DOJ Under Scrutiny:
Both the House and the Senate are in session today. The House will be considering five bills under suspension. These include: H.R. 701, H.R. 384, H.R. 356, H.R. 767, and H.R. 573. Of particular interest is the H.R. 767, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), which would allow oil and gas companies that want to drill on federal land in the Dakotas the ability to participate in a pilot program designed to speed processing of permit applications. Similar legislation has was introduced by Sen. Hoeven in the US Senate and has been passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
After processing amendments for most of the last two weeks, the Senate will be completing its work on legislation reauthorizing the Water Resources Development Act (S. 601) after working through six remaining amendments.
On the political front, much attention is expected to be focused on the House Judiciary Committee today where the US Attorney General Eric Holder will be asked questions about both the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the DOJ’s decision to subpoena phone records of reporters and editors of the Associated Press without informing the news organization.
Other Items of Interest:
Committee Hosts Forum on Natural Gas Infrastructure: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hosted the first of three forums to discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with expanded natural gas production. A webcast of the forum and the written testimony can be viewed here. The first forum focused on infrastructure challenges of building necessary pipeline infrastructure for transport of natural gas and how to encourage greater use of natural gas in the transportation sector—all during a time of budget austerity.
Inspector General Releases Analysis of IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups: The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released its report on the inappropriate targeting by IRS officials of tax exempt organizations based on their political positions. The activities have prompted both the Finance and Ways and Means Committees to call for oversight hearings to investigate the findings and determine what steps are necessary to address these actions.
Bills Addressing Federal Mineral Royalty Theft Introduced in the House and the Senate: As a result of the sequester, the Department of Interior determined that it could withhold $110 million in state mineral royalty payments to states earlier this year. The states of Wyoming and Colorado were particularly hard hit losing $53 million and $26 million respectively. As a result, Senator Enzi and Rep. Lummis have introduced legislation in both chambers to restrict the ability of the Federal Government to take these funds moving forward. A statement of the Energy Producing States Coalition on the legislation can be viewed here.
Senate Agriculture Committee Approves Farm Bill Reauthorization: The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a reauthorization of the nation’s agriculture and nutrition programs. The bill includes $56 billion in funding for conservation programs over the next 10 years as well as close to $900 million in funding for programs supporting the development and commercialization of ethanol and advanced biofuels.
Important Events and Hearings:
Think Tanks Discuss Governance of Nation’s with Extractive Industries: Today at 10:00 AM at the Brookings Institute, the Brookings Institution and the Revenue Watch Institute will hold thelaunch of the Resource Governance Index, designed to measure the quality of governance in the oil, gas and mining sector of 58 countries worldwide.
Natural Resources Committee Hold Business Meeting to Markup Legislation: Today at 10 AM in 1324 Longworth, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a full committee markup of a broad assortment of legislation. The list includes a number of energy related bills. Those of note include: H.R.761, the “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013”; H.R.981, the “Resource Assessment of Rare Earths (RARE) Act of 2013”; H.R.1063, the “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013”; and H.R.1613, the “Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act.”
ACORE Hosts Briefing on Feasibility of Offshore Wind Production: Today at 12 PM, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) will hold a conference call briefing/webinar “Offshore Wind: A Soon-to-be-Born U.S. Industry or Cost-Prohibitive Fantasy? Jim Lanard, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition; Paul Zarnowiecki, partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; and Doug Sims, energy project finance specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council will participate.
Senate Appropriators Consider FY2014 DOE Budget Request: Today at 2:30 PM in 192 Dirksen, the Senate Appropriations Committee Energy and Water Development Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the proposed budget estimates for FY2014 for the Energy Department. Acting Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman will testify.
House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus Meets: Today at 3 PM in 1334 Longworth, the House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus will hold a briefing on the Energy Department’s nuclear cleanup program in Oak Ridge, Tenn. – part of the 19th annual briefing series that will focus on a specific site office and include presentations conducted by local site managers and contractors.
Member of the Day: Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
Committee Assignments: Transportation & Infrastructure, Veterans’ Affairs
Chief of Staff: Jay Gertsema
Legislative Director: David Rosenbaum
Experience: Dina Titus taught American and Nevada government classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for 34 years. She also served in the Nevada Legislature for 20 years, serving as the Democratic Minority Leader from 1993 to 2008. She was elected to Congress in 2008 and served on the T&I, Ed & Labor, and Homeland Security Committees. She was defeated by Rep. Joe Heck in 2010, but returned this year after her home was redistricted into Rep. Shelley Berkley’s district. When Rep. Berkley decided to run for the US Senate, she ran and won in the heavily democratic district. She earned her Undergraduate degree from William & Mary, a master’s degree from the University of Georgia, and a doctorate from Florida State University.
Importance: Rep. Titus is a returning veteran who understands what it is to lose a seat to a well funded opponent. That experience appeared to have made an impression as she performed as an aggressive and effective fundraiser, stockpiling contributions and distributing more than $400,000 to other candidates in tight races. With a position on the T&I Committee and a lot of political capital to spend, she could be a very effective member.
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 day!
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006