Wednesday in Washington:
Both the House and Senate are in session today. Senator Reid filed cloture on gun control legislation now before the Senate last night, setting up a potential vote and test of Republicans’ willingness to filibuster the measure by Thursday. A compromise is rumored to be close between Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey to avert the filibuster, but the details of the compromise are not yet available. Regardless of Senate action, the House remains unlikely to take up the measure.
The President will release his budget blueprint today, setting up another round of fiscal talks on Capitol Hill. The annual budget release, which is about two months later than usual and follows action by both the House and Senate for the first time in over 90 years, kicks off annual budget hearings when Secretaries and other administration officials will be called before congress to discuss the plans.
Today, the House will meet at 10:00 AM for the morning hour and 12:00 PM for legislative business with first votes expected between 1:30 and 2:00 PM and last votes expected between 5:00 and 6:00 PM. The House will be considering H.R. 678, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO).
Highlights from Moniz Testimony: The testimony had many moments of interest and it appears that Dr. Ernest Moniz has done a very good job meeting with and securing the support of the majority of Members on the Committee.
His answers on LNG exports seem to indicate that additional delays in export licenses could be encountered, even though he believes in data-based analysis. He was questioned about LNG exports by a number of Members. When Chairman Wyden asked him about the validity of current studies, Moniz said he would want to evaluate current data with regional impact information. When asked by Barrasso about LNG exports to NATO allies, he stated that he believes US production of low-cost natural gas is already having an impact on the Russians and others by freeing up supplies that would have been headed to the US. Said he favored evaluating LNG exports as part of a Quadrennial Energy Review process that has been endorsed by many Members of the Committee and had been authored by Sen. Pryor of Arkansas. Given previous uses of additional studies to delay decisions by the administration, this proposal of including LNG determinations in a proposed QER would indicate that delays are likely.
Low Carbon Economy
Moniz was also repeatedly asked about his thoughts on current DOE expenditures for renewable energy projects and efforts to lower carbon emissions. He stated that he supports continued funding for energy technologies that are less carbon intensive, but added that he believes more focus on R&D to lower the cost of renewable energy sources should be pursued as well as funding for nuclear energy and carbon capture and sequestration to lower carbon emissions from existing generating sources. He said that enhanced oil recovery using CO2 is an area that has the most immediate promise of producing more domestic energy sources while also providing a near-term carbon sequestration option.
Moniz said that the shale plays in different areas of the country all have different characteristics and that local/state guidance on these will continue to be very important. He said industry best practices are needed and are being implemented in many areas. He said DOE’s role is limited in this area given primary oversight and regulation setting will be conducted by the EPA, but DOE could play an important role in R&D involving integrated waste water treatment, reuse, and storage.
Moniz said he supports the findings and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission. He believes that consent-based siting of new storage facilities should be pursued along with linking interim storage determinations with progress on long-term disposal plans. He said that technology innovations and cost advantages of small modular reactors are one of the most exciting areas of nuclear power generation potential since they could have both cost and safety advantages moving forward.
Other Hearings To Watch:
Automotive Hearing: Today, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing on “Our Nation of Builders: Powering U.S. Automobile Manufacturing Forward.” Link: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/our-nation-builders-powering-us-automobile-manufacturing-forward-0.
Keystone XL Hearing: Today, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing on “H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act.”Link: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/hr-3-northern-route-approval-act.
Gina McCarthy Nomination Hearing: On April 11th, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Link: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=d71fd4b6-ce77-3a98-46a0-fb02b0cae0ed.
Energy Opportunities in Latin America Hearing: On April 11th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee Western Hemisphere Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Energy Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Link: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-energy-opportunities-latin-america-and-caribbean.
Coal Ash Hearing: On April 11th, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will hold a hearing on the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act. Link: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/coal-ash-recycling-and-oversight-act-2013.
Nuclear Waste Hearing: On April 11th, the House Appropriations Committee, Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Oversight Hearing: Nuclear Waste Programs and Strategies.” Link: http://appropriations.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=325997.
Energy Consumers Relief Act Hearing: On April 12, the Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing on the Energy Consumers Relief Act. Link: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-energy-consumers-relief-act-2013.
