Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Ex-Chesapeake Energy chief dies after indictment

MCCLENDON DIES IN CAR CRASH: Former Chesapeake Energy Corp. chief Aubrey McClendon died Wednesday, less than a day after he was indicted on a federal conspiracy charge.

McClendon, a pioneer in the country’s recent natural gas boom, died when his car crashed into an embankment in Oklahoma City. Police did not declare why he died, but said he had ample opportunity to avoid hitting the wall.

{mosads}Federal lawyers said he orchestrated a scheme to rig bids for drilling rights leases in Oklahoma in an effort to keep prices artificially low.

He was the first oil or gas official charged under the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the first charge in the Department of Justice’s investigation into the industry’s potential antitrust practices.

McClendon had forcefully denied the accusations and planned to fight them.

American Energy Partners, which he started in 2013 after being pushed out from Chesapeake, said his “tremendous leadership, vision, and passion for the energy industry had an impact on the community, the country, and the world.”

Read more about McClendon’s death here, and the charges against him here.

EPA: DON’T STAY AIR POLLUTION RULE: The Obama administration told the Supreme Court on Wednesday there is no reason to stay a major EPA air pollution rule.

Twenty conservative states asked the Supreme Court in February to stay a rule on emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants while the EPA reworks it. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had previously refused to block the rule, prompting an appeal to the high court.

But government lawyers said Wednesday the court should reject that stay request, arguing the courts aren’t likely to hear their appeals against the underlying rule and the states won’t be harmed if a stay isn’t instituted.

“The requested stay would harm the public interest by undermining reliance interests and the public health and environmental benefits associated with the rule,” the government argued. “The application lacks merit and should be denied.”  

The EPA has said they will finalize a revised cost-benefit analysis for the rule by mid-April. A federal court ruled in December that the agency can continue enforcing the rule while finalizing the analysis.

Read more here.

UTILITY, NAVY JOIN FORCES ON SOLAR POWER: The Department of the Navy and a Mississippi utility on Wednesday announced plans to build a 4-megawatt solar power facility on the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport, Miss.

The facility, from utility company Mississippi Power, will have 13,000 panels, the company and Navy announced Wednesday, AND will provide the equivalent of 450 homes worth of electricity.

The partnership between the utility and the Navy “enables us to better serve and complete our mission,” said Dennis McGinn, the assistant secretary of the Navy for energy.

The efforts of [the base] to be effective managers of energy resources have been recognized at the highest levels of the Navy, and it is these efforts that make all of our bases more resilient and secure,” he said.

Mississippi Power is developing two other solar facilities in the state, which, combined, will make it Mississippi’s largest renewable energy supplier.

“Renewable energy is important to a well-balanced energy portfolio,” Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson said. “We are proud to team up with the Navy along with the Commission and its staff, on this very important project.”

ON TAP THURSDAY I: Ernest Moniz will discuss the Obama administration’s 2017 budget request for the Energy Department at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: Neil Kornze, the director of the Bureau of Land Management, will testify before a House Appropriations Committee subpanel on his department’s proposed 2017 budget. The committee heard from Kornze’s boss, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, on Wednesday.

Rest of Thursday’s agenda …

The House Transportation Committee will mark up a slate of bills, including one dealing with oil spills from foreign sources.

A House Space, Science and Technology subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program. Mark McCall, the program’s executive director, will testify.


Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will announce Thursday whether he will approve the final environmental review for a major new precious metals mine in the state, the Associated Press reports.

Oregon’s top environmental regulator resigned amid an ongoing controversy over air pollution levels in Portland, the Oregonian reports.

A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said he still supports drilling off the state’s coast, despite what he said at a Hillary Clinton rally, the Virginian Pilot reports.

The latest development in The Onion’s feud with the Audubon Society: Audubon Society Reveal They’ve Only Seen, Like, 3 Birds


Check out Wednesday’s stories…

-Senate Dems offer rival bill on GMO food labels
-EPA tells SCOTUS no reason to delay air pollution rule
-Indicted former gas exec dies in car crash
-HHS announces $3.6M in emergency Flint funds
-US, Canada eye joint climate strategy
-GOP pushes Interior head on agency rules
-Ex-head of gas company charged with conspiracy

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@digital-stage.thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@digital-stage.thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill

Tags Ernest Moniz Hillary Clinton Sally Jewell

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