OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Strategic oil reserve, Interior nominee in focus

A Murkowski spokesman said the senator might raise the issue at the hearing.

Wodder, for her part, has drawn criticism from Republicans, who question her past work with The Wilderness Society and American Rivers.

But a group of fishing and conservation groups wrote to Senate lawmakers this week to express “strong support” for Wodder.

“We believe that Ms.Wodder’s expertise in both natural resource policy and organizational management as well as her proven track record of bringing together diverse interests will be a tremendous asset to the Department of Interior, to our nation’s valuable natural resources and the economies and communities that rely upon them,” states the letter from the Alaska Trollers Association, the Conservation Alliance, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association and other groups.

NEWS BITES:

Green groups offer measured response to Obama's fuel-economy plan

Environmental and clean air groups offered a measured response to fuel-economy standards floated by the Obama administration this week.

“The president’s proposal is a significant acceleration in the fight against global warming and oil addiction, [but] it was weakened by auto industry lobbyists,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign.

The Union of Concerned Scientists called the upcoming vehicle-fuel-economy standards a “positive milestone on the road to strong vehicle and fuel-efficiency standards and the pollution reductions, energy security benefits and consumer savings they can deliver.”

Michelle Robinson, director of the UCS’s clean vehicles program, said the group would work to “ensure that the standards remain strong and free of significant loopholes.”

“There are still important details that need to be finalized that will determine the overall success of this program,” she said.

As The Hill reported Wednesday, President Obama is slated to announce the new fuel-economy standards for model year 2017-2025 vehicles Friday.

Obama will propose a 54.5-miles-per-gallon-by-2025 standard, according to sources familiar with discussions between the administration and the country’s major automakers. The administration arrived at the number after a series of meetings with the automakers, many of whom are expected to endorse the proposal Friday.

Becker said the actual mileage average will be lower than the 54.5 mpg figure, due to provisions that provide automakers credits for electric vehicles, and certain air conditioning and transmission features.

Oil industry keeps pressure on White House over smog rule

American Petroleum Institute officials are slated to meet Thursday morning with White House staff to take issue with the Environmental Protection Agency’s cost-benefit analysis of its pending ozone rules.

Anne Smith, an economist with NERA Economic Consulting, will present the results of a report on the economic costs of the upcoming ozone standards during a meeting with White House Office of Management and Budget staff. API officials will join Smith at the meeting.

API will preview the report on a conference call with reporters Thursday morning. The industry group will also announce an advertising campaign that attacks the planned EPA rules.

API, along with a slew of other business and industry groups, has mounted a campaign to scuttle the ozone standards, which will tighten rules issued by the Bush administration in 2008.

Much to the chagrin of environmental and clean-air groups, the EPA said Tuesday it would delay the release of the standards. A spokesman for the agency said the release would happen “shortly.”

Clean Air Watch President Frank O’Donnell blasted API over its objections to the ozone standards, saying the group is launching a “propaganda campaign against EPA setting national smog standards that might actually be based on science and protect people's health.”

Think tank rounds out roster for energy project

The Bipartisan Policy Center on Wednesday rounded out the roster of the energy security project that it announced in late March.

The additional members announced Wednesday include Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Marathon Oil Corp. CEO Clarence Cazalot, MIT Professor Richard Schmalensee and roughly a dozen other experts. Check out the whole list here.

The energy initiative, which the think tank announced months ago, is lead by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), former National Security Adviser James Jones, former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and William Reilly, the former EPA chief who co-chaired the recent presidential commission on the BP oil spill.

Salazar fills key energy position

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has selected Marcilynn Burke to be his acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management, a role that includes oversight of key energy and mining agencies within the Interior Department.

She is currently the deputy director for policy at Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, and is becoming the acting assistant secretary to replace Wilma Lewis, whom the Senate has confirmed for a judgeship in the Virgin Islands.

“Marcilynn’s broad experience with the Bureau of Land Management and as an expert in natural resource matters will greatly benefit Interior’s energy and conservation priorities,” Salazar said in a statement.

Burke came to Interior in 2009 from her job as a professor at the University of Houston Law Center. Here’s more of her bio from Interior:

Burke was previously with the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in Washington, D.C., where she focused on environmental law, antitrust, and civil and criminal litigation. She clerked for the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson of the Eastern District of Virginia [federal court].

Burke received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She obtained her law degree from Yale Law School, where she was an editor for both the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and the Yale Journal of International Law.

