Monday in Washington:
Congress Goes on Recess:
Should be a slow week in Washington. Congress is on recess this week for the July 4th holiday. Before leaving town, the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation by a vote of 68-32. The House passed H.R. 1613, the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act, by a vote of 256-171; H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, by a vote of 235-186. The future for any of these bills is uncertain. However, there is bipartisan Senate support for both the Transboundary Agreement (S. 812) and revenue-sharing/expanded offshore leasing (S. 630 and S. 1024). The challenges will be securing floor time and configuring a legislative package capable of securing 60 votes in the Senate.
Over the next week, watch for more discussions about the President’s Climate Plan and impacts it could have on the upcoming decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline, the coal industry in the US (where some experts estimate it could cut the industry by 30%), and the impact of the plans on electric utilities and grid reliability.
Other Items of Interest:
EIA Finds Price Differential Between Brent and WTI Crude Oil Narrowing: The Energy Information Administration released an analysis showing the Brent-WTI spread has narrowed from more than $23 per barrel in mid-February to $9/bbl in April to $6/bbl and $10/bbl since then. A couple main factors determining the future of the spread will be increased domestic US production and limitations on transportation infrastructure.
GAO Releases Gas Pipeline Safety Analysis: The Government Accountability Office released astudy of gas pipeline safety issues to identify the appropriateness of current risk analysis and provide additional information on the benefits and challenges of the current seven year interval for reassessment.
House Leaders Press for More Transparency of EPA Sue-and-Settle Tactics: House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an examination of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) settlement of lawsuits that seek to compel the agency to undertake new rulemakings. According to the Committee’s website, Members have particular concerns about the transparency of the settlement process, the public’s ability to comment and participate, and the impact on agency rulemakings that result from this type of litigation.
ALEC Releases Study Critical of EPA’s Regulatory Expansion Into States: The American Legislative Exchange Council released a report highlighting activities by the EPA to expand its jurisdiction and minimize the role of states involving the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, hydraulic fracturing, and fuel policies.
Chairman of House Science Committee Weighs in With State Department on KXL: The Chairman of the House Science Committee sent a letter to Secretary Kerry urging his adherence to sound science in the evaluation and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
DOI Announces Approval of Major Wind Project: DOI announced the approval of a major wind energy project in Arizona that will provide up to 500 megawatts of power — enough electricity for 175,000 houses. The decision paves the way for right-of-way grants for use of approximately 35,000 acres of BLM land and 2,800 acres of Bureau of Reclamation land. The project, proposed by BP Wind Energy North America, Inc., would erect up to 243 wind turbines on Federal lands for the Mohave County Wind Farm, which would be located in northwestern Arizona about 40 miles northwest of Kingman.
DOE Announces Public-Private Partnership to Strengthen Cyber Security for Oil and Gas Operators: DOE announced a new public-private partnership to strengthen protection of the nation’s oil and natural gas infrastructure from cyber attacks. Led by the Energy Department in collaboration with industry experts, the Department of Homeland Security, and other stakeholders, the initiative will create a tool that allows owners and operators to assess their cybersecurity capabilities and prioritize their actions and investments to improve cybersecurity.
Energy Department Announces New Investments in Advanced Nuclear Power Reactors:The DOE announced $3.5 million for four advanced nuclear reactor projects that go beyond traditional light water designs. These projects — led by General Atomics, GE Hitachi, Gen4 Energy and Westinghouse — will address key technical challenges to designing, building and operating the next generation of nuclear reactors. The four projects selected will receive up to $3.5 million in total, with a 20 percent private cost share.
Senators Introduce Nuclear Waste Storage Legislation: Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Alexander (R-TN), Wyden (D-OR), and Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bipartisan, comprehensive plan for safeguarding and permanently disposing of nuclear waste currently being stored at sites across the country. S. 1240, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, includes establishment of a new nuclear waste administration and a consent-based process for siting nuclear waste facilities. It also enables the federal government to address its commitment to managing commercial nuclear waste, limiting the costly liability the government bears for its failure to dispose of commercial spent fuel.
New Member Of the Day: US Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX)
Committee Assignments: Budget and Transportation & Infrastructure
Chief of Staff: Colby Hale
Legislative Director: J. Spencer Freebairn
Twitter: @RogerWilliamsTX or @RepRWilliams
Experience: Rep. Roger Williams had a brief career in professional baseball, before running his family’s Chrysler dealership in Weatheford, TX. He served as Texas’ 105th Secretary of State where worked tirelessly to promote economic development, investment and job creation in Texas. He also served as the state’s Chief Liaison for Texas Border and Mexican Affairs as well as Chair of the state’s 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Response Strike Force. He served as Regional Finance Chairman for Governor Bush in 1994 and 1998 before he went on to later serve as the North Texas Chairman for the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign as well as the North Texas Finance Chairman and National Grassroots Fundraising Chairman for Bush/Cheney ’04, Inc. he was appointed by President Bush in 2001 as the Chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee’s Eagles Program. He has also served as State Finance Chair for John Cornyn for U.S. Senate, Inc., in 2002 and as the National Director of the “Patriots” program for Senator Cornyn. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, the Board of Trustees forTexas Christian University, the Board of Directors for the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame, and the Board of Directors for the Admiral Nimitz Foundation in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Importance: Rep. Williams gained immediate internet stardom with his “Donkey Whisperer” ad where he lectures a heard of donkeys on individual responsibility with predictable impact (http://youtu.be/F6etfJgZQ7A). He is a staunch conservative who unapologetically refers to President Obama as a socialist. As a small business owner, he believes that the administration has a deliberate plan to transform the country from one of makers to one of takers. He supports dramatic expanses in domestic energy production and is a fierce opponent of additional taxes or regulatory barriers to development. His mastery of press and Texas politics make him an important player in Republican circles and Member capable of wielding more influence than most incoming freshman.
If you have any questions, please give me a call anytime. Previous updates and Member profiles can be reviewed at: http://www.mzehrhbw.wordpress.com. Hope you have a great day!
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