OVERNIGHT ENERGY: It's Gore time!

State of Play: Al Gore will speak Friday evening at Power Shift 2011, a conference of largely young climate change and green energy advocates.

It will be the former vice president’s first remarks since the House approved GOP legislation this month that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases — a plan the Senate rejected.

But while the conference will no doubt feature plenty of ire toward Republicans, Gore will be addressing an event that’s also slated to include a heavy dose of criticism of the White House.

Some advocates felt the White House didn’t do enough to push climate legislation that collapsed on Capitol Hill last year, and remain uneasy about the administration's decisions on coal mining and other issues.

The co-directors of the Energy Action Coalition that’s staging the April 15-18 conference, in an interview published this week with the website HyperVocal, made their disappointment with the administration’s green record clear.

“There are 10,000 young voters coming to town to hold President Obama accountable. We need to change the conversation on energy in this country. Many of the people coming worked on the ground for candidate Obama and for ‘change,’ and frankly, they feel abandoned,” said Courtney Hight, one of the co-directors and a former staffer for Obama’s 2008 White House campaign.

Gore, of course, is no stranger to controversy, and remains the target of frequent attacks from the right. He was working on the issue of climate change before many of the attendees of the upcoming conference were born.

“There is a whole new generation and the new generation are the ones that are going to be most dramatically affected by climate change, and Al ... knows the subject and presents it in a way that is very, very compelling,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who served in the Clinton-Gore administration as deputy secretary of the Interior.

“Al is just a terrific speaker on it, and I think it is a perfect place for him to be,” Garamendi told E2.

NEWS BITES

The CR passed! Here's a review of the energy and environment provisions: The House and the Senate both passed a compromise bill Thursday to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.

You can read more about the continuing resolution (CR) here and here — here’s a quick summary of the energy and environment provisions in the bill. Keep in mind that the provisions would last only until the end of September.

The bill would:

— Cut funding for the EPA by $1.49 billion
— Delist wolves as an endangered species in states that have wolf-management policies in place, including Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington state and Utah
— Limit funds for the Interior Department’s “wild lands” policy
— Block funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate service
— Eliminate the White House climate “czar” position

The EPA-debt ceiling nexus: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) isn’t ruling out putting curbs on EPA regulations in play when lawmakers cast high-stakes votes next month on raising the federal debt ceiling.

The House passed legislation last week that strips EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases, but the Senate rejected the measure and Republicans failed to graft temporary limits to spending legislation.

Asked at a Thursday press conference whether he expects the issue to be part of negotiations on the debt limit, Boehner replied that there have not been decisions yet about what’s on or off the table in the debate.

He added: “Clearly, the direction of the EPA and the direction they're heading with their numerous regulations are going to cripple our economy and cripple the ability of employers to create jobs.”

WH regulatory plan animates GOP push against coal rule:
House Republicans seeking to ward off tough new EPA oversight of a coal byproduct are using the recently announced White House review of regulatory impacts as a cudgel against the proposal.

EPA is mulling whether to regulate so-called coal ash as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The plan is drawing heavy opposition from coal-state lawmakers who say it will strangle the market for recycling the material into wall boards and other products (EPA disputes this).

At an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on potential rules Thursday, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) repeatedly invoked President Obama's recent executive order on regulatory review in slamming EPA for failing to review the potential rule’s effect on jobs.

“I would submit that you are not complying with the president’s executive order,” he told Mathy Stanislaus, the head of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, at the hearing.

Obama issued an executive order in January that says agencies, when crafting rules, must protect the environment, public health and safety while “promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.”

Power company will spend billions to settle EPA claims:
Reuters reports on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s major Clean Air Act settlement with EPA:

“The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will spend as much as $5 billion to reduce coal-plant emissions to settle allegations of Clean Air Act violations at 11 coal-fired power plants in three states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday,” the report said.

“Federally owned TVA also will retire 18 older coal-fired units at three power plants, totaling 2,700 megawatts, starting next year, TVA said in a release,” the story adds.

FOIA request for climate info draws opposition: A dozen public-interest groups are calling on the University of Virginia to reject parts of a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a series of documents, including emails, written by prominent climate scientist Michael Mann.

“The undersigned organizations ... urge the University of Virginia to follow Chancellor Martin’s lead in balancing the interests in public disclosure against the public interest in academic freedom, which the University of Virginia has recognized in its faculty handbook as 'an essential ingredient of an environment of academic excellence,' " states a letter to the school from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the ACLU and others.

A think tank called the American Tradition Institute — mirroring an effort by Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — is seeking the data.

Mann is well known for creating the “hockey stick” chart that reconstructs temperatures over the past millennium and shows a sharp uptick in the 20th century. He is among the researchers whose emails with other scientists were made public with the hacking of messages in late 2009 from the Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom. 

Landrieu, Vitter introduce Gulf Coast restoration bill: Louisiana Sens. David Vitter (R) and Mary Landrieu (D) introduced legislation Thursday that would set aside 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties from last year’s oil spill for Gulf Coast restoration.

The senators have long-called for much of the penalties from the spill, which have not yet been determined, to go to coastal restoration.

Here’s how the money would be divided: 60 percent will go to a “Federal-State Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council” to develop a restoration strategy; 35 percent will be divided among the five Gulf Coast states; and 5 percent will be used to establish a science and technology program focused on offshore energy development and coastal protection.

FRIDAY’S ENERGY AGENDA

EPA air pollution rules under scrutiny:
A panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will discuss EP air pollution rules for boilers, power plants and cement plans — regulations that Republicans allege will burden businesses and could make power generation less reliable.

Witnesses will include Tom Fanning, CEO of utility giant Southern Co.

Examining the environment-border security nexus: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a joint hearing titled, "The Border: Are Environmental Laws And Regulations Impeding Security And Harming The Environment?"

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

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

— Environmentalists are plotting their next steps in the fight over EPA regulations
— The co-chairmen of the national oil-spill commission urged caution on the House GOP’s drilling legislation
— Salazar raised concerns about offshore drilling in Cuba
— The Associated Press reported that another major oil spill could “absolutely” happen again


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

Follow us on Twitter: @E2Wire, @AndrewRestuccia

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