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STATE OF PLAY: House battle over EPA rules draws closer
How fast will House Republicans try and make good on pledges to nix environmental rules they call burdensome? On the eve of the new Congress, incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday afternoon that targeting “job-killing” regulations is on the House agenda in the three weeks before President Obama’s State of the Union speech in late January.
Cantor said tackling regulations — exactly how, he didn’t say — will come the third week, but provided no specifics about what kinds of rules. “We are going to be placing our marker down and insisting that our committees go about identifying and overseeing what the Administration's regulatory agencies have been doing, in terms of their job-killing agenda,” he told reporters.
It’s not clear whether Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policies on climate change or other issues will be debated in some fashion out of the gate. “Specific pieces of legislation will be announced each week — [Cantor] was announcing the buckets and overarching principles that they would fall under,” a GOP leadership aide said in an e-mail.
Biggest battles look further off
An energy industry lobbyist warns not to expect a showdown on EPA climate rules to come so quickly. “I am getting a strong sense it will not be the case,” the lobbyist said.
Daniel J. Weiss, a climate advocate with the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund, said environmentalists can’t rule out a near-term fight over rules on greenhouse gases or other pollutants from power plants such as mercury and sulfur dioxide. But he said anything the House might pass initially would be largely symbolic because it would have very little chance of clearing the Senate and becoming law.
A bigger concern, Weiss said, are riders to block funding for EPA rules on the next continuing resolution (CR), a must-pass bill to keep the government running after the current CR expires in March. He said that any efforts before the State of the Union speech would be “exhibition season” and the CR would be the “playoffs.”
Either way, Weiss adds, the dawn of the new Congress means that the battle is under way. “We know that this debate is beginning right now,” he said. New House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) on Sunday promised to hold hearings “early, early” in the new Congress about EPA climate rules.
ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: State Department climate envoy talks about life after Cancún
Jonathan Pershing, the State Department’s deputy special envoy for climate change, will talk about the future of international climate negotiations following United Nations talks in Cancún, Mexico. The event, which is sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is at 1 p.m.
ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: Mine safety in the spotlight
The Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration will hold a conference call in the morning to provide an update on its regulatory agenda. The issue has received greater attention since April’s deadly explosion of Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, which killed 29 workers.
Landrieu skeptical about Interior’s plan to expedite drilling
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said Tuesday she agrees “in principle” with the Obama administration’s decision not to mandate new environmental reviews of certain drilling projects halted as a result of the deepwater drilling moratorium. But Landrieu — a staunch drilling supporter — said she needs more information.
In a statement, Landrieu said: “While we welcome in principle the administration’s stated intent to put these 13 deepwater drilling operations back to work, I’m not yet convinced this is entirely good news for Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. We need to know more about the conditions under which drilling will be allowed to resume and make sure those conditions don’t actually undermine the intent. We look forward to hearing more about how this action will affect companies with drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Rep. Hastings not surprised by possible Energy and Commerce hearings on drilling
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Tuesday that he might hold hearings on the Obama administration’s offshore drilling plans. If that rankled incoming House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) — whose committee has key jurisdiction over drilling in federal waters — he’s not showing it publicly.
“It’s not surprising that other committees are also interested in looking at the Obama Administration’s economically disastrous policies to lock-up our nation’s vast energy resources,” said Hastings spokesman Spencer Pederson.
House global warming committee staff say goodbye
Staff for the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming said its final goodbye Monday with a compendium of its major accomplishments. The committee, which was created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2007, was disbanded by Republicans, who are taking over the House Wednesday.
“As the Select Committee ends its tenure of progress, it is clear that there is much left to be done to stabilize our global climate, and spur the development of clean energy technology and jobs here in America,” the report says.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
Tuesday was a drilling-heavy day at E2. First, we spotted Upton at the American Petroleum Institute’s “state of American energy” event. Then we caught up with the Michigan Republican, who told reporters that he may hold hearings on the Interior Department’s five-year offshore leasing plan. And we reported that API is planning to lobby for wider development in the plan.
In non-drilling related news, EPA is requiring the manufacturers of 19 chemicals to provide the agency with safety and environmental data.
AROUND THE WEB
Shell’s Alaskan woes continue
“Royal Dutch Shell was dealt a new setback in its plans to drill offshore in the arctic, after environmentalists successfully challenged a decision to grant the company air-quality permits,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Mountaintop mining foe passes away
“West Virginia environmental activist Julia ‘Judy’ Bonds, who garnered national attention for her homespun opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining, has died, the environmental group Coal River Mountain Watch said Tuesday,” the Associated Press reports.