OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Mountaintop mining battle escalates

The letter says the possible nixing of the mine, in concert with EPA’s tougher line on mountaintop mining in general, “are having a chilling effect on the coal industry in Appalachia — an industry that supplies affordable energy to families across the country.” 

The nine signatories include incoming Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who will head the Energy and Power Subcommittee, and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the current Natural Resources Committee chairman who will be the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the GOP-led House.

“Perhaps most disturbing, by vetoing a permit that has already been issued, the EPA will spur turmoil across numerous industries and businesses that rely on a fair, transparent, and consistent government permitting program,” adds the letter. It asks for a White House review of the Spruce mine issue and future permitting.

Rockefeller, Manchin hit EPA on mine permit

Across the Capitol, West Virginia’s Senate delegation sent EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson a letter Monday that says an EPA veto of the Army Corps of Engineers’ permit for the Spruce mine would be a “devastating blow” to economic recovery efforts.

“A unilateral decision by EPA to revoke a permit after the permit was lawfully issued will undoubtedly undermine any confidence businesses may have that the government will honor its promises and protect investments,” wrote Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin.

On Tap Tuesday: Poll weighs opinions on gas drilling method

A nonprofit environmental think tank will release a poll Tuesday on public attitudes about “hydraulic fracturing,” the natural-gas drilling technique that’s enabling new development and bringing fears of groundwater contamination along with it.

The Civil Society Institute — a think tank that pushes low-carbon power and conservation — will release the polling conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation.


NEWS BITES:

Barton spokeswoman bows out

The changes continue at the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Lisa Miller is leaving her role as committee communications director for Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking Republican on the panel. Barton lost out to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in the fight to lead the committee when Republicans take over again in the next Congress, although he will have the title of “chairman emeritus.” 

Miller isn't seeking to stick around under the new regime. Instead, the eighth-generation Texan is moving to Dallas next month after more than six years with the panel.

Interior Department approves ninth solar project on public lands

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the ninth commercial-scale solar energy project on public lands Monday. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, located in Nevada, will produce enough electricity to power 75,000 homes and will create as many as 500 new jobs, the Interior Department said.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

On this chilly Monday before Christmas, E2 told you about an effort by the auto and boat industry to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow higher blends of ethanol in gasoline. We also broke down the energy-related provisions included in the Senate continuing resolution.

And we reported on the Senate passing a bill to restrict the U.S. shark fin trade, as well as the EPA touting the success of its acid-rain cap-and-trade program. On top of that, we told you about a House Republican’s pledge to scrutinize the Obama administration’s scientific integrity policy.


AROUND THE WEB:

United Nations calls for stringent emissions cuts

“The United Nations urged governments on Monday to make deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions quickly, saying the world will otherwise overshoot a ceiling for global warming agreed this month in Mexico,” Reuters reports.

Gas prices could go up significantly this spring

The Houston Chronicle reports: “Pump prices nationwide for regular unleaded could hit an average of $3.25 to $3.75 a gallon early next year on higher crude oil prices and a seasonal rise in gasoline demand, Tom Kloza, senior oil analyst with the Oil Price Information Service predicts.”

A holiday energy poem...

Frank Maisano, a consultant at the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani who works with a number of industry groups at the center of the climate and energy debate, sent out his sixth annual holiday energy poem:

The week before Christmas rolls in with a roar;
for the second year in a row, Congress still labors with more
to do on our issues…or keeping government afloat; poor Jay Rockefeller has missed the boat;
to limit GHG regs that start January First; Lisa Jackson is ready, most industries expect the worst.

But voters made it loud and clear; that more energy is good, nothing to fear.
Fracking for gas, digging for coal; more oil, nukes, wind turbines should all be our goal.
 
But what would it be this year if not for a Gulf spill; there were many big challenges, and for us, an A Whale thrill.
I looked in my stocking for a shallow water permit or two, to get more guys working, they need to be new;
But alas few permits in a slow-walked game; trying to get NTLs has left us thinking they’re lame,
We hope BOEMR can help solve the challenging mess; unstacking drilling rigs will help, we often have confessed.

Enough of dealing with this big energy talk, we need to change direction, walk a new walk.
We need to enjoy families and not work so hard; because next year’s Congress is playing with new cards.

So enjoy your holidays and take in some events; football bowls, good books or new regs on cement.
I hope the roar dulls soon here after, that way we can enjoy some rest and good laughter.

The next year will open with a very hard charge; there will be lots to do to pay off our credit cards.
We’re giving you our best, a yuletide renewable cheer; happy holidays and best regards now and for the new year.