Analysis | The Energy 202: Oil drilling may encroach on polar bear territory, study suppressed by a Trump official shows

As my colleagues Juliet Eilperin and Desmond Butler report, issues about making public the variety of feminine polar bears that den and provides beginning on land close to the southern Beaufort Sea led James Reilly, the top of the U.S. Geological Survey, to stop publication for not less than three months. 

In inner memos, Reilly questioned the best way the information on beat dens was collected and questioned why the report wanted to be made public in any respect.

Doubtlessly at stake is a key a part of Trump’s vitality agenda — increasing Arctic oil drilling. 

Officers are prepared is log out on a $three billion drilling undertaking on the Nationwide Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, however they should cite the USGS evaluation to take action. 

The unpublished report might even have bearing on the Trump administration’s plans to lease parts of the Arctic Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, as a result of the examine exhibits the coastal plain eyed for drilling has a major variety of polar bear dens.

The Trump administration is up in opposition to the clock to promote away drilling rights throughout the refuge to protect in opposition to the chance that Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival for the presidency, will block leasing if elected. Democrats strenuously objected when Republicans moved to open the Arctic refuge to drilling throughout Trump’s first yr in workplace. 

USGS, the primary science company of the Inside Division, mentioned the company’s management “routinely reviews and requests additional information on scientific reports.”

However Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director for Defenders of Wildlife, mentioned the administration was hiding info.

“Suppressing reports by career scientists is a dangerous way to make policy and a waste of American taxpayer money,” she said. 

This isn’t the first time that USGS career scientists and Trump administration officials have butted heads.

Early in Trump’s term, Doug Domenech, assistant secretary for insular areas at the Interior Department, told colleagues by email that USGS scientists went “beyond their wheelhouse” by writing the local weather change has “dramatically reduced” Montana’s glaciers.

The division additionally as soon as deleted a line from a information launch attributing sea-level rise to local weather change. 

Energy performs

The Interior Department will not name a new acting director to lead the Bureau of Land Management.

Instead, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt will oversee the agency in the wake of William Perry Pendley’s ouster by a federal judge, the Hill reports

“I understand there may be some questions about the ruling on Friday regarding William Perry Pendley’s leadership role at the Bureau of Land Management,” Casey Hammond, Interior’s principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management, said in a letter to BLM staff. “Secretary Bernhardt leads the bureau and relies on the BLM’s management team to carry out the mission. Deputy Director for Programs and Policy, William Perry Pendley, will continue to serve in his leadership role.”

A Montana federal judge ruled on Friday that Pendley, who was never confirmed by the Senate, had been serving as acting director of the agency unlawfully. Pendley’s leadership position had been extended through a series of temporary orders well beyond the limits outlined by the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the judge said. The Interior Department has said it intends to appeal this decision.

Public watchdogs and environmental groups told the Hill that placing the agency under Bernhardt’s leadership would centralize decision-making authority with political appointees in Washington.

Coal baron who fought against black lung protections has filed for black lung benefits.

Robert E. Murray has an application in at the Labor Department for benefits for those suffering from black lung. In addition to being a Trump donor and adviser, the former chief executive of the now-bankrupt Murray Energy is known for fighting against regulations meant to stop the debilitating respiratory disease. 

“In accordance with sources, Murray’s declare remains to be within the preliminary phases and is being evaluated to find out the get together probably liable for paying out the related advantages,” West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports. “The Labor Department is required to determine a liable party before an initial ruling can be made on entitlement to benefits.”

“During my 63 years working in underground coal mines, I worked 16 years every day at the mining face underground and went underground every week until I was age 75,” Murray wrote in his claim.

A White House memo banning trainings on “critical race theory” left agencies scrambling.

A Sept. 4 Office of Management and Budget memo instructed federal agencies to halt any trainings that promote “critical race theory” or the idea of “white privilege,” while a second set of guidelines issued Monday outlined harsh penalties for any officials who failed to comply. 

The updated OMB guidance came after the National Park Service sent agency officials a memo suspending hundreds of training programs. Even though the parks agency later narrowed down the list, “some employees said they still included ones on sexual harassment, tribal consultation and how to respond to people with disabilities,” our colleagues write.

The memo has become a political flash point. Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote to OMB on Tuesday requesting documents as part of a probe into whether the ban on the trainings undermined equal employment opportunity efforts. The ban also came up in Tuesday’s presidential debate as Trump and Biden sparred over the motives for ending racial sensitivity training.

FERC signaled an openness to setting regulations around carbon pricing.

Commissioners with the Republican-controlled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission questioned legal experts and industry representatives about their authority to set rules on state-level carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems during a conference on Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle reports.

“Our complex energy markets cannot be hermetically sealed from state environmental policies. That’s just an undeniable fact,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said. “We’re at a pivotal point when it comes to these discussions — a point that I think, will ultimately lead to action in some shape or form.”

“While Chatterjee said at the outset of Wednesday’s conference he’s not interested in having FERC create a de facto national carbon price, he and Commissioner Richard Glick, a Democrat, have both said regulation is needed to keep state-level carbon pricing schemes from disrupting power markets,” the Houston Chronicle writes.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who has introduced a carbon tax bill, opened the conference and urged FERC not to stand in the way of regional efforts to price carbon.


Greenland is on track to lose ice at the fastest rate in 12,000 years.

“The Greenland ice sheet is on track to lose mass at about four times the fastest rate observed over the past 12,000 years. At its current trajectory, such melting would dump huge quantities of freshwater into the sea, raising global sea levels and disrupting ocean currents, scientists concluded in new research Wednesday,” our colleagues Andrew Freedman and Brady Dennis report.

The new study, published in the journal Nature, warns that drastically curtailing greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to slow an accelerated meltdown that could trigger extreme sea-level rise. Greenland is currently the largest contributor to sea-level rise, although it could be outpaced by Antarctica.

“Researchers found that the current rate of mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet is already comparable to that seen at the end of the last ice age, during a geological period known as the early Holocene. At that time, the global average surface temperature was about 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the preindustrial average, a temperature the world is on track to exceed by the end of this century, depending on rate of global emissions,” Andrew and Brady report.

Oil check

Shell plans to cut between 7,000 and 9,000 jobs as the company moves toward clean energy.

The job cuts at the oil and gas multinational were announced in an interview with Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden published on the company’s website, the Hill reports

“As a society, we need to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally below 1.5 degrees Celsius. That means society needs a net-zero emissions energy system,” van Beurden said in the interview. “Reducing cost is essential. We have to be competitive. We have looked closely at how we are organized and we feel that, in many places, we have too many layers in the company.”

America’s second-largest coal company is moving away from fueling electricity.

Arch Resources said it plans to direct 95 percent of future capital spending toward mining metallurgical coal, which is used for making steel, rather than the thermal coal used to fuel power plants, E&E News reports.

The move away from thermal coal, used to generate electricity, was cemented on Tuesday when a court upheld a Federal Trade Commission order blocking the company from combining its operations with Peabody Energy in the Powder River Basin, a thermal-coal-producing region home to America’s most productive coal fields.

Earlier this yr, Arch Sources modified its title from Arch Coal to replicate the corporate’s transfer towards mining coal used for steelmaking.

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