For those wondering why President Trump is requesting a 72% cut in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, a piece I wrote during the transition is holding up nicely.
“The Trump administration is poised to ask Congress for deep budget cuts in the Energy Department’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, slashing them by 72 percent overall in fiscal 2019,” according to draft budget documents obtained by the Washington Post.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke defended his surprise decision to exempt Florida waters from the Trump administration’s push for new offshore drilling, telling CNN that the state’s coastline is unique.
Said Zinke: “The coastal currents are different, the layout of where the geology is.”
“Critics have called his decision to exempt Florida’s waters from the Trump administration’s plan for new US offshore oil drilling political favoritism to benefit Republican Gov. Rick Scott. It came just days after the proposal for new drilling off most of the US coastline was announced.”
“In the biggest blow he’s dealt to the renewable energy industry yet, President Trump decided on Monday to slap tariffs on imported solar panels,” Bloomberg reports.
“I would also say this, it smacks of what we never want to see in politics which is: Is it self-serving? I mean you can’t say, ‘I don’t want to see an oil rig from Mar-A-Lago’ as you look out from the waters of Palm Beach, but it’s okay to look at an oil rig out from Hilton Head or Charleston, South Carolina.”
— Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), quoted by Business Insider, on President Trump’s decision to exempt Florida from expanded coastal oil drilling.
“The Trump administration told Florida’s governor it won’t consider new oil and gas drilling off the state’s coast, backtracking on plans to expand offshore drilling all around the U.S. and bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans in the state,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
First Read: “Exempting Florida — but not other states — appears to be the kind of transactional favoritism that many good-government observers worried about when Trump became president. Bottom line: The Trump administration has invited lawsuits if it doesn’t extend the same kind of exemption to other states that want it.”
James Hohmann: “With the proposed expansion of offshore drilling and a crackdown on marijuana, the Trump administration created huge political headaches Thursday for scores of Republicans who were already facing a tough environment in 2018.”
“Both moves are unpopular with voters, especially key people in places that are likely to determine whether the GOP holds the House. In practice, these two stories probably pose bigger challenges for the president’s party in the midterms than any book about White House dysfunction.”
“A total of 210,000 gallons of oil leaked Thursday from the Keystone Pipeline in Marshall County, South Dakota,” CNN reports.
“Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and officials are investigating the cause of the leak. This is the largest Keystone oil spill to date in South Dakota.”
Washington Post: “The spill comes on the eve of a crucial decision by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years.”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry claimed that fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault, NBC News reports.
Said Perry: “But also from the standpoint of sexual assault, when the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts. So from the standpoint of how you really affect people’s lives, fossil fuels is going to play a role in that. I happen to think it’s going to play a positive role.”
“Energy Secretary Rick Perry took a chartered jet to Ohio last week, according to an airport management company, the day before fellow Cabinet member Tom Price resigned over his use of private charter flights for government business,” Reuters reports.
“The Trump administration is quietly moving to allow energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in more than 30 years, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post, with a draft rule that would lay the groundwork for drilling.”
“Congress has sole authority to determine whether oil and gas drilling can take place within the refuge’s 19.6 million acres. But seismic studies represent a necessary first step, and Interior Department officials are modifying a 1980s regulation to permit them.”
Daily Beast: “The White House on Friday announced a new round of sanctions against Venezuela that explicitly exempt the U.S. arm of the country’s state-owned oil company. That company, Citgo, donated six-figure sums to Trump’s inauguration and recently hired former Trump officials to lobby for that exemption.”
Bloomberg: “Some White House and Republican officials are exploring the idea of putting West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in charge of the Energy Department, according to four people familiar with the discussions, a move that could boost President Donald Trump’s stalled legislative agenda.”
“If Manchin were offered and accepted the position, that would allow West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice — a newly minted Republican — to appoint a GOP successor and bring the party a vote closer in the Senate to being able to repeal Obamacare. The idea is in the early stages of consideration, and it’s unclear whether it has support within the administration … A spokesman for Manchin declined to say whether the senator would take the Energy secretary job — currently held by former Texas Governor Rick Perry — if offered.”
Playbook: “For the record: Manchin hasn’t sent any signals that he’s interested in joining the Trump administration.”
Michael Lewis has a must-read piece on the Department of Energy — from the “ceremonial and bizarre” role of energy secretary Rick Perry to the Trump administration’s apparent total disinterest in the agency.
In his confirmation hearings to run the department Perry confessed that when he called for its elimination he hadn’t actually known what the Department of Energy did—and he now regretted having said that it didn’t do anything worth doing.
The question on the minds of the people who currently work at the department: Does he know what it does now? D.O.E. press secretary Shaylyn Hynes assures us that “Secretary Perry is dedicated to the missions of the Department of Energy.” And in his hearings, Perry made a show of having educated himself. He said how useful it was to be briefed by former secretary Ernest Moniz. But when I asked someone familiar with those briefings how many hours Perry had spent with Moniz, he laughed and said, “That’s the wrong unit of account.” With the nuclear physicist who understood the D.O.E. perhaps better than anyone else on earth, according to one person familiar with the meeting, Perry had spent minutes, not hours. “He has no personal interest in understanding what we do and effecting change,” a D.O.E. staffer told me in June. “He’s never been briefed on a program—not a single one, which to me is shocking.”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry “optimistically discussed expanding American coal exports to Ukraine and other energy matters during a lengthy phone call this month with a Russian prankster who Perry thought was Ukraine’s prime minister,” Reuters reports.
“Perry actually was talking with comedians known in Russia for targeting celebrities and politicians with audacious stunts… During the 22-minute call on July 19, Perry, whose department oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons program, discussed a range of topics in a business-like tone, including sanctions against Russia and helping Ukraine develop oil and gas.”
The audio from the call is online.