The week ahead: Senate to vote on proposal to block EPA climate rules

At a leadership meeting Monday, top lawmakers will then determine when two other amendments will be considered, including a Republican proposal to permanently eliminate EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources like power plants and refineries.

The amendment, which was offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is based on legislation authored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.). A companion version of the bill passed a key House committee earlier this month and is expected to come up for a vote on the House floor in the coming weeks.

A vote on an amendment by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to delay implementation of EPA rules by two years is also expected.

Lawmakers will also probe U.S. nuclear power plant safety in light of ongoing efforts to gain control of stricken reactors in Japan.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is slated to testify in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday and the House Appropriations Committee Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the Japanese nuclear crisis. Witnesses include Peter Lyons, acting assistant energy secretary at the Office of Nuclear Energy; NRC Executive Director for Operations Bill Borchardt; and David Lochbaum, Nuclear Power Project director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Lawmakers will also continue to raise concerns about high gas prices and domestic oil and gas development at a series of hearings this week.

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on gas prices and farming and the House Natural Resources Committee will examine the issue Thursday.

The House Natural Resource Committee will on Wednesday look into the “spending priorities and mission” of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the agency responsible for overseeing offshore oil and gas drilling. Expect Republicans to continue their criticism of the agency’s offshore drilling policies.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on rising oil prices and “the urgent case for Canadian oil.” The hearing comes as the State Department called for more environmental review of a major proposed Canadian oil sands pipeline.

And Republicans will continue to look into climate science at a House Science Committee hearing Thursday called "Climate Change: Examining the Processes Used to Create Science and Policy."

Other hearings of interest include a Senate Health Committee hearing on mine safety; a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the White House science budget including testimony from Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren; and a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Energy Department loan guarantees.

All four of those hearings are on Thursday.