POWER PLAN HUB

Nominees scrutinized as EIA highlights uncertain energy future

The federal government's latest energy projections are out, and they underscore just how much could change in the power sector under President-elect Donald Trump.

The Energy Information Administration's annual outlook reference case assumes current laws and regulations will move forward, but its side cases explore what might happen without U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan or with higher or lower oil prices.

Administrator Adam Sieminski noted the agency, which is housed under the Department of Energy but conducts independent research, cannot start exploring the shift ahead without seeing clear signals about the plans of Congress and the White House (Climatewire, Jan. 6).

Assuming other policies stay the same and eliminating the Clean Power Plan, coal use in the United States will likely level off, and natural gas and renewable power will meet any new demand, according to EIA's report. Coal production could rebound modestly in the West but not in Appalachia.

Notably, electric-sector carbon emissions will likely stop declining. Those reductions are the linchpin of global agreements to curb climate change. Other countries seem poised to move ahead without the United States, but it's unclear how they will react if Trump follows through on promises to exit the Paris climate deal.

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Secretary of State nominee and former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson will likely face his confirmation hearing Wednesday and can expect questions on how he might address climate change in the international context.

Current Secretary of State John Kerry today gives his last major climate speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It will be live-streamed at 10:30 a.m. here.

In other big news from last week, E&E News reporters Ben Storrow and Mike Soraghan find that a super PAC for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) could keep collecting money on his behalf from industry supporters even as he runs U.S. EPA and regulates those same companies (Energywire, Jan. 6).

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has not yet settled on a date for Pruitt's hearing (E&E Daily, Jan. 6). Ranking member Tom Carper (D-Del.) said he has "grave concerns" about Pruitt.

Today, environmental and progressive groups hold events around the country to protest Trump's Cabinet picks (Climatewire, Jan. 6). They say they are motivated to mobilize against the nominees, although the Senate seems likely to confirm all or most of Trump's team, even if just with the Republican majority.

On Thursday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz speaks at the National Press Club.

In case you missed it

  • The House is pursuing measures to enable lawmakers to more easily rescind Obama administration regulations and require congressional approval of future rules, but Republicans would need to sway Democrats in the Senate to enact the legislation (E&E News PM, Jan. 5; E&E Daily, Jan. 6).
  • Agency chiefs took victory laps, touting their climate work (Greenwire, Jan. 5).
  • Before he was Donald Trump's pick to lead EPA, Pruitt was a kid from Kentucky who grooved to country music, drove a '78 Chevy Blazer and hoped to make it as a big-league baseball player. His college teammates called him "The Possum." Read more from reporter Robin Bravender's visit to Oklahoma (Greenwire, Jan. 4). Here she is talking about Trump's nominees on E&E TV (E&E TV's "The Cutting Edge," Jan. 6).
  • In an exclusive interview with reporter Amanda Reilly, EPA air chief Janet McCabe said she saw marathon oral arguments on the Clean Power Plan as a high point in her seven years in the Obama administration (Greenwire, Jan. 3).
  • Climate change has a bull's-eye in the era of all-Republican rule (Climatewire, Jan. 3).

For more on the Trump transition, click here and follow @EENewsUpdates.

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