OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Chu, industry chief to talk green cars

COMING TUESDAY: An energy innovation onslaught.

The annual summit of the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will really get rolling.

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Tuesday’s agenda includes a “fireside chat” between outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Elon Musk, the CEO of the electric car company Tesla Motors.

Tesla, which won a nearly half-billion Energy Department loan in 2010, has been in the news a lot lately.

A New York Times reporter recently took an ill-fated trip in Tesla’s Model S and ran out of juice, leading to a big tussle over whether the problems lay with the reporter’s decisions or the car's range.

(We won’t try and explain it all in this space, but the company responded here and the Times’ public editor took a stab at it here.)

Other speakers at the ARPA-E summit Tuesday include T. Boone Pickens and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

ARPA-E, which has support on both sides of the aisle, funds so-called high-risk, high-reward research into breakthrough energy technologies.

Interior nominee in the hot seat: Before we get to the rest of Tuesday’s agenda, the Senate’s energy committee announced Monday that Sally Jewell, the White House nominee for Interior Secretary, will appear before the panel March 7.


THE REST OF TUESDAY’S AGENDA:

For Interior, sequester is blowing in the wind

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will provide the keynote address at the Offshore Wind Power USA conference in Boston on Tuesday, where he’ll talk about topics including the effect of looming across-the-board budget cuts called "sequestration."

“Salazar will discuss offshore wind development strategies, including leasing schedules for the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, and the challenges facing the New Energy Frontier, including sequestration,” an advisory states.

House committee to explore energy efficiency

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will take a look at innovations in energy efficiency during a Tuesday morning hearing.

The committee will explore ways in which private-sector companies have implemented services and technologies to boost energy efficiency.

Witnesses include: Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency with DOE.

For more on the 10 a.m. hearing, which will be webcast, click here.

Panel to examine mid-level ethanol fuel blend

Witnesses at a Tuesday House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing will call for greater consumer protections and research regarding a mid-level ethanol fuel blend.

The panelists for the 2 p.m. hearing have been critical of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to let motorists fill vehicles made in 2001 or later with E15 fuel.

The blend is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, compared with the standard 10 percent ethanol blend.

Opponents say E15 damages cars and that the EPA has not done enough to warn consumers. The ethanol industry says the blend is safe and has been thoroughly tested.

Witnesses include: Robert Darbelnet, president and chief executive with AAA, and Wayne Allard, vice president of government relations with the American Motorcyclist Association.

Manufacturing trade group to release carbon tax report

The National Association of Manufacturers will unveil a study Tuesday that concludes a carbon tax would have a negative effect on the manufacturing industry.

NERA Economic Consulting conducted the study, which is titled, "Economic Outcomes of a U.S. Carbon Tax."


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Monday and over the weekend:

— Exxon, BP, Halliburton take ‘fracking’ case to White House
— Interior chief says sequester would hurt parks, local economies
— Lew: White House won't propose carbon tax
— Utility settles with EPA, agrees to stop burning coal at three sites
— Fed agency: Idled refineries, global demand drove gas price spike
— The week ahead: Industry, advocates await Obama’s energy team
Canadian officials make climate case in D.C. ahead of Keystone pipeline decision
— Wyden to ask for GAO examination of nuclear leaks in Washington state
Republicans: Obama wants higher taxes


NEWS BITES:

BP oil spill trial starts

The civil trial regarding BP’s role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill began Monday.

The British oil giant faces billions of dollars in fines for Clean Water Act violations related to the spill, the largest in U.S. history, and other major liabilities.

Reuters reports that, “Most observers still expect the case to be settled before the trial results in a verdict.”

From Reuters:

BP must show its mistakes do not meet the legal definition of gross negligence required for the highest amount of damages. BP has already spent or committed $37 billion on cleanup, payouts, settlements and fines.

CEOs: Expand drilling, ease regulation

The Business Roundtable, which brings together CEOs from the nation’s largest companies, rolled out a wide-ranging energy policy blueprint on Monday.

“North American energy self-sufficiency is within reach, but the missing piece is an effective strategy to capitalize on U.S. advantages,” said Honeywell International Inc. CEO David Cote in a statement.

Recommendations include opening more onshore and offshore areas for drilling; faster permitting; easing EPA regulations; extending but eventually phasing out the wind energy tax credit, and several others.

Check out the whole thing here.

Senate energy committee expands access

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee leaders said Monday that they’re making the panel’s workings more accessible to the public.

Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) touted several changes in a joint announcement.

“For the first time, the committee plans to broadcast all committee markups of legislation online, at the committee website, www.energy.senate.gov. Other steps include creating a new library of committee documents, prominently displayed at the top of the home page. That library will include letters, witness testimony, major policy speeches and other committee documents,” their offices said.

Court showdown on oil disclosure rule set


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has scheduled March 22 oral arguments in a closely watched case over federal rules that will require oil companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.

Groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute have sued the Securities and Exchange Commission in an effort to scuttle the mandates, which are required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law.

The groups allege that the rule creates costly burdens and hurts competitiveness, while human-rights groups call the disclosure a way to help impoverished people in resource-rich nations in Africa and elsewhere. Click here for a recent story and links to prior coverage.

Oil imports from Middle East increase

U.S. imports of crude oil from the Middle East grew last year despite domestic production growth reaching a 150-year high, The Financial Times reported Monday.

For the full story, click here.


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