCEMENT LOSS: Wasting no time, Ameren last night informed a federal judge that it has appealed his Monday ruling against it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. The judge concluded that the Missouri utility violated the Clean Air Act and ordered Ameren to install controls at two of its power plants. The company said in a statement that the judge “misapplied the law and ignored the evidence presented at trial.”
PENNSYLVANIA TO JOIN RGGI: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to announce today that the state will start the process toward joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Associated Press reports. With its numerous coal and natural gas-fired power plants, Pennsylvania would be the largest-emitting state in the Northeast regional cap-and-trade program. “Its power plants emit about 92 million tons a year compared with the consortium’s 2019 cap of 80.2 million tons,” the AP writes.
— The American Petroleum Institute added Shannon DiBari as senior adviser to President Mike Sommers on executive engagement and advocacy efforts, Rhonda Bentz as director of strategic initiatives and paid media, and Bianca Domally as financial controller. (H/t POLITICO Influence)
— “White House denied air regulators meetings,” via E&E News.
— “Murray Energy secures forbearance agreement after missing debt payment,” via S&P Global Market Intelligence.
— “Bankrupt Philly refinery’s request to pay secret executive bonuses raises objections,” via Philadelphia Inquirer.
— “The biggest likely source of microplastics in California coastal waters? Our car tires,” via Los Angeles Times.
— “Sun Tribe Solar turns to utility-scale projects to tap Virginia’s growth,” via GreenTech Media.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!
- Chairman An kicks off trip to South America
- FNC’s Pirro: Biden ‘Unquestionably Committed’ to Putting America Last
- America’s breath of fresh air and President Joe Biden’s many rivers to cross
- America's infrastructure is failing: What needs fixing first?
- Joe Biden and his team could soon face the first test with North Korea
- Obama's third term — or Bill Clinton's?
- Iran rules out nuclear deal meeting, says time not 'suitable'
- Why Biden can't turn back the clock on the Iran nuclear deal
- Top US Diplomat 'Visits' Mexico, Canada on Virtual Trip
- Progressives press Biden to rejoin Iran nuclear deal
- Former Green Beret Joe Kent: Joe Biden Hasn’t Found Country He Doesn’t ‘Want to Give Trillions to or Invade’
- George P. Shultz: A man of bipartisanship
- Merkel under fire for failing to choose sides between communist China and capitalist US
- Merkel's call to Iran sparks new demands on nuclear deal
- U.S., Iran Both Lean on Europe As Iraq Attack Sharpens Nuclear Deal Standoff
- World Insights: U.S. joins Europe with willingness to engage with Iran over nuke deal
- Joe Biden to lay out his foreign policy at G-7, Munich summit
- US willing to sit down for talks with Iran, other nations on nuclear deal
The 'America First' energy diplomacy have 1792 words, post on www.politico.com at October 3, 2019. This is cached page on Auto News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.