Wednesday in Washington:
Appropriations Bills Moving Along While Committees Weigh Additional Options for Cuts:
The Senate will be taking up a compromise proposal authored by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to reduce the interest rates charged on student loans. The interest rates more than doubled at the beginning of July and leaders have been seeking a solution since. The Senate will also continue processing amendments to the FY 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill (S. 1243).
The House will be finishing up consideration of amendments to the FY2014 Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 2397). After completing work on the Defense Appropriations Bill, the House will turn to legislation giving states the primary authority over coal residuals (H.R. 2218) (WH SAP) and another measure designed to limit the imposition of costly regulations by the EPA (H.R. 1582) (WH SAP).
In the Committees today, the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding its second day of hearings on the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Yesterday’s hearing pointed out problems with the policy, but also highlighted the support the biofuels industry still commands in Congress, with some Members saying reform is possible, but repeal simply does not have the votes. Today’s hearing will feature agriculture and environmental interests. The House Natural Resources Committee will also markup a slate of bills that includes (H.R.1965), implementing reform to onshore mineral extraction permitting processes and expands the area allowed for oil shale leasing.
Other Items of Interest:
BSEE and Coast Guard Respond to Well Control Event in Gulf of Mexico, 55 Miles offshore Louisiana:
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement confirmed a fire on board the Hercules 265 Rig located approximately 55 miles offshore Louisiana. The natural gas leaking from the well ignited at 10:50 p.m. CDT July 23, 2013. No one was on board at the time of the ignition and no one was injured. Additional information about the incident and the joint BSEE/Coast Guard response can be reviewed here.
Senate Hearing on Bipartisan Revenue Sharing Bill: Yesterday the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the FAIR Act (S.1273). The Committee heard testimony from Ms. Pamela Haze, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Finance, Performance and Acquisition at U.S. Department of the Interior. Ms. Haze said the Administration could not support the legislation because of budgetary constraints, the impact on the deficit, and impacts on conservation funding. A second panel included state and local officials from Louisiana, Alaska, and Virginia along with representatives of the National Ocean Industries Association, the Sierra Club, and Tax Payers for Common Sense. The lack of additional access was also noted and highlighted by the panelists and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).
Wholesale Electricity Prices Rose Across the United States: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report showing that average wholesale electricity prices rose in every region of the country during the first half of 2013. Prices were the highest in the Northeast where limited natural gas infrastructure constrained supply. The Northwest saw an 82% increase in wholesale prices due to decreased hydroelectric generation because of lack of precipitation, increased reliance on gas, and increased gas prices. California experienced a 59% increase in average wholesale prices as the state dealt with the continued outage of the SONGS nuclear power plant.
Keystone Vote in the Senate Possible Next Week: During a an event hosted by The Hill and API, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) said that without a date certain for a decision on the KeystoneXL pipeline, he and other supporters would be pushing for a vote to force the approval during the amendment process on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency legislation. Sen. Heitkamp, speaking at the same event, said that the earlier vote on the budget showed that they had sufficient support to pass the measure in the Senate. Late yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Senator Reid had indicated his willingness to allow a vote on the measure when the energy efficiency bill moves to the floor.
House Appropriators Approve Significant Cuts to EPA’s Budget: The House Appropriations Committee Interior Subcommittee approved the FY 2014 Interior, Environment and Other Agencies bill that includes $5.5 billion in funding for EPA in FY 2014, a reduction of 34 percent from the fiscal 2013 enacted level. The bill also included provisions limiting the EPA’s ability implement new GHG rules for new and existing power plants, impose the new Tier 3 gasoline standards, and the agency’s water intake rule. The legislation also includes language prohibiting the use of funds for the implementation of the Administration’s National Ocean Policy and requires reports on previous expenditures of federal funds for the policy.
Congressional Research Service Report on Unconventional Oil and Gas: The Congressional Research Service released a report on Unconventional Oil and Gas production in the United States and the current state of federal regulatory activities potentially affecting these developments moving forward.