Ethanol Hearing: On April 11th, the House Science Committee will meet to consider H.R. 875, to provide for a comprehensive assessment of the scientific and technical research on the implications of the use of mid-level ethanol blends, and new legislation to amend the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to provide for Scientific Advisory Board member qualifications, and public participation. Link: http://science.house.gov/markup/full-committee-markup-hr-875-hr.
Other Items of Interest:
New Natural Gas Reserves Number Increases: The new recoverable reserves number is the highest in the 48 years the Potential Gas Committee, a nonprofit organization of sector experts hosted by the Colorado School of Mines, has been issuing its evaluations. The last record number was issued in 2010 as the full scale of the impact of hydraulic fracturing technology was just making itself felt across the entire economy, and the Committee’s perceived uncertainty about how accessible reserves would actually be following the issuance of that record number caused consternation that industry had been overselling the potential of the fuel. Additional information can be found here: http://energy.aol.com/2013/04/09/natural-gas-reserves-estimates-soar-potential-gas-committee.
Natural Resources Committee Announces Hearing on Energy Production on Federal vs. State Land: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a Full Committee oversight hearing on Wednesday, April 17th to examine the difference in energy production and permitting on federal lands versus state and private lands. Total federal oil production is down 7 percent since the President took office and the total onshore acreage leased for the last four years is the lowest in over two decades. Additional information can be found here: http://naturalresources.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=327116.
Arctic Report to the President: Last week, the DOI released a report entitled Managing for the Future in a Rapidly Changing Arctic. The report is based on input from a wide range of Alaska stakeholders. Accompanying the report is a short video from Deputy Secretary David Hayes providing the history and a few highlights from the report. The video can be viewed here: http://www.doi.gov/news/video/arcticreport.cfm. The report itself can be viewed here: http://www.doi.gov/news/upload/ArcticReport-03April2013PMsm.pdf
Legislative Hearing Planned for House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee: The subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on April 16th to evaluate a number of pieces of legislation including: H.R. 250 (Chaffetz), to amend the Antiquities Act of 1906 to place additional requirements on the establishment of national monuments under that Act; H.R. 382 (Foxx), To provide for State approval of national monuments; H.R. 432 (Amodei), to prohibit the further extension or establishment of national monuments in Nevada except by express authorization of Congress; H.R 758 (Stewart), to prohibit the further extension or establishment of national monuments in Utah except by express authorization of Congress; H.R. ___ (Pearce), to prohibit the further extension or establishment of national monuments in New Mexico except by express authorization of Congress; H.R. ___ (Daines), to prohibit the further extension or establishment of national monuments in Montana, except by express authorization of Congress; H.R. ___ (Labrador), to prohibit the further extension or establishment of national monuments in Idaho, except by express authorization of Congress; H.R. ___ (Bishop), to ensure that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 applies to the declaration of national monuments; and H.R. 885 (Doggett), to expand the boundary of San Antonio Missions National Historical park, to conduct a study of potential land acquisitions. Additional information can be found here: http://democrats.naturalresources.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-public-lands-and-environmental-regulation-legislative-hearing-3.
Senator Boxer and Rep. Markey Call on NRC to Complete Investigation before Restart Decisions are Made for San Onofre Nuclear Plant: In a letter to the NRC, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Chairman, Dr. Allison Macfarlane, to immediately confirm that NRC will “take no action that could lead to any restart of the San Onofre nuclear power plant before the Commission completes its comprehensive investigation and provides a full opportunity for public participation.” A copy of the letter can be viewed here: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=63086e5d-85d1-4dad-8bcb-68589825aac2
Vitter Releases: Eye on the EPA: Renewable Fuels Standard & The Problems That Come with It: Senator Vitter released a document yesterday criticizing aspects of the RFS for leading to higher energy prices for consumers in advance of Gina McCarthy’s nomination hearing to lead the US EPA. Discussions, both pro and con of the RFS have been mounting in recent months, and some of these issues are likely to come up during the nomination hearing for McCarthy. A copy of the document which explores costs, the Tier 3 rule, RINS fraud, and blendwall issues can be viewed here: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=97856df2-12d7-428b-8fc8-fda8319ca0e5.
New Member of the Day: US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
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
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.
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.
If you have any questions, please give me a call anytime. Previous updates and Member profiles can be reviewed at: http://www.mzehrhbw.wordpress.com. Hope you have a great Wednesday!
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