The week ahead: Lawmakers hone messaging on gas prices

The committee will hold a hearing Thursday titled “Making the Gulf Coast Whole Again: Assessing the Recovery Efforts of BP and the Obama Administration After the Oil Spill."

Lawmakers have accused the Interior Department of slow-walking the approval of Gulf of Mexico drilling permits. But the administration maintains that it is working diligently to approve permits, noting that companies must comply with a series of enhanced environmental and safety standards put in place after the spill.

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on Alaska’s oil and natural-gas resources amid increasing pressure from Republicans on the Obama administration to approve air permits needed for Arctic drilling.

The administration has sought to show that it is serious about expanding domestic oil-and-gas production in recent weeks. President Obama announced earlier this month that he is forming a task force to coordinate offshore permitting in Alaska.

The Energy Department is holding meetings in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss hydraulic fracturing, a process often called “fracking,” in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the ground to loosen valuable natural-gas reserves.

The Secretary of Energy Advisory Board’s (SEAB) Natural Gas Subcommittee will meet to discuss improving fracking safety amid increasing concerns about the practice.

In a related event, Congressional Natural Gas Caucus Co-Chairmen Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.) will hold an event Wednesday on the role of states in regulating natural-gas drilling.

There is a slew of other House hearings of note this week:

- The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on electric grid reliability
- The Transportation Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the Environmental Protection Agency’s nutrients policies
- The Natural Resources Committee will hold a second hearing aimed at “identifying roadblocks to wind and solar energy on public lands and waters”
- The Science Committee will examine “harmful algal blooms” Wednesday
- The Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Friday on legislation to ensure the country has a domestic supply of key minerals
- The Energy and Commerce Committee will take a closer look Friday at the administration’s regulatory review plans.

In addition, the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Development subcommittee is slated to mark up fiscal 2012 appropriations legislation for the Energy Department and other agencies Thursday.

The Senate is not in session this week.

Off Capitol Hill, Resources for the Future is holding a discussion Tuesday called “Reforming Institutions and Managing Extremes: U.S. Policy Options for Adapting to Climate Change.”