OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Showdowns on climate change, drilling and Solyndra

Climate legislation remains dead for now on Capitol Hill. The hearing, however, should feature colorful clashes. Boxer is a top Senate advocate for curbing emissions that the vast majority of scientists say are heating up the planet.

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Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the committee’s top Republican, is Capitol Hill’s leading climate skeptic and has called global warming a "hoax."

In the House Wednesday, the full Energy and Commerce Committee will likely pass the GOP’s bill to curtail the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, but Democrats will seek to go down swinging by forcing votes on various amendments.

Republicans have dubbed the measure “No More Solyndras” after the failed solar company that got a $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee in 2009 but went belly-up last year.

Click here and here for more on the bill.

While the Solyndra battle is unfolding, House Natural Resources Committee Republicans will launch their latest criticisms of White House offshore drilling policies — and prepare new subpoenas.

Look for GOP lawmakers to cast aside Democratic objections and vote to authorize subpoenas of several Interior Department aides that Republicans want to appear before the panel.



Republicans say Interior has been thwarting their probe of the 2010 Obama administration decision to impose a six-month deepwater drilling freeze in response to the BP spill.


In particular, they’re probing the drafting of a 2010 Interior drilling-safety report that incorrectly suggested a panel of outside engineers supported a drilling freeze (they didn’t). More here and here.

Democrats call the probe, which has already involved earlier subpoenas, a politically motivated fishing expedition.



OTHER WEDNESDAY ACTION:


Chu to address petroleum council as report surfaces


Energy Secretary Steven Chu will address the National Petroleum Council, an advisory group that provides the Energy Department input on oil-and-gas policy.

The council is expected to release a final report on “future transportation fuels.”

“The Future Transportation Fuels Committee’s report has been prepared in response to Secretary Chu’s request and provides comprehensive advice about fuels, technologies, industry practices, and government policies through 2030 for auto, truck, air, rail, and waterborne transport. The report also provides advice on potential industry and government actions that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from American transportation by 50 percent by 2050,” an advisory states.

Pro-fracking groups fight back on film

A pair of industry groups on Wednesday will screen the new film “Truthland,” a documentary that serves as a rebuttal to the Oscar-nominated film “Gasland” that cast a highly critical eye on the oil-and-gas development method called hydraulic fracturing.
 
“Truthland” follows a Susquehanna County, Pa., woman as she interviews energy and environment experts in six states about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The film sheds a more positive light on the process, which injects a high-pressure mixture of sand, chemicals and water into tight rock formations to unlock natural gas and oil.
 
Oil-and-gas industry groups paid for the production of the film. The Independent Petroleum Association of America and Energy in Depth were the principal organizations behind the documentary that’s screening at an event in the U.S. Capitol.



NEWS BITES:

More fallout from Romney’s wind stance

Mitt Romney’s opposition to extending production tax credits for wind power projects could influence already-fragile congressional talks on a year-end tax extenders package.

While some Republicans favor extension of the credit, advancing a bill to accomplish that would force them to buck their party’s presumptive nominee.

Romney's position “probably does make it harder [to extend the credit],” said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which sets tax policy.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said the wind matter remains in flux.

“We are working on some of those things as we speak,” he said in the Capitol Tuesday. He didn’t comment specifically on whether the credit should be extended, but said this about wind energy: 

“I don’t disagree with Governor Romney that sooner or later we have got to make sure that these things can sustain themselves.”

Advocates of extending the credit, which is slated to lapse at year’s end, continued to make their case Tuesday.

“There have been some on the campaign trail who suggested we should let [the production tax credit] lapse ...  I could not disagree more,” said Sen. Mark Udall (D-N.M.) on the Senate floor. “The PTC equals jobs. We should pass it as soon as possible.”

Court hits EPA on mountaintop mining policy

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illegally established coal-mining guidelines to protect water quality in Appalachia, a federal judge said Tuesday.
 
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton in Washington, D.C., said EPA interfered with state regulators by strengthening provisions against dumping waste from surface mining activities into Appalachian region waters, The Associated Press reports.
 
The National Mining Association (NMA), which filed the lawsuit against the EPA, said in a statement that it was “gratified” by the decision.
 
"Today’s decision has truly given coal miners and coal mining communities their 'day in court' and has affirmed NMA’s longstanding belief that EPA overreached its authority in its virtual moratorium on Eastern coal mining permits and denied those operations the protections provided for under the law,” the organization said.
 
FERC chief ponders a Romney reign

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said Tuesday that the commission’s work would be no different under a President Romney than President Obama.
 
“I really don’t see an administration change coming in and derailing anything in a major way that we’ve done at FERC,” Wellinghoff, a Democrat, said at the Platt’s Energy Podium in Washington, D.C.
 
Wellinghoff has often applauded his commission’s work to include more utility-scale renewables into the electric grid, which he says could reduce the number of electricity blackouts.
 
Noting the clean-energy policy differences between Mitt Romney and Obama — the former opposes extending the wind production tax credit (PTC), the latter favors continuing the PTC — he commented that the commission’s core aim is simply “trying to make markets more efficient.”
 
Wellinghoff also doesn’t expect another thing to change when it comes to letting FERC achieve its transmission ambitions — Congress.
 
“Not to be disrespectful, but we’re not holding our breath,” Wellinghoff said of Congress. “We are moving ahead and we think we’ve moved ahead in a lot of areas that can be very productive and can be very useful in increasing efficiency in the system.”


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire on Tuesday . . . 

- Obama official says feds need more cybersecurity oversight for grid
- Grassley wants answers from Romney camp on wind credit
- Deal clears path for Senate bill opposing EU emissions policy
- Administration orders new Iran sanctions
- FERC chief says ending wind credit would be ‘devastating’
- ClearView nabs well-known analyst for senior role
- Obama campaign hits Romney over wind credit


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