Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The Secretary of the Interior presented a draft list of 35 “critical minerals,” defined, within a 2017 Executive Order, as essential to the economic and national security of the United States.  These are minerals with vulnerable supply chains, and, critically, minerals that “serve an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for the U.S. economy or national security.”  China is the top producer of 19 of the 35.  Many of the minerals are critical for energy, medical, military and communication applications, and products.   For DOI, these minerals “merit consideration in furthering the policy of the Federal Government to reduce the Nation’s vulnerability to the security and prosperity of the United States.”  Comments – on the minerals and the process for selecting those minerals – are due by March 19.
*  Massachusetts state senator Marc R. Pacheco, Chair of the Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, is leading the development of a total overhaul of MA’s energy and environmental framework.  An early draft of the bill was released two weeks ago, apparently to get the legislative process started. According to the Committee’s website, there’s still no official, numbered bill formally introduced yet.  The draft pretty much has MA take over the state’s energy sector.  It contains an entirely new legislative Act called the “100 Percent Renewable Energy Act.”  It establishes new planning groups, timelines, directives for transportation, employment, limits on pipelines and other energy infrastructure, directing that “each executive department shall conduct a review of the laws, regulations, and programs in its jurisdiction, and submit a report describing how these laws, regulations, and programs can be modified in order to accelerate the transition to 100 percent renewable energy.”  Reports are due 9 months after the bill becomes law.
*  DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) received a “petition for rulemaking” from the Airlines for America and the National Propane Gas Association.  Those trade groups want FERC to “expand its affiliate Standards of Conduct for Transmission providers regulations to the crude oil, natural gas liquid, and petroleum produce pipeline industry.”  AFA and NPGA argue that changes to domestic oil production and associated changes with oil pipeline operations have led to a restructuring of how oil pipeline companies do business, presenting a high potential for the “abuse of pipeline transmission function information by a pipeline’s marketing affiliates.”  This starts a comment period at FERC’s docket; comments are due by March 14.
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