Monday in Washington:
Congress On Recess:
With both the House and the Senate on recess this week, activity on Capitol Hill will be sluggish. When they return, the Senate will finish up work on the Marketplace Fairness Act, hearings on the budget and annual appropriations bills will continue, and work on comprehensive immigration reform will kick off in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate is also expected to begin consideration of the Water Resources and Development Act Reauthorization S. 601, when they return. A copy of the legislative text being considered can be viewed here. The bill has been criticized by some anti-development groups for its streamlining provisions.
Other Items of Interest:
Annual White House Correspondents Dinner: At the event, the President spares few, including himself, in annual roast. A video of his speech can be viewed here.
HBW Resources Ollison Fracking Report: Released last Friday, the report covers events at the state, federal and international levels potentially impacting the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas extraction. A copy of the report can be viewed here.
Committee Leaders Seek GAO Analysis of DOE’s Nuclear Waste Storage Proposal: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) wrote to the GAO requesting an analysis of the costs and liabilities associated with the administration’s new nuclear waste proposal. The committee leaders are asking GAO how such a proposal would affect costs and liability for taxpayers and the timeline for a permanent nuclear waste solution. A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
House Passes the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act: The House passed legislation providing the BLM with the authority to manage and divest the remainder of the Federal Helium Reserve to maximize benefits to U.S. Taxpayers. The reserve was created after WWI and helium continued to be stockpiled through the 1980’s. In 1996, Congress passed legislation ordering the closure of the reserve once sales had paid off $1.3 billion in debt the reserve had built up. Helium is now used for MRI machines, computer chips, fiber optic cables, and other defense related industries. The reserve currently holds half of the U.S. helium supply and 30 percent of the world’s helium supply. Additional information about the bill and the Federal Helium Reserve can be found here.
House Science Committee Review Federal Research on Hydraulic Fracturing: Over the last two year, the Administration has requested $83 million to fund investigations into the use and safety of hydraulic fracturing, despite a track record of flawed studies. The hearing examined research activities pursuant to an agreement signed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Interior (DOI) in April of 2012, which created an interagency effort to “address the highest priority challenges” related to the production of domestic unconventional oil and natural gas resources. The testimony and a webcast of the hearing can be viewed here.
Senators Release Discussion Draft of Comprehensive Nuclear Waste Legislation: Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. – the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development – and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, collaborated on the proposal, which builds on work by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.
The members are seeking comment on the discussion draft and a number of policy and technical questions from experts and stakeholders, including utilities, conservation groups, Blue Ribbon Commission members and others, by May 24. Additional information about the legislation can be reviewed here.
Senate Finance Committee Releases White Paper on Infrastructure and Energy Tax Options: As part of the Finance Committee’s ongoing efforts to pursue comprehensive tax reform, the Committee released a paper detailing many of the tax challenges and options for infrastructure and energy. The paper notes the funding shortages under the current structures for the Highway Trust Fund and other funds needed for critical infrastructure. The paper also notes the complexity and possible duplication of both tax and incentive programs for energy production. A copy of the white paper can be reviewed here.
Events This Week:
Mergers and Acquisitions in the Energy Business: At 12:30 today, the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) will hold a discussion on “Mergers and Acquisitions in the Energy Business: Lessons Learned.” Lucio Noto, managing partner at Midstream Partners, LLC and former vice chairman of ExxonMobil will lead the discussion. A live stream will be available here.
Relationship Between Oil and Economic Growth: On April 30th at 10 AM, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) holds a forum on “the relationship between oil and economic growth, the impact of recently developed unconventional resources in the United States, and the transformation underway in Saudi Arabia.” Saudi Arabian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Ibrahim al-Naimi; Frank Verrastro, senior vice president and chair for energy and geopolitics at CSIS; and John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS will lead the forum. Additional information can be found here.
US Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative: On May 1st at 9:30 AM, the Interior Department (DOI); Office of Policy, Management and Budget will hold a meeting of the United States Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) Advisory Committee. The meeting will be held in the Main Interior Building, 1849 C Street NW, Room 7000A-7000B, Washington, D.C. The event will be available via conference call at 866-707-0640; passcode, 1500538.
The Carbon Tax: On May 3rd at 8:30 AM, the George C. Marshall Institute will hold a discussion on the report “Understanding the Political and Economic Realities of a Carbon Tax.” The report author James DeLong of the Convergence Law Institute; William O’Keefe, CEO of the Marshall Institute; David Kreutzer, research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation; and Scott Segal, founding partner for Bracewell and Giuliani’s Policy Resolution Group and director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council will participate in the discussion. The event will be held at the Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE, Washington, D.C. RSVP to email@example.com to attend.
New Member of the Day: US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Committee Assignments: Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce, and Indian Affairs
Chief of Staff: Andrew Winer
Deputy COS: Malia Paul
Senior Policy Advisor: Dale Hahn
Experience: Brian Schatz attended Punahou School in Honolulu, the same school as President Obama. He served in the Hawaii State House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006 and as head of the Democratic Party of Hawaii from 2008 through 2010. Most recently, he was the Lieutenant Governor of the state from 2010 to 2012, when he was appointed by Governor Abercrombie to fill the remainder of Sen. Daniel Inouye’s term following the Senator’s passing. The appointment came as a surprise to many who had expected Abercrombie to honor the late Senator’s deathbed request to appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his replacement. The Senator was an early supporter of President Obama and led an effort to draft him into the presidential election of 2008.
Importance: Senator Schatz has been a supporter of clean, sustainable energy and has stated that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing policy makers. He also comes from a state that imports 94 percent of it energy and has the highest energy prices in the United States. Hawaii is the most petroleum dependent state in the United States as well importing close to $4 billion in oil per year, much of which is used for electricity generation. To address this challenge the State’s energy plan aims for an agricultural biofuels industry that, by 2025, can provide 350 million gallons of biofuels. Hawaii is one of eight States with installed geothermal capacity; in 2011, 25 percent of its renewable net electricity generation came from geothermal energy. With positions on both the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Commerce Committee he is in a unique position to speak for constituents facing high energy costs and could be a very interesting member with regards to LNG and climate change.
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 Monday!
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