Energy and environment – Manchin allows activists to trade off rolls

Climate activists warn that a permit reform deal could bring new environmental problems. We’ll also see why gas is falling below $ 4 and another House committee chair wants answers from oil companies.

This is energy and environment during the night, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill we are Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Anyone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.

Manchin’s buy-in is expensive for environmental reviews

In order to enlist Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) support for their climate legislation, Democrats are poised to implement policy changes that could directly help one of the senator’s favorite projects, but which activists say could harm them. low-income voters and people of color.

On Monday, Manchin revealed details of a plan to expedite environmental reviews of potentially polluting projects that was part of the deal made with the Democratic leadership.

What are the details? The deal appears to cover both the broader environmental review process and more immediately a pipeline in West Virginia that he’s been looking for for a long time.

“Completing this pipeline will increase supply [and] strengthen US energy security, “Manchin tweeted on Tuesday.

Now for the catch: But environmental justice advocates, who oppose approval of the pipeline, say the deal could undermine the entire review process, putting already disadvantaged groups on an even greater share of the country’s pollution burden.

When Manchin announced last week that he would go ahead with the climate and tax provisions that the Democrats have been clamoring for, he said the Democrats would also be advancing “common sense authorization reforms” this fall.

  • The deal, detailed in a fact sheet on Monday, would set time limits for environmental reviews: two years for large projects and one year for those with less impact. It would also require the president to keep a list of 25 priority energy projects.
  • It essentially gives states a one-year time limit to veto infrastructure projects such as pipelines that cross their waters, while clarifying that the impacts on water quality of the activity itself must be the basis for the review.

Read more about the trade-offs here.

Gas is approaching $ 4, but hurricanes could bring new pain

The average price of gas is approaching $ 4 a gallon nationwide, part of almost
60-day decline from unprecedented highs earlier this year.

However, experts say Mother Nature could push prices up quickly as hurricane season on the Gulf Coast picks up.

  • As of Wednesday, the national average of gas prices was $ 4,163, the latest in a 50-day decline, according to data from AAA. At the state level, numerous states, mostly in the southeastern United States, are already below $ 4, with the lowest average prices – $ 3,667 – in Texas.
  • How did we get here: The decline follows a period earlier this year where average prices hit an all-time high of $ 5 in June, according to data compiled by GasBuddy. A number of atypical factors, from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to pent-up demand with the end of pandemic restrictions, contributed to the spike in prices. The factors that push it back can also be difficult to predict.

Patrick DeHaan, head of oil analysis at GasBuddy, noted that much of the recent decline is likely linked to fears of an economic downturn. “Market oil prices are reflecting the growing risk that if we see a recession it will be less oil consumption,” DeHaan said.

However, he added, “Not only that, we have seen an increase in gasoline stocks in the last six weeks or so. And this is perhaps also contributing in part to the decline. ”

Devin Gladden, AAA National’s federal affairs manager, said the US gas market is “roughly in line” with what it was before the pandemic caused demand slump, aside from some spikes during the holidays. early 2020.

  • Gladden described the downtrend as “a strange case where it is pretty much the same as when we saw the severe COVID precautions and these factors are driving prices to keep falling.”
  • Meanwhile, he added, recession anxiety is “having an impact on oil prices, in particular, because there is concern that if economic growth stalls or we enter a recession … this could potentially have an impact on global crude oil demand “.
  • “This is why the market is concerned because when demand falls, prices generally follow and therefore they are protecting themselves from potentially lower prices,” he added.

Read more about the decline here.

Dem questions oil companies after record profits

President of the Chamber’s Energy and Commerce Commission Franco Ball Jr. (DN.J.) is questioning the country’s largest oil companies after making record profits amid high oil and gasoline prices.

Pallone has sent letters to Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell asking for answers on the companies ‘latest earnings reports and targeting the companies’ use of profits for share buybacks, which give more money to shareholders.

“As one of the largest privately held oil companies in the world, your company is positioned to help ease the pain of Americans at the pump, but I am concerned that you are more focused on rewarding the company’s executives and shareholders,” he wrote to each of the companies.

Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP have all said in the past few weeks that they have done so
$ 17.9 billion, $ 11.6 billion, $ 11.5 billion and $ 8.45 billion respectively between April and June of this year, when energy prices were soaring. They also announced that they expect to buy back more shares of their shares, giving shareholders more money by raising their share price.

  • In the letters, Pallone asked about how profits will affect executive spending, share buybacks, dividends that companies pay to shareholders, and spending on both fossil fuels and renewable energy production.
  • He also said his committee is “investigating what oil companies could and should do to help reduce gas prices.”

Gasoline prices on Wednesday averaged around $ 4.16 per gallon in the United States, down more than 85 cents from the June peak. But the $ 4.16 figure may still seem high for consumers, as prices are still about a dollar higher than they were a year ago.

The letters come as Democrats try to blame the high oil prices on fuel companies, with the House passing a law in May that would outlaw the sale of fuel at an “excessive” price during an energy emergency.

Read more about the letters here.

UN WARNS TWO LARGER TANKS AT “DANGEROUSLY LOW LEVELS”

The United Nations warned on Tuesday that the two largest water reservoirs in the United States have shrunk to “dangerously low levels” due to the impacts of climate change.

The situation has gotten so bad that these reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are on the verge of reaching “dead pond state” – the point where water levels drop so low that downstream flow ceases. according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

Without that flow, hydroelectric power plants would cease to operate, jeopardizing the electricity supply for millions of people in the region, the agency said.

“Conditions in the American West, which we are seeing around the Colorado River Basin, have been so dry for more than 20 years that we are no longer talking about drought,” said Lis Mullin Bernhardt, an ecosystem expert at UNEP.

“We refer to it as ‘aridification’, a very dry new normal,” Bernhardt added.

Read more from Sharon Udasin of The Hill.

ICIMI

WHAT WE ARE READING

  • Your air conditioner can be shut down in a heat wave due to an unpaid energy bill (Vox)
  • Manchin deal launches $ 30 billion lifeline to U.S. nuclear reactors (Bloomberg)
  • EPA will clean up South Jersey Superfund site that emits “noxious vapors” in homes and businesses (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • The end of the snow threatens to disrupt 76 million American lives (Bloomberg)
  • Nuclear Power Plants Could Stay Open, Germany Says (The Wall Street Journal)

🐱 And finally, today’s lightest click: Not bad for a cat called “Bandit”.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s energy and environment page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

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