OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Spending, budget bills bring energy, Keystone in focus

Some progressive groups held rallies in Colorado, Minnesota and Virginia on Monday aimed at getting senators to go on record opposing Keystone.

Sierra Club, 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others are organizing a call-in campaign for Tuesday aimed at securing commitments from senators to reject Keystone.

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Environmentalists and other progressives want to nix Keystone because they say it would damage the climate.

But Keystone has a broad base of support from Republicans, centrist Democrats, business groups and some unions. They say it would create jobs and give the United States oil from a friendly neighbor.


COMING TUESDAY:

Natural-gas exports, DOE in focus

A subpanel of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will explore the Energy Department’s (DOE) review process for natural-gas exports during a Tuesday hearing.

The department is considering several applications to expand those exports. Deals with nations that lack a free-trade agreement with the U.S. face more scrutiny than those that have such a pact with the U.S.

Many Republicans, some Democrats and business groups want to boost exports, saying the economic benefits could be substantial.

But some Democrats and manufacturers worry shipping too much abroad could drastically raise domestic prices.

Witnesses include Chris Smith, acting assistant secretary for fossil energy with DOE; and Tom Choi, gas national practice leader with Deloitte MarketPoint LLC.

Click here for more on the 3 p.m. hearing.

Obama climate adviser to tout alternative-fuel fund

White House energy and climate aide Heather Zichal will promote the president’s “Energy Security Trust” at a Tuesday event hosted by Securing America’s Future Energy.

President Obama’s plan would shuttle some federal offshore oil-and-gas revenues into a research fund to spur alternative fuel and vehicle development.

The president pitched the $2 billion proposal in his February State of the Union address and reiterated it Friday in a speech near Chicago. It faces long odds with Republicans, who would want the White House to expand oil-and-gas drilling as a condition for their support.

Click here for more on the event, which will be held at the National Press Club.

Federal officials, utility executives headline utility conference

The EnergyBiz Leadership Forum wraps up Tuesday with talks from federal regulators, agency officials, utility trade representatives and electric power executives.

Panel topics for the final day include cybersecurity, modernizing the electric grid and adapting to federal policy changes.

Speakers include Tony Clark, commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Lorraine Hariton, special representative of commercial and business affairs with the State Department; and Michael Niggli, president of San Diego Gas & Electric.

Click here for the agenda.

House panel looks at natural-gas impact on electric grid

Federal regulators will discuss the challenges of managing an electric grid that is increasingly relying on natural-gas-fired power during a Tuesday hearing.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission commissioners Philip Moeller and Cheryl LaFleur will testify before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy and Power.

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


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

— Coal state Dems press Obama to scale back EPA emissions rules
— Senator places hold on EPA nominee
— Alberta government promotes Keystone XL in New York Times ad
— Feds lock down nuclear stockpile
— Sen. Landrieu cool to Obama's 'energy security' fund
— The week ahead: Budget battles, gas exports take center stage
— Obama doubles down on alternative energy in his weekly address


NEWS BITES:

DOE nominee hearing set

The confirmation hearing for Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s pick to lead the Department of Energy, is set for April 9, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said Monday.

Moniz, a physicist, currently heads the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative. Many Democrats and Republicans view Moniz favorably.

Still, Moniz has drawn criticism from some of the more liberal green groups. They question his support for nuclear power and of using natural gas as a “bridge” fuel to a low-carbon energy future.

Senate Democrats propose reducing subsidies to deepwater drilling firms

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) floated separate bills Monday that would restrict subsidies to oil firms that “conduct spill-prone, deep-water drilling.”

The bills are a sign that Senate Democrats will continue a push to strip incentives awarded to the oil-and-gas industry. They, along with Obama, see ending those provisions as a way to bring in more federal revenues.

Feinstein’s “Deepwater Drilling Royalty Relief Prohibition Act” would nix federal subsidies for deepwater oil-and-gas drilling.

Nelson’s “Oil Spill Tax Fairness Act” would alter the federal tax code to refuse deductions for costs related to oil spills, including legal and clean-up expenses.

Chesapeake Energy target of federal lawsuit

A group of landowners is suing the firm behind the initial U.S. natural-gas land grab for allegedly manipulating prices and passing costs onto landowners to lowball royalty payments.

Attorney Daniel H. Charest told the Houston Chronicle on Monday that the landowners are “seeking millions in damages” in the federal lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy Corp.

From the Chronicle:

But the company has engaged in an effort to underpay landowners and unlawfully charge them for expenses related to drilling and production, according to court documents.

Though Chesapeake produces fossil fuels from the land, the company sells the resources from one subsidiary to another, depressing prices and violating terms in the leases, according to the complaint.

Read the full story here.


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