The week ahead: Energy battles turn to oil sands pipeline, Alaskan drilling and EPA

On Monday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on legislation that would set a deadline for the Obama administration to make a decision on whether to permit the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Republicans are ratcheting up pressure on the administration to approve the pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta’s oil sands through the U.S. to Gulf Coast refineries, while top Democrats are casting the plan as a gift to Koch Industries.

Witnesses are slated to include a top executive with TransCanada, the company seeking to build the pipeline.

On Tuesday, the House Energy Committee will mark up a pair of bills: one that would require a new interagency analysis of the cumulative economic effects of certain EPA rules, and another that would expedite air pollution permits for oil-and-gas drilling projects off Alaska’s coast. 

The Monday pipeline hearing and Tuesday markup will occur in the Energy and Power subcommittee.

More action Tuesday: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will host EPA’s Jackson — a frequent target of Capitol Hill Republicans — for a hearing titled “Pain at the Pump: Policies that Suppress Domestic Production of Oil and Gas.”

Republicans say various EPA regulations threaten to stymie the economy and raise energy costs, but Jackson returned fire on “The Daily Show” last week, alleging that Republicans are parroting inaccurate industry talking points.

On Wednesday the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing titled “How Federal Reserve Policies Add to Hard Times at the Pump.”

Also Wednesday: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on United Nations climate-change talks slated to include Todd Stern, the State Department’s special envoy for climate change.

On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is slated to mark up several bills. The agenda includes bills to enhance the cybersecurity of the power grid; boost development of marine renewable energy sources like wave power; create a federal "Clean Energy Deployment Administration," and others.

The long list includes a major offshore drilling safety bill, but the measure might not make the cut for this markup as bipartisan negotiations continue.

There will be plenty to watch beyond the hearings.

On Wednesday the National Journal will host a summit on “Next Steps Toward Fuel Efficiency” that includes top White House climate adviser Heather Zichal as well as senators and industry officials.

Also Wednesday, Hertz will hold an event to celebrate the introduction of electric and hybrid vehicles into its Washington fleet. Former CIA director — and energy security advocate — James Woolsey will be on hand, as will Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).


This post was updated at 9:26 a.m.