OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Republicans v. EPA battle goes public

“I will be working to ensure that this Congressionally directed study is balanced, appropriately scoped, and most importantly, driven by sound scientific and risk assessment principles,” Hall said in a statement.

EPA’s draft study plan calls for reviewing “the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing, from acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced or used water and its ultimate treatment and disposal.”

NRDC president talks oil-spill legislation, defending climate regs

E2 caught up with Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke on Tuesday. Beinecke, who served for the last six months as a member of the national oil spill commission, said she hopes Congress will act quickly to pass legislation directing 80 percent of oil-spill penalties to be used for Gulf Coast restoration.

“That is such an obvious win-win for every single state, for every single senator, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on,” she said.

She hopes Congress can tackle the thorny issue of oil spill liability. Oil-state lawmakers like Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and drilling opponents like Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are working behind the scenes to come to a compromise on the issue, and lawmakers say they’re close to an agreement.

“I certainly hope they’ll come to some agreement on liability reform. We cannot go on with the liability cap that exists now,” she said. Under current law, economic liability for an oil spill is capped at $75 million.

Beinecke also stressed that it’s important for environmental groups to paint a vivid picture of the health effects of air pollution and the potential economic boost that is possible as a result of environmental regulations.

“We’ve got to be out there and very specifically explain what the consequences of these proposals are and how it affects people’s lives day-to-day,” she said, after speaking at a green jobs conference.

“I think the intersection of jobs that come out of the environmental protection sector, the clean energy sector — we have to be able to tell that story very, very powerfully,” she said.

Oil spill commission releases two more staff reports


Just when you thought they were done, the national oil spill commission released two new staff working papers Tuesday. The working papers largely just flesh out many of the issues identified by the commission in its final report, which was released last month.

The first working paper focuses on U.S. offshore drilling regulation. The takeaway quote: “The regulation of the offshore oil and gas industry in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has not been robust, expertly staffed, well funded, competent or nimble.” The second working paper focuses on environmental reviews of offshore drilling projects.

McConnell revives tactic for blocking EPA climate rules


Asked Tuesday by reporters what the Republican strategy would be for blocking EPA’s pending climate rules, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) revived the idea of using the Congressional Review Act, which provides Congress a way to scuttle regulations but has been used successfully just once.

Here’s what McConnell said: “You know, the Congressional Review Act provides the opportunity for Congress to express itself on bureaucratic overreach, and that too is available, and I anticipate it will be used one or more time in the House and Senate during this Congress.”

The CRA would allow lawmakers to circumvent a filibuster. But the problem with using the CRA, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) tried and failed to do last year to block climate rules, is that it can only be used within 60 legislative days of the administration finalizing a regulation.

That window has passed for EPA’s initial greenhouse gas permitting rule, leaving room for the review act to potentially be used on subsequent measures, like planned greenhouse gas standards for power plants and refineries. That’s assuming that efforts to block or delay EPA’s climate rules don’t succeed. McConnell's plans remain unclear.

Obama official says White House will have to fight on budget

Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, said Tuesday that the White House will battle to maintain key energy provisions that will be included in President Obama’s upcoming budget request.

"We’re going to have to fight for them. We’re going to have to fight for the investments that matter,” he said during a speech at a green jobs conference.

“We're going to have to make the case that even in a tight budget, they’re essential to winning the economic future,” Sperling said, referring to energy provisions in the budget. The White House budget plan to be released next week is expected to call for a boost in funding for key green energy R&D programs.

Republicans plan to go through Obama’s budget with a fine-tooth comb, cutting out items in order to cut federal spending by billions of dollars.


ON TAP WEDNESDAY:

Energy, Interior, Ag secretaries talk renewables and tout White House agenda


Three Cabinet secretaries will talk renewable energy on Wednesday at the Interior Department. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will launch a two-day conference aimed at spurring renewable energy development on public lands.

It will include a press conference by the three officials to “discuss how President Obama’s tax cuts are encouraging business investment and job creation in wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies,” an advisory states.

Transportation policy and energy security

The Energy Security Leadership Council — a coalition of CEOs and retired military brass devoted to curbing oil reliance — will hold a Washington, D.C., event to unveil a report on transportation policy ideas. The event will include retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair and FedEx CEO Frederick Smith, among others.

Separately, the The Oil and National Security Caucus and the Mobility Choice Coalition will hold an event on transportation options for reducing oil’s importance. Officials from the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security and the Natural Resources Defense Council are slated to appear.

EPA chief on Gulf recovery

The Center for American Progress and Oxfam America host an event called “Beyond Recovery: Moving the Gulf Coast Toward a Sustainable Future” that will feature EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Military energy programs in the spotlight

The Energy Daily hosts a Wednesday conference in Washington, D.C., on Defense Department energy initiatives that will feature several senior military officials discussing military programs to increase efficiency and develop alternative sources.

Green jobs conference continues

The Blue Green Alliance — a coalition of environmental groups and labor unions — will continue its big green jobs conference in Washington, D.C. Wednesday’s lineup includes Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Perspectives on EPA rules

The World Resources Institute hosts an event in the Capitol about business and public interest perspectives on EPA’s climate rules and other pollution regulations. Speakers include Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), a top executive with Constellation Energy, and the president of the Health Effects Institute.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

E2 profiled the head of NRG Energy; we wrote about the Obama administration’s efforts to combat claims that EPA rules will kill jobs; and we got our hands on two memos previewing Wednesday’s Energy and Commerce hearing on EPA climate regulations.

Then we reported that senior Senate Democrats are calling on House Republicans to back a proposal to eliminate oil industry tax breaks (Republicans quickly rejected the idea). We also told you about the White House’s $53 billion high-speed rail plan and a new proposal to give consumers rebates if they buy electric vehicles.

Lastly, we reported that the oil industry’s claims it is being vilified.

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Andrew Restuccia, arestuccia@thehill.com.

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