Important Events and Hearings:
USEITI Meeting: Today at 9:30 AM, Extractive Industry Revenues will hold a meeting of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Multi-Stakeholder Group (USEITI MSG) Advisory Committee to discuss criteria and components for the U.S. draft candidacy application for EITI. The event will be available via teleconference at 866-707-0640; passcode, 1500538.
Improving DOE Oversight: Today at 10 AM in 2322 Rayburn, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Department of Energy Oversight: What is Necessary to Improve Project Management and Mission Performance?”
House Science Committee Reviews EPA’s Fracking Investigations: Today at 10 AM in 2318 Rayburn, the House Science Committee Energy Subcommittee and Environment Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on “Lessons Learned: EPA’s Investigations of Hydraulic Fracturing.” Fred Hauchman, director of the Office of Science Policy at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development; David Dzombak, chair of the Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board, Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel; John Rogers, associate director for oil and gas in the Utah Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining; and Brian Rahm of Cornell University’s New York Water Resources Institute, will testify.
Civilian Nuclear Cooperation with the Republic of Korea: Today at 10 AM in 2172 Rayburn, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a full committee markup of H.R.2449, to authorize the president to extend the term of the Agreement for Cooperation between the government of the United States of America and the government of the Republic of Korea Concerning Civil Uses of Nuclear Energy for a period not to exceed March 19, 2016; H.R.1409, the “Export Promotion Reform Act”; and H.R.1926, the “State Trade Coordination Act.”
The North American Energy Community: Today at 12 PM at 729 15th Street NW, the NDN and NPI will hold a discussion on “Creating a North American Energy Community.” Former Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M.; Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars; and Rich Van Schoik, energy portfolio director at the North American Research Partnership, will lead the discussion.
Register at: http://ndn.org/blog/2013/07/invite-creating-north-american-energy-community-%E2%80%93-conversation.
Part Two of House RFS Hearings: Today at 1:30 PM in 2123 Rayburn, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard: Stakeholder Perspectives.” (Part Two)
EESI Host Briefing on Energy Efficiency: Today at 2PM in G-11 Dirksen, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) holds a briefing on “How On-Bill Financing Unlocks Energy Efficiency,” focusing on “an innovative approach to energy efficiency offering loans for energy improvements that are repaid through utility bills.” Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.; Michael Couick, president and CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina; Michael Smith, manager of energy programs at Central Electric Power Cooperative Inc; and Julie Barkemeyer, senior principal for legislative affairs at the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, will participate in the discussion. RSVP at:http://www.eesi.org/072413OBF#RSVP.
New member of the day: Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT-02)
Committee Assignments: Natural Resources, Homeland Security, and Science
Chief of Staff: Brian Steed
Legislative Director: Gordon Larsen
Experience: Chris Stewart is a New York Times best-selling author, an Air Force pilot, and a small business owner. He grew up on a dairy farm in Cache Valley as one of ten siblings. His father was an Air Force pilot who retired to teach school and farm. His mother was recognized as Utah Mother of the Year in 1996. He attended Utah State University, where he earned a degree in economics. Upon graduation, Chris joined the US Air Force where he served for fourteen years as a pilot, flying both rescue helicopters and the B-1B bomber. On June 3, 1995, Chris and a flight of two B-1s set the world record for the fastest non-stop flight around the world. Most recently, he served
as president and CEO of the Shipley Group, a consulting firm focused on energy and the environment issues.
Importance: Rep. Stewart is uniquely aware of the challenges and opportunities facing extractive industries, with a particular expertise with regard to NEPA regulations. On energy matters, he has said he wants to increase domestic production, including offshore oil drilling and production from federal lands. With seats on both the Natural Resources Committee and the House Science Committee he is well positioned to help shape policies easing access and development of domestic resources while directing federal R&D effort to support these initiatives.
If you have any questions, please contact me anytime. Previous updates and new Member profiles can be viewed at HBW Resource’s new Intelligence Tab at: https://hbwresources.com/intelligence/. Hope you all have a great day.
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