Politics were front and center this week, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Supreme Court in Washington to the NATO summit in Brussels. Industry watchers aren’t expecting much change in policy as Andrew Wheeler takes over as acting chief administrator of the EPA. They do, however, expect there to be much less controversy surrounding the agency. FTI Consulting’s managing director Matt Dempsey, who worked with Wheeler as a Senate aide, told Hart Energy’s Terrance Harris, “Wheeler is a well-respected policy wonk who has the ability to work with people and will help drive a similar agenda to what Scott Pruitt was doing at the EPA.” In his first address to EPA staff, Wheeler reportedly vowed to provide regulatory relief to the industry while protecting air and water quality.
Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh is already facing democratic opposition and will most likely face questions about his stances on many issues, including his skepticism of business regulations, especially on rules limiting methane emissions. In cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, he has questioned some environmental regulations and the legal reach of the EPA. He has called global warming an urgent issue.
President Donald Trump didn’t wait long once he got off Air Force One in Brussels for this week’s NATO summit to blast Germany for its support of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the Gazprom-led project that will carry gas from Russia to Europe across the Baltic Sea. He accused Germany of being “captive of Russia and being slow to meet NATO spending targets to protect against Russia following its invasion of Crimea. President Trump told reporters “We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.” Germany gets about 20% of its oil and gas imports from Russia. A Kremlin spokesman countered back saying that President Trump was trying to talk down Russia to Europe to boost U.S. LNG.
U.S. crude stocks fell nearly 13 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). That’s the most in nearly two years. Oil prices rebounded on the news but then later retreated. Brent Crude saw its biggest one-day drop in two years on July 11.