Wednesday in Washington:
Thoughts and Prayers to Oklahoma:
Like the rest of the country, officials in Washington will be assessing the damage and loss of life in Oklahoma from the tornado that left dozens dead, hundreds injured and displaced, and destroyed entire swaths of neighborhoods outside Oklahoma City. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano will be touring the areas hit by the storm today.
While the recovery efforts in Oklahoma take shape, both the House and the Senate will be in session today. The Senate will continue its consideration of the Farm Bill (S. 954) and the House will take up amendments to H.R. 3, expediting the approval and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The amendments in order for the debate include:
Rep. Randy Weber Amendment—adds State Department findings of no significant harm to the bill;
Rep. Henry Waxman Amendment –adds State Department findings of increased GHGs from oil sands;
Rep. Hank Johnson Amendment –requires study of health impacts of increased pollution from KXL;
Rep. Gerry Connolly Amendment—requires study of risk of terrorist attack on the pipeline;
Reps. Rahall / DeFazio Amendment –removes section waiving presidential approval & env review;
Rep. Elizabeth Esty Amendment –removes waivers of reviews for operation and maintenance;
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Amendment –lengthens the time to file a claim from 60 days to 1 year;
Reps. Chu / Polis / Connolly Amendment –requires GAO study of costs of potential pipeline spill;
Rep. Steven Cohen Amendment –requires TransCanada to submit oil spill response plans; and
Rep. Rush Holt Amendment –requires all imported oil products using the pipeline be used domestically.
H.R. 3 is expected to pass. However, there are concerns that Democratic support for the bill in the House may be eroding with Members expressing support for the pipeline and opposition to the bill, claiming it is primarily a partisan exercise. For proponents of the pipeline, this is viewed as a counter-productive step following the 62 votes in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline in the Senate during the budget debate.
Other Items of Interest:
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Consider Energy Export Issues: At acommittee forum yesterday, Members and experts discussed the challenges and opportunities of energy exports, primarily focused on LNG exports. Senator Wyden called the energy abundance brought about by natural gas development from shale a “once in a life-time opportunity…puts the United States in a position of strength. The amount of gas that could be exported, the number of projects that would be built, and the international competition around these facilities were all discussed. Senator Murkowski and others expressed concerns about the length of time LNG facility permitting processes are taking and the potential to miss the window of opportunity for these facilities to be built in the United States.
Senator Wyden and Senator Franken Urge Action to Urge Gasoline Price Spikes: Senators Wyden and Franken sent a letter to the new Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to take steps to combat gasoline price increases, specifically, preventing the simultaneous maintenance shutdowns of several regional refineries. Recent record price spikes in the Midwest, including Minnesota, have been attributed to routine refinery shutdowns, forcing drivers to pay more just ahead of the summer driving season.
API Releases Poll on Americans’ Views on Energy: The American Petroleum Institute released apoll showing that most Americans support the development and export of domestic oil and gas. The telephone poll of 1,006 registered American voters found that Americans believe that more U.S. natural gas exports would help reduce the U.S. trade deficit (63 percent), would help keep energy dollars in the U.S. rather than being sent to other regions of the world (66 percent), and would increase the nation’s energy security (64 percent).
EPA Proposes Changes to the RFS: The EPA has released proposed changes to the RFS. The proposed rule would allow renewable electricity used to power electric vehicles, renewable diesel, and renewable naphtha—all of which are produced from landfill biogas—to generate cellulosic or advanced biofuel renewable identification numbers (RINs). The rule would also allow renewable compressed natural gas produced and renewable liquefied natural gas from landfill biogas to generate cellulosic renewable identification numbers while butanol that has 50 percent fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than comparable petroleum products would be able to qualify as advanced biofuel.
Important Hearings and Events:
Senate Appropriators Consider FY2014 US Forest Service Budget: Today at 9:30 AM in 124 Dirksen, the Senate Appropriations Committee Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the proposed budget estimates for FY2014 for the U.S. Forest Service. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell; and Acting Forest Service Budget Director Barbara Cooper will testify.
