OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate Republicans' opening moves

Spokesman Robert Dillon said Murkowski will work with Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) to see what pieces of the wide-ranging energy bill the committee approved with several GOP votes in 2009 should be revived.

Also on Murkowski’s agenda: renewed efforts to block EPA greenhouse gas rules. The Senate turned back her effort last June.

Dillon said Murkowski has reservations about the idea of a “clean energy standard,” under which utilities would need to supply escalating amounts of low-carbon power from sources including renewables, nuclear energy, natural gas, and coal plants that trap emissions.

Dillon said his boss -- a strong advocate of offshore oil-and-gas development -- supports developing clean energy, but has questions about the costs of a standard and how it would be implemented.

He also noted that the nation’s nuclear waste policy remains unresolved and that nuclear power plant construction has a long time horizon, while carbon capture from fossil fuel plants has not been commercialized. All that means a broad “clean” standard could really just be a renewable power standard “under a different name,” he said.

“The devil is in the details,” Dillon said. “She supports the of broadening our energy mix, but there are questions about whether a mandate is the right way to go.”

Advice from George Shultz

Speaking of Republicans and energy, E2 has learned that several GOP senators plan to discuss the issue Friday at a meeting with Reagan-era Secretary of State George Shultz, who is now a distinguished fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University (where he focuses on energy, among other matters).

Senators scheduled to attend include Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Murkowski, Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCheney calls for DeVos to be confirmed ‘promptly’ With Trump pick Tom Price, cool heads can prevail on health reform Senate to vote Friday on Trump's defense picks MORE (R-Tenn.), who is chairman of the Senate Republican conference, and freshman Sen. John HoevenJohn HoevenFive regulations that could come in Obama's final days ND senator calls for remaining Dakota Access protesters to leave Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules MORE (R-N.D.).

Lugar on Monday sketched out his plans for broad energy legislation.


NEWS BITES:

Where the new members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee stand

Here’s a preview of what to expect from the new members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:

Republicans

Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanGOP governors defend Medicaid expansion Senators introduce dueling miners bills Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Ohio): In a statement Thursday, Portman said: “Not only can Ohio’s numerous energy resources, including coal, natural gas and biofuels, help alleviate our national dependence on foreign oil, but our manufacturing base can play a large role in creating products necessary for natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale region, for increased nuclear energy production, and for wind and solar energy production.  All of this can mean new jobs for Ohio.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.): Hoeven, as North Dakota governor, helped develop the state’s energy plan, “EmPower North Dakota.” The plan calls for, among other things, calls for dramatically increasing the state’s reliance on renewable energy, biofuels and natural gas.

Sen. Dan CoatsDan CoatsFive things to watch in round two of Trump confirmation fights Gingrich: Trump should tell new spy chief to 'thoroughly overhaul' intelligence community Government to begin calling Indiana residents Hoosiers MORE (R-Ind.): Coats’ office did not respond to a request for comment on his energy plans. But Coats outlined an energy plan during his campaign for Senate that is heavy on ethanol, but also calls for doubling the number of nuclear reactors by 2030 and policies the encourage the development of various energy technologies, including “clean coal,” renewables and natural gas.

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulDems blast Trump plans for deep spending cuts Trump team prepares dramatic cuts Paul, Lee call on Trump to work with Congress on foreign policy MORE (R-Ky.): Paul’s office also did not respond to a request for comment. But in a recently released plan to cut half a billion dollars in government spending, the senator made it clear that he wants to combine the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. A strong proponent of coal, Paul has also been critical of the Obama Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental rules.

Democrats:

Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenOvernight Energy: Perry makes his case to lead Energy Dept. | Dems alarmed by spending cut plans Dems blast Trump plans for deep spending cuts The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Minn.): In a statement Thursday, Franken signaled his support for wind energy and biofuels. “Minnesota is poised to be a global leader in clean energy, and I’m going to use this new position to do all that I can to promote Minnesota's wind and biofuels industries and bring clean-energy research and manufacturing jobs to the state.  Since the cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use, I’ll also be working to improve our nation’s energy efficiency in industry, buildings, and our transportation sector,” he said in the statement.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Cybersecurity: Dems split on Manning decision | Assange looking to make deal What we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing Manning commutation sparks Democratic criticism MORE (W.Va.)
: Asked about the senator’s energy priorities, an aide in Manchin’s office pointed to public remarks in which the lawmaker slammed the Environmental Protection Agency for vetoing a permit on a major West Virginia mountaintop removal mine. Manchin is expected to introduce legislation that would block the EPA from vetoing such permits.

Sen. Chris CoonsChris CoonsTrump, Democrats can bridge divide to make college more affordable Senate Dems urge Sessions to abstain from voting on Trump’s Cabinet picks Booker to vote against Tillerson MORE (Del.): An aide in Coons’ office tell The Hill that the senator is an opponent of oil-and-gas drilling off the coast of Delaware, but he is a strong proponent of offshore wind. “He also wants to promote research and development into clean energy technology,” the aide said. “He has a chemistry degree, which I think leads to a natural bent toward scientific exploration.”

