May 19, 2022

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Daily on Energy: Manchin pumps the brakes on Biden electric vehicle push

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MANCHIN SKEPTICAL OF ELECTRIC VEHICLE PUSH: Sen. Joe Manchin said he’s wary of President Joe Biden’s strategy on electric vehicles, which administration officials have been pitching as an affordable alternative to drivers who are reckoning with high gasoline prices.

Manchin, who opposed Democrats’ attempts with their stalled spending bill to advantage union-made EVs with special tax credits, said during LNG Allies’ Transatlantic Energy Security Forum IV event this morning that he “will not sign up” for an aggressive electric vehicle push under current conditions.

He raised two objections: 1. Proposals haven’t to his liking addressed who will get the revenue from the electricity used to charge vehicles with taxpayer-funded charging stations and 2. The U.S.’s critical mineral supply chains are underdeveloped.

“You don’t think that those charging stations, once we build them with taxpayer dollars, are going to be free, do you?” Manchin said, recalling a conversation with no one in particular. “Who’s going to get the revenue?”

“There’s an awful lot of money that’s made on the transmission of energy in this country … don’t you think the taxpayers should at least not have to take this head-on?” he said.

The other issue is one his Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee took up last week on critical minerals supply chains, the strains on which have driven up prices for lithium, copper, nickel, and other metals, and EV prices, too, by extension.

“What I will not do, I will not sign up [to transform] our energy and transportation system around EVs that have to be dependent on foreign supply chains,” he said. “I’m just not going to do it.”

What the Biden team wants: Transportation is the highest-emitting sector in the U.S., and Biden wants EVs to make up at least 50% of new vehicle sales by 2030.

The recent infrastructure law, which Manchin supported, funds $5 billion in EV charging infrastructure, but Democrats have been unable to pass additional tax credits incentivizing EV purchases, in large part because of Manchin’s opposition.

Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writers Jeremy Beaman (@jeremywbeaman) and Breanne Deppisch (@breanne_dep). Email [email protected] or [email protected] for tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email, and we’ll add you to our list.

MORE MANCHIN — ASKS BIDEN TO BE ‘OPEN-MINDED’ ON FOSSIL FUELS: At the same event, Manchin expressed frustration over slow gas pipeline approvals and asked the Biden administration to be more “open-minded” in its energy policy response to the war in Ukraine.

“The president has to be open-minded. His team has to be open-minded,” Manchin said. “You’ve got to find that centrist, that middle. You don’t run your life and you don’t run your companies from extremes. It just doesn’t work.”

Manchin also laid out the basis of his disagreements with Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over energy policy. “I just always said you can’t be the superpower of the world if you have your own energy independence,” he said. Read more from Jeremy here.

EU PROPOSES NEW BAN ON RUSSIAN COAL IMPORTS: EU officials are weighing whether to ban Russian coal imports in its latest sanctions package — marking what could be the EU’s first sanctions against Russia’s lucrative energy sector, which come as the bloc seeks to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine.

The proposal was announced this morning by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who called on leaders to increase pressure on Russia for what she described as the “heinous crimes” being carried out in Ukraine. “To take a clear stand is not only crucial for us in Europe but also for the rest of the world,” von der Leyen said. “A clear stand against Putin’s war of choice. A clear stand against the massacre of civilians. And a clear stand against the violation of the fundamental principles of the world order.”

Such a ban on Russian coal would be worth more than 4 billion euros, or $4.4 billion, per year, von der Leyen added.

“We all saw the gruesome pictures from Bucha and other areas from which Russian troops have recently left,” she said in a statement. “These atrocities cannot and will not be left unanswered.”

GERMAN PRESIDENT WALKS BACK YEARS OF SUPPORT FOR NORD STREAM 2: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier walked back his years of support for Nord Stream 2 yesterday, saying in an interview that his earlier stance on the gas project directly linking Russia to Germany was a “mistake.” “My adherence to Nord Stream 2 was clearly a mistake,” Steinmeier said, according to European media site Euractiv. “We were sticking to a bridge in which Russia no longer believed and which other partners had warned us against.”

“We failed to build a common European house,” Steinmeier added of the effort. “I did not believe Vladimir Putin would embrace his country’s complete economic, political and moral ruin for the sake of his imperial madness.”

“In this, I, like others, was mistaken,” he said.

Meanwhile, Germany’s economic minister announced it will temporarily take control of the German subsidiary of Russian gas giant, Gazprom: Speaking to reporters in Berlin yesterday, German Economic Minister Robert Habeck described the decision by Germany as a “transitory solution,” and said it will be in effect until Sept. 30. “The government is doing what is necessary to ensure security of supply in Germany,” he said in a statement. “This also means that we do not allow energy infrastructures in Germany to be subject to arbitrary decisions by the Kremlin.”

ENERGY SYSTEMS NEED ‘SUBSTANTIAL’ CHANGES: IPCC: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new mitigation report concludes the globe has the technological options available to keep the Paris Agreement’s temperature targets in reach, but it says there’s a great deal more lifting to do to cut emissions at the scale needed across sectors, including transportation, industry, and buildings.

