OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Chu in the hot seat

Waxman calls the measure a “lose-lose-lose proposition that harms public health, the environment, and our economy.” The letter is co-signed by Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Power Subcommittee.

Greens push back on CR amendments

The scores of proposed amendments to the CR include several that would curtail environmental rules and policies.

The Natural Resources Defense Council will hold a conference call Wednesday to attack amendments that “are designed repeal practically every major environmental law that for more than 40 years have improved our health and quality of life.”

It’s not clear which of the 400-plus amendments will actually be voted on.

But examples of amendments filed include Rep. Raul Labrador’s (R-Idaho) measure to blocking rules to reduce air toxic emissions from industrial boilers; amendments by several GOP lawmakers to prevent EPA and the Interior Department from using funds to crack down on mountaintop removal mining projects; and amendments to block planned EPA rules to toughen regulation of coal ash, a waste product from coal-fired power plants.

Interior takes ‘fresh look’ at oil shale rules . . .


Interior Department on Tuesday said it’s taking a “fresh look” at Bush-era policies governing potential commercial development of oil shale – a massive resource in western states that would bring a host of environmental concerns with it if development proceeds.

“With commercial oil shale technologies still years away, now is the time to ensure that our rules and plans reflect the latest information and will deliver a fair return to the American taxpayer,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.

Interior is mulling issues including where to set royalty rates and “whether future applications to lease should include specified resource protection plans, and whether aspects of the existing regulations should be clarified.”

. . . and draws fresh attacks from a senior Republican


House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) slammed Interior’s action, calling it “yet another example of the Obama Administration proactively stopping American job-creating energy projects before they can begin.”

"The current commercial rules for oil shale leasing were adopted under a rigorous and open public rule making process. There is no need to review the rules unless their intention is to halt progress on the development of our oil shale resources and create more uncertainty for companies interested in investing in new technology,” he said.

Obama waves veto pen at House CR

As The Hill reported earlier Tuesday, the White House threatened to veto the House continuing resolution.

“If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill,” the White House said in a statement.

It didn’t get specific on energy or climate issues, but the plan would make deep cuts to green energy programs that the White House has called priorities and would also block funding for EPA climate regulations.

The House is voting this week on the plan to keep the government funded between early March and the end of September.

Murkowski introduces bills to allow drilling in ANWR

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced two bills Tuesday that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ANWR is a political no-go for most Democrats, but Murkowski has been a constant advocate for drilling in the region. There isn't currently enough support to pass an ANWR drilling bill in the Senate.

Environmental groups quickly decried the effort. “Our message to Senator Murkowski remains the same: The American people will never embrace any proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, said in a statement.

Interior Department responds to Vitter’s hold

The Interior Department responded Tuesday to an announcement by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that he was placing a hold on President Obama’s nominee to head the department’s Fish and Wildlife Service until 15 deepwater drilling permits are issued.

“Permits to drill are issued solely based on whether a company’s application meets rigorous safety and environmental standards—including demonstrating containment capabilities,” Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said. “BOEMRE continues to issue [shallow-water] permits, and the Bureau is working as expeditiously as is safely possible to review drilling permits as they are submitted and ensure they meet the important safety standards put in place in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”


ON TAP WEDNESDAY:

Obama to tout ‘great outdoors’ program

President Obama will talk about conservation Wednesday.

“The President will deliver remarks in the East Room on the America’s Great Outdoors initiative. President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors initiative on April 16, 2010, and charged the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation strategy based on the priorities of American communities,” an advisory states.

Lung association poll to show support for air pollution safeguards

The American Lung Association is releasing polling results that show strong public support for Clean Air Act protections, according to an advisory. The event is part of an effort by environmental and public health groups to battle GOP plans to sharply cut EPA funding and delay or block several planned rules.

EPA official to speak at ‘green business’ conference

Paul Anastas, who heads EPA’s Office of Research and Development, will give the keynote address at GreenBiz.com’s State of Green Business Forum in Washington, D.C.

Whitfield, Wellinghoff headline electricity forum


The Energy Department and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners kick-off the two-day National Electricity Forum. Wednesday’s speakers include Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who is a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Welinghoff.

Lugar headlines energy efficiency forum

The Alliance to Save Energy is hosting a Capitol Hill forum that will include Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who is planning to reintroduce a broad energy bill that includes efficiency provisions.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Today, E2 reported on a spat between Hollywood actors Kevin Costner and Stephen Baldwin over oil spill cleanup technology; plans by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) to find bipartisan support for his upcoming energy bill; Obama defending his proposal to cut LIHEAP; GOP criticism of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Obama challenging lawmakers to support his proposal to eliminate oil industry tax breaks.

Then we told you about a Republican amendment to a House spending bill that would block funding for EPA’s policy allowing higher ethanol blends; an effort by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to mobilize her fellow senators against a proposal to slash renewable loan guarantees; and a hold on a key Interior official by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).

Then, just for good measure, we reported that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has yet to do a whip count on whether a House spending bill that blocks funding for EPA climate rules could move in the Senate. We also reported that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has agreed to look into petroleum industry backing for climatologist Patrick Michaels.

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Andrew Restuccia, arestuccia@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @E2Wire, @AndrewRestuccia.