Thursday in Washington:
Recess Continues While Scandals Fester:
Work in Washington remains focused on investigations and scandals that surfaced during the last work period on the Hill. Additional information on the HHS Secretary’s fundraising activities is coming to light and a hearing with the groups targeted by the IRS is planned for next week. As recess comes to a close, staffs are bracing for a very busy work period.
Other Items of Interest:
CBO Releases Report on Distribution of Tax Expenditures: As work continues to craft comprehensive tax reform legislation, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee are considering the impact certain changes could have on the economy and different income classes in the United States. The Congressional Budget Office released a report evaluating these variables and indentifying which groups benefit most from specific provisions in the tax code. The report will be used to help educate Committee Members as they try to finalize a tax reform proposal for consideration by the end of the year.
Chairman of the FERC Stepping Down: Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced that he intends to step downstep down. He will continue in his role until a replacement is identified and approved by the commission. A few names have been rumored, but nothing official yet on the list of potential replacements being considered. However, the senior Democrat on the commission, John Norris, is expected to become the next Chair.
BSEE to Establish Ocean Energy Safety Institute: The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director James Watson announced the Bureau is taking steps to establish an independent Ocean Energy Safety Institute (Institute) to further enhance safe and responsible operations across the offshore oil and gas industry. The Institute will provide a forum for dialogue, shared learning and cooperative research among academia, government, industry and other non-government organizations in offshore-related technologies and activities that ensure safe operations with limited impact to the environment.
House Small Business Committee Adds Energy Related Regs to Watch List: The House Small Business Committee announced additions to its list of regulations that could impact small businesses. The EPA Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards proposed rule would establish more stringent vehicle emissions standards and reduce the sulfur content of gasoline beginning in 2017. The rule could affect small businesses such as gasoline refiners, motor vehicle manufacturers, and alternative fuel converters, among others. This comment period ends July 1. The DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is reviewing its existing hazardous material regulations in an effort to identify requirements that are unduly burdensome for small businesses. The agency is seeking comments on hazardous materials regulations dealing with registration of cargo tank vehicle manufacturers, the approval process for persons seeking to establish independent inspection agencies, and enforcement penalties. This comment period ends July 8.
Groundwater Study from PA Shows No Groundwater Contamination from Hydraulic Fracturing: A new study was released following the testing of 1701 water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania. The study shows that methane is ubiquitous in groundwater in the area, with higher concentrations observed in valleys vs. upland areas indicating that methane concentrations are best correlated to topographic and hydrogeologic features, rather than shale-gas extraction. The study also show that isotopic and molecular analyses of hydrocarbon gases in the Dimock Township suggest that gases present in local water wells are most consistent with Middle and Upper Devonian gases sampled in the annular spaces of local gas wells, as opposed to Marcellus Production gas.
Important Events and Hearings:
US Energy Association Annual Membership Meeting and Policy Forum: Today at 11 AM at the National Press Club, the United States Energy Association (USEA) holds its annual membership meeting and public policy forum. Acting Assistant Energy Secretary for Fossil Energy Christopher Smith; Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Philip Moeller; U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast; Karl Rose, director of policy and scenarios at the World Energy Council; Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy; Tom Kuhn, president of Edison Electric Institute; Walter Howard, CEO of Westinghouse Plasma Corporation; Sheila Hollis, partner at Duane Morris LLP; Jack Futcher, president of Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals Inc.; Javier Humberto Estrada of the Mexico Department of Energy; Anita Decker, chief operating officer at Bonneville Power Administration; Vicky Bailey, principal at BHMM Energy Services LLC; Greg Aliff, vice chairman and senior partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP; and Jun Wyeon Byun, vice president and director of Korea Electric Power Company, will be participating. Additional information about the event can be found here.
API Holds Conference Call on New Ozone Standards: Today at 11 AM, the American Petroleum Institute (API) will hold a conference call to discuss how the Environmental Protection Agency’s “proposed new ozone standards – expected later this year – could pose a major threat to U.S. economic recovery, domestic manufacturing and job creation.” Howard Feldman, API director of regulatory and scientific affairs, will lead the discussion. Note: Call-in, 800-374-2418; password, 875 92 704. Open to credentialed media only. There will be a question and answer session for reporters. API will release “an info graphic map showing which areas of the country would go into nonattainment status under the new standard.”
Small Scale LNG Webinar: Today at 2 PM, Pace Global will hold a webinar, on “Small Scale LNG (Liquid Natural Gas): Why It Works,” on efforts by infrastructure developers to permit and construct LNG export capacity. Todd Thurlow, vice president of Pace Global, will lead the discussion. Webinar information is available at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/481715209.
New Member of the Day: US Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Committee Assignments: Environment and Public Works, Commerce, Armed Services, Indian Affairs, and Small Business
Chief of Staff: Mike Hybl
Legislative Director: Stephen Higgins
Experience: Sen. Fischer attended the University of Nebraska where she earned a B.S. in Education. She got involved in leadership in local and statewide education associations. She was elected to the Valentine Rural High School Board of Education, became President of the Nebraska Association of School Boards and served as a commissioner on the Coordinating Commission for Post-Secondary Education. In 2004, she was elected to the Nebraska Legislature to represent the 43rd District, and then re-elected in 2008. She most recently served as the Chair of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. She also served on the Revenue Committee and the Executive Board. She and her husband, along with their three adult sons and their families operate a ranch in Valentine, NE called Sunny Slope Ranch.
Importance: As a rancher and a proponent of both conventional and alternative energy, Senator Fischer brings a unique, agriculture-based appreciation to both environmental and energy issues. She is a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline as well as corn-based ethanol. She has expressed opposition overly burdensome EPA regulations and is an opponent of the Administration’s cap and trade proposals for climate change. With seats on the EPW, Commerce and Armed Services Committees, she is in a very good position to advocate for policies that will benefit energy consumers.
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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