Energy Roundup: Rockefeller and Reid ponder EPA vote


Rockefeller, Reid meet on EPA rule delay vote
 
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met Tuesday to discuss Rockefeller’s push for a vote this year on his plan to delay EPA climate regulations by two years.
 
The meeting did not appear to result in any firm decisions to take a vote. Reid was noncommittal beforehand to reporters on whether a vote this year would occur.

Any upside for allowing vote?

There is little upside for Reid allowing what would amount to be a symbolic vote to occur given House Democrats have no plans to take up the two-year delay this year, and Rockefeller’s plan faces an expected insurmountable White House veto regardless.
 
A Senate vote, however, could be potentially embarrassing to the White House and Democratic leaders if it gets 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster shortly before the EPA regulations are set to take effect Jan. 2.
 
Reid’s office declined to comment on the meeting with Rockefeller.
 
Rockefeller this week has blamed Republicans for potentially thwarting Reid from keeping his promise to Rockefeller to hold a vote this year.
 
Manchin: Reid promises cap-and-trade is dead

Meanwhile, Rockefeller’s newly anointed fellow West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin Tuesday said he received assurances from Reid personally that cap-and-trade is dead.
 
“He made a total commitment to me that cap and trade is dead when we go through the next Congress,” Manchin told reporters in the Capitol.
 
Manchin — who in one of the midterm election’s more famous TV campaign ads shot a hole through a mock version of last year’s House cap-and-trade bill — also said Tuesday that he “completely” supports Rockefeller’s two-year suspension of EPA’s climate regulations.

Earns rapid Republican backlash

 
Manchin was officially a member of the U.S. Senate for less than a day before getting hammered Tuesday by the National Republican Senatorial Committee for cozying up to Reid.  

NRSC accused Manchin of selling out by accepting $10,000 in campaign cash from Reid’s political action committee while Manchin was running for the Senate, and also for backing Reid to be the Senate Democratic leader in the next Congress as well.
 
“Less than 24 hours after taking the oath of office, Joe Manchin broke his promise to West Virginians by throwing his full support behind Harry Reid and President Obama’s job-killing anti-coal agenda in Washington,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said.

Baucus: What EPA rules?
 
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has shown an interest in doing something about the EPA climate regulations.
 
But that seemed to be the farthest thing from his mind when asked about the topic Tuesday. “Oh god, we haven’t gotten to that yet,” Baucus said.
 
He added that he is “a little nervous about EPA making such sweeping decisions. And then again I don’t support the Rockefeller bill.”
 
He noted that other legislative priorities may shelve that debate this year despite looming EPA regulations covering major polluters like power plants and refineries.
 
“I don’t even know if we’re going to vote on that subject because we have other issues that are more imminent,” Baucus said. He noted expirations of unemployment insurance and the so-called ‘Doc Fix’ extending increased Medicare payment rates to doctors.
 
Other items — including a host of individual and industry-specific tax extensions — expire at the end of the year as well. 

Major report faults BP on risk-taking

“An ‘insufficient consideration of risk’ and ‘a lack of operating discipline’ by oil giant BP PLC contributed to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, according to a report due for public release Wednesday from a team of technical experts,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The report from the National Academy of Engineering represents the most comprehensive examination so far of the causes of the disaster. The panel's interim report reaches few firm conclusions, repeatedly saying that possible causes require further investigation,” the piece adds.

“Nonetheless, its tone is sharply critical of the companies involved, especially BP, which owned the troubled well that exploded on April 20.”

Landrieu continues hold on White House budget nominee

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) hasn’t seen enough action on offshore oil-and-gas drilling permits to allow a Senate vote on the White House pick for federal budget chief, she said through an aide Tuesday.

Landrieu in September blocked the nomination of Jacob Lew to run the Office of Management and Budget in protest of the federal freeze and deepwater drilling (and the slow pace of shallow-water permits).

