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RAHM CHAMPIONING LNG: The ambassador to Japan has emerged as one of the Biden administration’s foremost champions of LNG exports as a critical instrument — if not the primary one — that the U.S. must use over the next decade to head off Russian influence in Asia.
Rahm Emanuel, who’s been in the role since Dec.?18, 2021, has given another ringing endorsement to increased energy trade between the U.S. and Japan from the perspective of the chief diplomat to a close ally that’s reliant on energy imports and vulnerable to price hikes.
LNG and U.S. energy exports more broadly are a “strategic asset” that saved Europe’s neck last year after the invasion of Ukraine fractured the continent’s energy trade with Russia, he said yesterday, adding that the U.S. should leverage LNG in the same way in the Indo-Pacific.
“If [Russia] can’t have Europe, they’re going to make a transition,” Emanuel said during remarks at the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference. “Our goal, I think, is to make sure that whatever happens in the next 10 years as they begin to lay infrastructure and other types of things to return to Asia is that we get there first because we're the most reliable ally.”
Emanuel has been under pressure from lawmakers, including from Alaska’s delegation, to champion more LNG exports and infrastructure in Japan at a time when much of the administration’s attention in energy security matters has been directed toward Europe.
Japan has been the no. 2 importer of U.S. LNG since 2016, trailing only behind South Korea, although its rank among the top monthly importers has diminished since the war began as the Europeans scooped up more and more shipments.
There are no large-scale pipeline arteries connecting the island nations to other gas producers, and domestic gas production is nil, making LNG a critical resource for the Japanese.
The rest of Asia’s big players, including Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, also need U.S. LNG to reduce emissions in the years to come, Emanuel said.
“They can't go from 40% coal to wind and solar in five years or 10. They're going to need to transition fuel, and we need to reduce their coal footprint,” he said.
All about alaska: Backers of Alaska LNG believe the planned 2.55 billion cubic feet per day liquefaction facility would be a critical export source for Japan and the larger Indo-Pacific due to its proximity and its origin in the U.S., marketed as the most reliable global supplier.
Emanuel said he concurs: “The fact is, Alaska LNG is a much more secure energy resource, not just because it's coming from a friend, which it is, but it’s shorter in transit … and there is not a single strategic choke point,” he said.
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ENERGY DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS SKIP HOUSE GAS STOVE HEARING: Top Department of Energy officials refused to testify before a House Oversight Committee’s hearing today probing its efforts to regulate gas stoves, prompting sharp criticism from leading Republicans on the panel.
The committee had invited two DOE officials to testify: Alejandro Moreno, DOE’s acting assistant secretary for its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the office’s deputy assistant secretary, Dr. Carolyn Snyder.
In refusing to testify, DOE cited the ongoing rulemaking process surrounding their new appliance efficiency standards, which were originally proposed in February. That prompted the ire of Rep. Pat Fallon, who said in his opening remarks that the rulemaking process is "exactly when Congress should be asking questions, not when it's finished.”
“The Biden administration’s unwillingness to explain their policy decisions to Congress and the American people is deeply concerning and speaks volumes,” a committee spokesperson said in a statement in response to their refusal to attend.
DOE has proposed a number of new appliance efficiency standards aimed at cracking down on emissions from household appliances.
In February, DOE unveiled its new “Energy Policy and Conservation Program," the proposed rulemaking that would allow it to set new efficiency and conservation standards for consumer conventional cooking products, including gas stoves.
DOE said in a memo then that its proposed rules would make at least half of U.S. stove models ineligible for repurchase in stores if they were to come into force today.
HOUSE PASSES LATEST CRA RESOLUTION TO CANCEL TRUCK RULE: The House passed Republicans’ resolution yesterday to cancel the Environmental Protection Agency's heavy-duty vehicle emissions rule, setting up President Joe Biden's fourth veto.
Four Democrats — Reps. Henry Cuellar, Jared Golden, Vicente Gonzalez, and Mary Peltola — joined all but one Republican to pass the measure. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick was the lone Republican to oppose it.
The Senate had already approved the measure last month with Sen. Joe Manchin as the only Democrat to vote “yea.”
Biden pledged a veto for the resolution, which will be his fourth, all of which involved similar Congressional Review Act resolutions of disapproval. The others dealt with the solar tariff moratorium, the ESG retirement rule, and the WOTUS rule.
