Rick Perry

The Obscure Federal Agency That Soon Could Raise Your Electric Bill: 5 Questions Answered on FERC

Power lines

By Joshua D. Rhodes, University of Texas at Austin

Editor’s note: On or before Dec. 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to take action on a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that seeks to prevent noncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants from retiring prematurely. Depending on how such a rule is structured, analyses have estimated that it could cost ratepayers in affected regions up to several billion dollars yearly. Energy scholar Joshua Rhodes explains what FERC is and why it has so much power over energy markets and (indirectly) the prices consumers pay.

Subsidizing Coal and Nuclear Power Could Drive Customers off the Grid

Solar home

By Joshua M. Pearce, Michigan Technological University

Within the next month, energy watchers expect the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act on an order from Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would create new pricing rules for certain power plants that can store fuel on site to support grid resilience. This initiative seeks to protect coal-fired and nuclear power plants that are struggling to compete with cheaper energy sources.

Children File Suit Against Trump Administration for Ignoring Climate Dangers

Gavel

This week the federal government is once again being sued for its decision to ignore the growing threat of climate change. And, just like an earlier lawsuit on this issue, it is being brought by the group that stands to suffer the most from climate inaction: Children.

Two Pennsylvania youth are taking on the Trump administration for what they are calling a “reckless and deliberate indifference” to the issue of climate change. The environmental organization Clean Air Council is bringing the suit on behalf of the children in this case.

These Unsigned Comments Supporting a Gas Exports Rule Are Recycled Industry Copy-Pastes

Copy machine

A review of the comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on its proposed rule to fast-track the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) shows that roughly two dozen of of the 89 comments were directly copy-pasted from either industry itself or else pro-industry materials written by the DOE or Congress.

Furthermore, all of those copy-pasted comments are anonymous, a hint that the oil and gas industry may be behind an astroturf-style comment-submitting campaign for this rule. Only one letter favoring the proposed rule, written by the American Petroleum Institute and the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, has the industry's name on it. Three other comments supporting the rule have actual names of individuals, a law school student, a college student, and an individual who DeSmog confirmed wrote the comment out of personal interest and for a public policy course at his university. 

As US Coal Exports Swell, Trump Admin Facilitates Major Deal with Ukraine

U.S. Embassy in Ukraine

Export levels of coal produced in the U.S. shot up earlier this year, as President Donald Trump assumed the White House, in what his administration has dubbed the age of “energy dominance.”

For the first quarter of 2017, export levels grew 58 percent compared to the same quarter last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The news comes as the Trump administration recently helped broker a major coal export deal between Pennsylvania-based coal production company Xcoal Energy and Ukranian company Centrenergo PJSC

That deal, which will see 700,000 tons of thermal coal shipped from XCoal's mines to Centrenergo power plants in Ukraine, was applauded by both U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

Meet Trump's Guy Who Said Clean Energy Policies Are Greatest Threat to America's Power Grid

This is a guest post by Dave Anderson, and originally appeard on Energyandpolicy.org.

Travis Fisher, a Trump political appointee in the Department of Energy, wrote a 2015 report for the Institute for Energy Research that called clean energy policies “the single greatest emerging threat” to the nation's electric power grid, and a greater threat to electric reliability than cyber attacks, terrorism or extreme weather.

Fisher is now leading up a controversial grid study ordered by Sec. of Energy Rick Perry under the pretense of ensuring the long-term reliability of the nation's electricity supply. If Fisher's past writings on the topic are any indication, the forthcoming DOE study is sure to be a thinly veiled attack on renewable energy aimed at propping up outdated coal and nuclear power plants that can't compete in today's electricity market.

Rick Perry's grid study sounds strikingly similar to the one Travis Fisher wrote for fossil fuel interests in 2015.

Are Solar and Wind Really Killing Coal, Nuclear, and Grid Reliability?

Rick Perry and the Texas power grid

By Joshua D. RhodesMichael E. WebberThomas Deetjen, and Todd Davidson, University of Texas at Austin

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in April requested a study to assess the effect of renewable energy policies on nuclear and coal-fired power plants. The Conversation

Some energy analysts responded with confusion, as the subject has been extensively studied by grid operators and the Department of Energy’s own national labs. Others were more critical, saying the intent of the review is to favor the use of nuclear and coal over renewable sources.

So, are wind and solar killing coal and nuclear? Yes, but not by themselves and not for the reasons most people think.

Climate-Denying Group Led by Trump Strategist Lobbied for Dakota Access, Keystone XL

Tony Fabrizio

The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF), a conservative advocacy, lobbying, and electioneering group led by a strategist for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has lobbied for both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.

Tony Fabrizio, a veteran Republican tactician and lead pollster, chairs CFIF’s Board of Directors, according to its 2017 incorporation filings, submitted in Florida. Documents from the state show that Fabrizio signed off on CFIF’s forms back in 2004.

According to federal lobbying disclosure forms, the group's team of lobbyists, at the end of 2016, engaged with then-President Barack Obama's staff to express “concern with ongoing violent protests and obstruction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and [to urge] allowance of construction to continue without any further delay.”

Architect of Energy Secretary Rick Perry's Political Comeback Now Lobbies for Dakota Access Owner

Rick Perry

Federal lobbying disclosure forms for the first quarter of 2017 show that Jeff Miller, campaign manager for U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry's 2016 Republican presidential bid, now lobbies for the company which owns the Dakota Access pipeline.

The forms show that Miller is lobbying on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) on “Issues associated with pipeline infrastructure development, midstream sector environmental compliance, and pipeline safety. Issues associated with partnership taxation.” Perry, after bowing out of the 2016 race, was named to ETP's Board of Directors. He stepped down from that role after being nominated by President Donald Trump as Energy Secretary.

Miller — formerly a lobbyist in California and adviser to both former California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger and current Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — is credited as the architect of Perry's political comeback and foray into the national political scene. After serving as the longest-tenured governor of Texas from 2000–2014, Perry was indicted by a grand jury in August 2014 on corruptions charges in Travis County, Texas, for abuse of power. Those charges were dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas in February 2016. 

Former Koch Agents, Fossil Fuel Industry Hired Guns Now Staffing Trump's Federal Agencies

Obama and Trump officials meet in the White House

On March 8, ProPublica obtained “beachhead team” rosters with the names of hundreds of temporary staffers the Trump administration has installed in federal agencies, including the Department of Interior (DOI), Department of Energy (DOE), the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and others. 

A DeSmog investigation shows that this list of staffers, largely undisclosed before this week, includes former operatives allied with Koch Industries, oil and coal industry employees, a former employee of a prominent climate denial group, and an advocate for a pro-trophy hunting organization funded by oil and gas. The background and connections of these staffers may serve as a preview to potential priorities these agencies may take on related to energy, climate, and environment under Donald Trump.

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