By Andrew Restuccia and Ben Geman - 05/19/11 12:14 AM EDT
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Wednesday that he is planning to meet with Bingaman in the next two weeks to look for areas of common ground, including drilling safety, which is the subject of one bill that Bingaman may try and move next week.
Elsewhere, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said Wednesday that pro-drilling centrists like himself are “wanting to reach out to Republicans and find some opportunity.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill earlier this week that he’d like to speak with Begich and others about the possibility of expanding offshore drilling while "reshaping" industry subsidies.
But measures that mandate expanded drilling – certainly to the extent that would satisfy House and Senate Republicans – face major hurdles among Democrats, while Republicans are dug in at the moment against nixing industry tax breaks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told The Hill Wednesday that he’s hopeful a path forward remains on energy. “We are always open to discussing ways to go forward and actually accomplish something to increase American production,” he said.
GOP govs and Interior: Ill communication on drilling
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael Bromwich sent a second letter Wednesday inviting four GOP governors to meet to discuss their concerns about drilling.
The governors — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell — formed a coalition earlier this month aimed at increasing communication between the federal governments and the states on drilling.
But so far, the communication doesn’t appear to be so great. Bromwich said none of the four Republican governors have responded to his original May 3 letter offering the chance to meet.
“The announced purpose of your coalition is to advance constructive dialogue between the federal government and coastal state governors on issues relating to energy production,” Bromwich said in his follow-up letter. “I have not received any response to my invitation to meet to discuss these issues.”
Upton to move bill to speed up approval of Keystone XL pipeline
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Wednesday he plans to move legislation that would speed up a final decision on a controversial proposed pipeline project that would carry Canadian oil sands from Alberta to refineries in Texas.
The Obama administration, led by the State Department, is currently conducting an environmental review of the project, known as Keystone XL.
Republicans have accused the administration of dragging its feet on the project at a time when the United States should be getting more oil from Canada and less from the Middle East. But environmentalists have criticized the project, noting that Canadian oil sands production results in more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil production and raising the spectrum of oil pipeline spills.
Upton’s pipeline legislation would force President Obama to make a decision on the pipeline by Nov. 1. Upton is holding a hearing on the legislation, which is in draft form, May 23.
Upton predicted that the legislation would make its way to the House floor.
Groups sue State Department over Keystone XL communications
Environmental and legal watchdog groups sued the State Department Wednesday to get copies of any communications between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a lobbyist for a Canadian oil company seeking approval of a massive proposal oil pipeline.
The lobbyist, Paul Elliott, was national deputy director for Clinton’s presidential campaign. The groups say Elliott could influence Clinton in her decision on the pipeline.
The State Department has yet to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request seeking any communications between Elliott and Clinton. So the groups — Friends of the Earth, Center for International Environmental Law and Corporate Ethics International — filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking the documents.
The State Department is heading a multi-agency environmental review of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian oil sands from Alberta to the Texas coast.
“Why is the State Department refusing to release these communications?. This calls into question the agency’s decision to rush the review of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite its massive environmental risks and bipartisan opposition to it,” Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said in a statement.
House Republicans query EPA on climate rules
Top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have requested information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate regulations.
The lawmakers sent EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson a letter Wednesday seeking detailed information on the agency’s efforts to set new source performance standards for large power plants and refineries that emit greenhouse gas emissions.
Specifically, the lawmakers said they are looking for information on a series of “settlement agreements” with states and environmental groups that sued the agency over the pace of setting the standards.
The letter was signed by Upton, Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.).
ON TAP THURSDAY:
-The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a legislative hearing on two bills to promote electric and alternative vehicles.
-The committee will hold another hearing later in the day on a slew of other energy and water bills.
-The Environmental Law Institute will hold a discussion on natural gas and hydraulic fracturing.
-The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace also holds a discussion on natural gas called, “Natural Gas in a Low-Carbon Future: Challenges and Opportunities."
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
Here’ a quick roundup of Wednesday’s E2 stories:
-White House: Oil subsidy fight isn’t over
-Dems use millionaire surtax to push concessions on oil tax breaks
-Sen. Blunt: GOP drilling plan will sway speculators
-McConnell blasts Dems ahead of vote on GOP drilling bill
-Murkowski calls on Senate to approve 'modest' GOP energy bill
-Sen. Hatch: Obama must have 'dumbbells' advising him on energy
-Reid to huddle with major environmental groups Wednesday
-Senate rejects GOP bill to expand, speed up offshore drilling
-Boucher joins law, lobby firm Sidley Austin
-Biden to tout clean-energy research in Colorado
-Sen. Inhofe says GOP energy plan was too timid
-Sen. Alexander: Forget 'Big Oil,' let's cut tax breaks for 'Big Wind'