OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Fight over proposed oil pipeline heats up

Keystone XL would extend the existing Keystone pipeline, which carries oil sands from Alberta to Oklahoma, to refineries on the Texas coast.

Environmental and public lands groups have mounted an intense opposition campaign against Keystone XL, raising safety concerns and noting that oil sands production results in greater greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil production.

The groups’ objections were bolstered this month when the existing Keystone pipeline sprang two leaks, leading the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to demand that TransCanada take corrective action. One day after issuing the order, PHMSA agreed to allow TransCanada to restart the pipeline.

Monday was the deadline for submitting comments to the State Department on its updated environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Now the department must work to make a final decision on the project.

The oil industry made clear Monday where it stands. The American Petroleum Institute, the country’s most powerful oil and gas trade group, said PHMSA’s response to the Keystone leaks shows that there is adequate oversight to approve the extension of the pipeline.

And House Republicans, for their part, have proposed legislation that would require the president to make a decision on the pipeline by Nov. 1.

NEWS BITES:

Merkel comes to town amid plans to shut down German nuclear plants

German Chancellor Angela Markel is coming to Washington on Tuesday amid her effort to shut down her country’s nuclear power plants by 2022.

Merkel’s got a packed schedule during her visit — including a state dinner and a meeting with Senate leadership. But E2 will be watching closely to see if Merkel addresses her plan to phase out nuclear plants, which she imposed in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear disaster.

President Obama stood by his support of nuclear power in the aftermath of the disaster. And, one day before Merkel’s visit, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said Merkel’s plan is a “mistake.”

More on Merkel’s nuclear proposal and Bingaman’s comments here.

Senate Energy panel to examine small modular nuclear reactor bill

Bingaman begins a week of legislative hearings Tuesday in his Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The committee will hear testimony on bills aimed at developing small modular nuclear reactors; improving nuclear energy research; and boosting alternative fuels made from coal, algae and other feedstocks.

Witnesses include Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary for Nuclear Reactor Technologies John Kelly, Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Steven Chalk and Union of Concerned Scientists Senior Scientist Edwin Lyman, among others.

The committee will pick up with two more legislative hearings Thursday.

ON TAP TUESDAY:

- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a legislative hearing (see above).
- The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation will kick off its three-day ocean conference with remarks from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator Jane Lubchenco.
- The National Wildlife Federation will hold a conference call about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (see above).
- The Environmental Law Institute will hold a discussion called "Resolved: EPA's Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) is the Right Tool at the Right Time."
- The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative will release a report called, "America's Ocean Future: Ensuring Healthy Oceans to Support a Vibrant Economy.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …

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

- A look at the week ahead in energy policy
- Report: World could see natural-gas 'golden age'
- Oil industry: Response to leaks boosts case for pipeline
- Bingaman: Germany's plan to abandon nuclear power is a 'mistake'

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

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