Thursday in Washington:
Week Coming to a Close:
Both the House and the Senate are in session today. The Senate will be continuing consideration of immigration reform legislation (S. 744). The House will be considering amendments to the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1960). Of particular interest today will be the testimony of the Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, before the House Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Secretary has spoken favorably of both the economic and environmental benefits of shale gas development, but concerns and controversy still surrounds the Department’s review process for LNG exports to non-FTA countries. Questions may also emerge with respect to a growing scandal concerning the process whereby a $23 billion award for nuclear waste related services was made by the department with little or no adherence to required processes.
Other Items of Interest:
House Natural Resources Committee Passes Legislation Promoting Energy Development: During a four hour legislative markup, the House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 2231 by a vote of 23 to 18. The legislation will expedite offshore oil and gas lease sales in the Atlantic off the coasts of Virginia and South Carolina, authorize additional production from existing infrastructure off the coast of California, expand revenue sharing provisions from the Gulf of Mexico to other coastal states, and provide reforms to the leasing program at the DOI. The committee also approved H.R. 1964, legislation specifically calling for assessment and development of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska and authorizing the USGS to use funding from the state of Alaska to carry out the resource assessment over the next 24 months. The legislation was approved by a vote of 26 to 14. The committee also passed H.R. 1548, the Native American Energy Act, streamlining federal regulations that are limiting tribal energy development on Indian lands. The legislation passed by a vote of 25 to 15.
EIA Releases Paper on 2013 Run Up in RIN Prices: The EIA released a paper reviewing the causes of the run up in RIN prices earlier this year. Before 2013, RIN prices for corn ethanol had consistently ranged between $0.01 per gallon to $0.05 per gallon, and were substantially lower than biodiesel RIN prices. At the start of 2013, corn ethanol RIN prices began to increase sharply, reaching highs around $1.00 per gallon in early March and for the first time approached levels similar to biodiesel RIN prices. The EIA analysis indicates that the increase in the ethanol RIN prices reflects the market’s concern that the rising RFS-mandated volumes and the E10 ethanol blend wall will contribute to future significant increases in the cost of blending biofuels to meet the RFS statutory volumes.
Congressmen Smith and Stewart Demand Release of EPA Data Behind Air Regulations: The Chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, and the Chairman of the Environment Subcommittee of the House Science Committee, Rep. Tim Stewart, sent a letter to the EPA requesting the immediate release of data used in the formulation of new PM 2.5 air regulations and ozone standards. The data sets used for those regulations have been called into question, yet they were used again in the justification for the new Tier 3 standards. The regulations could have broad implications for communities and consumers around the country, but the EPA has been unwilling to share the information with congressional oversight committees. The Environment Subcommittee held a hearing on the feasibility of the new ozone standards yesterday highlighting the challenges implementation faces and underscoring the need for sound scientific justification for moving forward.
Bipartisan Policy Center Hosts Discussion on Geopolitical Considerations of US Shale Development: Yesterday, the BPC hosted an impressive array of government officials and energy industry experts to discuss the geopolitical impacts of the US shale gas boom. The speakers talked about US energy security, the ability to impose meaningful sanctions on Iran, less reliance upon OPEC nations, and increased global competitiveness of US manufacturing. Senator Lisa Murkowskiaddressed the meeting highlighting the dynamic nature of international energy politics and the importance of the US maximizing the opportunities presented by our resource abundance.
USDA Announces Additional Funding to Support Rural Electricity Providers: The US Department of Agriculture announced funding for rural electric projects in 16 states to provide reliable, affordable electricity for rural residents, including improved service for Native Americans. The announcement today includes more than $356 million in loans to upgrade rural electric services, including more than $15 million in smart grid funding. According to USDA, the funds will finance the construction of more than 2,400 miles of new or improved electric line. Since 2011, rural electric cooperatives have used USDA funding to invest nearly $560 million in smart grid improvements.
Important Hearings and Events:
Extractive Industry Stakeholders Hold Meeting on Revenue Disclosures: Today at 9:30 AM, the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Multi-Stakeholder Group (USEITI MSG) Advisory Committee is meeting to discuss the legal context for revenue disclosures, consideration of sub-national payments, and discussions on scope and materiality. The meeting is taking place at the Department of Interior in Washington, DC. The meeting is available via teleconference at 866-707-0640; passcode, 1500538.
Secretary Moniz Testifies Before the House: Today at 10AM in 2123 Rayburn, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The FY2014 U.S. Department of Energy Budget.” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will be testifying. Additional information about the hearing can be found here.
TSCA Hearing Planned in the House: Today at 10AM in 2322 Rayburn, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Environment and the Economy Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act: Understanding its History and Reviewing its Impact.” Additional information on the hearing can be found here.
New member of the day: Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT-02)
Committee Assignments: Natural Resources, Homeland Security, and Science
Chief of Staff: Brian Steed
Legislative Director: Gordon Larsen
Experience: Chris Stewart is a New York Times best-selling author, an Air Force pilot, and a small business owner. He grew up on a dairy farm in Cache Valley as one of ten siblings. His father was an Air Force pilot who retired to teach school and farm. His mother was recognized as Utah Mother of the Year in 1996. He attended Utah State University, where he earned a degree in economics. Upon graduation, Chris joined the US Air Force where he served for fourteen years as a pilot, flying both rescue helicopters and the B-1B bomber. On June 3, 1995, Chris and a flight of two B-1s set the world record for the fastest non-stop flight around the world. Most recently, he served
as president and CEO of the Shipley Group, a consulting firm focused on energy and the environment issues.
Importance: Rep. Stewart is uniquely aware of the challenges and opportunities facing extractive industries, with a particular expertise with regard to NEPA regulations. On energy matters, he has said he wants to increase domestic production, including offshore oil drilling and production from federal lands. With seats on both the Natural Resources Committee and the House Science Committee he is well positioned to help shape policies easing access and development of domestic resources while directing federal R&D effort to support these initiatives.
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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