‘Minibus’ pulling out – POLITICO
With help from Darius Dixon, Alex Guillén, and Anthony Adragna
ALL ABOARD THE MINI-BUS: The House may be on summer vacation, and President Donald Trump may be threatening a government shutdown, but the Senate is going to pass its appropriations — if top Democratic and Republican appropriators have anything to say about it. Committee leaders on both sides said they’re making strides toward finalizing a manager’s amendment to the pending minibus H.R. 6147 (115) and voiced confidence they’d be able to pass the bill shortly. “We’re hoping to pass this minibus this week,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby told reporters. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but I don’t think [the manager’s amendment] is sealed yet.” That panel’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy, echoed that confidence: “We spent a lot of time this weekend and earlier today” on the manager’s amendment, he said. “So far things are going pretty well.”
Story Continued Below
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated the chamber would wrap up on the minibus, which contains the Agriculture, S. 2976 (115), Financial Services, S. 3107 (115), Interior-Environment, S. 3073 (115), and Transportation-HUD S. 3023 (115) titles, this week. “We’ll finish up the set of appropriations measures we’ve been considering for several days and take four more big steps towards our goal of completing a regular appropriations process and funding the government in a timely and orderly manner,” he said in floor remarks.
Shelby urged President Donald Trump not to follow through on his threats to shut down the government over border wall funding. “I’m hoping the idea of shutting down the government is not a serious thing,” he said. “It’s not good for the Republicans, the Democrats and it’s certainly not good for the thousands and thousands of people who depend on the certainty of government funding.” He said the threats don’t help prospects for finalizing individual appropriations measures and advised the Trump not to veto individual bills to attempt and secure additional border funding.
IT’S RUBY TUESDAY: I’m Eric Wolff, covering for your usual maestro, Kelsey Tamborrino, who’s enjoying a well-earned break on the beach. Your trivia winner was Duke Energy’s Vicky Sullivan, who correctly identified Delaware as the only state with a border based on a circle, though an honorable mention to Jim Colthart, chairman of C3 Global Technologies, who noted that all the states with boundaries on the 49th parallel *also* have part of their borders based on a circle, just a much larger one. For today: Name the most visited National Park (Hint: It’s an actual park, not a recreation area or monument). Send your answer along with your Morning Energy snark to me at [email protected], and send your newsletter tips to Anthony Adragna at [email protected], who will be taking the wheel for Wednesday’s edition, and follow any and all of us on Twitter, @ericwolff, @anthonyadragna, @kelseytam, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.
GOOD OLD RELIABLE POWER GRID: A big portion of the energy world turns its attention to FERC today as the agency hosts a technical conference focused on the all-important topic of electric grid reliability. Regulators have tried to hold this type of event — which hits on everything from cybersecurity to managing intermittent resources like solar — on an annual basis, and this year’s gathering may get more attention because of all the drama surrounding the Trump administration’s plans to boost particular power sources. Although it’s not specifically mentioned in the meeting agenda, the cybersecurity panel at the end of the day may wind its way to the issue at the heart of the Energy Department’s argument for anchoring coal and nuclear power to the grid: that there are cyberthreats specific to natural gas infrastructure. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and other DOE officials have argued that the growth of the gas industry is threatening coal and nuclear power, making the grid too dependent on power generated by the fuel. FERC has lined up top executives from most of the nation’s grid operators (except PJM, which is notably absent) and energy industry trade associations, as well as government officials from DOE, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and those from Mexico and Canada.
Get your R-words straight: This isn’t the first FERC technical conference to reference grid “resilience” as well as reliability (despite what some people think, resilience was in the FERC lexicon before the Trump administration came along) but the word got an elevated, headlining status this year for one of this morning’s sessions. The deadline to comment on a series of resilience questions floated by FERC recently closed and Alison Silverstein, who will be speaking on the subject today, says “the fun is in how differently everyone explains how a resilient system is actually manifested.”
“This is where everyone’s talking up their book — transmission folks think resiliency means more wires, coal people say it’s fuel security, NERC says it’s standards and drills, services and studies,” she added. So, pity the regulators: “I don’t envy FERC, which will have to find some public interest, statute-based rationality from a conversation where everyone’s talking across each other.”
We (re)hear you, ok?! Monday was the deadline for those wanting to challenge FERC’s contentious, late-June order deeming PJM’s capacity market unjust and unreasonable — a move that kicked off a process to rewrite them in a way that seeks to guard that market from power generators receiving state-level incentives. Requests for rehearing or clarification came in from the Organization for PJM States, Exelon Corp., the American Public Power Association, and others. How FERC will handle the rehearing requests once Commissioner Rob Powelson departs in a few weeks is unclear.
If you go: The conference starts at 9 a.m. at FERC headquarters at 888 First St. NE and runs all day.
AIR IS TRENDING: EPA this afternoon will release its annual air trends report with new tracking of 2017 air quality across the U.S. Last year’s report — which highlighted long-term improvement in air quality for pollutants like ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and lead — drew criticism from environmentalists who noted much of those gains were attributable to past regulations the Trump EPA is working to loosen.
CARPER: ‘ENCOURAGING SIGNS’: Senate EPW ranking member Tom Carper (D-Del.) told reporters there were “encouraging signs” that acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler had ushered real changes to the agency’s operations. “Some of early the developments — he’s only been there three weeks — have been encouraging,” Carper said, pointing to his reversal of an exemption for glider trucks and what he deemed a new tone that is “more respectful of the employees.” He told reporters to expect “tough questions” for Wheeler at a Wednesday hearing though.
** Presented by ExxonMobil: Natural gas has become more important than ever. That’s because it’s fueling an American manufacturing revival and creating jobs while lowering emissions. And ExxonMobil is one of the world’s largest providers. EnergyFactor.com **
ICYMI: Wheeler getting transparent: Wheeler issued an endorsement of transparency to the public and the press in an all-hands memo sent Monday. Pro’s Emily Holden has more.
SCOTUS TELLS KIDS TO CARRY ON: The Supreme Court on Monday gave the go-ahead to a climate lawsuit brought by children and young adults, rejecting a Trump administration request to toss the suit. But, as Pro‘s Alex Guillén reports, the court had advice for the district judge handling the case. “The breadth of [the children’s and young adults’] claims is striking, however, and the justiciability of those claims presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion. The District Court should take these concerns into account in assessing the burdens of discovery and trial, as well as the desirability of a prompt ruling on the Government’s pending dispositive motions,” the Supreme Court wrote.
ZINKE: FIX THOSE PARKS! Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will today introduce a video on the need to rebuild national parks infrastructure. He’ll be joined by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). The event will be at 3 p.m. at the Belmont Paul Women’s Equality National Monument.