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Good morning and welcome back!
The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy — and a replacement that will most likely move the court further to the right — could help weaken federal regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The big question: Whether there's an opening for revisiting 2007's Massachusetts v. EPA, the 5-4 decision where Kennedy joined the majority to clearly enable regulation of CO2 emissions.
What we're hearing: Several lawyers I touched base with called it highly unlikely that the re-shaped court would crack open that decision and outright remove federal authority.
"Mass. v EPA was a pure statutory interpretation case limited to: Does the definition of 'pollutant' in the Clean Air Act include CO2?' Once they decide something like that, they don't want to go back and change it, especially many years later."— David Bookbinder, environmental attorney who was deeply involved in the case
Yes, but: That view is not unanimous. “It’s easy to think about the loss of Kennedy leading to either the repeal of Mass. v. EPA or a serious restriction to the Clean Air Act’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases,” UCLA law professor Ann Carlson told The Atlantic.
Be smart: A court sympathetic to weakening or thwarting federal rules without reversing the bedrock power to regulate looks more likely, lawyers said. Harvard University's Jody Freeman, who worked in former President Obama's first-term White House, told Axios in an email exchange...
"I think the Supreme Court without Justice Kennedy will be even more likely to look skeptically at [greenhouse gas] regulation, and be more open to efforts to cabin it, if another administration ever returns to it."
"And a new, more conservative Justice in the mold of a Justice Gorsuch might be more deferential to the anti-regulatory impulses of the current administration."
Why it matters now: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is seeking to kill the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and replace it with something far more limited. He hasn't launched an effort to upend EPA's "endangerment finding," but hasn't ruled it out.
Oil-and-gas giant BP announced Thursday that it's buying the U.K.'s largest electric vehicle charging network, Chargemaster, for roughly $170 million.
The big picture: The move comes amid efforts by European regulators to bolster the share of EVs on roads. BP estimates that by 2040 there will be 12 million EVs on U.K. roads, up from 135,000 last year.
Go deeper: Read the full story here.
U.S. exports of crude oil surged to average 3 million barrels per day (mbd) for the week ending June 22, by far the highest level ever, according to newly released data from the federal Energy Information Administration.
Why it matters: The record signals how the U.S. has become an increasingly powerful force in global crude oil markets as domestic production, already at record levels, inches closer to reaching 11 mbd.
Background: The prior weekly average record of exports was 2.57 mbd in early-mid May, and the next highest was 2.37 mbd for the week ending June 15.
One level deeper: A number of forces have been pushing exports higher since the extremely heavy restrictions were lifted in a late 2015 law.
Two nonprofit groups that back nuclear power as a weapon against global warming say state renewable power mandates should be widened into "clean energy standards" (CES) that credit nuclear and other zero-carbon sources.
Why it matters: The new report from Third Way and the Breakthrough Institute arrives as some climate advocates fear that looming and potential retirements of nuclear plants will make it vastly harder to decarbonize U.S. power.
The big picture: Nearly 30 states have renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that require escalating shares of power over time to come from sources like wind and solar.
One level deeper: It lays out four basic rationales for transforming an RPS into a CES:
What's next: Third Way's Ryan Fitzpatrick said the groups will circulate the idea to state lawmakers, residents and media.
Flashback: The idea of a federal CES has been rattling around for a long time but never got anywhere.
Power deal: Per Reuters, "Oil major Repsol said on Wednesday it had bought the electricity assets of fellow Spanish firm Viesgo for 750 million euros ($868.73 million) as part of a bid to diversify into low-emissions business."
Solar: Greentech Media has the latest news on U.S. solar manufacturing, reporting that LG Electronics is building a new module facility at its industrial campus in Huntsville, Ala.
Batteries: Over in our Expert Voices section, Maggie Teliska explains the importance of the big Chinese lithium-ion battery manufacturer CATL's recent IPO. She writes...
CATL's IPO will finance expansion plans to exceed those of competitors, including additional facilities.
In addition, they plan to add more capacity overseas, including a potential facility in Germany, close to many European carmakers as well as to Daimler, who recently awarded CATL a supply contact for their EVs.
As more capacity comes online worldwide, cost per kilowatt hour will continue to decrease.
EPA: Bloomberg scored an interview with Andrew Wheeler, the number two official at EPA who could run the agency if embattled head Scott Pruitt is forced out.