The House and the Senate are not in session today. There is continued focus on the impact of the sequester on the federal work force and government programs affected by the across the board cuts.
Although still not official, it appears all but certain that Gina McCarthy will be nominated to take the helm of the EPA. The confirmation hearings for any nominee for EPA are expected to be brutal, regardless of their history. Her involvement in many of the agency’s efforts over the last few years make her a candidate uniquely situated to make a smooth transition internally, yet will also draw expected criticism. Ultimately, she would have the votes to pass unless the review of the use of private e-mail accounts turn up new, controversial information.
In addition to discussions over the sequester, the Senate will again take up the nomination of Sen. Hagel to serve as the next Sec. of Defense. Meanwhile, a group of 14 Senators have urged the President to withdraw the nomination. The request was signed by Sens. Cornyn, Inhofe, Graham, Wicker, Vitter, Cruz, Lee, Toomey, Rubio, Coats, Johnson, Risch, Barrasso, Coburn and Scott. Sen. Reid has told senators to expect a second vote on cutting off debate on the nomination on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Hagel fell one vote short of getting cloture last go-round.
Other Items of Interest:
The OIG for EPA released a report indicating the need for more emissions data for oil and gas production activities. The report is part of the agency’s stated goal of taking action on climate change and improving air quality. the report recommends that EPA develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for improving air emissions data for the oil and gas production sector, prioritize which oil and gas production emission factors need to be improved, develop additional emission factors as appropriate, and ensure the NEI data for this industry sector are complete. EPA has concurred with the OIG’s recommendations to develop a comprehensive strategy, improve and prioritize emission factors, and develop default nonpoint emission estimates. A copy of the report can be viewed here: http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2013/20130220-13-P-0161.pdf
DOE announced $20 million for the development of tools and technologies to enhance the cybersecurity of the nation’s energy delivery control systems for electricity, oil, and gas. DOE will require recipients to collaborate with the energy sector to test the developed technologies so that they are best designed to meet the unique requirements of energy delivery systems. Additional information action can be reviewed here: http://www.doe.gov/articles/energy-department-announces-20-million-new-tools-and-technology-strengthen-energy-sector
DOI signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) allowing for the development of 72 percent of the estimated economically recoverable oil in the nearly 23-million-acre Reserve, while protecting subsistence resources of Alaska Natives and critical habitat for wildlife populations. Additional information can be reviewed here: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2013/february/nr_02_21_2013.html
Repeat from yesterday: In preparation for tax reform discussions, the Joint Tax Committee produced a document tracking and explaining “tax expenditures” from 2012-2017. The report lays out estimates of many of the energy tax provisions expected to be debated later this year, many of which have already been targeted by legislative proposals. A copy of the report can be viewed here: https://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=download&id=4503&chk=4503&no_html=1
On Thursday, FERC issued its first two orders on Order No. 1000 compliance filings, focusing on the regional planning requirements of the transmission rule. In the first order, FERC rejected a proposal by Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (Yadkin) and the North Carolina utility subsidiaries of Duke Energy Corp. for failing to form a transmission planning region that meets the regional scope requirements. In the second order, FERC waived the regional transmission planning requirements for Maine Public Service Company (MPS), citing a unique geographic and electrical situation that makes it impossible for MPS to meet the regional scope requirement. Additional information can be reviewed at: http://www.ferc.gov/
Committee Assignments: Foreign Relations and Science
Chief of Staff: Chara McMichaell
Legislative Director: Artur Suchorzewski
Experience: Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2008, Rep. Weber served on the committees of Environmental Regulation, Public Education, and as Vice Chair of Border and Intergovernmental Affairs. Before politics, Rep. Weber started an air conditioning company, Weber’s Air & Heat, in 1981. After establishing his company, he served on the Pearland City Council from 1990-1996. During that time, he was elected to serve as president of the Brazoria County Cities Association. He is a graduate of Alvin Community College and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake.
Importance: As Congressman Paul’s successor, Rep. Randy Weber is expected to consistently represent conservative principles. He opposes the United Nations, wants to see President Barack Obama’s health-insurance law repealed, and pledges he’ll fight legislation curtailing gun ownership as contrary to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Weber opposes abortion and wrote legislation while in the Texas statehouse requiring doctors to perform a sonogram and inform patients of the possible health impacts that may arise. He is an advocate for states’ rights and says the federal government shouldn’t have a say in dictating local standards. His district, situated along the Gulf of Mexico, confronts challenges stemming from drugs and crime coming emerging from nearby ports and border towns. He will serve a a good barometer of where some of the most conservative Members of this this class of GOP freshman will be on issues before the chamber.
If you have any questions, please contact me anytime. Hope you all have a nice Friday and a great weekend!
Michael D. Zehr
HBW Resources, LLC
1666 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006