Members of Congress return the Capitol this week with both congressional and executive branch approval ratings approaching new lows. Despite the public’s expressed distaste for the partisan gridlock, little progress is expected before the mid-term elections on issues ranging from immigration to tax reform. Even a measure to avert a 24 percent cut in doctor reimbursements for Medicare patients is struggling to find a way to passage. However, the crisis in the Ukraine may be opening the door for some legislation to move, including an aid package to Eastern Europe and other measures involving energy aimed at loosening the grip of Russian natural gas on the continent.
Energy Focus this Week
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act (H.R. 6), a bill sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) expediting review and approval of LNG exports to WTO countries. The House Foreign Relations Committee will be focusing on the geopolitical importance of US energy production at a hearing planned for this Wednesday. On the Senate side, similar sentiments are expected to be expressed as US Senator Mary Landrieu chairs her first hearing since taking the gavel and uses the opportunity to highlight the need for more US energy production. The House may also consider a bill (HR 1459) limiting the President’s use of the Antiquities Act to designate national monuments. Concerns have been raised about the use of the Act to limit access to vast areas of public lands development and energy production as well as infringing on private property rights.
Other Items of Interest
EPA Minority Staff Releases Report on EPA Policies and the John Beale Controversy: The report traces Beale’s involvement as the lead EPA official for one of the most controversial and far reaching regulations ever issued by the Agency, the 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone and Particulate Matter (PM).
Department of Interior oil and gas lease sales for in GOM garner $872,143,771 million: Last week’s announced leases included bids on 329 tracts covering 1,707,358 acres in the Gulf of Mexico. The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offered nearly 40 million acres covering tracts in the Central and Eastern planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico, and opened bids from previously offered acreage in the Western planning area.
US Joins Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative: The Department of Interior announced that the United States has officially joined a global effort to increase transparency and strengthen public trust in the governance of natural resource revenues. The U.S. application for candidacy in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was approved by the EITI Board at its March 18-19 meeting in Oslo, Norway.
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