OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Dems plan to force climate science vote

NEWS BITES:

Dems push Boehner to reconsider Styrofoam cups

A coalition of 115 House Democrats called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to reconsider a decision to use Styrofoam cups in House cafeterias.

“[T]here are significant health and environmental risks associated with Styrofoam, as well as additional costs associated with increased waste removal,” a letter to Boehner Monday states. “These external costs should be considered in making the decision for cafeteria products; the desire to save a few pennies should never come at the expense of jeopardizing staff, members and visitors’ health.”

House Republicans did away with the compostable products used under former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) “Green the Capitol” initiative last month.

Dems pounce on PolitiFact’s Upton fact check

Democrats made sure Monday that reporters’ inboxes filled up with an analysis by the group PolitiFact, which criticized House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) claim that his bill to kill EPA greenhouse gas rules will help stop rising gas prices.

The independent fact-checking group called the claim “false.”

Upton and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) — a top lieutenant — have circulated a letter that calls the legislation a tonic for rising gasoline costs.

“While Upton and Whitfield's letter is carefully worded, it frames the argument for the bill in the context of today’s trend of rising gasoline prices. Yet the impact of the bill — if there is an one — would be years away," PolitiFact states in an analysis Monday.

"And there's no proof that the law would actually stop gas prices from rising. The added regulations now being planned may hamper U.S. refiners, but the international free market could just as easily end up keeping refining costs low. And it’s hardly assured that any changes in refining costs — up or down — will influence gasoline prices, which are subject to a wide array of influences,” the analysis said.

The Energy and Commerce Committee is slated to vote on the bill Tuesday and it is highly likely to clear the panel.

GOP to push regulator on streamlining nuclear licensing Wednesday

Republicans plan to push Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko this week on speeding up the nuclear reactor licensing process even as the nuclear crisis continues in Japan.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee, said he will press Jaczko on the issue at a Wednesday hearing.

“All I know is that a lot of other countries, France for example, they do it in six years,” Whitfield said in the Capitol Monday. “I’m not going to brow beat him. I just want to know why it takes 10 years in America.”

Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has said he hopes to introduce legislation that would speed up the permitting process at the commission as part of a broader effort to expand nuclear energy.

Reid calls on oil industry to tap unused leases

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) office called on oil companies Monday to tap unused oil and gas leases and again criticized Republicans for opposing efforts to eliminate oil industry tax breaks.

“Oil and gas companies are currently sitting on approximately 60 million acres of oil and gas leases that are going unused,” Reid’s office said in a statement. “At the same time they are holding back on domestic production, these same oil companies are reaping record profits from high gas prices. And Republicans are protecting this shell game, at a high cost to consumers.”

Obama, in a press conference Friday, called on the Interior Department to conduct a review of unused leases on public land within the next two weeks.

“So I directed the Interior Department to determine just how many of these leases are going undeveloped and report back to me within two weeks, so that we can encourage companies to develop the leases they hold and produce American energy,” Obama said Friday.

Feinstein eyes ethanol talks with Coburn

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) tells E2 that she’s planning discussions with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) about their competing plans to kill ethanol subsidies.

They both introduced overlapping bills last week to strip ethanol tax credits that also have key differences.

Markey gets poetic in criticizing GOP agenda

As always, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) gave a colorful speech at Monday’s House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of legislation to block EPA climate rules and a resolution to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality regulations.

“There’s a method to the majority’s legislative madness,” Markey said. “The GOP’s version of ‘March Madness’ this afternoon is designed to make both polluters and the broadband barons the big winners at the expense of our environment, our health, our economy and American consumers.

“In other words, today House Republicans will take up legislation that would destroy the World Wide Web and to also bring up a bill that would help destroy the whole wide world itself; they’ll take aim at Google Earth and set their sites on Mother Earth; they’ll slow down the blogosphere and pollute the atmosphere; they’ll clog up the internet and smog up the air from smokestacks belching massive amounts of dangerous global-warming pollution.”

Polls show support for drilling

A new Gallup poll released Monday shows that 60 percent of Americans favor offshore oil-and-gas drilling, up from 50 percent just after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“News of that incident has faded, possibly lessening Americans' resistance to coastal area drilling. At the same time, recent turbulence in the Middle East has caused oil prices to rise and has sparked discussion about the stability of the United States' foreign oil supply,” Gallup says in its analysis of the results.

The Hill conducted its own drilling poll, which was also released Monday. It shows support for expanded drilling and tapping the country’s oil reserves.

ON TAP TUESDAY:

Obama’s energy chief faces House

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will testify Tuesday before the panel of the House Appropriations Committee that crafts energy spending bills.

The White House is seeking to boost funding for green energy research and development, but Republicans are seeking to cut the agency’s funding.

Big emissions trading forum continues

The International Emissions Trading Association holds the second and final day of its big Washington conference.

The Carbon Forum North America brings together a suite of industry, federal and other experts.

Tuesday’s speakers include Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee who is among the lawmakers trying to kill EPA greenhouse gas regulations.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Here’s a quick roundup of E2’s Monday stories:

- A poll conducted by The Hill showed support for expanded oil and gas drilling.
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said the country faces another energy crisis.
- After the administration approved its second Gulf deepwater drilling permit Friday, the oil industry said it’s not enough.
- High gas prices mean more people will use public transportation.
- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission insisted that U.S. reactors can withstand major natural disasters.
- Senators held briefings on the nuclear crisis in Japan.
- The White House underscored its support for nuclear power.
- House Democrats called for hearings on U.S. nuclear safety.

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

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