Tuesday in Washington:
After a virtual torrent of scandals and investigations, the House and the Senate will not be in session this week. Before leaving town, the House passed H.R. 3, legislation expediting the approval and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The House also passed llegislation allowing power plants the flexibility to continue operating to maintain grid reliability even if that requires violating certain environmental regulations. The Senate continued its work on the Farm Bill. The work on the Farm Bill will continue when the Senate returns, and the House is expected to take up a number of other energy related measures to push for greater domestic production in upcoming weeks.
Other Items of Interest:
DOI Signs Agreement with Pacific Northwest States on Energy Infrastructure: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed a Declaration of Cooperation with the States of Oregon and Washington to expedite the review and permitting of energy generation, power transmission and other vital infrastructure development in the Pacific Northwest. The agreement establishes a pilot Pacific Northwest Regional Infrastructure Team to more efficiently coordinate the permitting processes for infrastructure. The infrastructure team will focus on a variety of projects, including renewable energy generation, electricity transmission, broadband, pipelines, ports and waterways, and water resource development that are proposed in the states.
Senate Forum Considers Best Practices for Natural Gas Development: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a forum on best practices for natural gas development. The members of the committee were joined by leaders in the oil and gas industry, state regulators, federal official and representatives of the environmental community. The participants discussed efforts to improve operations to safeguard water resources and minimized GHG emissions from development. The dispute over whether hydraulic fracturing had polluted ground water prompted Sen. Landrieu to request documentation from all the people around the table to substantiate their claims. Another interesting issue discussed was the use of FracFocus to disclose chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing with participants seeming to agree that some sort of federally supported third party audit of data submitted would help build trust.
Senator Vitter Introduces Rigs to Reefs Bill: Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced S. 1079, the Artificial Reef Promotion Act, which would increase the utilization of decommissioned Gulf platforms as artificial reefs, as part of the Rigs to Reefs program. The Artificial Reef Promotion Actrequires that twenty new reef planning areas be established after a year of enactment, including six off each of the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, three off the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, and five off of the coast of Florida. Currently, of the approximately 2,946 production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, 813 of them have been identified by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement as fitting the criteria for use as artificial reefs. Over the last forty years, 13 percent of decommissioned platforms have been placed in the Rigs to Reefs program, leaving the rest to be decommissioned in a lengthy and expensive process that disturbs the existing ecosystems.
Senators Urge President Not to Tie Keystone XL Approval to Climate Change Efforts: Following the House’s approval of legislation expediting the approval and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Senator Barrasso (R-WY) authored a letter with two dozen Senate Republicans expressing concern about some efforts to tie the decision on the pipeline to other climate/carbon related policy initiatives. The other Senators signing the letter included Murkowski, Vitter, McConnell , Cornyn, Thune, Blunt, Moran, Inhofe, Sessions, Hatch, Johnson (WI), Cruz, Isakson, Boozman, Chambliss, Burr, Coats, Enzi, Scott, Wicker, Risch, and Johanns.
Ollison Hydraulic Fracturing Report: The report provides a summary of all major activities at the state, federal, and international levels that could impact the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development.
Greenfield Offshore Energy Report: The report provides a summary of all major regulatory activities that could impact further development of offshore oil and gas resources.
Important Events and Hearings:
US Energy Association Annual Membership Meeting and Policy Forum: On May 30th at 11 AM at the National Press Club, the United States Energy Association (USEA) holds its annual membership meeting and public policy forum. Acting Assistant Energy Secretary for Fossil Energy Christopher Smith; Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Philip Moeller; U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast; Karl Rose, director of policy and scenarios at the World Energy Council; Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy; Tom Kuhn, president of Edison Electric Institute; Walter Howard, CEO of Westinghouse Plasma Corporation; Sheila Hollis, partner at Duane Morris LLP; Jack Futcher, president of Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals Inc.; Javier Humberto Estrada of the Mexico Department of Energy; Anita Decker, chief operating officer at Bonneville Power Administration; Vicky Bailey, principal at BHMM Energy Services LLC; Greg Aliff, vice chairman and senior partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP; and Jun Wyeon Byun, vice president and director of Korea Electric Power Company, will be participating. Additional information about the event can be found here.
Small Scale LNG Webinar: On May 30th at 2 PM, Pace Global will hold a webinar, on “Small Scale LNG (Liquid Natural Gas): Why It Works,” on efforts by infrastructure developers to permit and construct LNG export capacity. Todd Thurlow, vice president of Pace Global, will lead the discussion. Webinar information is available at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/481715209.
New Member of the Day: US Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX)
Committee Assignments: Armed Services and Science
Chief of Staff: Jane Hamilton
Legislative Director: Chris Kelley
Experience: Rep. Veasey grew up in Fort Worth, living at his grandmother’s house with his mother after his parents divorced. He graduated from Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth with a degree in mass communications. He represents a newly drawn district stretching from Fort Worth to Dallas. He told voters that in Congress he wants to focus on education because “that is the key to everything.” If Texas students graduated at the national average, 1 million new jobs would be created in the state by 2030, he said. He worked for an advertising agency and was a substitute teacher. After volunteering in the office of Democratic Representative Martin Frost for a summer, he got a job with Frost as a field representative in the lawmaker’s Dallas-Fort Worth region. He was elected to the TX House in 2004 and re-elected three times. While serving in the TX legislature, he took the lead on certain technology-related issues in the TX House and served on the National Conference of State Legislatures’ committee on technology.
Importance: Rep. Veasey is a hard working, progressive individual with an eye towards seeking compromise middle ground positions to move legislation forward. He serves on both the Armed Services Committee and the Science Committee, which puts him in a position to pursue policies aimed at guiding both defense and research policies in the Congress to benefit both service members and academic institutions. Although not yet 40 years old, Representative Veasey has over a decade of governmental experience as a staffer for a former senior member of the United States Congress. This gives Representative Veasey a unique understanding of how Texas can partner with the Federal government to serve the needs of his constituents.
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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