John Bistline, one of 354 contributing authors to the new report, said the next steps for making a minimum 50%-by-2030 goal happen are “clearer and more affordable than ever.”

“The sort of high-level message is, you know, our climate future it’s really up to us to decide, and the falling cost of clean energy combined with policy commitments put us in a much better place today than we were a decade ago,” said Bistline, who is program manager in the Energy Systems and Climate Analysis Group at the Electric Power Research Institute. “But there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Bistline contributed to the report’s sixth chapter on energy systems, which makes the point that system-wide mitigation strategies can and should vary by country based on resource availability. That is, geothermal will work well in some places and not others, and the same is true for wind and solar.

“Depending on where you are in the world, the composition of the systems might be a little bit different,” Bistline told Jeremy. “There’s not a one size fits all approach to decarbonization.”

DOE STARTING ROLLOUT OF SCHOOL ENERGY EFFICIENCY DOLLARS: The Energy Department issued a request for information yesterday for $500 million in grants authorized by the new infrastructure law, which districts and schools can use for improving energy efficiency, installing renewable energy, and alternative fueled vehicles improvements at public school facilities.

The law defines any efficiency improvements as repairs or renovations resulting in reduced energy costs for the schools, including improving air conditioning and ventilation systems, lighting, and water heating.

GERMANY’S WINDY QUARTER: Wind energy in Germany hit a record high of 20.6 terawatt-hours in February, constituting 45% of its entire energy mix, according to Rystad Energy.

“While the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, most of the time the weather is doing one or the other at sufficient capacity to cover a significant portion of demand,” said Rystad’s Fabian Rønningen, a power markets analyst.

That level of output was surely welcome for the Germans, who like everyone in Europe have been paying significantly more than normal for electricity.

API RESPONDS TO ACCUSATIONS OF CONSPIRING WITH RUSSIA AND SAUDI ARABIA: Two dozen people have filed a lawsuit against the American Petroleum Institute as well as other major oil and gas companies in the U.S., accusing them of conspiring with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and each other to artificially inflate oil and gas prices.

News of the lawsuit comes as Democrats have also sought to cast blame on U.S. oil and gas companies for the recent rise in gas prices, which continue to surpass $4 a gallon for the first time since 2008.

The claims were sharply rebuffed by API SVP and General Counsel Ryan Meyers, who told Breanne in a statement: “The claims in this complaint have no merit. Gasoline prices are a function of increased demand and lagging supply combined with the geopolitical volatility resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine.”

“Instead of more lawsuits, America needs policies that encourage U.S. energy development,” Meyers added.

JAFFER SAYS COLLECTIVE DEFENSE OF GRID VITAL AGAINST RUSSIAN INCURSION: Jamil Jaffer, the founder and executive director of the National Security Institute at George Mason University, joined “Plugged In” host Neil Chatterjee and Breanne Deppisch for this week’s episode, in which he warned that the U.S. needs to strengthen its interagency approach, as well as its existing network of public-private partnerships, to defend U.S. critical infrastructure from a potential Russian incursion.

The trio discussed key cyber and energy security risks amid Russia’s war in Ukraine—including how the U.S. should be working to more clearly define its “red line” in cyber; what “sticks” the U.S. has to respond to a nation in the event of a state-sponsored attack on its critical infrastructure, and the extent to which government agencies have begun working together to help establish cyber resilience in a once incredibly siloed space. Listen to the full episode here.

GM AND HONDA ANNOUNCE PLANS TO DEVELOP AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC VEHICLE: GM and Honda are working together to develop a series of affordable electric vehicles expected to cost less than $30,000. In a statement released this morning, the companies said they will develop the vehicles based on a new joint platform — including the use of GM’s Ultium battery technology — that will allow them to produce millions of lower-priced EVs beginning in 2027.

“GM and Honda will share our best technology, design and manufacturing strategies to deliver affordable and desirable EVs on a global scale, including our key markets in North America, South America and China,” GM CEO and Chair Mary Barra said in a statement.

MOST CONCERN ABOUT ENVIRONMENT IN TWO DECADES: A new Gallup annual poll found that nearly half of U.S. voters, or 44%, said they worry a “great deal” about the environment, while an additional 27% said they worry a “fair amount.” Concerns in the country have remained high since around 2015, Gallup said in a report, with concerns among Democrats reaching their highest point under former President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, concerns among independents peaked in 2019 and have remained near that level ever since. Read the full survey results here.

The Rundown

The Hill 99 percent of people worldwide breathe air that doesn’t meet WHO standard

NPR How the war in Ukraine could speed up Europe’s climate plans

Politico Coalition lobbies for reforms to speed hydropower permitting, enhance climate considerations

Calendar

TUESDAY | APRIL 5

2:00 p.m. 310 Cannon The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation holds a hearing on Russian cyber threats to U.S. critical infrastructure.

WEDNESDAY | APRIL 6

10:00 a.m. Dingell 2123 The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing with six oil company executives titled, “Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America’s Pain at the Pump.”

THURSDAY | APRIL 7

10:00 a.m. 366 Dirksen The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the scope and scale of critical mineral demand and recycling in the U.S.