Thursday in Washington:
Troubles Mounting in DC:
Both the Senate and the House are in session today. The Senate wrapped up its work on legislation reauthorizing the Water Resources Development Act (S. 601) by a vote of 83-14. The House has yet to markup its version of the bill in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but it is expected that the House’s version will be quite different from the Senate version passed yesterday. A conference would be needed to work out the differences between the two bills once the House passes its version.
As the scandal over the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups grows, Senator Baucus gave remarks expressing his grave concern over the practices of the IRS and how the actions could undermine public trust. The head of the IRS, Steven Miller, announced his retirement today following the Inspector General’s report citing poor management of the department.
The House will be considering legislation (H.R. 45) repealing the 2010 Affordable Healthcare Act. The Senate is expected to take up and vote on the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz to serve at the next Secretary of Energy, while a vote may also take place in the Senate EPW Committee on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to serve as the next Administrator of the EPA.
Other Items of Interest:
House Energy and Commerce Committee Approves Bipartisan Energy Reliability Bill: The Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 271, the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act. Introduced by Reps. Pete Olson (R-TX) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), will ensure US power companies are able to comply with DOE emergency orders to maintain grid reliability without facing penalties for violating potentially conflicting environmental laws. The Federal Power Act authorizes the DOE to order electric generating facilities to continue operating in order to avoid potential reliability-related emergencies. However, compliance with such an emergency order could trigger a violation of environmental laws and regulations, potentially exposing the generator to penalties and lawsuits. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation makes an important clarification to the Federal Power Act so that utilities will not be subject to penalties when working with DOE to keep the lights on.
House Natural Resources Committee Approves Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement with Mexico: The House Natural Resources Committee approved H.R. 1613, the “Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act.” The bill will approve and implement the terms of the U.S. – Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement that governs the development of shared oil and natural gas resources along the U.S. – Mexico maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill would lift the current moratorium on drilling along the maritime border and provide new access to an area estimated to contain as much as 172 million barrels of oil and 304 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
House Natural Resources Committee Approves Three Bills Addressing Critical Mineral Development: H.R. 687, the “Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act,” sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04), authorizes a land exchange to open up the largest copper mine in North America. H.R. 761, the “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013,” sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei (NM-02), allows the U.S. to more efficiently develop our Nation’s strategic and critical minerals. The bill streamlines the permitting process for mineral development by coordinating the actions of federal agencies and defines critical and strategic minerals. H.R. 1063, the “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013,” sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-05), addresses the lack of a coherent national policy to assure domestic availability of minerals essential for national economic well-being, national security, and global economic competitiveness.
House Science Committee Members Urge Approval of Keystone: Following a hearing last week featuring Brigham McCown, the first acting administrator of PHMSA, on the scientific and environmental aspects of the Keystone XL pipeline, Members of the Committee led by Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) offered a House Resolution (H.Res.214) highlighting the extensive analysis conducted by the State Department, which conclusively found that Keystone XL would be safe and environmentally sound.
Important Events and Hearings:
Third House Committee to Markup Keystone Legislation: Today at 9:30 AM in 2167 Rayburn, the House Transportation and Infrastructure will markup H.R.3, the “Northern Route Approval Act,” and other legislation. Additional information on the legislation and the markup can be found here: http://transportation.house.gov.
House Small Business Committee Holds Hearing on Keystone XL: Today at 10 AM in 2360 Rayburn, the House Small Business Committee Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled: “If You Build It: The Keystone XL Pipeline and Small Business Job Growth.” Brent Booker, secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department; Peter Bowe, president and CEO of Ellicott Dredges, Baltimore, Md., representing the National Association of Manufacturerers; and Mat Brainerd, president of Brainerd Chemical Company, Tulsa, Okla., representing National Association of Chemical Distributors, will testify. Additional information about the hearing can be found here: http://smallbusiness.house.gov.
House Energy and Commerce Committee to Review EPA’s Budget: Today 10 AM in 2123 Rayburn, the House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The FY2014 Environmental Protection Agency Budget.” Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe will testify. Additional information about the hearing can be found here:http://energycommerce.house.gov.
House Oversight Committee to Review Pace of Oil and Gas Leasing on Public Lands: Today at 10:30 AM in 2154 Rayburn, the House Oversight Committee Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled: “Opportunities Lost: Constraints on Oil and Gas Production on Federal Lands and Waters.” Additional information on the hearing can be found here: http://oversight.house.gov.
EPA to Hold Teleconference on Hydraulic Fracturing Research: Today at 1 PM, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold a meeting by teleconference of the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel to provide an opportunity for independent expert members of the ad hoc panel to provide comment on EPA’s study of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. Additional information about the teleconference can be requested by contacting Edward Hanlon at 202-564-2134 or by E-mail at email@example.com.
Recent Duke/USGS Study Shows No Contamination of Ground Water From Hydraulic Fracturing: Researchconducted by Duke University scientists found no evidence of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing and shale gas production in Arkansas. Scientists from Duke and the USGS sampled 127 shallow drinking water wells overlying the Fayetteville Shale, one of the most prolific U.S. sources of natural gas. They found slight amounts of dissolved methane in a fraction of groundwater samples, but the isotopic fingerprint of the carbon in the methane differed from the carbon in deep shale gas in all but two cases. The results indicated the methane was produced primarily by biological activity rather than shale gas production.
New Member of the Day: US Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)
Committee Assignments: Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce, HELP, Small Business, Aging
Chief of Staff: Rich Dunn
Deputy COS: Jennifer DeCasper
Legislative Director: Kimberly Wallner
Experience: Prior to being appointed to the Senate by Governor Nikki Haley to complete Sen. DeMint’s term, Senator Scott served in the United States House of Representatives from 2011-2013, where he was a member of House leadership and sat on the House Rules Committee. He also served on Charleston County Council for 13 years, including four terms as Chair and in the South Carolina House of Representatives for two years where he was elected Chairman of the Freshman Caucus and House Whip. He was the owner of Tim Scott Allstate and partner of Pathway Real Estate Group.
Importance: As the only African American serving in the US Senate and the first from the Deep South in more than a century, Senator Scott will garner significant media attention even before he begins legislating. He is an affable yet fierce advocate for fiscal restraint and free market principles. He is a supporter of expanded energy production and with seats on both the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee, he is well positioned to help advance legislation allowing for expanded offshore development on the Atlantic coast.
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!
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