Spring in DC:
Both the House and the Senate will be in session today. The Senate continues its deliberation of a gun control package with the potential of a cloture vote later in the day. Senators Manchin and Toomey have offered a compromise amendment to the package that would protect gun owners’ rights while limiting certain loopholes that have been used by criminals and mentally ill individuals to obtain firearms. Details of the compromise proposal can be reviewed here: http://www.manchin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=0a595a23-4f1a-4212-b48f-bd987c04b6f4.
The House will be considering H. Res. 146, a resolution providing for the consideration of H.R. 1120. The bill would limit the ability of the NLRB to conduct business requiring a quorum until the dispute over recess appointments has been resolved. Both the resolution setting the rules for the debate and the bill itself are expected to pass the House with a less certain future in the Senate.
Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Sally Jewell to be the next Secretary of Interior by a vote of 87 to 11. The 11 Senators voting in opposition to the nomination included: Barrasso, Chambliss, Coburn, Enzi, Fischer, Johanns, Lee, McConnell, Rubio, Scott, and Vitter.
Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 678, which would deem available for hydropower development every existing Bureau of Reclamation canal, pipeline, ditch and other conduit of water. The vote was 416-7.
Under the bill, the Interior Department would be required to offer “lease of power privilege” rights to the irrigation district or water-users association operating or receiving water from the conduit before the rights are offered to other users. The Bureau of Reclamation says it is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the U.S.
Other Items of Interest:
DOE Budget Includes $28.4 billion and Maintains and Expands Clean Energy Focus: The budget request represents an 8 percent increase in funding over 2012 enacted levels. It includes $615 million to increase the use of and reduce the cost of power from solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric power. Under the request, spending for the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would be increased by nearly $1 billion to $2.78 billion. It will also increase funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) to $379 million from $275 million in 2012. The budget request also proposes using $2 billion in funding from oil and gas drilling royalties to fund research into alternative fuel vehicles. The budget request would cut the Fossil Energy Research and Development Program by $113 million and the Office of Nuclear Energy by $58 million. Additional information on the budget can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.
ConocoPhillips Announces Halt to 2014 Chukchi Exploration Plans: ConocoPhillips on Wednesday announced it was putting its 2014 Chukchi Sea exploration plans on hold until there was a reliable and predictable regulatory framework at the federal level. ConocoPhillips has a stake in 98 leases in the Chukchi Sea. A copy of Senator Murkowski’s statement regarding the decision can be viewed here: http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/republican-news?ContentRecord_id=daca4d74-34b9-41a3-95a0-311d6879ce1b.
Subcommittee Begins Work on Northern Route Approval Act to Support American Jobs and North American Energy Independence: The Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), began its work reviewing H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline has been tied up in regulatory review for over four years, but even with the Presidential Permit, construction of the pipeline will likely be further delayed due to additional regulatory hurdles and legal challenges. Similar legislation was necessary in 1973 to achieve construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline after facing many of the same challenges. Additional information about H.R. 3 and the committee’s activities can be reviewed here: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings.
Energy Producing States Coalition Urges Action on Theft of State Mineral Royalty Payments: On Wednesday, the Energy Producing States Coalition (http://energystates.org) sent a letter to the leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee expressing their concern about the Administration’s effort to withhold $109 million in state mineral royalty payments to the states using sequestration as the justification. The EPSC is urging Congress to take action to block this effort.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here: http://energystates.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/EPSC-Letter-ONRR-FMR-decision-House-Energy-and-Commerce.pdf.
Rep. Goodlatte Introduces Bills to Modify Ethanol Mandate: Congress Goodlatte introduced two bills yesterday dealing with renewable fuels. The first would repeal the U.S. ethanol mandate and the second would revise the definition of renewable fuels to include only advanced biofuels and exclude corn-based ethanol. The legislation would eliminate corn-based ethanol requirements, cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10 percent, and requires the EPA to set cellulosic biofuels levels at production levels. Additional information on these bills from Rep. Goodlatte’s office can be found here: http://goodlatte.house.gov/press_releases/383.
Members Introduce Legislation to Reform EPA’s Scientific Advisory Process: The Subcommittee on Environment Chairman Chris Stewart (R-UT) today introduced legislation to reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) scientific advisory processes. The bill, H.R.1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013, makes changes to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) to enhance public participation, improve the process for selecting expert advisors, expand transparency requirements and limit non-scientific policy advice. Additional information about the bill can be found here: http://science.house.gov/press-release/members-introduce-legislation-reform-epa%E2%80%99s-scientific-advisory-process.
