Friday in Washington:
Today is the last day of recess in the nation’s capitol. Hill staff are busy either prepping for the next work period or wrapping up early to enjoy the spring weather and the last day of the longest break Congress has taken since last year.
Next week, gun control will be on the floor of the Senate. The measures being proposed will encounter a filibuster which Reid will not have the votes to end, and the process will move back to the press offices. The House will be considering legislation expediting the approval of additional hydro-electric facilities and limiting the activities of the NLRB. The House Energy and Commerce Committee Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on H.R. 3, expediting approval and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Other Items of Interest:
EPW Members Question Release of Confidential Information to ENGOs
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with committee members Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) wrote to Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) questioning the agency’s decision to release personal and confidential business information related to recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from environmental groups. A copy of the letter can be viewed here: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=29622852-f843-4442-8e07-10c291c9889a.
FERC Releases SEIS for Downeast LNG project in Maine
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s staff has prepared a supplemental draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Downeast LNG project in Maine. Comments will be accepted until May 20th. Downeast LNG Inc. and Downeast Pipeline LLC are seeking authorization to construct and operate an LNG import terminal, natural gas pipeline, and associated facilities at Robbinston, ME.
The project would have throughput capacity of 500 MMcfd and peak capacity of 625 MMcfd of gas. It would serve a market that is expected to have a growing supply-demand gap of 1 bcfd by 2015. FERC said it originally issued a draft EIS for the project in May 2009. Subsequent regulatory revisions and reports by the US Transportation and Energy departments and the US Coast Guard made project modifications and a supplemental EIS necessary. Additional information about the project and the SEIS can be reviewed here: http://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/enviro/eis/2013/03-28-13-eis.asp
Interagency Working Group Calls for Integrated Management and Planning for Arctic
The report highlights the need for a coordinated approach that uses the best available science to integrate cultural, environmental and economic factors in decision-making about development and conservation. The report — Managing for the Future in a Rapidly Changing Arctic — is based on input from a wide range of Alaska stakeholders. In addition to recommending integrated management, the report recommends continuing high-level attention on the Arctic, strengthening state and tribal partnerships, encouraging more stakeholder engagement, undertaking more organized and inclusive scenario planning, and coordinating and potentially consolidating environmental reviews that are now being prepared by multiple agencies. A copy of the report can be viewed here: http://www.doi.gov/news/upload/ArcticReport-03April2013PMsm.pdf.
Announces Five-Year Renewal of Funding for Bioenergy Research Centers
The DOE announced it would fund its three Bioenergy Research Centers for an additional five-year period, subject to continued congressional appropriations. The three Centers —including the BioEnergy Research Center (BESC) led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University, and the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory—were established by the Department’s Office of Science in 2007 as an innovative program to accelerate fundamental research breakthroughs toward the development of advanced, next-generation biofuels. Established on the basis of a nationwide competition, each Center is designed to be a large, integrated, multidisciplinary research effort, funded at the rate of $25 million per year. Additional information about the Centers can be found here: http://www.doe.gov/articles/energy-department-announces-five-year-renewal-funding-bioenergy-research-centers.
NOAA’s Fisheries Service seeks comments on ESA listing of scalloped hammerhead sharks
In response to a petition submitted by the WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals is proposing to list four populations of scalloped hammerhead sharks under the Endangered Species Act, two as threatened and two as endangered. NOAA’s Fisheries Service is also finalizing an amendment to the fishery management plan establishing a rebuilding strategy for the northwest Atlantic scalloped hammerhead shark stock, and implementing regulations for U.S. shark fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Additional information about the potential listings can be found here: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130404_hammerheadshark.html.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to Hold Hearing on DOE’s Budget
On April 18th, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the FY 2014 budget for the Department of Energy. The President will submit his budget to the Hill this week, and Members will have about a week to review the documents before the hearing. Additional information and background for the hearing can be reviewed here: http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/4/full-committee-hearing-to-consider-the-president-s-proposed-budget-for-the-department-of-energy-for-fiscal-year-2014.
New member of the day: US Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Committee Assignments: Agriculture, Banking, Homeland Security, Indian Affairs, and Small Business
Chief of Staff: Tessa Gould
Deputy COS: Rory Steele
Legislative Director: Tracee Sutton
Communications Director: Whitney Phillips
Senator Heitkamp grew up in a large family in the small town of Mantador, ND. Alongside her six brothers and sisters, she learned the value of hard work and responsibility, leading her to choose a life of public service. She has served as Attorney General for North Dakota, ND State Tax Collector, an EPA Attorney, and external board director of the Dakota Gasification Co. a closely held company operating a commercial-scale coal-fired natural gas manufacturing plant. She believes North Dakota’s all-of-the-above energy plan should serve as a model for the entire country.
As a Democrat representing one of the largest oil producing states in the US, Senator Heitkamp has the opportunity to cross party lines and build consensus on energy and environmental issues that have become politically contentious in recent years. This role has been played by a small but influential cohort of members, including Sen. Landrieu, Sen. Begich, Sen. Pryor, and Sen. Manchin. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Heitkamp is in a unique position to assist the energy sector dealing with new regulatory requirements stemming from the passage of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform law.
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 great day!
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