OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA Administrator Jackson to face GOP critics ... again

Jackson, in her written testimony, says the agency is working to provide the necessary analysis to EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board, which is reviewing two permits for Shell Oil’s exploratory drilling operations in the Arctic. The permits came before the appeals board after they were challenged by Alaska residents, Jackson notes.

“I am confident that we will give the Board the analysis it has called for, in time for the permits to be upheld before the start of the next drilling season,” Jackson says in her written testimony.

Republicans and some drill-state Democrats say EPA is dragging its feet in issuing air pollution permits necessary for Arctic drilling to move forward, citing a decision by Shell to scrap plans to drill in the region this year.

Jackson will also stress that EPA is “committed to promoting timely and safe domestic natural gas development,” while noting the agency must “use its authorities to protect local residents if a driller endangers water supplies and the state and local authorities have not acted.”

David Hayes, Interior’s deputy secretary, will also testify at the hearing. He'll defend Interior's policies amid GOP claims that the department is not moving quickly enough to expand domestic oil and gas drilling.

Hayes will outline the administration’s wish list for legislation to reform offshore drilling. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar discussed the wish list last week while testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Cummings to tout oil speculation report: Expect Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to tout a report he released Monday on potential oil market speculation at Tuesday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.

The report’s top-line finding? “Addressing excessive speculation offers the single most significant opportunity to reduce the price of gas for American consumers.”

Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight panel, called on committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) Monday to launch an investigation into the role of speculation in high oil and gas prices.


NEWS BITES:

House Energy panel to advance bills to quantify effect of EPA rules, speed up Arctic permitting: The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Energy and Power subcommittee will pivot Tuesday to a pair of GOP energy priorities: enumerating the effects of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations and speeding up the permitting of offshore drilling projects in the Arctic.

The subcommittee will vote on two pieces of legislation Tuesday aimed at addressing the priorities.

The first bill, authored by Reps. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and Jim MathesonJim MathesonTrump's budget targets affordable, reliable power Work begins on T infrastructure plan New president, new Congress, new opportunity MORE (D-Utah), would require President Obama to set up a panel charged with determining the “cumulative and incremental impacts” of various EPA regulations.

The panel, which would be chaired by the Commerce secretary, would include among its membership a number of Cabinet secretaries.

It would be required to consider the effect of EPA regulations on the country’s competitiveness, electricity prices, fuel prices and jobs, among other things.

A final report on the panel’s findings would be due to Congress by Aug. 1, 2012.

Republicans have accused EPA officials in hearings over the last several months of conducting inadequate cost-benefit analyses of the agency’s regulations. Republicans hope the analysis will shed light on what they believe are the detrimental economic effects of the regulations.

The Energy subcommittee will also vote Tuesday on a discussion draft aimed at speeding up EPA consideration of air pollution permits for oil-and-gas drilling projects off Alaska’s coast.

Obama sought to show that he was serious about expanding Arctic drilling earlier this month, announcing that he’ll set up a task forced aimed at coordinating efforts to permit projects off Alaska’s coast.

Pawlenty ethanol stance consistent with other farm-staters: Now-official GOP White House candidate Tim Pawlenty’s call to phase out ethanol subsidies isn’t quite the gut-punch to the fuel’s backers on Capitol Hill that it might seem.

Pawlenty, in his Monday speech in Iowa that formalized his ongoing candidacy, called for a gradual end to the support. "The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out," he said.

Ethanol is popular in the corn belt, but there's already a sense that the ethanol blenders' credit — which helps guarantee a market for ethanol producers — is approaching its twilight. A number of key ethanol backers, led by Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks, background checks Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks MORE (R-Iowa), have already floated legislation that would gradually reduce the tax credit for blending ethanol into gasoline.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOvernight Tech: Senate panel subpoenaed ex-Yahoo chief | Twitter gives all users 280 characters | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | EU wants tax answers from Apple Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Former Yahoo CEO subpoenaed to appear before Congress MORE (R-S.D.) said he wasn’t aware of Pawlenty’s specific remarks, but noted that there’s widespread recognition that the current tax credits aren’t likely to remain.