The Obama administration lifted the formal ban last month, but the senator’s procedural hold on Lew remains, Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders said Tuesday. “The senator continues to be concerned about the pace at which shallow and deep water drilling permits are being issued,” he said.

Murkowski may declare victory Wednesday

Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) looks poised to declare victory Wednesday in her improbable write-in re-election campaign. Alaska state officials Tuesday finished the hand count of write-in ballots, showing Murkowski leading Republican Joe Miller by more than 10,000 votes, more than the 8,000 write-in votes Miller observers have challenged. Murkowski “will not declare victory until all the overseas ballots are counted,” a press release from her campaign said. Those overseas ballots will likely be counted Wednesday and only number up to about 500, which will not impact Murkowski’s expected victory.
 
Murkowski is adamant that she will retain her seniority status in the Republican caucus and remain top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources panel in the next Congress if she is re-elected.
 
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — widely considered a leading challenger to Murkowski’s mantle on the panel — was noncommittal Tuesday about challenging her for the energy committee perch. 
 
On tap Wednesday: Senate EPW examines next WRDA bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a 10 a.m. hearing on reauthorizing the Water Resources Development Act, which includes infrastructure project and programs for levees, harbors and inland waterways systems.
 
WRDA has traditionally been a popular measure that like other infrastructure bills is usually chock full of earmarks to benefit lawmakers in both parties. But, now with Republicans and at least two Democrats lining up in opposition to earmarks for the next Congress, the fate of bills like WRDA are unclear.
 
House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member John Mica (R-Fla.), who will head that panel in the next Congress, Monday said he is confident that big and typically earmark-laden bills like the next highway plan can be passed in the next Congress. “Trust me,” he told E2.
 
On tap Wednesday Part II: House panel hosts ‘rational’ debate on climate science

A House Science and Technology subcommittee promises to hold a “rational discussion” on climate change science at a hearing Wednesday. National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Cicerone, and representatives from the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s climate division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Navy and Housing and Urban Development are among roughly a dozen witnesses appearing.  

On tap Wednesday Part III: Greens preview Cancun
 
The Union of Concerned Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council hold a 10 a.m. conference call briefing to preview the next U.N. climate summit, set to begin Nov. 29 in Cancun. There is no realistic chance of the meeting amounting to a treaty as momentum has slowed since the last summit in Copenhagen last December amid continued rifts between developed and developing nations. 

On tap Wednesday Part IV: Report touts economic benefits of preparing for climate change

Oxfam America will unveil a study that says taking the steps needed to prepare for unavoidable climatic changes can also drive the economy.

It will provide a detailed look at the potential for jobs that build “resilience” to climate change, such as deployment of efficient irrigation and storm warning systems.

Oxfam notes that much has been made of “green jobs” in sectors that can help reduce emissions, like low-carbon energy.

“But not much has been written about another kind of green jobs: those that build resilience to the existing and inevitable impacts of climate change. U.S. companies can expand market share and create jobs as they develop and deploy technologies and services that enhance adaptive capacity in the U.S. and abroad,” they note.

Green groups: Tourism, fishing more valuable than offshore oil

Two environmental groups are making the case against expanded offshore oil-and-gas drilling in dollars-and-cents terms.

Environment America and the Sierra Club released a report Tuesday that weighs the value of coastal tourism and fishing industries against the value of offshore production, which they say presents unacceptable risks.

For instance, it claims: “The annual value of tourism and fishing in states on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the west coast of Florida –- regions that are threatened by the expansion of offshore drilling -- is $204 billion, which is almost 4 times larger than the annual value of any oil and gas that might be found off their coasts.”

In case you missed E2 Tuesday

Our posts included:

Markey: Grijalva drops bid to be top Democrat on Natural Resources

Begich heading to White House to press Arctic offshore drilling timeline

Reid to scrap test vote on natural gas bill, sees chance to move later this year

Reid won't commit to scheduling vote to block EPA climate rules

Upton lays out 'conservative agenda' in launching bid to head energy panel

Moderate green group takes a glove off

New senator Manchin seeks Energy Committee slot