OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Republicans pounce on Obama's Brazilian oil support

“We want to work with you. We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers,” Obama told a group of business leaders Saturday. “At a time when we’ve been reminded how easily instability in other parts of the world can affect the price of oil, the United States could not be happier with the potential for a new, stable source of energy.”

Under the Strategic Energy Dialogue, the United States will work with Brazil “in the environmentally responsible and technologically advanced development” of Brazilian oil resources, according to a White House summary of the plan.

Administration officials also say they are working diligently to expand U.S. oil-and-gas development. The Interior Department has recently issued three deepwater drilling permits for the type of projects halted after last year’s Gulf oil spill. And the department on Monday approved an exploration plan that paves the way to expanded Gulf drilling.

Still, it’s not the first time Republicans have criticized the administration for its oil dealings with Brazil. Vitter and others railed against a 2009 proposed $2 billion commitment from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to the Brazilian oil company Petrobras to ensure the purchase of U.S. goods as the company explores for oil.

Many Republican claims about the Export-Import proposal have been shown to be overblown.

Forbes ran a handy fact-check Monday on Republicans’ claims about the proposed Petrobras loans. And the Export-Import Bank takes on Republican charges here.


Progress and setbacks at stricken Japanese nuke plant

“Tokyo Electric Power Co. continued to report progress in restoring order at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, but finishing the job is turning out to be a painstaking process plagued by damaged equipment and unexpected incidents,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Court ruling hits California climate program

“California did not adequately consider alternatives to its plan to create a cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions, a judge ruled on Monday, throwing a wrench into the most aggressive U.S. effort to combat climate change,” Reuters reports.


U.S., Chile strike green deals

President Obama’s trip to South America is bearing green fruit, according to the White House, which is touting expansion of work with Chile on energy and climate change.

The White House noted several areas of cooperation. Under the existing Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, “the United States intends to support the establishment of a regional research network for glacier monitoring and modeling led by Chile’s world-class researchers,” the White House said.

“This network will inform policy and decisionmaking by providing a more robust understanding of how glacial retreat will impact water security in Andean glacier countries,” a summary states.

President Obama lauded the various areas of cooperation during a press conference with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. “I want to commend President Pinera for agreeing to take another step, hosting a new center to address glacier melt in the Andes. In addition, a new U.S.-Chile energy business council will encourage collaborations between our companies in areas like energy efficiency and renewable technologies,” Obama said at a joint news conference in Santiago.

Three days ago the two nations also inked a formal “memorandum of understanding” on peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

House vote on pesticides looms

House lawmakers will vote next week on a bill to limit the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction over pesticide applications. The Hill’s Floor Action blog reports:

The House is expected to take up legislation next week that would reverse a court decision that said pesticide use is regulated by the Clean Water Act, in addition to a federal pesticide law.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week marked up the bill, H.R. 872, and Republicans want to move the measure quickly so it can take effect before April 9. That date is the deadline by which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is due to announce a new permitting process for pesticides that takes the court ruling into account.

Staff for Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), who sponsored the bill, said they expect it to be considered next week in order to meet that deadline.

The bill is a reaction to a decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case National Cotton Council v. EPA. According to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, that decision vacated an EPA rule that said using pesticides in compliance with federal pesticide regulations means a permit is not required under the Clean Water Act.

Click here for the whole story.


Chamber to host discussion on regulatory process

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will host an event Tuesday called "restoring balance to the regulatory process." The event will focus in part on the Obama administration's energy and environmental regulations.

"Tuesday’s discussion, hosted at the Chamber, will focus on how we implement more checks and balances to improve the process and guarantee sensible regulation, while also ensuring that federal agencies are held accountable to the people," said Bill Kovacs, senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the Chamber.

State Department, World Bank look to boost water security

The State Department will mark World Water Day by expanding cooperation with the World Bank. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will sign a memorandum of understanding with the bank at its headquarters.

“The MOU will strengthen support to developing countries seeking a water-secure future,” an advisory states.

Think tank gets efficient

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host Obama administration officials and other experts at a forum on energy efficiency. Speakers will include Rick Duke, the deputy assistant secretary for climate change.

Group to release nuke poll

The Civil Society Institute will release polling that explores attitudes about nuclear power amid the crisis at Japan’s stricken reactors.

The poll is the “first major survey to look at the views of Americans on the broad policy implications of the Fukushima reactor crisis — including support for federal loan guarantees for new U.S. reactors, the merits of shifting federal resources from nuclear to less renewable energy alternatives and whether or not to end federal indemnification of the nuclear industry against nearly all cleanup costs,” the group said.


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

-House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the country’s nuclear reactors need to be re-examined.
-The Nuclear Regulatory Commission detailed its review of U.S. reactors.
-The Environmental Protection Agency warned of a banned pesticide in a product used to kill ants.
-A top House Democrats said military action in Libya is motivated by oil.
-Top lawmakers on the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee put out a call for input on the “clean energy standard.”
-And the Obama administration approved the first deepwater exploration plan since last year’s Gulf oil spill.

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

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