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— Republicans on the Hill plan to launch a counter pressure campaign against the country’s largest banks after several of them ruled out financial support for oil drilling projects in the Arctic.
— The long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline could be delayed by as much as a year due to a federal judge’s decision to block a key permit, developer TC Energy said.
— EPA has sent a proposed carbon standards rule for jet engines to the White House for review, a standard critical for Boeing to ship its engines to foreign markets.
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REPUBLICANS’ COUNTER ATTACK: Two GOP senators tell POLITICO a group of congressional Republicans are planning to launch their own pressure campaign against large U.S. banks for refusing financial support for Arctic oil drilling projects, Pro’s Anthony Adragna reports this morning.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said the Republicans will send a letter to the banks, warning them that ruling out specific fossil fuel projects, such as oil drilling in the newly opened Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, comes with risks. The letter follows pledges in recent months by Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup that they would not invest in Arctic drilling projects, amid pressure to address climate change and protect sensitive lands. Bank of America is the sole major holdout.
“You think this is a cost-free action? Let’s see about that,” Sullivan said of the banks in an interview last week. “The federal government fully supports these guys across the board in so many ways, including a bailout 15 years ago. Now they get to pick and choose who’s favored and who’s not favored in the U.S. economy based on what? Political pressure that they get at cocktail parties in Manhattan?”
— Sullivan, a first-term Republican up for reelection this year, also told POLITICO there had been a “definite rethink” among his congressional colleagues about the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia following the kingdom’s recent oil market war with Russia that helped send oil prices into a free fall and has devastated domestic U.S. oil companies. He said he supports imposing tariffs on imported Saudi Arabian oil, and joined a call with Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday to press for a Section 232 investigation.
In addition, Sullivan is pressing for the world’s industrialized nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to fill their own strategic reserves with oil, a move he said could take 2.5 million barrels a day off the market for about the next three to four months. “If everybody, including China, tops off their strategic petroleum reserves, that could be … another 250 million barrels off the global market,” he said.
DEMOCRATIC STATES SUE OVER NEW WATER RULE: A group of Democratic state attorneys general sued the Trump administration on Friday over EPA’s Navigable Waters Protection rule, Pro’s Annie Snider reports. The challenge, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, contends that the rule, which reduces the number of streams and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act, violates the Administrative Procedures Act, contradicts the CWA’s objectives and fails to comply with Supreme Court precedent.
TC ENERGY: KEYSTONE COULD BE DELAYED BY YEAR: Canadian pipeline developer TC Energy said Friday the Keystone XL pipeline would face significant new delays because of a Montana district court ruling last month that invalidated a critical nationwide water permit for its construction. “The long-term potential delay with any of these very omnibus-type filings or motions to vacate a permit that broad could have up to a year delay on the ultimate project,” said Bevin Wirzba, TC Energy’s senior vice president of liquids pipelines, on the company’s first-quarter earnings call with analysts.
TC Energy said it was still moving forward with construction of the $8 billion pipeline and that it expects the line to enter service in 2023, according to the quarterly report to shareholders. The company said it was reviewing options to address the impact of the Montana ruling and to “secure the necessary authorizations to continue with planned Keystone XL construction.”
POLL — MORE THAN HALF OF VOTERS SUPPORT RENEWABLE BAILOUT: Support among U.S. voters for a government bailout of the renewable energy industry amid the coronavirus pandemic has remained steadily above 50 percent, according to a new Morning Consult poll. The poll, conducted from April 29-30, found 56 percent of voters supported a bailout of the renewables industry, up just 2 percent from an earlier survey from March 31-April 1 that asked the same question. The U.S. renewable energy industry has seen delayed construction and thousands of jobs lost amid the pandemic, as the Associated Press highlighted over the weekend.
The Morning Consult poll released early this morning also shows that support for the renewable industry is higher than that for a bailout of the oil and gas industry, but it showed support for the latter also went unchanged between the two polls, even as oil prices dipped below zero last month. Thirty-eight percent of voters said they would support a bailout of the oil and gas industry.
SENATE MAKES ITS RETURN: The Senate is slated to return today, where they’ll vote to confirm the president’s pick for inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Robert Feitel. Feitel first advanced out of the Environment and Public Works Committee in December, but a final vote on the Senate floor had been delayed for weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. He currently serves as a trial attorney in the capital case section of the Justice Department.
HOUSE DEMS SEEK IG PROBE INTO INTERIOR OFFICIAL: House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and the chairmen of all of the committee’s subpanels called on the Interior Department’s IG to open an investigation into Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney and her role in how the Trump administration plans to distribute $8 billion from the coronavirus relief package to Native American tribes. As POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn reported, the Trump administration included for-profit Alaska Native corporations among the eligible recipients.
