The week ahead: Interior nominee in the hot seat as EPA, Energy picks loom

Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), in a C-SPAN interview broadcast Sunday, said that he will ask Jewell about topics including coal royalties from development on federal lands.
 
Wyden has expressed concern that coal companies are dodging royalty payments on coal developed on federal and tribal lands.
 
“I am going to be asking her questions about royalty issues — this is a question of making sure taxpayers get what is owed to them,” Wyden said on the C-SPAN program “Newsmakers.”
 
Wyden also said he planned to ask Jewell questions about forest management, energy development and other topics.
 
He’s a fan of Jewell, who previously worked as an engineer at Mobil Oil Corp. and in banking prior to joining REI.
 
The nominee is an “inspired” choice who will bring a “fresh approach,” Wyden said.
 
As Jewell’s hearing approaches, there is plenty of speculation that Obama will name his nominees to head the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department very soon.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Ernest Moniz is believed to be the leading candidate to replace outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

One sign that the Moniz may be announced imminently: he canceled a planned Tuesday appearance at a major energy conference in Houston.
 
Gina McCarthy, who is EPA’s top air pollution regulator, is believed to be the White House choice to replace ex-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson as the agency’s top official.
 
In other Capitol Hill action this week, a House Energy and Commerce Committee sub-panel will hold a hearing Tuesday on “the role of a diverse electricity generation portfolio.”
 
A House Natural Resources Committee sub-panel will gather Tuesday as well, for a hearing on “America’s Offshore Energy Resources: Creating Jobs, Securing America, and Lowering Prices.”
 
The event is sure to include fresh GOP criticism of White House offshore oil-and-gas leasing policies that Republicans and industry groups call too restrictive.
 
For instance, they want the Interior Department to offer tracts off the Atlantic Coast for drilling, and to speed up the schedule of lease sales for tracts off Alaska’s coast.
 
There’s even more on Tuesday: A House Appropriations Committee sub-panel will review the Energy Department’s science budget. The department is a major source of federal research funding dollars.
 
There will be several energy-related events off Capitol Hill this week. Among them: the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will hold an event Thursday on “Meeting The North American Energy Infrastructure Challenge.”
 
Speakers include Brad Wall, the premier of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.