OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA air chief faces tough crowd

“We can decide as a nation that it’s okay to lose these factories and lose our manufacturing capacity, or we can do what other countries are doing, which is to get in the game and pass policies that will keep jobs and create jobs,” she said Wednesday afternoon at the campaign’s rollout.

“So this campaign is all about two things. I am not going to be talking about cap-and-trade, I am not going to be talking about global warming. I am going to be talking about jobs, and I am going to be talking about independence from foreign oil,” Granholm said.

The messaging is consistent with the political positioning of other green power and transportation advocates — including President Obama — at a time when climate bills are moribund on Capitol Hill.

They have increasingly emphasized that green energy can be a major domestic economic force, but that the U.S. risks falling badly behind China, which has aggressive policies to promote industries like wind- and solar-related manufacturing.

The former two-term Michigan governor will be a senior adviser for the Pew energy campaign and will travel to promote the initiative that will focus on issues including auto efficiency, electric vehicles, industrial efficiency and green energy R&D.

“Gov. Granholm, together with Pew staff, will meet with clean energy start-ups, research facilities, entrepreneurs, manufacturing plants, elected officials and community partners around the country to discuss possibilities for job creation, manufacturing and exports. They will explore the role policy can play in increasing demand and spurring investment in the sector, which is marked by rapid growth and fierce international competition,” the group said.

Chu: Wind, solar close to competing with fossil fuels without aid


Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday that green energy isn’t far away from besting fossil fuels without subsidies.

“Before, maybe, the end of this decade, I see wind and solar being cost competitive without subsidy, being competitive with new fossil fuel,” he said at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“You can debate whether it is going to be before the end of this decade or mid-way into the next decade, but it is not going to be three decades,” Chu said.

He spoke at an event on the Pew Charitable Trusts’s green-energy campaign — an initiative  Granholm will help lead (see above). Chu, like Granholm, said the U.S. must seize the lead in development of technologies around renewable electricity, advanced batteries for electric cars and other green sectors.

“The country and the companies who develop those renewable energy resources that become cost-competitive without any subsidies all of a sudden has a world market, and boy, we can’t lose that world market. That’s many trillions per year, and it is within reach,” Chu said.

Energy Department prepares updated rare earth strategy

Have an opinion about rare earth elements and other “critical materials” used in low-carbon tech?

The Energy Department wants to hear from you. The department will publish a notice Thursday that seeks input on updating its strategy to prevent a supply crunch of rare earth elements that currently come almost entirely from China.

“Last year, DOE issued its first Critical Materials Strategy. This year, DOE will update its analysis. The responses to this RFI [request for information] will help DOE develop a more detailed picture of technology material content, supply chain structure, financing, R&D, energy technology transitions and recycling. This information will help DOE to analyze material criticality and determine the best policies to promote diverse, sustainable and economical supplies, as well as efficient use,” the notice states.

Markey questions effectiveness of blow-out preventers

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, questioned the effectiveness of blow-out preventers Wednesday after a federal investigation found that a trapped piece of drill pipe prevented the device from deploying effectively when BP's Macondo well blew out, leading to last year's massive Gulf oil spill.

“This report calls into question whether oil industry claims about the effectiveness of blowout preventers are just a bunch of hot air. It isn’t clear from this report that blowout preventers can actually prevent major blowouts once they’ve started," Markey said in a statement. "We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the blind shear rams did not seem to work.”

Markey called on the Interior Department to begin "an immediate top-to-bottom" investigation of the effectiveness of blow-out preventers.

ON TAP THURSDAY:

Exelon chief to talk nukes

The CEO of Exelon Corp., which has the nation’s largest fleet of nuclear plants, and other executives will hold a conference call to offer the company's "perspective on the disaster in Japan and provide information on the safety of Exelon’s nuclear fleet.”

Oil industry to weigh in on 'use it or lose it' legislation

The American Petroleum Institute, the country's most powerful oil-and-gas trade group, will "set the record straight" Thursday on legislation that would pressure companies to tap unused oil-and-gas leases on public lands. Democrats have been pushing such a proposal as an answer to Republican calls for opening new areas to drilling.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Here’s a quick roundup of Wednesday’s E2 posts:

— The Food and Drug Administration banned certain Japanese food products from entering the United States
— But a consumer group said the ban doesn’t go far enough
— A fight over whether EPA will regulate spilled milk reached the White House
— A report said a trapped drill pipe kept the blowout preventer from working on the Macondo well
— A major public health group slammed House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in his district
— New York House Democrats called for hearings on nuclear relicensing

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

Follow us on Twitter: @E2Wire, @AndrewRestuccia.