Sweeney remains a shareholder of her former employer Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. “Her active financial interest in Arctic Slope raises questions about whether her involvement in determining ANCs would be eligible for CARES Act funding specifically intended for federally recognized tribal governments violated ethics rules and/or pledges,” the Democrats write to IG Mark Greenblatt. The nation’s largest Native American organization has already called on the IG to investigate a data breach tied to the coronavirus fund earmarked for tribes, which the Democrats also point to in their letter.
SPINNING ‘ROUND THE ROUNDTABLE: Grijalva defended the committee majority’s use of “roundtables” and “forums” during the pandemic, pushing back on complaints from ranking member Rob Bishop (R-Utah) over concerns the events “indicate an attempt to substitute official Committee business.” Bishop’s letter to Grijalva claimed Democrats are “seemingly mimicking hearings to include inviting executive branch witnesses while not inviting Republican participation,” and alleged Democrats are “seeking government witness participation to address draft partisan legislation.”
Grijalva shot back in a response Friday that there was nothing unusual or inappropriate about the majority’s actions. He added the majority intends to hold further discussions on “anti-environmental actions taken by the Trump administration” during the coronavirus and “the need for legislation to reduce the risk of future viral infections being transmitted from wildlife to people.” Grijalva said Democrats “are hopeful that Committee Republicans, as well as representatives from the Trump administration, will participate,” and urged Republicans to arrange roundtables of their own.
EPA SENDS AIRCRAFT CO2 RULE TO OMB: EPA on Friday sent a proposed rule to set a carbon dioxide standard for jet engines to the White House for review, about two-and-half years after it confirmed to POLITICO it was working on a rule and eight months after the agency’s last self-imposed deadline. The standard is critical for Boeing, which will need the Transportation Department to certify its engines if it is to sell to international airlines or domestic airlines seeking to make international flights. The standard was created under a 2016 International Civil Aviation deal agreed to under former President Barack Obama.
Without the rule, Boeing would otherwise need to get its engines certified by another country, an embarrassment for the U.S.’ largest exporter. Even still, the rule, if it is officially proposed, would stand out as a rare carbon dioxide-limiting regulation from the Trump administration.
WE ARE REOPENING: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt detailed to employees in a note last week a phased return to their offices across the country. Bernhardt pointed to the president’s three-phased guidelines to re-open the country amid the coronavirus pandemic and said the department would begin transitioning its operations to return to regular duty stations in phases.
“Each Bureau is finalizing and will soon begin executing its plans to resume our regular operations,” he said, adding that at the state and local level, progress toward regular operations will be guided by governors and state officials. “Each Bureau’s plan will phase in regular operations at our offices and increase access to our public lands,” Bernhardt said.
National parks across the U.S. are also slowly beginning their plans to reopen, following a call from the president that they’d do so. Florida’s Everglades National Park will begin reopening today by increasing recreational access, while the Great Smoky Mountains will begin reopening its roads and trails May 9.
JPMORGAN TO REPLACE FORMER EXXON HEAD: JPMorgan Chase is seeking to replace former Exxon Mobil CEO and Chairman Lee Raymond as lead independent director on its board, according to an SEC filing last week. JPMorgan renominated Raymond in a 2020 proxy statement released April 6, but SEC records show the bank announced “New Lead Independent Director by end of summer 2020” in a disclosure filed late Thursday, Pro’s Kellie Mejdrich reports. In its original proxy statement, the bank said “a formal process to identify his successor” had begun, regarding Raymond’s board position.
The move was hailed by climate activists who have pressed to have Raymond ousted altogether. Eli Kasargod-Staub, Majority Action executive director, said, “the announcement to remove Raymond from the lead independent director position is a clear victory for long-term shareholder value and the mitigation of climate risk.” Majority Action first kicked off a campaign in February to remove Raymond from his position on JPMorgan’s board.
— EPA has hired Todd Washam to be director of House relations in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations. Washam was vice president of public policy and industry relations for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. He previously worked for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).
— Kevin Sweeney joined Americans for Carbon Dividends, the political arm of the Climate Leadership Council, as managing director. Sweeney is president of Six-7 Strategies.
— Zack Roday has left the Hill to join federal affairs firm GuidePost Strategies as a senior adviser and Ascent Media as a senior strategist. He previously was communications director for Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
— “Judge cancels hundreds of oil, gas leases in Montana,” via Associated Press.
— “‘Murder hornets’ in the U.S.: The rush to stop the Asian giant hornet,” via The New York Times.
— “Energy transition to be shaped by world response to Covid-19,” via S&P Global Market Intelligence.
— “Revealed: U.S. fossil fuel companies handed at least $50m in coronavirus aid,” via The Guardian.
— “The great shale shut-in has begun, making good on Trump’s pledge,” via Bloomberg.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!