The Senate and the House are both in session today with the House expected to take up and pass an increase in the nation’s debt limit through May 19th, with provisions requiring both the House and Senate to pass budget resolutions–something that has not happened since 2009. If the budget resolutions are not passed, the salaries of Members of Congress will be held in escrow. The Senate meanwhile is looking to pass the disaster aid package approved by the House on January 15th and is negotiating rules changes to limit the use of the filibuster. Sec. Clinton will be on the Hill today testifying about the attacks on the US consulate in Libya last fall.
Other Items of Interest:
Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013. Hydropower provides seven percent of US electricity production despite there being generating stations on just three percent of the country’s dams. The legislation seeks to expedite approval for new hydroelectric generation. Chairman Upton said he hopes to move it through the full House quickly.
Yesterday, the Governor of Nebraska Dave Heineman informed President Obama and Sec. Clinton that Nebraska had approved the re-route of the northern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline following an extensive environmental review. The process now moves to the State Department for additional review before a decision is made.
In the escalating fight over LNG exports, the American Chemistry Council has now rescinded its previously held position of supporting gas exports. The group now says that additional discussions are needed. The reversal comes as producers who are seeking new, more profitable markets square off against a resurgent manufacturing community once again competitive due to low priced natural gas. The controversy flared recently with the announcement that Dow Chemicals was leaving the National Association of Manufacturers over the issue.
The Administrator of the US Energy Information Administration, Adam Sieminski , said U.S. production of liquid fuels could equal or surpass Saudi Arabia as early as next year during an interview with Dow Jones in the Kingdom.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Upton said yesterday that the committee would be holding a full committee hearing on local regulation of hydraulic fracturing early in February.
New Member of the Day: US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Committee Assignments: Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce, and Indian Affairs
Chief of Staff: Andrew Winer
Deputy COS: Malia Paul
Senior Policy Advisor: Dale Hahn
Experience: Brian Schatz attended Punahou School in Honolulu, the same school as President Obama. He served in the Hawaii State House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006 and as head of the Democratic Party of Hawaii from 2008 through 2010. Most recently, he was the Lieutenant Governor of the state from 2010 to 2012, when he was appointed by Governor Abercrombie to fill the remainder of Sen. Daniel Inouye’s term following the Senator’s passing. The appointment came as a surprise to many who had expected Abercrombie to honor the late Senator’s deathbed request to appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his replacement. The Senator was an early supporter of President Obama and led an effort to draft him into the presidential election of 2008.
Importance: Senator Schatz has been a supporter of clean, sustainable energy and has stated that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing policy makers. He also comes from a state that imports 94 percent of it energy and has the highest energy prices in the United States. Hawaii is the most petroleum dependent state in the United States as well importing close to $4 billion in oil per year, much of which is used for electricity generation. To address this challenge the State’s energy plan aims for an agricultural biofuels industry that, by 2025, can provide 350 million gallons of biofuels. Hawaii is one of eight States with installed geothermal capacity; in 2011, 25 percent of its renewable net electricity generation came from geothermal energy. With positions on both the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Commerce Committee he is in a unique position to speak for constituents facing high energy costs and could be a very interesting member with regards to LNG and climate change.
Hope this is useful. If you have any questions, please give me a call anytime. Have a great Wednesday.