Neither the House nor the Senate are in session today. House Republicans are continuing their annual policy retreat in Williamsburg, VA. Meanwhile the Cabinet Member churn continues with indications that the Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu will announce his plans to resign from the Cabinet early next week. Speculation was already brewing about possible replacements, but now with new nominees expected for EPA, DOI, and DOE…not to mention State, Defense, and the CIA…Congressional leaders will have their hands full just getting a Cabinet in place, much less handling the myriad of energy, environmental, and budgetary challenges left to them by their predecessors.
Other Items of Interest:
On January 17th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report on its investigation into the implementation of green energy investments through Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The report, “American Taxpayer Investment, Foreign Corporation Benefit,” that foreign renewable energy companies have benefited extensively from the stimulus-created program at the expense of their domestic competition and the taxpayers. Of the $16 billion spent, nearly a quarter of the funds went to US subsidiaries of large European or Asian companies. A copy of the report can be viewed at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/files/analysis/20130117foreigninvestment.pdf
On January 17th, Senators Vitter and Inhofe sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson questioning the EPA’s handling of a draft report in December 2011 on the impact hydraulic fracturing had on ground water near Pavillion, Wyoming. The report has been criticized for being premature, and the EPA has delayed the comment period three separate times. The most recent comment period was supposed to end on January 15, 2013, however, it has been delayed for another eight months. A copy of the text of the letter can be viewed at the following site: http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=4964ef96-c550-a429-40bc-488bc859d41a&Region_id=&Issue_id=&CFID=44111274&CFTOKEN=25006138
On January 16th, the EPA filed a motion to the US Court of Appeal federal appeals offering to reconsider aspects of air pollution standards for natural gas hydraulic fracturing operations. The case involves both new source performance standards and national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants. EPA’s August 2012 final rule addressed both types of standards. The motion is available at http://op.bna.com/fcr.nsf/r?Open=jcos-942sp7.
On January 17th, the EPA launched a voluntary program to assist areas that meet fine particulate matter standards in making further emissions reductions. The program is intended to help areas avoid nonattainment designations in the future, particularly after EPA begins implementing the 2012 national standards for fine particles. In December 2012, the agency strengthened the annual standard to 12 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m 3 ) from the previous standard of 15 µg/m. More information can be found at the following site: http://epa.gov/ozonepmadvance/pdfs/20130107PMmemo-guidance.pdf.
On January 16th, 12 Members of the House of Representatives filed an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in support of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Resource Extraction Rule. The rule is the product of Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill requiring oil, gas and mining companies listed on US exchanges disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) payments they make to governments for the extraction of oil and mineral resources. The list of Members signing the amicus brief includes: Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Rep. Barbara J. Lee (D-Calif.). A copy of the brief can be viewed at the following link: http://democrats.naturalresources.house.gov/sites/democrats.naturalresources.house.gov/files/documents/APIvSEC_House_Amicus_Brief.pdf
Committee Assignments: Energy and Natural Resources, Joint Economic Committee, Intelligence
Chief of Staff: Steve Haro
Legislative Director: Jude McCartin
Legislative Assistant (Energy): Maya A. Hermann
Experience: While in the House, Heinrich served on the Armed Services and Natural Resources committees representing Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Laboratory. Heinrich was president of Albuquerque’s city council and natural resources trustee for New Mexico. With a background in science and engineering, he has worked and advocated for renewable energy source throughout his entire career.
Importance: Senator Heinrich is a strong proponent of renewable energy and voted with his party over ninety percent of the time while in the House. He is a supporter of Climate Change legislation and an advocate for science-based regulation. His election was celebrated by environmentalists who believe that he could be one of their strongest advocates in the Senate given his background and experience with wildlife restoration. His position on the Natural Resources Committee provides him with the opportunity to help shape energy and environmental policies coming out of the Senate. The Committee led by Senator Ron Wyden is expected to allow greater flexibility and inclusion of other Member’s priorities than under the last two chairman which could give Sen. Heinrich ample opportunity to pursue his objectives.