Washington Review/Preview

Things continue slowly on the hill as nominations roll out and the debate over gun control continues. On the energy front, the Senate E&R committee is preparing for its first hearing on natural gas likely during the first week of February. Meanwhile, Landrieu and Murkowski are working on a revenue sharing bill–at this time it does not include any additional access provisions from what we are hearing. Such exclusion could draw opposition from both offshore development proponents and budget hawks who might see additional revenue sharing without additional access as potentially exacerbating the nation’s budget woes.

The House will be in briefly next week to discuss disaster funding for victims of hurricane Sandy. The Rules Committee will meet on Monday to report out a rule for the consideration of the bill, H.R. 152. The House is expected to take the bill up the following day, process amendments, and pass the bill before Republicans head to their retreat in Williamsburg, VA.

Other Items of Interest:

USGS released a study on shale wells in Arkansas showing that no contamination has taken place. A copy of the report can be viewed at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qsf44t4kk38il0f/USGS%20Ark%20Shale%20Study.pdf

The Government Accountability Office launched a “Key Issues” website Jan. 7 to provide members of the public and elected officials with easier access to agency reports and findings. The site will provide easier access to environmental areas of interest in the Energy and Interior departments, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. The site is available at http://www.gao.gov/key_issues.

DOI announced review of arctic exploration activities Following a number of incidents involving Shell’s arctic exploration activities, the DOI has ordered a 60 day review of the safety challenges being faced. Tommy Beaudreau, director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, will lead the review. The agency will examine Shell’s safety management systems, its oversight of contracted services, and its ability to meet the strict standards in place for Arctic development.

DOE Launches Rare Earths Research Effort On January 9th, the DOE announced that a team led by the Ames Laboratory was awarded $120 million over five years to establish an Energy Innovation Hub that will develop solutions to the domestic shortages of rare earth metals and other materials critical for U.S. energy security. The new research center will be named the Critical Materials Institute (CMI).

DOE highlights sustainable natural gas development R&D efforts On January 10th, the department explained that projects administered by the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) will concentrate on improving water handling and treating methods at drilling sites; enhancing the characterization of shale formations; and improving understanding of hydraulic fracturing. these research efforts range from testing innovative technologies for cleaning the wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, to helping understand the relationship between underground water disposal and small tremors or earthquakes. The results of this research will address the technical challenges and reducing the environmental footprint of shale gas production.

New Chairman of Senate Energy and Natural Resources calls LNG study flawed On January 10th, Senator Ron Wyden the incoming chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, voiced concerns about a recent Department of Energy study on the impact of natural gas exports on the U.S. economy, in a letter to DOE. The press release and the text of the letter can be viewed here.


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