CALIFORNIA SEEKS APPROVAL TO PHASE OUT NEW GAS CAR SALES BY 2035: The California Air Resources Board sent a letter to the Biden administration this week asking it to approve its waiver that bans all sales of new gas-powered vehicles in the state by the year 2035.
The letter comes nearly nine months after the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, approved the plan to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles.
The waiver request seeks approval from the EPA for implementation of the new state rules, which, as outlined by CARB, would begin phasing out sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles in California starting in 2026.
FIRST SOLAR SUES COMPETITOR FOR REPACKAGING TECH: The country’s leading solar manufacturer, First Solar, accused competitor Toledo Solar of purchasing and then illegally reselling as its own solar panels that were made by First Solar in one of its foreign manufacturing facilities.
The complaint: First Solar, which pioneered thin film, cadmium telluride-based solar modules, accused Toledo Solar of violating federal trademark and state laws after one of the former's employees discovered boxes of solar panels marketed as “made in the USA” and manufactured by Toledo Solar at the Ohio governor's mansion when the employee was there to disassemble a two-decade-old First Solar installation, according to a complaint filed in federal court this morning.
The company alleged the modules were manufactured in 2018 at its Malaysia manufacturing facility and still contained original serial numbers, proving their origin as First Solar modules that were acquired by Toledo Solar and then rebranded and sold as its own.
Close connections: Cadmium telluride PV modules, the only real competitor to polysilicon-based PVs, were pioneered by First Solar after researchers at the University of Toledo demonstrated CadTel semiconductors in the 1980s.
First Solar’s HQ is down the road from Toledo, home to Toledo Solar, in Perrysburg.
Toledo Solar CEO Aaron Bates told Jeremy in an interview published in January that the company recruited some 85% of its engineers from First Solar.
FRANCE IMPLEMENTS BAN ON SOME SHORT-HAUL FLIGHTS: A French ban on certain short-haul domestic flights, enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, took place yesterday.
Destinations that could be connected via train on a journey that’s 2.5 hours or less cannot be served by air travel under the new restriction.
“As we fight relentlessly to decarbonize our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train,” said transport minister Clement Beaune.
COP28 CHIEF UNDER GROWING OPPOSITION FROM WEST: Opposition is mounting over the appointment of oil executive Sultan Al Jaber as president of this year’s COP28 climate talks. This week, more than 130 EU lawmakers signed a joint letter to the United Nations, Biden, and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen protesting his appointment and taking aim at the fossil fuel industry’s outsized influence in climate negotiations, which they argue it has wielded for more than 60 years.
“Since at least the 1960s, the fossil fuel industry has known about the dangers of climate change posed by its products and, rather than supporting a transition to a clean energy, has instead chosen to promote climate denial and spend millions of dollars to spread Disinformation,” the lawmakers said in a letter.
RAID ON DISRUPTIVE CLIMATE PROTESTORS IN GERMANY: German police carried out a wide-ranging national raid today targeting climate activists with the group "Letzte Generation," or “Last Generation,” searching at least fifteen properties and arresting seven individuals on suspicions of “forming or supporting a criminal organization” and raising funds for certain criminal acts, according to a statement from Bavarian police and prosecutors.
While the authorities stopped short of naming what specific criminal action or actions they were referring to, they said that at least $1.5 million had been collected in the group’s campaign, which they said were “mostly used for the committing of further criminal acts[.]” The Agence France-Presse reported that two of the suspects arrested alleged to have attempted to sabotage an oil pipeline linking Italy and Germany, which is designated as official critical infrastructure in Germany.
Last Generation, along with other climate protest groups, has made headlines in recent months for staging a number of public protests and provocations, such as throwing mashed potatoes on museum paintings, blocking streets, and gluing themselves below famed works of art. Several activists from the group were arrested last fall after gluing themselves below the Claude Monet painting “Les Meules” at a museum in Potsdam.
Financial Times Maverick Joe Manchin on shaky ground in coal country over climate
Reuters EU risks losing energy transition race, Volvo and Vattenfall warn
Wall Street Journal Your next electric vehicle could be made in China
Washington Post The coming battle between Americans who want to go electric and their landlords