OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate panel gets to work, but drilling-safety deal elusive

“We are getting close,” she said in the Capitol. “We have made some inroads, so we are somewhat encouraged.”

Interior has revamped its offshore oversight in the wake of the BP spill and issued beefed-up safety standards, but it needs Congress for some key reforms.

The energy committee leaders are still at odds over Bingaman’s separate bill on oil-and-gas production issues.

“We have just kind of agreed to disagree,” Murkowski said.

NEWS BITES:

Markey: Fully fund NOAA amid extreme weather events

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, called on Republicans to fully fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, pointing to a series of extreme weather events across the country in recent months.

“Americans rely on NOAA and its National Weather Service to sound the siren when a storm is approaching and give timely information to citizens on how to protect themselves from extreme weather events,” Markey said. “It is also vital to continue climate research funding to sound the sirens on the long-term impacts of unchecked global warming and look for ways to cut emissions to protect ourselves from worsening extreme weather trends.

“When it comes to climate change, there is plenty left to discover and so much to lose,” Markey continued. “Whether the links between these recent events and climate change are direct or indirect, they have all been deadly and should cause us to look for answers, not sweep the questions under the rug.”

Republicans have proposed cutting funding to NOAA and other agencies in the 2012 budget.

House Dems to Obama: Enforce "wild lands" policy


A coalition of 44 House Democrats called on President Obama on Wednesday to continue to enforce his “wild lands” policy, even after spending legislation included a rider defunding the program.

The policy allows the administration to protect certain lands that have not been given an official wilderness designation. Republicans have blasted the policy, arguing it’s an example of the administration overreaching.

But the lawmakers shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for the administration to enforce the policy.

Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes told lawmakers at a House hearing Tuesday that the administration would respect the rider blocking funding for the wild lands policy. Obama agreed to the rider as part of high-stakes negotiations to fund the government and prevent a shutdown.

Obama in London: We must "confront climate change"


For those of you who are counting, President Obama, in a speech to Great Britain's parliament, made two broad references to climate change.

Here they are:

  • “As new threats spread across borders and oceans, we must dismantle terrorist networks and stop the spread of nuclear weapons, confront climate change and combat famine and disease.”
  • “No country can hide from the dangers of carbon pollution, which is why we must build on what was achieved at Copenhagen and Cancun to leave our children a planet that is safer and cleaner.”


Boxer to hold hearings on EPA clean air rules

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has agreed to hold a series of hearings in June on the Environmental Protection Agency’s air regulations.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the panel and one of the most outspoken critics of the administration’s air regulations, said Wednesday he’s eagerly awaiting the hearings.

“EPA is clearly moving too far too fast and is in dire need of oversight,” he said in a statement. “I hope the outcome of these hearings will be that we can rein in this regulatory train wreck and get on the right track to achieving a clean air policy that balances environmental progress and economic growth.”

A Democratic committee aide said the hearings had been previously planned.

Clinton: Energy must remain an OECD focus

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday energy issues should continue to be a priority for the multinational Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“We must continue to use this venue to stimulate new jobs from sources like clean energy and more energy efficiency,” she said in France in remarks to commemorate OECD’s 50th anniversary.

ON TAP THURSDAY:

Sunstein to discuss controversial White House reg reviews

Cass Sunstein, the White House point man on federal regulations, will appear at the American Enterprise Institute — a conservative think tank — to discuss the Obama administration’s plans to curb regulatory burdens.

Sunstein, who heads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will discuss the results of federal agencies’ compliance with a White House mandate to review existing rules that might be “outmoded” or “excessively burdensome.”

Rena Steinzor of the liberal Center for Progressive Reform — who fears that Obama’s broader January regulatory review initiative will provide cover for industry attacks on environmental rules — attacked the retrospective reviews in a blog post Wednesday ahead of Sunstein’s speech.

“We don't know where the ‘look-backs’ will go, or what effect they may have on existing regulations. But we know for sure that they will sap vital resources from already overstretched federal agencies engaged in the important work of protecting people and the environment,” she writes.

An AEI advisory states Sunstein will “explain the White House's plans to eliminate billions of dollars in regulatory costs as well as hours of reporting burdens in fields including health, environment, transportation, labor, and energy.”

Sanders, Dems to push CFTC on position limits

Senate lawmakers led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday will meet with Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler to express concern about delays in a rulemaking to impose new restrictions on oil market speculators.

Sanders, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and probably others will hold a press conference after the meeting with Gensler to call for new position limits on speculative trading that they allege is driving up energy prices.

Energy frontiers summit continues


Thursday brings Day 2 of the Energy Department’s Energy Frontier Research Centers Summit and forum. The opening panel includes Pat Dehmer, who is the department’s deputy director for science programs.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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

- Administration unveils new vehicle fuel economy labels
- Reid blasts Sen. Vitter for blocking Interior chief's pay raise
- White House aide: Electric vehicles could form base of bipartisan energy bill
- White House climate aide says Obama’s ‘clean energy standard’ is alive
- Republicans float bill aimed at limiting enviro lawsuits

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

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