Tuesday in Washington:
The President announced the nomination of Mayor Anthony Foxx, the Mayor of Charlotte, NC, to be the next Secretary of Transportation. If confirmed by the Senate, he will replace Secretary Ray LaHood.
With Congress in recess, activity around Capitol Hill is minimal. However, there is increasing discussions about the potential for tax reform given the Baucus retirement and the need to put some kind of tax reform measures through. The House is holding H.R. 1 as a placeholder for tax reform and are refusing to pass any other tax measures providing a legislative shell for the Senate to utilize to force a conference on comprehensive tax reform.
WRDA reauthorization, set to be brought up next week also has a number of offices considering their options for critical infrastructure projects. The reforms included in the bill have a number of environmental groups opposing the measure which could complicate any motions to proceed in the Senate.
Other Items of Interest:
House Committee Leaders Question DOE Loan Program Job Creation Claims: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and subcommittee Vice Chairman Michael Burgess (R-TX) sent a letter to Acting DOE Secretary Daniel Poneman requesting clarification on the number of jobs actually created as a result of DOE’s loan guarantee program. Despite three bankruptcies and challenges facing many of the remaining 25 recipients of the Sec. 1705 loan guarantees, the DOE’s job claims for the program have remained constant. The members are seeking clarification as to how this could be possible. A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
BLM Prepares To Release Final Rule Expediting Renewable Energy Development on Fed Lands: The Final Rule will allow the BLM to temporarily segregate lands in a wind or solar energy right-of-way application from the location of mining claims or other land appropriations. Under existing regulations, lands proposed for exchange or sale can be closed to the filing of mining claims. However, lands included in a proposed right-of-way remain open to the location and entry of mining claims while the BLM is considering the application. The Final Rule will revise the regulations to provide for the segregation of lands to facilitate the processing of solar and wind energy right-of-way applications. Additional information and a copy of the final rule can be found here.
USDA Announces $126 Million in Loans To Rural Electric Coops: The announcement includes more than $126 million in loans to upgrade rural electric infrastructure, including more than $20 million in smart grid funding. In WY, CO, NE, and NM, the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. was awarded a $72,977,000 loan. In GA and NC, the Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation was awarded a $28,178,000 loan. In OH, the Logan County Cooperative Power & Light Association, Inc. was awarded a $4,500,000 loan. In TX and NM, the Rio Grande Electric Cooperative, Inc. was awarded a $20,929,000 loan. Additional information about these awards can be foundhere.
Senators Vitter and Wicker Criticize EPA’s Pre-Emptive Disapproval of the Pebble Mine Project: U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) asked acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bob Perciasepe, to disclose the EPA’s justification of preemptively vetoing the Pebble Mine Project, a copper and gold mining project in Bristol Bay, Alaska. A copy of their letter can be viewed here.
Bicameral Inquiry of EPA’s Coordination with Environmental Groups on CAA: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) along with U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Congressman James Lankford (R-OK) sent a letter to Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Bob Perciasepe to express concerns for the abuse of statutory discretion under the Clean Air Act to override states’ responsibilities in rulemaking and to request more transparency in the agency’s policymaking process. Additional information and a link to a copy of the letter can be viewed here.
Relationship Between Oil and Economic Growth: Today 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 foundhere.
Member of the Day: US Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL)
Committee Assignments: Natural Resources and Judiciary
Chief of Staff: Jeffrey Garcia
Legislative Director: David Montes
Congressman Garcia is the son of Cuban immigrants who fled Cuba after Castro took power. He was born and raised in South Florida. He graduated from the University of Miami, where he was elected student government president. He also attended law school there and led a Cuban refugee resettlement program while still a student. He was chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission, where he pushed for improved energy prices for state residents. He led the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, was named to the Federal Communications Commission Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, and was a member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He was named to the Miami-Dade County Commission in 1993. He also served as Chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and as the Executive Director of the Cuban American National Foundation. Prior to being elected to Congress, Congressman Joe Garcia served as the Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact for the United States Department of Energy. In a rematch with Rep. David Rivera, who was charged with state ethics violations two weeks before the election, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives on November 6, 2012.
Rep. Garcia is the first Cuban-American Democrat to represent South Florida. He represents Florida’s 26th District, which spans from West Miami-Dade to Key West, and serves on both the Natural Resources Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Garcia opposes offshore drilling to protect Florida tourism, particularly in the Florida Keys, citing dangers from oil spills that could pose a threat to businesses that depend on tourism. He has also pledged to find ways to cut federal spending to reduce the deficit. Thus far, Rep. Garcia has presented careful, and well-carfted positions in the Natural Resources Committee during hearings and markups. During the markup of H.R. 3, he argued that regardless of whether the Keystone should be approved, the review process in place should be allowed to work. If the review process is broken, he said, Congress should reform that—not simply grant Congressional approval to the project without a system of review in place. It was a subtle argument, but was well delivered on a sensitive subject. His pragmatism and articulation of energy and environmental issues along with his extensive experience with NARUC could be very important on the Committee.
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 Tuesday!
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