OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Battle over 'use it or lose it' heats up

The American Petroleum Institute had similar sentiments Thursday. "Use it or lose it" proposals are a “convenient way to detract attention from policies that undermine the mission of supplying Americans with the energy they need," API Upstream Director Erik Milito said.

Obama, at a March 11 press conference on rising gas prices, ordered the Interior Department to report back about the number of unused leases on public lands. One House GOP aide said the report could come as soon as Friday.

“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 at the March 11 press conference.

Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget request calls for "establishing fees for new non-producing oil-and-gas leases (both onshore and offshore) to encourage more timely production."

During a House Natural Resources Committee hearing earlier this month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said there are 41.2 million acres of onshore public land leased for oil-and-gas production, but only 12.2 million acres that are “strongly producing.” There are 38 million acres of offshore public land leased for oil and gas production, while 6.8 million acres are producing, he said.

He also noted that the Obama administration held 29 oil-and-gas leases on public land in 2010.

Democrats in both the House and the Senate have rallied around the so-called “use it or lose it” legislation to impose a fee on non-producing leases and require companies to show they're planning to "diligently develop" their tracts.

NEWS BITES:

Capps urges NRC to pause re-licensing of California plant

More evidence that the Japanese nuclear crisis is affecting the politics of nuclear power in the U.S.:

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) is pressing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to freeze its work on the relicensing of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in southern California.

Capps on Thursday wrote to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko urging the commission to stay the license renewal process “until further studies demonstrate the plant’s design and operations can withstand an earthquake and other potential threats.”

Pacific Gas & Electric is asking the NRC to extend the licenses of the plant’s two reactors, which expire in 2024 and 2025. But Capps’s letter notes a 2008 California Energy Commission report “found very clear warnings of potential new seismic threats surrounding the Diablo Canyon plant.”

“I request the NRC immediately stay the license renewal process until it can fully resolve the state’s seismic concerns and adopt whatever lessons are to be learned from the disaster in Japan,” Capps’ letter states.

State Department to increase green-energy use

The State Department has signed an agreement with Constellation Energy to increase the department’s renewable energy support.

It’s part of State’s work to implement a 2009 White House order that requires federal agencies to better their environmental performance and reduce greenhouse gases.

The “Energy Savings Agreement” with Constellation is a “long-term power purchase agreement with Constellation Energy, which will provide an estimated 120,000 MWh of energy annually to the State Department and other federal government facilities.”

ON TAP FRIDAY:

Russian Chernobyl expert to weigh in on Japan crisis

Friends of the Earth is hosting a briefing Thursday with Dr. Alexey Yablokov, who the group says is a “leading Russian expert on the consequences of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.” Yablokov will discuss the nuclear crisis in Japan. The briefing comes a month before the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Climate forum looks at ‘evolving’ international regime

A forum at Johns Hopkins University will explore the Pew Center on Global Climate Change’s report on the “evolution of multilateral regimes” and what this means for climate.

The forum will feature Daniel Bodansky, who is the Lincoln Professor of Law, Ethics and Sustainability at Arizona State University; and Eliot Diringer, who was a spokesman for President Clinton and is now Vice President for International Strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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

-The New York Times reported on the cozy relationship between oil companies and the Libyan government

-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson sought to reassure farmers on clean air regulations

-A report said the maximum reach of Arctic sea ice isn't what it used to be

-The Interior Department issued its fifth Gulf deepwater drilling permit since last year’s oil spill

-A top EPA official faced off with Texas officials over the agency’s climate regulations

-A report said operators of nuclear plants are failing to report component defects

-And Al Gore bashed Republicans on climate change as part of a new fundraising push


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