Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Trump advisers eyeing more than Yucca

November 15, 2016 Ari Natter  & Mark Drajem

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Reopening the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository opposed by the Obama administration isn’t the only energy about-face advisers for president-elect Donald Trump are eyeing.

The stable of lobbyists, strategists and specialists advising Trump on energy and the environment are busy translating his campaign promises to revive the coal industry and shake up the EPA into specific policy recommendations. There’s no shortage of material as the advisers comb through specific Interior and EPA regulations that could be targeted for repeal.

Candidates include the Bureau of Land Management’s rule governing hydraulic fracturing on public land and recent mandates limiting methane emissions from oil and gas facilities. A Trump administration would likely support efforts by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to open up oil drilling on ANWR’s coastal plain, though that would depend on action from Congress first, said people familiar with the transition planning.

And yes, as Jennifer Dlouhy scooped yesterday, two people familiar with Trump’s transition planning said the long-stalled plan to stash radioactive waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain is set to be revived with the arrival of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington and the departure of the project’s most ardent Senate opponent, Harry Reid.

Steyer’s Offshore Advice for Obama

Before President Barack Obama hands over the keys to the White House to Donald Trump, he should permanently rule out the sale of new offshore drilling rights in U.S. Atlantic and Arctic waters, billionaire Tom Steyer is set to say today.

Steyer, a former hedge fund manager who used his NextGen Climate Action advocacy group to invest millions into electing climate-friendly candidates this year, says the move would allow Obama to cement more of his environmental legacy, making it harder for Trump to undo.

“The Trump administration has the potential to do serious damage to our climate, but in the last few months of his presidency, President Obama can take concrete steps to secure his environmental legacy,” Steyer will say later today, according to a statement obtained by Bloomberg Government. “We will continue to support bold action by President Obama to fight for our families, and we will keep pushing back against Trump’s dark vision and dangerous plans for our country.”

Steyer’s call could drive new attention to a campaign by some environmentalists who want Obama to exploit an obscure provision that’s been used to preserve coral reefs and walrus feeding grounds empowers to exclude waters from future oil and gas development. The authority lies in provision 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which empowers the president to “from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer continental shelf.”

Also Today

  • The current rate of progress on carbon capture and sequestration is too slow if the goals of the Paris climate accord are to be reached. That’s one of the key take-aways of the Global CCS Institute’s 2016 status report being released later today, and will be the subject of a discussion at the National Press Club starting at 9:30 a.m.
  • Legislation (H.R. 866) that would states control of energy development and production on federal land will be the subject of a hearing by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on energy and mineral resources. The bill, by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., isn’t expected to advance in the lame duck session, but sources say to watch for it to re-emerge next year.
  • The Kemper coal power plant being built in Mississippi has already received $406 million from the U.S. government and could gain another $695 million in benefits if Congress expands carbon-capture tax credits, according to a report being released today by Taxpayers for Common Sense and Friends of the Earth, Jennifer Dlouhy reports.

    The potential value of the credits could be as much as $4.5 billion over the 40-year life of the Southern Co. power plant under one of the leading congressional proposals to expand the tax credit, the report said.

Inside the Beltway: Lame Duck Getting Lamer

Lame duck momentum for a water projects bill that could be a vehicle for both funding for Flint, Mich.’s tainted drinking water supply and compromise coal ash legislation, appears to be flagging, our colleague Laura Curtis tells us.

Republican Bob Gibbs, who is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s water resources panel, told reporters he hadn’t yet seen details of Trump’s infrastructure plan. “I think the [Trump] administration will be talking to Congress about how to address this infrastructure stuff, the in the weeds stuff,” Gibb said.

Earlier in the day, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said voting to go to conference with the Senate on the bill remained a lame duck priority.

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Send us your comments and tips: Ari Natter is the First Word congressional reporter ( or @arinatter) and Mark Drajem is the editor ( or @drajem).

U.S. Delays Dakota Access Line as Trump Promises Quicker Reviews

The Obama administration has yet again delayed a decision on the controversial Dakota Access crude pipeline, even as President-elect Donald Trump vows to speed up reviews of such projects, Meenal Vamburkar reports.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday that it’ll hold more talks with a Native American tribe potentially affected by the pipeline before deciding on a permit that’s key to finishing the $3.8 billion project spanning four states. The news came just a day before environmentalists planned to protest at Army Corps offices nationwide, calling for a permanent rejection of the project.

American Petroleum Institute’s Top Lobbyist Resigns

Louis Finkel, API’s executive vice president for government affairs, is leaving the trade group “to pursue other opportunities,” the trade group said in a statement yesterday.

Finkel was an unabashed Democrat in a lobbying area — oil — dominated by conservative Republicans, according to this BGOV profile by David Banks.

Icahn Says Oil Refiners Face ‘2008-Style’ Crisis Over EPA Rules

U.S. independent refiners could face another 2008-style financial crisis if the government doesn’t reduce how much biofuel refiners have to blend into gasoline and diesel, according to billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Bloomberg’s Sony Kassam reports.

Icahn, who has a controlling stake in CVR Refining LP, said in a Nov. 3 letter recently made public by the White House Office of Management and Budget that the Environmental Protection Agency’s quotas are “mathematically impossible to achieve.”