Hastings: Reauthorize Endangered Species Act

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) on Wednesday called on Congress to reauthorize the Endangered Species Act, shortly after he and 36 other Republicans joined a slew of Democrats to strip provisions limiting funding for the law.

Here is Hastings’ statement:

The House worked its will on this particular amendment, yet this conversation highlighted the fact that the Endangered Species Act hasn’t been updated in 23 years and Congress needs to do its job to reauthorize the law. The conversation begun this week will continue. The Natural Resources Committee will move forward in the fall to examine the law by listening to citizens affected by, and interested in, the ESA. The law is expired, failing to achieve its fundamental goal of species recovery, and has become a tool for expensive debilitating lawsuits. We have a duty to act on the ESA’s reauthorization and it needs to be updated in a calm, careful and bipartisan way.

Environmental and conservation groups praised Wednesday’s amendment vote to the fiscal 2012 Interior and Environmental Protection Agency spending bill.

“This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s imperiled wildlife and a testament to strong, bipartisan support for upholding the Endangered Species Act — one of our nation’s most successful and forward-thinking environmental laws,” Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen said in a statement.

You can read more about Wednesday’s vote here.

Obama nominates two DOE officials

President Obama announced two nominations for key Energy Department posts.

He nominated David Danielson as assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy and Dot Harris as director of the office of minority economic impact.

Here’s Danielson’s bio, via the Energy Department:

Dr. David Danielson has been a Program Director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) since 2009. Prior to joining ARPA-E, Dr. Danielson was a clean energy venture capitalist at General Catalyst Partners, a Boston-based venture capital fund. He co-founded the firm’s clean energy investment practice and helped build and grow startups in various clean energy technology areas including solar power, wind power, advanced biofuels, bio-gas, carbon capture and storage, and advanced lighting. Dr. Danielson is a co-founder of the New England Clean Energy Council. He has authored more than 20 scientific articles in the field of advanced materials. While at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Danielson was the founder and President of the MIT Energy Club, and was a founding Director of the MIT Energy Conference. For his work in building a strong multidisciplinary energy community at MIT, he was awarded the Karl Taylor Compton Prize, MIT’s highest student award. Dr. Danielson holds a B.S., summa cum laude, in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT.

Here’s Harris’ bio:

Dot Harris is currently President and CEO of Jabo Industries, LLC, a minority-woman owned management consulting firm concentrated primarily in the energy, information technology and healthcare industries. Previously, Ms. Harris was an executive at General Electric Company and held a number of leadership positions in GE’s Energy and Industrial Systems businesses, including Global Marketing Leader for GE’s Industrial Services business. Before joining GE, Ms. Harris was an officer and Vice President of Operations & Production for ABB Service Inc. She also spent 12 years as Field Services Engineer and Services Manager with Westinghouse Electric Company. Ms. Harris currently serves as the National Secretary for the American Association of Blacks in Energy. She holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., and an M.S. in Technology Management from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga.

ON TAP THURSDAY:

Severe weather in focus amid climate questions

A Senate Appropriations Committee panel will gather for a hearing on the role of the federal government in mitigating the economic effect of severe weather events through long-term budgetary planning — an issue that has become linked to predictions that climate change will increase intense weather.

Witnesses will include Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., who is the assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction.

Senate panel to probe aviation fuels

A panel of the Senate Commerce Committee will gather for a hearing on aviation fuel issues.

“The hearing will examine the impact of fuel prices on the industry, current efforts to develop alternative aviation fuels and obstacles that must be overcome to facilitate their commercialization and adoption throughout the industry,” an advisory reads. More here.

Think tank to unwrap transmission rule

The progressive think tank NDN will unwrap a major Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rulemaking on transmission planning. More info here.

Sustainability grants available

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will announce the availability of grants through the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning and Community Challenge programs.

“HUD will award funding to local governments and community organizations to expand housing choices and connect people to jobs quickly and efficiently,” an advisory reads.

They are part of the Sustainable Communities Initiative, a partnership between HUD, EPA and the Transportation Department.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Here’s a quick roundup of Wednesday’s E2 stories:

- Kerry plan weaves climate into development programs
- Obama to announce new fuel standards
- House accepts GOP amendments to Interior bill, rejects Dem proposals
- House restores Endangered Species Act listings; GOP splits in vote
- On House Energy panel, a rare moment of bipartisanship
- Hastings vows oil revenues action after August break
- Browner, Barrasso spar over green influence in 2012 

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

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