OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate panel probes spill's impact on natural resources

The hearing comes as lawmakers work to ensure that Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the spill are used for Gulf Coast restoration.

Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told The Hill recently that she is working with senators on legislation that would steer a significant portion of the penalty money to the Gulf states.

NEWS BITES:

DOE laboratory to remain closed amid New Mexico wildfire

The Energy Department’s Los Alamos National Laboratory will remain closed Tuesday as wildfires continue to rage near the facility’s New Mexico headquarters.

The Associated Press reports that the fires are within a mile of the laboratory, which focuses on nuclear and national security research.

Study: Urban, rural dwellers might be equal on carbon emissions

An existential threat to the moral authority of urban liberals: Researchers at a university in Finland say that city inhabitants might not be more climate-friendly than rural dwellers.

“The prevailing belief is that dense metropolitan areas produce less carbon emissions on a per capita basis than less dense surrounding rural areas. Consequently, density targets have a major role in low-carbon urban developments. However, based on the results of this study, the connection seems unclear or even nonexistent when comprehensive evaluation is made,” states a summary of the study published in Environmental Research Letters.

The whole study is available here.

EPA, Coast Guard team up to curb ships’ emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday announced a joint agreement to enforce air pollution requirements for ships operating in U.S. waters.

“These requirements establish limits on nitrogen oxides [and] emissions and require the use of fuel with lower sulfur content, protecting people's health and the environment by reducing ozone-producing pollution, which can cause smog and aggravate asthma. The most stringent requirements apply to ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coast of North America,” EPA said in a statement.

They signed a formal memorandum of understanding that spells out plans to enforce standards that EPA estimates could prevent up to 31,000 premature deaths annually by 2030.

It’s part of the agencies' work under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. More here.

Senators to EPA: Give farms more time on pollution rule


A bipartisan group of 33 senators is pressing the EPA to give farms more time to comply with oil spill prevention rules.

The senators — led by James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) — say that uncertainties remain about how facilities will comply with the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule, which is aimed at preventing and containing spills from a wide range of industries that store various petroleum products.

The lawmakers, in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Monday, urge an extension of the current November compliance date for farms.

They encourage Jackson to “continue to dialogue” with the agricultural community and ensure the rule is not overly burdensome or confusing.

“EPA has set stringent, costly standards without ensuring that small farms in Oklahoma and across the nation can comply: Many farmers do not have access to the professional engineers needed to bring them into compliance, and many others, who were previously not subject to this rule, may now have to comply on very short notice due to EPA's draft guidance document,” Inhofe said in a statement.

Poll shows support for nuclear among those who live near plants

A nuclear industry-sponsored poll finds that the vast majority of people living near nuclear power plants favor nuclear energy.

Eighty percent of those polled said they either strongly (50 percent) or somewhat (30 percent) favor “the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States.”

And 86 percent said they either strongly (62 percent) or somewhat (24 percent) believe that regulators should renew the licenses of nuclear plants when they expire if the plants are operating safely.

Here are the poll results.

ON TAP TUESDAY:

Hydraulic fracturing review presses on

A panel of Energy Department advisers reviewing the controversial natural-gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing will hold its next meeting Tuesday.

The expert panel is reviewing ways to improve the safety and environmental performance of the method. More here.

Industry groups to push wider U.S. drilling, nuclear power


An industry-backed group called the Consumer Energy Alliance will roll out a report describing how energy costs are hurting jobs and the economy.

The report “details how current energy policies are impacting numerous sectors of the American economy, from transportation to agriculture to critical research and development,” an advisory states.

A conference call touting the findings is slated to include officials with groups representing chemical producers (who are reliant on natural gas), the nuclear industry, the offshore oil-and-gas industry and others.

Scope of EPA’s Clean Water Act powers under scrutiny

The Environmental Law Institute will host a forum titled “Assessing Jurisdiction Under the New Clean Water Guidance” that will include Donna Downing, an official with EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans & Watersheds.

UN official to talk sustainable development

The U.S. Green Building Council and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA will host a forum with Sha Zukang, the secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, at the National Press Club.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ...

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

- Natural-gas report roils energy debate
- New Mexico wildfires threaten DOE laboratory
- Conservative site sues Pentagon for climate records
- Durbin: Strategic oil reserve release ‘desperately needed’
- Bachmann targets EPA ahead of 2012 launch 

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

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