OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House gets moving on offshore drilling

But he stressed that the plant is not yet stable, noting that it remains vulnerable to continuing aftershocks in the region.

Jaczko’s comments come on the same day that Japanese officials raised the rating of the nuclear crisis to the highest level on the international scale. That’s the same rating that the 1986 Chernobyl disaster received.

Jaczko took only two quick questions from reporters after Tuesday’s hearings and did not expand on his comments.


Bingaman, Murkowski got 150 CES comments; staff will analyze them in May

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) told reporters Tuesday that he has received 150 comments from a wide variety of groups on how to construct a federal standard requiring that the country get a certain portion of its electricity from low-carbon sources.

Bingaman, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), released a whitepaper on the so-called “clean energy standard,” or CES, last month. The senators also called on various groups to submit comments on the proposal by April 11.

Asked by reporters about the CES comments Tuesday, Bingaman said he hadn’t read them yet. But he said his staff would begin taking a close look at them when the Senate returns from its upcoming two-week recess on May 1.

President Obama has outlined a framework for a CES that would mandate that 80 percent of the electricity come from low-carbon energy sources like wind, natural gas and nuclear by 2035.

The White House has charged Bingaman, who has raised questions in the past about including nuclear in such a standard, with fleshing out the proposal.

Sen. Kerry is 'exasperated, jaded and frustrated'

When it comes to energy and climate policy, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who played a leading role in efforts to pass climate legislation last year before the talks fell apart at the last minute, is “exasperated, jaded and frustrated.”

“I guess after a while you get a little bit exasperated, jaded and frustrated by it all. Maybe all of you here are. I certainly am,” Kerry said at an energy policy forum hosted by The New Republic Tuesday.

Kerry lamented the country’s lack of progress on weaning itself off of its dependence on oil and addressing climate change.

“It really is quite stunning that the United States is like an ostrich, putting its head in the sand and waiting until things blow by and then you poke up and pray or hope or think that somehow it might have changed,” he said.

And he accused Republicans of disregarding facts in favor of talking points.

“I don’t know what’s happened to the body politic of our country where facts seem to be so easily shuttered aside, disposed of, in favor of simple sloganeering, pure ideology and little bromides of politics that are offered up and offer no solution, but might get you through an election,” he said.

Trent Lott to Obama: Time to ‘step up’ on energy security

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has blunt advice for President Obama when it comes to energy security: Get with it.

“The president needs to step up, get involved,” Lott said Tuesday. Expect to hear the message repeated — Lott co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center’s new energy project that formally launched Tuesday and will focus heavily on curbing U.S. reliance on imported fuels.

Obama, in a series of recent appearances, has emphasized enhanced fuel efficiency and many other administration steps to bolster energy security. But Lott and the three other leaders of the new project say a greater focus at the White House and Capitol Hill is needed.

Former National Security Adviser James Jones — who stepped down from the role late last year — said the U.S. still lacks a clear “path” on the matter and that energy needs a more prominent role in U.S security policy.

Jones believes there should be an energy security coordination position at the National Security Council.

“There has to be someone, in addition to the president, who can step forward and harmonize” various branches of the government when it comes to energy policy, he said. Jones believes that the government currently lacks the “organization” to deal with serious energy threats.

Former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and William Reilly — who led EPA under President George H.W. Bush and recently chaired the presidential oil spill commission — are the other leaders of the new project.

They released an “open letter” Tuesday that lays out their plans.

Bingaman's committee gets down to business

Bingaman's Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had a busy day Tuesday.

The panel approved three energy bills — on issues ranging from hydropower to appliance standards — and OK'd the nomination of Peter Lyons to be the assistant secretary for nuclear at the Department of Energy.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY:

Here are some of the notable energy-related events around town:

  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on "Domestic Renewable Fuels: From Ethanol to Advanced Biofuels." The hearing will include testimony from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, among others.
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers fiscal 2012 budget request.
  • The House Science Committee will examine "Green Jobs and Red Tape: Assessing Federal Efforts to Encourage Employment." Witnesses will include officials from the American Enterprise Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Foundation.
  • T. Boone Pickens will participate in a natural-gas vehicles event Tuesday.
  • Southern Co. CEO Thomas Fanning will discuss nuclear energy policy, among other things, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ...

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

-The agreement to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year cuts EPA's funding, delists wolves and blocks funding for Interior’s ‘wild lands’ policy
-Democrats issued their latest call to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
-An EPA official called a controversial study on natural-gas drilling an “important piece of information”
-A top Democrat said Republicans aren’t giving EPA officials adequate notice of hearings
-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Republican drilling bills show “amnesia” about last year’s Gulf oil spill
-EPA officially exempted milk from an oil-spill prevention regulation
-The Interior Department is weighing an expansion of offshore rules to contractors

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

Follow us on Twitter: @E2Wire, @AndrewRestuccia.