Burr won’t challenge Murkowski for top committee slot

Sen. Richard BurrRichard BurrSenators introduce dueling miners bills Trump education pick to face Warren, Sanders Senate Intel panel to probe Trump team's ties to Russia MORE (R-N.C.) on Thursday put an end to speculation that he would launch an effort to topple Murkowski as ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He won’t. Burr told reporters that he’ll remain the ranking member of the Veterans Affairs committee.

Begich calls on EPA to 'fix' Shell’s air permit delays

Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichThe future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map Trump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide MORE (D-Alaska) called on EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to resolve a remand of air quality permits for exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off of Alaska’s coast. The remand has affects Shell’s plans for exploration in the region.

"It is frustrating that this delay revolves around a type of permit routinely issued by the former Minerals Management Service in the Gulf of Mexico," Begich said in a letter to Jackson. "It is further frustrating that the affected company, the State of Alaska, my Alaska Delegation colleagues and I all sought to help provide additional resources for the creation of a robust permit process and those efforts met with little interest."

Upton calls for greater certainty at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to correct the “uncertainty and lack of transparency in the process” in the nuclear licensing process. Upton’s comments come five years after three major nuclear power plants submitted applications for license renewals. The NRC has not yet made a decision on the renewals.

"With a dozen outstanding renewal applications, the alarming rate of delay has put thousands of good paying jobs in jeopardy and has threatened to disrupt a reliable source of clean, affordable energy for surrounding communities and businesses,” Upton said in a statement.

Chamber slams Obama proposal to slash oil industry tax breaks

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce slammed the Obama administration’s energy policies Thursday, zeroing in on President Obama’s call to eliminate oil industry tax breaks.

“The fundamental problem with the administration’s approach on energy is that it picks winners and losers,” Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said in a statement. “Raising taxes on the industry that fuels our lives shows a profound detachment from our energy and economic reality.”

Harbert will outline release the Chamber’s energy plan Feb. 1.

Environment and Public Works Committee names members

The roster was released Thursday. Here are the Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:

Chairman Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerFeinstein to hold campaign fundraisers, a hint she'll run again Becerra formally nominated for Calif. attorney general 10 freshmen to watch in the new Congress MORE (Calif.)
Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation MORE (Mont.)
Thomas Carper (Del.)
Frank Lautenberg (N.J.)
Benjamin Cardin (Md.)
Bernard Sanders (Vt.)
Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseFive takeaways from Pruitt's EPA hearing Health pick’s trades put STOCK Act in spotlight Dems prepare to face off with Trump's pick to lead EPA MORE (R.I.)
Tom UdallTom UdallPaul, Lee call on Trump to work with Congress on foreign policy Senate takes first step toward repealing ObamaCare Tillerson discloses assets worth up to 0M MORE (N.M.)
Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: Scoop – Trump team eyes dramatic spending cuts | Treasury pick survives stormy hearing Warren burns Mnuchin over failure to disclose assets Senate Dems want Trump to withdraw from Pacific trade deal MORE (Ore.)
Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Obama defends Manning commutation after backlash | Mattis clears Senate panel Senate panel approves Mattis for Defense secretary Overnight Finance: Price puts stock trading law in spotlight | Lingering questions on Trump biz plan | Sanders, Education pick tangle over college costs MORE (N.Y.)

And the Republicans:

Ranking Member James InhofeJames InhofeSenate teeing up Mattis waiver Lawmakers play nice at Russia hacking hearing Senate chairman meets Trump’s EPA nominee MORE (Okla.)
David VitterDavid VitterLobbying World Bottom Line Republicans add three to Banking Committee MORE (La.)
John BarrassoJohn BarrassoGraham to vote for Trump’s EPA pick Pruitt says his EPA will work with the states GOP environment chairman plans ‘wholesale change’ at EPA MORE (Wyo.)
Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrust Women oppose Sen. Sessions nomination Trump says his Cabinet has 'highest IQ of any Cabinet' Support for Israel is a call to conscience MORE (Ala.)
Mike CrapoMike CrapoLive coverage of Sessions confirmation hearing Senate rejects Paul's balanced budget Dems attack Trump SEC pick's ties to Wall Street MORE (Idaho)
Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (Neb.)
John BoozmanJohn BoozmanFive takeaways from Pruitt's EPA hearing Senators inviting Trump to speak at National Prayer Breakfast One bipartisan priority: Broadband Internet access infrastructure MORE (Ark.)

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

On this snowy Thursday, E2 told you about House legislation to prevent EPA from vetoing Clean Water Act permits for mountaintop removal mining project; we reported on oil industry efforts to promote Canadian oil sands; and we pulled out the relevant energy portions of Sarah Palin’s response to Obama’s State of the Union address.

Then we told you about new research the suggest Genghis Kahn might have done wonders for the climate; we picked through a recent interview with William Reilly, the co-chairman of the national oil spill commission; and we reported that the administrator of BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will unveil his methodology for distributing the payments to spill victims.