OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden to make the clean energy case

Friday’s Big Story: Vice President Joe Biden will take the White House push to boost green energy spending on the road with a visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.

“The Vice President will deliver remarks on the Administration’s commitment to encouraging innovation and investing in research and development to keep America competitive in the 21st century. The Vice President will highlight initiatives that are spurring job creation and manufacturing, growing the economy, and helping America win the future,” states an advisory about his visit to the Energy Department lab.

The White House is seeking increased spending on Energy Department programs aimed at researching and demonstrating cutting-edge technologies in renewable power, efficiency, improved electric vehicles and other areas.

Administration officials, as they joust with Republicans on spending, say these programs should be spared from budget cuts because the green energy sector is vital to the country’s future competitiveness.

President Obama, at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Wednesday night, called for “tough decisions” and sacrifice to tackle the deficit, but added: “I will not reduce our deficit by sacrificing the things that have always made America prosper. ... I will not sacrifice our investments in clean energy at a time when our dependence on foreign oil is causing Americans so much pain at the pump.”

The White House is seeking $29.5 billion for the Energy Department in its fiscal year 2012 budget plan. That includes $5.4 billion for the department’s science office and $550 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a program that funds so-called high-risk, high-reward research into breakthrough technologies.

NEWS BITES:

Rockefeller: Mine explosion report should be "wakeup call" for Congress

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that a report detailing the cause of the fatal April 5, 2010, Upper Big Branch mine explosion should prod Congress to act on mine-safety legislation.

"My hope today is for this report to serve as a fresh wakeup call to Congress — unless we act now to give federal mine safety inspectors the additional tools they need and are asking for, a few bad operators will continue to make this industry more dangerous than it has to be," Rockefeller said in a statement.

Thursday's report blamed Massey Energy, the operator of the West Virginia mine, for the explosion that killed 29 men.

“Ultimately, the responsibility for the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine lies with the management of Massey Energy,” the report says. “The company broke faith with its workers by frequently and knowingly violating the law and blatantly disregarding known safety practices while creating a public perception that its operations exceeded industry standards.”

Rockefeller has introduced broad mine-safety legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on the bill.

Here's more on the report.

Obama to Middle East oil producers: You can’t rely on your oil resources forever

In his Middle East speech Thursday, President Obama warned that countries cannot rely on their vast oil resources alone for continued prosperity.

“Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth and oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity,” Obama said. “But in a global economy based on knowledge, based on innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground, nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.”

DOE launches efficient vehicles partnership with industry


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The Energy Department launched a new initiative Thursday to partner with industry to speed up the development of technologies to make light-duty cars and trucks more efficient.

The initiative, known as U.S. DRIVE , or “Driving Research and Innovation for Vehicle efficiency and Energy sustainability,” will include DOE engineers and industry officials.

“Government-industry partnerships like U.S. DRIVE can quicken the pace at which affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles reach and succeed in the commercial market,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “By bringing together the best and brightest in government and the automobile, electric utility, and fuels industries, we can develop promising, innovative technologies that move rapidly from the lab into cars on the road, along with the infrastructure to support them.”

Companies that are partnering with DOE on the initiative include: Tesla Motors, Exxon Mobil and Southern California Edison.

DOE issues conditional loan guarantee for Nevada solar project

The Energy Department said Thursday it is offering a $737 million conditional loan guarantee for a solar generation project in Nevada.

Some background on the project from DOE:

“The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, sponsored by SolarReserve, LLC, will be the first of its kind in the United States and the tallest molten salt tower in the world. Located 14 miles northwest of Tonopah, Nevada on 2,250 acres leased from the Bureau of Land Management, the company anticipates the facility will create 600 construction jobs and 45 operations jobs.”

DOE says its loan guarantee program has offered loans, loan guarantees or commitments for guarantees worth $30 billion to 29 projects.

ON TAP FRIDAY:

  • Vice President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on clean energy at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.
  • Friday is day two of the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions’ energy conference. The conference, dubbed "Entering a New Era: Energy, Environment and Prosperity," will include remarks from executives at GE, Duke Energy, Constellation Energy and Wal-Mart, among others.
  • Friday is the first day of the four-day Blue Vision Summit on the world's oceans. Here’s the conference agenda.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

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

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

Follow us on Twitter: @E2Wire, @AndrewRestuccia, @Ben_Geman

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