Big Week for Energy in the House: #Oil #Shale, #NPR-A, #Pipelines, & #Fracking on the Floor

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Washington Energy and Politics Update:

Both the House and the Senate will be in session this week.  The Senate will be considering the nomination U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkens to the U.S. Court of Appeals; H.R. 3204, a bill enhancing federal oversight of U.S. drug compounding facilities; and S. 1197, the FY 2014 Defense Authorization bill.  On Monday, the House will take up: H.R. 2061, the DATA Act refining and simplifying budget reporting and accounting of federal expenditures; H.R. 3343 , modifying the compensation of the Chief Financial Officer of the District of Columbia; H.R. 3487 , extending and expanding the FEC’s authority to impose civil money penalties for violations; S.Con.Res. 25 , authorizing the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for activities associated with the ceremony to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Native American code talkers; and H.R. 272 , designating the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense joint outpatient clinic to be constructed in Marina, California, as the “General William H. Gourley Federal Outpatient Clinic: A Joint VA-DOD Health Care Facility.”  On

Tuesday the House will take up H.R. 1965, a bill streamlining energy permitting on federal lands, providing certainty for oil shale development, reaffirming policies ensuring access to the NPRA-Alaska, and providing support for more efficient development of natural resources on tribal lands.  On Wednesday, the House will take up H.R. 2728, a bill limiting the DOI’s authority to impose regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing and requiring the DOI to defer to state or tribal regulations.  The bill would also ensure the upcoming EPA study on water issues associated with hydraulic fracturing is held to the highest scientific standards for evaluation and peer review.  On Thursday, the House will consider H.R. 1900, requiring timely review of all new natural gas pipeline applications.  The three energy bills are expected to pass the House, but are unlikely to be taken up by the U.S. Senate.

Other Items of Interest:

EPA Releases RFS Requirements for 2014: On November 15, the EPA proposed to establish the annual percentage standards for the 2014 National Renewable Fuel Standard Program. The proposal seeks to put the RFS program on a steady path forward while recognizing the practical challenges associated with the ethanol “blend wall.” EPA is proposing to use existing authorities under the law – to reduce the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel standards for 2014. The Agency is also proposing to maintain the same volume for biomass-based diesel for 2014 and 2015 as was adopted for 2013.  Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, it will be open for a 60 day public comment period. The specific volume proposed are in the table below.

Category

Proposed Volume a

Range

Cellulosic biofuel

17 mill gal

8-30 million gallons

Biomass-based diesel

1.28 bill gal

1.28 billion gallons

Advanced biofuel

2.20 bill gal

2.0-2.51 billion gallons

Renewable fuel

15.21 bill gal

15.00-15.52 billion gallons

aAll volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel which is actual

Chairman Fred Upton responded to the announcement with the following statement: “As our white papers and hearings made clear, the status quo is no longer workable. Many of the issues raised by EPA, stakeholders, and consumer advocates are now reflected in the agency’s proposed rule. While the proposal is not a perfect solution, these targets would alleviate the immediate pressure of a looming blend wall. Yet uncertainty remains for the future. As we monitor EPA’s rulemaking developments, our work toward achieving comprehensive reforms and a long-term solution will continue.”

U.S. Produced More Oil Than It Imported For The First Time In 18 Years:  In a DOE blog post, the department noted that in October, the U.S. produced more oil than it imported for the first time since 1995. The post noted that the news comes from a recent report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which also showed that total crude oil imports were the lowest they have been since February 1991.

House Members Request Withdrawal of GHG Rule for Coal-Fired Power Plants:  House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders sent a letter to the EPA expressing concerns about the proposed greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards for new power plants that require the installation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that are not commercially viable. The members believe the proposed standards go beyond the scope of the EPA’s legal authority and are requesting the proposed rule be withdrawn.  The letter was sent following a hearing where they EPA repeatedly claimed such technology was available despite only a handful of test facilities currently operating.  The hearing received the testimony of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, who assessed the CCS requirement this way: “If it’s not feasible; it’s not reasonable!”

DOE Approves Fifth LNG Export Permit:  On Nov. 15th, the DOE announced that it has conditionally authorized Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P. and FLNG Liquefaction, LLC (Freeport) to export additional volumes of domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that do not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States from the Freeport LNG Terminal in Quintana Island, Texas. Freeport previously received approval to export 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day (Bcf/d) of LNG from this facility to non-FTA countries on May 17, 2013. The Freeport Expansion application was next in the order of precedence after the Energy Department conditionally authorized Dominion’s proposed Cove Point facility in September 2013. Subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval, the facility is conditionally authorized to export an additional 0.4 Bcf/d, for a total rate of up to 1.8 Bcf/d, for a period of 20 years.