OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA showdown redux, Energy secretary vote arrives, and more


The advocacy group born from Obama’s reelection campaign is blasting the Senate Environment Committee’s eight Republicans who refused to attend last week’s vote.

“Here's a detail that's getting left out of the news reports: Seven of those Republicans don't actually believe in the science behind climate change — and they refuse the notion that we have a responsibility to act on it,” Organizing for Action said in a pro-McCarthy email to supporters Wednesday.

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However Thursday shakes out, don’t look for much if any GOP backing for McCarthy.

“I think the nomination will move tomorrow. I don’t think there will be a great outpouring of support,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a member of the committee, told reporters in the Capitol.

Asked if he’s planning to vote for her, Wicker replied, “there is always a chance.” But he added: “I think it is more likely that she will be relying on Democratic votes.”

A straight party-line vote could suggest a tough floor fight.

A number of Democrats are calling McCarthy’s troubled path through the Senate a reason to change filibuster rules for nominees. Click here for more on that topic.

AT LONG LAST, MONIZ: The Senate is finally slated to vote Thursday for Ernest Moniz, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist that President Obama has nominated for Energy secretary.

“I think he is going to be supported by a pretty broad margin,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.


THE REST OF THURSDAY'S AGENDA:

Energy production on federal lands under microscope

Regulations that Republicans say restrict offshore and onshore drilling on public lands are the subject of a Thursday House hearing.

A subpanel of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will host the 10:30 a.m. hearing.

GOP lawmakers will likely pepper Obama administration witnesses with questions regarding drilling access to waters off the Atlantic Coast and large swaths of land out West and in Alaska that the White House keeps off limits.

The witnesses are Tommy Beaudreau, acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management with the Interior Department, and Frank Rusco, director of natural resources and environment with the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Click here for more on the hearing.

EPA undercard: Acting head to defend budget

Tomorrow’s Senate action on the EPA is the main EPA event Thursday. But the agency's acting head will appear before House lawmakers.

Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about his agency’s fiscal 2014 budget request.

His prepared testimony is here.

Keystone XL impact on small businesses in focus

Expect Republicans to make the case that building the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline would bring positive economic spillovers for small businesses and rural communities during a Thursday House hearing.

The House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade will be the latest panel to tout the GOP-supported project.

Republicans, centrist Democrats, some unions and business groups back the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, saying it could boost jobs and strengthen energy security. Greens and liberals oppose it, saying it would enable more greenhouse gas emissions that spur climate change.

Witnesses for the 10 a.m. hearing include Brent Booker, secretary treasurer for the building and construction trades department with the AFL-CIO; and Peter Bowe, president of Baltimore, Md.-based Ellicott Dredge, who will testify on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Click here for more on the hearing, which will be webcast.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

— Organizing for Action hits GOP in EPA nomination fight
— NRC wants changes to radioactive materials transportation rules
— Interior pressed to encourage oil-and-gas drilling on Indian lands
— Top aide for Rep. Scalise lands at offshore oil and gas industry group
— Dems warn sequester will lower federal oil and gas revenue
— Dems mull 'nuclear option' on filibuster to move EPA nominee McCarthy
— Republican: EPA 'rewards its friends and punishes its opponents'
— Major business group backs Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency plan
— Senators approve funds for water, flood projects in 83-14 vote
— GAO: Feds should improve their help to local governments on climate change
— Report: Corruption, mismanagement plagues energy-rich nations 


NEWS BITES:

Pickens backs gas exports

Billionaire oil-and-gas magnate T. Boone Pickens told CNBC Wednesday that U.S. officials should allow companies to proceed with plans to substantially expand natural-gas exports.

“The producers have gone out and drilled for the natural gas. They should be entitled to get into the best markets in the world,” he said. “I would go ahead and let the gas go into the global market.”

Pickens hasn’t always been so bullish on the idea.

Steven Chu speaks

Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu sounds happy that he’s back in the ivory tower.

The Nobel Prize-winning physicist is back at Stanford University after recently stepping down as secretary. Here’s a snippet from his new interview with the school’s communications office:

“It was simply time for a change, but I hope to continue working on some of the same issues. For instance, while I was secretary of the DOE, I became very interested in the economics of energy. At Stanford, I can walk across campus and work with hardcore numerical people and economists to rethink the way we analyze data and energy,” Chu said.

Click here for the whole thing.

Environmental groups press Interior chief on fracking rules

Green groups sent a letter Wednesday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to ensure their concerns about forthcoming federal rules on "fracking" are heard as the regulation's release grows closer.

“The threats to the environment from oil and gas operations are wide-ranging. We are concerned about the risks that exist at every step of the process,” the groups wrote about the rules to govern the process called hydraulic fracturing when it occurs on public lands.

The draft rules, the release of which could be imminent, are expected to require drillers to disclose chemicals used in the fracking process and lay out guidelines for well integrity and managing so-called flowback water.

Many environmental organizations worry the draft rules will be too lenient on oil-and-gas drillers. They say each revision — based on the version Interior pulled in January and leaks — has been weaker than the last.

The signatories include the Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and American Rivers.

Click here for the letter.


Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Zack Colman, zcolman@thehill.com.

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This post was last updated at 9:10 p.m.