News Roundups

Stimulus talks, fossil fuel industry future, and more

Daily news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from August 3, 2020.

Derby’s Take: Heat Over Fed Corporate Bond Buying Is No Surprise

Criticism the Federal Reserve is facing over its purchases of corporate bonds issued by energy firms was pretty much inevitable.

Over recent weeks, a number of activist groups, as well as a former Fed official and Obama-era Treasury official, have called on the central bank to stop buying bonds issued by energy firms. They say Fed support of the energy sector increases financial instability and climate change risks so the central bank should avoid these purchases.

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How Senate’s Small Business Chairman Sees PPP Evolving

As the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down the U.S. economy in March, Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) spearheaded legislation creating the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, one of the most expensive business-rescue frameworks in history.

Mr. Rubio, who is chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, now faces the challenge of steering more resources to millions of already ravaged companies so they can survive the next few months.

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House OKs spending package that reorders Energy priorities

House Democrats today passed a $1.3 trillion spending package that puts them at odds with the Trump White House over Department of Energy funding priorities and would block permitting for the Pebble mine in Alaska.

The House backed the package, H.R. 7617, with the fiscal 2021 Energy-Water, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, and Financial Services-General Government bills. The vote was 217-197.

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Oil and gas rig count may be bottoming out

The U.S. rig count remained unchanged from last week in a sign that perhaps the sharp plunge in drilling activity is finally bottoming out after 20 straight weeks of losses.

Energy companies are operating 251 oil and gas rigs nationally, the same as last week and a record low for the industry, according to Baker Hughes, a Houston oil-field services company that has been tracking the rig count since the 1940s. There are 180 oil rigs, down one from last week, and 69 gas rigs, up one from last week, and two maintenance rigs.

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Oil and gas stakeholders back plan for plugging West Virginia's orphaned wells

Stakeholders in West Virginia’s oil and gas industry are backing a plan to create a federal program to fund the plugging of abandoned oil and gas wells.

West Virginia, like many other oil and gas producing states, has long sought a solution for its many idle wells, which can be dangerous to the environment, public health and safety if not properly retired.

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OPINION: Let’s Hire Laid-Off Oil and Gas Workers to Fight Climate Change

As Congress debates how to address the economic calamity we are facing, we have an unprecedented opportunity to put people to work addressing the climate crisis — and we should start by hiring laid-off oil and gas workers to help lead the way.

The fact is, the U.S. oil and gas sector was in trouble even before the pandemic struck. Last year more than three dozen producers declared bankruptcy, hobbled by declining energy prices and rising debt. The pace of filings has quickened with the spread of the coronavirus, and even after the virus threat subsides — which is unlikely to be anytime soon — cheap renewables will drive more firms under.

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OPINION: Dear Larry Fink: it's time to stop lavishing your wealth on the police

This summer, as millions of Americans marched and put their lives on the line for racial justice and an end to police brutality, too many wealthy Americans have done nothing more than offer their solidarity and moral support. Our country’s most fortunate have gotten rich thanks to a system that has for centuries excluded fellow Americans from the nation’s prosperity. They can, and should, go beyond statements in support of racial justice and Black Lives Matter and put their money where their mouth is.

If America’s millionaires tried even one-tenth as hard to end police brutality as they’ve tried to cut their own taxes, we would be looking at a completely different world.

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OPINION: China’s covid-19 stimulus plan isn’t as green as it looks

To reboot economies in recession after pandemic-related lockdowns and disruptions, governments around the world are planning ambitious recovery packages. Many environmental groups want these plans to include climate conditionalities — and fund sustainability, not just unemployment assistance, infrastructure spending, industry bailouts and regulatory relief. The $825 million European Union proposal includes these features, while the U.S. package seems to favor oil and gas industries over renewable energy sectors in terms of bailouts, tax relief and regulatory rollbacks.

How climate-friendly is China’s coronavirus recovery package? One analysis of Group of 20 countries’ committed public finance places China near the top in terms of funding for clean energy vs. fossil fuel. This fits with the narrative about China’s leadership in photovoltaic solar, wind energy and electric vehicles.

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