By Ben Geman - 07/18/11 04:58 PM EDT
It includes trying to repeal Section 526, the provision of a 2007 energy law that bars the military and other agencies from buying alternative fuels that have higher greenhouse gas emissions that conventional petroleum fuels.
The provision was largely aimed at blocking plans by the military at the time to purchase coal-based jet fuels — an industry that hasn’t taken off anyway.
But Canadian officials have also expressed fear that the provision could limit procurement of fuels from refineries that use oil from Alberta’s greenhouse-gas-intensive oil-sands projects, which represent a growing source of U.S. supply.
Wilkins said the Bush administration and the Obama administration — thus far — have not interpreted the provision to apply to this procurement, but notes there remains “a lot of concern about 526.”
Oil-sands supporters say development of the massive resource in Alberta is a key way to enhance U.S. energy security by displacing Middle East imports, and that the industry is making strides to curb its environmental footprint. But opponents cite emissions from oil-sands extraction and the massive projects’ harm to Alberta’s boreal forest ecosystem.
GOP efforts to roll back Section 526 have gathered steam of late. Defense policy and spending bills that passed the House in May and July would exempt the military from the provision. In the Senate, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) have reintroduced legislation to repeal Section 526, which is also a goal of Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who represent coal-producing states.
Other battles over Canadian energy also loom.
House Republicans and some Democrats are pushing legislation that would require the Obama administration to make a decision this fall about whether to approve a major pipeline to bring oil sands from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.
Nelson Mullins already has other clients related to Canadian energy development, including Alberta’s energy ministry.