Monday in Washington:
Neither the House nor the Senate will be in session this week. This recess marks the first break Congress has taken since late last year that did not have a looming fiscal crisis to address immediately upon return. However, the President will be releasing his budget plan on April 10th, so debate over fiscal matters will continue to fester on Capitol Hill.
On another controversial and divisive front, the Senate will have gun control legislation on the docket shortly after they return. The messaging on the gun control provisions and the Bloomberg funded ads targeting specific Members have already begun.
Other issues related to the sequestration are also starting to percolate with announcements last week that the federal government would be cutting mineral royalty payments to the states by $109 million over the next six months. More than half of those payments would have gone to Wyoming. Other western states would also see significant reductions in their payments. Oversight hearings on these cuts and other decisions related to the sequestration are expected when Congress returns next week.
Other Items of Interest:
Farm Foundation Forum Hosts Natural Gas Discussion
On April 3rd at 9:00 AM, the Farm Foundation Forum will hold a forum on “Natural Gas Extraction: Impacts on Rural America.” The panelist will include: Brian Rahm, research associate at the New York State Water Resources Institute; Lee Fuller, vice president of government relations at the Independent Petroleum Association of America; Shannon Ferrell, assistant professor at Oklahoma State University; Larry Sanders, professor at Oklahoma State University; and former Rep. Charlie Stenholm, D-Texas. The event will be held at the National Press Club. Additional information and registration can be found here: http://www.farmfoundation.org/registrations/event.aspx?eid=342.
CNP Hosts DOD Energy Innovations Discussion
On April 3rd at 3:00 PM, the Center for National Policy (CNP) will hold a discussion on “#CleanAndMean: DoD’s Tactical and Operational Energy Innovations.” The panelists will include: Assistant Defense Secretary for Operational Energy Plans and Programs Sharon Burke; and Mike Breen, executive director of CNP. The event will be held at the CNP at 1 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 333, Washington, DC.
Additional information and registration can be found here: http://cnponline.org/ht/display/EventDetails/i/42086.
EPA Updates Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for New Power Plants
The EPA issued updates to pollution limits for new power plants under the mercury and air toxics standards, based on new information and analysis that became available to the agency after the rule was finalized. Additional information about the rule and the updates can be viewed here: http://epa.gov/mats/actions.html.
HBW Ollison Fracking Report
HBW’s Bo Ollison has compiled a summary of publicly available activities currently underway at the federal, state and international levels that could impact the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas extraction. With numerous state legislatures now in session, HBW Resources is monitoring these activities to ensure that responsible and feasible policies based on sound science are advanced. A copy of the HBW Ollison Fracking Report can be viewed here: https://mzehrhbw.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/hbw-resources-ollison-fracking-report-3/
EPA Releases Tier 3 Rule
On March 29, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a reduction in the allowable sulfur content of gasoline to 10 parts per million by 2017—harmonizing federal standards with California regulations. The Tier 3 standard requirements for tail pipe emissions would be phased in between model years 2017 and 2025, coordinating with EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s joint fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger vehicles. The proposed rule is now open for public comment, and a final rule is expected late this year or early next. A copy of the rule can be viewed here: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/documents/tier3/tier3-nprm-20130329.pdf.
New Member of the Day: US Rep. Beto O’Rourke
Committee Assignments: Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security
Chief of Staff: David Wysong
Legislative Director: Jeff Hild
Rep. O’Rourke was born and raised in El Paso, TX. He played guitar in a rock band called Foss in the early 90’s, and had a few run-ins with law enforcement officials. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English literature in 1995 and worked for a number of internet startup companies in New York. He returned to El Paso in 1998 and in 1999 started Stanton Street Technology, an internet services and software company. Prior to his Congressional service, Rep. O’Rourke served two terms on the El Paso City Council.
Rep. O’Rouke is fluent in Spanish, an important attribute in West Texas. Rep. O’Rourke defeated an eight-term incumbent, Representative Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary for the seat. He is focused on economic expansion and lowering unemployment in his district. He believed that greater federal funding for Customs and Border Patrol at the nation’s ports of entry will help create jobs and economic opportunity. His district also includes Fort Bliss, so he intends to push for construction contracts to local businesses. He believes that steps must be taken to address climate change and reduce green house gas emissions. While on the city council, he advanced measures addressing legalization of some drugs and same-sex domestic partnerships. As a member that won a primary against a long-term incumbent for not getting in the middle of critical issues to the district, it is expected that this freshman will attempt to insert himself early and often into the process dealing with drugs, immigration, border security, and trade.
If you have any questions, please contact me anytime. Previous updates and new Member profiles can be viewed at: http://www.mzehrhbw.wordpress.com. Hope you all have a good Monday and a great week!
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