OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Reg-review battle reaches Capitol Hill

Industry groups have taken aim at EPA's plan. The American Petroleum Institute, the country’s most powerful oil-and-gas trade group, said Wednesday that EPA’s plan doesn’t go far enough.

The group said the plan doesn’t address two regulations the industry is very concerned about: pending greenhouse gas regulations for stationary sources like power plants and refineries, and upcoming rules setting more stringent ozone standards.

EPA’s review plan identifies 31 regulations that the agency will re-evaluate. The agency will take immediate steps to review 16 of the regulations. The other 15 reviews will take place over a longer period of time.

In the plan, EPA pledges to “harmonize” fuel-efficiency regulations and eliminate requirements for gas stations to have technology to capture air pollution vapor, among other things.

The committee will hear from stakeholder groups in a second panel tomorrow. Sure enough, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President William Kovacs will blast EPA’s regulatory review plan.

“And in the case of EPA, its look-back does little to nothing in the way of addressing the bulk of rulemakings of significant concern to the Chamber and its members,” he will say, according to his written testimony.

James Gattuso, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and David Goldston, director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, will also testify at Friday’s hearing.

Here's more on the regulatory review plans.


NEWS BITES:

Whitfield eyes fast action on EPA air rules, Keystone pipeline bill: A top House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican said Thursday that he hopes to move bills through his subcommittee in mid-June that would delay two EPA air pollution rules.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who heads the Energy and Power subcommittee, said the bills would address hazardous air-pollution rules for cement plants and boilers. Republicans and industry groups call the rules overly burdensome and say they will kill jobs.

“We are going to go on and try to move our cement and boiler MACT legislation the week we get back,” Whitfield said, referring to EPA’s “maximum achievable control technology” rules. The House is out next week but returns the week of June 13.

EPA has already put its boilers rules on hold while it reviews the controversial requirements.

Whitfield is also targeting the week that the House will return for introducing legislation to thwart EPA’s proposed air-toxics rules for power plants, called the “utility MACT.” He suggested that bill would go beyond just delaying EPA’s plan.

“There may be some aspects of the utility MACT that we may try to do a little bit more than that, because that regulation is pretty broad ... but we haven’t completed the legislation yet,” Whitfield told reporters in the Capitol. “Hopefully we will get that introduced the first week back.”

He also said that he’d like the subcommittee to act “quickly” on legislation aimed at expediting the Obama administration’s decision on whether to green-light TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The committee’s GOP leadership backs the project that would bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

Sanders to float bill forcing CFTC's hand on oil-position limits: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will introduce legislation next week to force the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to immediately impose new limits on investors in oil markets in an effort to curb “excessive” speculation.

Sanders and other Senate Democrats argue that such speculation is to blame for high oil-and-gas prices.

The legislation, known as the End Excessive Oil Speculation Now Act, would require the chairman of the CFTC to use emergency authority to impose position limits, or caps on the number of futures contracts that a market player can hold, for crude oil.

The bill — which is still a “work in progress,” according to a Sanders spokesman — would compel the CFTC to act within 48 hours.

The spokesman, Michael Briggs, said Sanders is shopping the proposal around to other senators in an effort to gather co-sponsors.

Sanders and six other Senate Democrats met with CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler last week to call on the agency to immediately implement the position limits.

But Gensler told the lawmakers that a proposal on the issue must undergo additional review before being finalized.

Sanders told reporters after the meeting that the CFTC needs to move more quickly, pointing to high gas prices.

“There is nothing that I heard from him which suggests any sense of urgency about the need to protect consumers or, in fact, to protect our economy,” he said. “I was disappointed by the tone of the meeting, the lack of urgency, the lack of specific ideas, and that’s something we’re just going to have to deal with.”

The CFTC proposed reworked limits in January based on provisions in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that required the commission to implement aggregate position limits on energy commodities. But the CFTC has yet to finalize the rules even though the law called for their completion within 180 days of enactment.

House Dems' report outlines plan for cutting oil dependence: A group of House Democrats joined with the Center for American Progress and the Association for Commuter Transportation Thursday in releasing a report calling for new transportation policies to lower the country’s dependence on oil.

The report, titled “Freedom from Oil,” calls for increased fuel economy, investments in alternative vehicles and “pay-as-you-drive” insurance, among other things.

“Because our transportation system is almost entirely dependent on petroleum, policymakers can have the most — and most immediate — impact by focusing their efforts on providing and encouraging a range of transportation options,” the report says.

The report was unveiled Thursday by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).


ON TAP FRIDAY:

Broad energy bill under the microscope: A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will hear from a top Energy Department official and others Friday when it meets to review a sweeping energy bill sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

The bill, which has more than 70 co-sponsors, would open vast offshore areas to oil-and-gas drilling, and require permitting of scores of new nuclear reactors over 30 years.

 The bill also opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling; steers substantial federal revenues from ANWR and offshore development into a trust fund for renewable power projects; and blocks EPA climate-change rules.

It seeks to boost development of oil shale in western states and requires the Defense Department to construct a plant to make transportation fuels from coal.

The legislation is largely a messaging vehicle because it’s stuffed with provisions that have no chance of passing the Senate. Also, GOP leaders have adopted a strategy of moving more targeted energy bills rather than a single sweeping measure.

But the Energy and Power subcommittee hearing will nonetheless provide a venue for a broad debate on energy. Witnesses include David Sandalow, the Energy Department’s assistant secretary for policy and international affairs, and representatives from Rand Corp., the Heritage Foundation, Hudson Clean Energy Partners and more.

House panel to survey critical minerals plans: A panel of the House Natural Resources Committee will review a pair of bills aimed at surveying U.S. supplies of rare-earth minerals and other strategic elements, and boosting domestic development.

The hearing comes amid concerns over reliance on China for materials that are vital to key defense and clean-energy technologies, as well as other applications. More on the hearing here.

The topic is generating a substantial amount of attention on Capitol Hill.

On Friday, Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) will introduce a bill that would require the Energy and Interior Department’s to team up to improve assessments “energy critical elements.”

The assessment would encompass potential resources, production and other matters. The bill also seeks to bolster research aimed at expanding availability of these elements.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

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

— 20 Questions with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
— Iowa GOP lawmaker backs repeal of ethanol subsidy
— Dem cries for stimulus are shot down
— Barbour: Democrats view oil industry as their 'whipping boy'
— House panel clears offshore oil bill amid Shell permit debate
— Obama's top offshore drilling official clashes with GOP over oil-spill response

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

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