OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House set to pass US-Mexico bill, Dodd-Frank controversy in tow

Backers of the House plan say the exemption from Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rules is needed to prevent a collision with confidentiality provisions in the U.S.-Mexico deal.

The SEC rules, mandated under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, are aimed at undoing the “resource curse” under which some impoverished countries in Africa and elsewhere are plagued by corruption and conflict alongside their energy and mineral wealth.

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But Duncan told reporters they’re not needed when it comes to the U.S.-Mexico border oil-and-gas development.

“We understand that we are paying Mexico their share of the resources, their money, and Mexico would be paying the government of the United States our share of the money,” he said at a briefing. “That is really the only payments to foreign government transaction that I can anticipate happening out there.”


THURSDAY AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS:

Chemical explosions probed in Senate hearing

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will discuss whether gaps in federal regulations contributed to a pair of deadly explosions at chemical plants.

An April blast at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas, and a separate one earlier this month in Geismar, La., will be in focus during the Wednesday hearing.

Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has raised concerns that weak federal oversight might have contributed to a dangerous buildup of combustible chemicals at both of those buildings.

Witnesses include Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, and Barry Breen, deputy assistant administrator of solid waste and emergency response with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Click here for more on the 10 a.m. hearing.

Energy Department contract management in focus

A panel of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will gather for a hearing on Energy Department environmental cleanup contracts for nuclear sites.

The Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight will hear from the Energy Department’s inspector general and other officials.

“The hearing will examine the Department’s oversight of environmental remediation at active cleanup sites, including its ability to manage and control the projects’ costs, schedules, and safety. The hearing will also assess the Department’s reliance on cost-based contracts and use of award fees,” an advisory states.

Click here for more.

Senate committee takes up Energy funding


The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up legislation Thursday that would fund the Energy Department in fiscal 2014.

Click here for more.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

– Activists, lawmakers search for meaning in Obama’s Keystone comments
– Sen. Hirono snags vacant seat on Senate enviro committee
– House panel approves 2014 Energy Dept. spending bill
– Republican leaders steer clear of climate science fight
– House advances offshore energy bills
– NRCC hitting Dems on Obama’s climate plan


NEWS BITES:

White House hits back on climate plan job-loss claims

The White House is pushing back against GOP claims that new climate change regulations coming down the pike will cost jobs and hurt the economy.

Here’s a blurb from a Wednesday blog post on the climate plan by senior White House aide Heather Zichal:

"Our own history shows us that we can protect our environment, reduce harmful pollution, and promote economic growth all at the same time. And the numbers speak for themselves: between 1970 and 2011, aggregate emissions of common air pollutants dropped 68 percent, while the U.S. gross domestic product grew 212 percent. Private sector jobs increased by 88 percent during the same period."

GOP bill leaves fracking oversight to states

Republicans in both chambers floated legislation Wednesday that would make states the sole authority for regulating hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The bill, called the Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act of 2013, comes on the heels of a draft rule issued by the Interior Department that would increase regulation of the controversial drilling method on federal land.

Republicans and industry contend that states are best suited to oversee fracking, as they’ve done for decades. They argue federal rules would be duplicative and wouldn’t be flexible enough to account for differing geologies amongst states.

“The Department of Interior’s foray into this space is simply an attempt to further hinder oil and gas production on federal lands and makes it more difficult for us to achieve domestic energy independence,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement.

Environmental and public health groups say that the fracking that’s spurred the nation’s domestic energy boom is different than the method drillers used decades ago.

Those groups have supported Interior’s draft regulations, though some find them too weak. They create rules for managing so-called flowback water and well integrity, and also require drillers to disclose what chemicals they use in the fracking process.

Fracking is a drilling method involving high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into shale formations to open seams that enable hydrocarbons to flow.

IEA: Renewables will eclipse natural gas in electricity sector by 2016

Renewable energy and hydropower will supply more electricity worldwide than natural gas and double the output of nuclear power by 2016, according to the International Energy Agency.

Renewable power will jump 40 percent in the next five years and will comprise nearly one-quarter of electricity worldwide by 2018 — most of which will come from hydropower

“As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement.


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