FY2014 DOI Budget of $11.9 Billion focused on Conservation and Energy Production: President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget request of $11.9 billion for the Department of the Interior maintains critical funding for the Department’s core missions, while making strategic investments to sustain economic recovery and generate jobs, including vital funding for recreation and conservation programs, enhanced science to inform decision-making, domestic energy development and the advancement of American Indians and Alaska Native communities. Additional information on the FY2014 DOI Budget can be viewed here: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/president-proposes-11-9-billion-budget-for-interior.cfm.
President Proposes $1.2 Billion for BLM for FY2014: Focusing on renewable energy, safe and responsible mineral development, outdoor recreation and other key priorities, the budget has requested $1.2 billion in appropriations for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management for fiscal year (FY) 2014. The request represents a $32.6 million or 2.9 percent increase over the agency’s congressionally enacted FY 2012 budget. Additional information on the BLM budget request can be found here: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2013/april/04_10_2013.html
USGS Budget Request include $1.167 Billion: The fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request for the U.S. Geological Survey is $1.167 billion, an increase of $98.8 million above the 2012 enacted level, reflecting a commitment to scientific research and development as the foundation for innovation, socio-economic well-being, environmental sustainability, and sound decision-making. This includes science to support the safe and responsible development of domestic energy, protect critical water resources and ecosystems, respond to natural disasters, and advance our understanding and resilience to the effects of climate change. Additional information on the budget request can be found here: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3556&from=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+UsgsNewsroom+%28Newsroom+-+National+Releases%29#.UWYcxbXvvfI.
USDA Announces Funding to Improve Electric Service to Customers in 13 States: USDA announced it will provide nearly $280 million for rural electric infrastructure, including more than $6 million in smart grid funding. In addition, the funds will result in the construction of more than 1,900 miles of new or improved electric lines. Additional information about the announcement can be viewed here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2013/04/0067.xml&contentidonly=true.
GAO Issues Report on Emergency Preparedness for Radiological Incidents at Nuclear Plants: To better inform radiological emergency preparedness efforts, GAO recommends that NRC obtain information on public awareness and likely public response outside the 10-mile zone, and incorporate insights into guidance, as appropriate. NRC generally disagreed with GAO’s finding, stating that its research shows public response outside the zone would generally have no significant impact on evacuations. GAO continues to believe that its recommendation could improve radiological emergency preparedness efforts and is consistent with NRC guidance. A copy of the report can be reviewed here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/652933.pdf.
Vitter Releases Eye on the EPA: No New Power Plants: Leading up to today’s hearing on Gina McCarthy’s nomination to head the EPA, Senator Vitter releases a document calling into question both legal and practical implications of EPA’s GHG regulations for new utility plants. According to the document, the proposal for new power plants abandons decades of precedence under the Clean Air Act (CAA) by setting one standard for all fuel types used in electricity generation, the standard for natural gas plants. However, the standard for natural gas would be impossible for coal and oil to meet. New coal fired power plants would have to utilize carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that currently do not exist. A copy of the document can be reviewed here: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=8969aab3-3db0-4c4f-a4c0-5111b6dcb0fe. Minority Members of the EPW Committee also requested McCarthy answer unresolved inquiries made while she was in her current position. A copy of that letter can be viewed here: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=0c583654-d99a-41c7-998a-e72f4cf0d09f.
Other Hearings to Watch:
Gina McCarthy Nomination Hearing: Today, 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: Today, 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: Today, 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: Today, 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.
New Member of the Day: US Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
Committee Assignments: House Financial Services
Chief of Staff: Betsy Hawkings
Legislative Director: David Stern
Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr is a 1992 graduate of Henry Clay High School. In 1996, he graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Philosophy. From 1996 through 1998, he served as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Congressman Jim Talent (R-MO). He graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2001. He served as General Counsel to former Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Prior to winning his seat, he served as an attorney and part time instructor at Morehead State University where he taught Constitutional Law and Administrative Law. In 2010, Barr was the Republican nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District losing by one of the closest margins of any race that year. In 2012, he won the rematch by more than 12,000 votes.
In November 2012, Rep. Barr defeated incumbent Democrat US Rep. Ben Chandler in a rematch of one of the closest races of 2010. Rep. Chandler, grandson of former KY Governor Albert Benjamin “Happy” Chandler, had been viewed as one of the most capable Democrats in a state that had shifted from Democratic control to Republican majority over the last few years. Rep. Barr ran on a platform of small government, supporting cuts to federal spending, taxes and regulations. Coal issues featured in his race against Chandler, successfully tying the President’s carbon emissions policies to the incumbent. He is one of just a handful of members where “War on Coal” slogan proved a benefit. In addition to supporting coal, Rep. Barr supports for lifting restrictions on domestic oil and gas production, including offshore and in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As a Member of the Financial Services Committee, he is expected to advocate for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial industry regulation 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 Thursday!
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