The week ahead: Oil and gas prices, subsidies to dominate energy agenda

The bills, part of a three-bill oil-and-gas production package introduced by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), are expected to pass the House, but they face major hurdles in the Senate.

Republicans and some Democrats claim that increased domestic oil-and-gas production will lower prices. But energy analysts say increased production in the United States will have almost no effect on the cost of gas.

Meanwhile, expect continued debate on an Obama administration proposal to eliminate billions of dollars of oil-industry tax breaks.

Republicans have generally criticized the proposal, arguing it would add burdens on the oil-and-gas industry that would be passed on to consumers. But Democrats have seized on to the apparent willingness of two top Republicans to eliminate some tax breaks.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated in a recent interview that he could support repealing some of the tax breaks, but quickly walked back his comments. And House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he is in favor of eliminating the tax breaks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said this week that he hopes to hold a vote on the proposal as soon as possible. A Reid spokesman said Friday that the timing of the vote is dependent on the small-business bill that has been lingering on the Senate floor for weeks.

There will be a series of other energy-related events in Congress this week.

The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on natural-disaster preparedness. The committee will also consider pipeline safety legislation, among other bills, during a Thursday session.

Also Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a proposal to establish a Clean Energy Deployment Administration. The administration would provide loans and financing for clean-energy projects.

The House Natural Resources and Agriculture committees will hold a joint hearing Tuesday on “the costs of federal regulatory dysfunction.” The director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s pesticide program and the head of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service are slated to testify.

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the role of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “in the nation’s energy future.” The hearing comes amid the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan and continued questions from some lawmakers as to the safety of the U.S. nuclear fleet.

The committee will hold a hearing Thursday on alternative fuels and vehicles.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing on mine safety Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee will hear about the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy budget from the office’s director, John Holdren.

On Thursday, the House Transportation Committee will look into how EPA mining policies affect jobs.

And there is a slew of events scheduled off Capitol Hill this week.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will give the keynote address Monday at the conclusion of the National Science Bowl, in which science students from across the country conduct a series of science experiments.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko will speak at Public Citizen on Monday.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, among others, will speak at an event Tuesday and Wednesday hosted by the Earth Day Network, the Carbon War Room and the American Council on Renewable Energy.

More in Energy & Environment

Week ahead: EPA hits homestretch on climate rule

Read more »