“I think there is a recognition that the VEETC [volumetric ethanol excise tax credit] in its existing form is probably going to have to be reformed,” Thune told reporters in the Capitol Monday. “That is something that even I think the industry acknowledges is going to have to happen,” he said.

A key tax credit that benefits ethanol producers is slated to expire at year’s end — Grassley and others calling for a gradual phase-out are battling a bloc led by Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks MORE (D-Calif.) and Tom CoburnTom CoburnFormer GOP senator: Trump has a personality disorder Lobbying World -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground MORE (R-Okla.) that wants to quickly kill the tax benefits outright.

Administration to make 'major' vehicles announcement: Top Obama administration officials will announce “major steps” Tuesday toward Obama’s goal of transitioning the entire federal fleet to fuel-efficient vehicles by 2015.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, General Services Administrator Martha Johnson and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley will appear at a press event on the announcement.

Salazar aide heads for Biden’s office: Kendra Barkoff, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s spokeswoman, is leaving Interior to become a press aide to Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenThe Hill's 12:30 Report Pence talks regularly to Biden, Cheney: report Biden moving toward 2020 presidential run: report MORE.

“She has extensive communications and press experience and will be a tremendous asset to our office and the entire White House,” Biden said in a statement about Barkoff, who is Salazar’s deputy communications director and press secretary.

Barkoff is no stranger to pressure — she was part of Interior’s team during last year’s BP oil spill and the overhaul of its troubled offshore drilling oversight branch.

Prior to her stint at Interior, Barkoff worked on Capitol Hill for senators including Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyBipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Scarborough: 'Washington would be melting down' if shooter was 'named Muhammad' Dems renew calls for gun control in wake of Texas church shooting MORE (D-Pa.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program MORE (D-Ill.) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats oppose effort to delay or repeal Interior methane rule Senators spar over proposal to drill in Alaska wildlife refuge Fake quorum calls are an excuse for the Senate's inaction MORE (D-Wash.).

Menendez eyes chat with Biden on oil industry tax breaks: Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezIn judge's 2010 Senate trial, Menendez was guilty of hypocrisy Excused Menendez juror: 'I don't think he did anything wrong' We don't need a terrorist attack to know diversity program has to go MORE (D-N.J.), who is leading the charge to strip oil industry tax breaks, said he plans to approach Biden about ensuring the issue is addressed in the VP’s deficit-reduction talks with a small bipartisan group of lawmakers.

Menendez said in the Capitol Monday that he plans to “speak to the vice president about it in the midst of his negotiation so he knows that there are a fair number of us that would like to see it included.”

A Menendez bill backed by Democratic leadership to nix an estimated $21 billion in incentives for major oil companies over a decade sputtered on the Senate floor last week. But senior Democrats are insisting that it’s in the mix as part of broader fiscal policy negotiations around legislation to raise the debt ceiling.


ON TAP TUESDAY:

House panel delves into rare-earth elements: A panel of the House Natural Resources Committee will hear from several experts at a hearing called “Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy: Domestic Minerals Supplies and Demands in a time of Foreign Supply Disruptions.”

The issue is key because a number of low-carbon energy technologies rely on rare-earth elements, and China is the world’s dominant supplier, which is raising fears that technologies to help displace foreign oil will create their own energy security problems.

Gas drilling in focus: The National Press Club will host a discussion on the effects of expanding U.S. gas development that features anti-drilling activist Adrian Kuzminski and Alan Krupnick of Resources for the Future.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

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

— Greens, industry draw battle lines in fight over oil pipeline
— Pawlenty hits Obama on gas prices out of the gate
— Pawlenty in Iowa: Phase out ethanol subsidies
Vatican invoked on climate change
— Interior, NOAA agree to offshore energy collaboration
— Upton: Dems’ push to link pipeline to Kochs ‘outrageous’
— Vitter to block Salazar’s salary increase 

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