House Committee to Consider Energy Bills: Today at 10 AM in 1324 Longworth, the House Natural Resources Committee Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on H.R.1964, the “National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act”; H.R.1965, the “Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act”; H.R.1394, the “Planning for American Energy Act”; and H.R.555, the “BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Live Internet Auctions Act.”
NRC Meets to Discuss Demonstration Programs for Nuclear Fuel Storage: Today at 1 PM at the NRC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will hold a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), Subcommittee on Materials, Metallurgy & Reactor Fuels, to review and discuss the use of demonstration programs as confirmation of the integrity for continued storage of high burnup fuel beyond 20 years.
House T&I Reviews EPA Budget Request: Today at 2 PM in 2167 Rayburn, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee willhold a hearing on “The President’s FY2014 Budget: Administration Priorities for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
Event on Combined Heat and Power Benefits: Today at 3 PM in 210 Cannon, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute holds a briefing on “How Combined Heat and Power Saves Money, Reduces Emissions and Improves Energy Security.” Susan Wickwire, chief of the Energy Supply and Industry Branch of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Protection Partnerships Division; Anne Hampson, senior associate at ICF International; Robert Araujo, manager for sustainable development and environment, health and safety at Sikorsky Helicopter; Tom Bourgeois, deputy director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center at Pace University; and Dale Louda, executive director of the Combined Heat and Power Association will participate.
Climate Change Groups Celebrate a Post-Carbon Future: Today at 6 PM at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, the Earth Day Network will hold its fourth annual Climate Leadership Gala to “celebrate achievements, remove impediments and forge a path to a post-carbon future.” Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group; actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr.; former U.S. ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Melanne Verveer; Yves-Francois Blanchet, Quebec Minister of Sustainable Development and Environment; and Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX will participate.
New Member of the Day: Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Committee Assignments: Science and Veterans Affairs
Chief of Staff: Richard McPike
Legislative Director: Yuri Beckelman
Experience: During WWII, Rep. Takano’s parents and grandparents were removed from their respective homes and sent to Japanese American Internment camps. After the war, these families settled in Riverside County to rebuild their lives. Mark grew up there wresting and playing football in high school and graduating as the valedictorian of his class. He attended Harvard College and received his bachelor’s degree in Government in 1983. Upon graduation, he worked as a substitute teacher for various public school systems in the Boston area. He began teaching in the Rialto Unified School District in 1988. In 1990, he was elected to the Riverside Community College District’s Board of Trustees. He was elected Board President in 1991. In 1992, Mark defeated a field of six opponents to win the Democratic nomination for then California’s 43rd Congressional District and came up less than 550 votes short. He has won re-election to the Board of Trustees in 1995, 1999, 2004 and 2008. He has served in roles on the Community Advisory Board of the Children’s Spine Foundation and the Board of the Chancellor’s Asian Pacific Islander Community Advisory Center at UC Riverside. He served as chairman of the Riverside Mayor’s Task Force on the Digital Divide, Chairman of the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus of the California Democratic Party, a charter member of the Association of Latino Community College Trustees, a member of the Association of California Asian American Trustees and a member of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education. He is a recipient of the Martin Luther King Visionaries Award.
Importance: Rep. Takano is a Member of the House Science Committee which has oversight on key issues related energy and environmental research. He is also the first non-white, openly gay Member of the House. He has consistently out performed other Democrats in his district, showing his ability to appeal to voters outside the base of the party. He is an educator and has expressed support for education reform, tax reform for small businesses, and support for job creation. During a recent hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline when a Republican colleague mentioned Caribou populations growing and benefiting from the TransAlaska Pipeline, Rep. Takano quipped: “It is rare moment when I completely agree with my colleague from California…I EAT carribou.” It was a light-hearted moment, but a demonstration of his ability to interact in a collegial and entertaining way even during a politically charged hearing on a controversial matter. He is smart, from a safe district, and has the demeanor to advance in the committee structures.
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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