OVERNIGHT ENERGY: White House auto rules under the microscope

A committee advisory previews the lines of questioning. It states:

The hearing will explore the rulemaking process utilized by the Administration and stakeholders in compiling this framework, and will look at the roles played by the California Air Resources Board, EPA, NHTSA and the automakers. Committee members will also review the rulemaking process in light of requirements under the Administrative Procedures Act and the unique role of California state regulators granted under the Clean Air Act.

The White House and green groups have heralded the 2017-2025 rules and existing 2012-2016 standards as a major achievement, noting they will ultimately curb oil use by billions of barrels.

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The Consumer Federation of America, which supports the auto mileage rules, wrote Issa and other committee members a letter Tuesday defending the standards.

“Our analysis shows that setting high standards for 2025 will save consumers money, increase auto sales and auto industry employment, enhance national security by dramatically lowering oil imports and reduce pollution, including the emissions of greenhouse gases,” the letter states.


NEWS BITES

EPA ‘committed’ to power plant rule amid new state attacks: EPA is defending upcoming air-toxics rules for power plants following a new legal attack by 25 states with mostly GOP governors.

The states, joined by some utilities with coal-fired power plants, are asking a court to delay completion of the rule until November of 2012.

“EPA is committed to completing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards — the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants. This overdue toxics rule would cut emissions of pollutants that are of particular concern for children and eliminate 20 years of uncertainly by providing the first-ever level playing field for all power plants across the country. And for every dollar spent to reduce this pollution, Americans get $5-13 in health benefits in lives saved, asthma and emergency room visits avoided and more,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

Vitter: Meeting with Bromwich 'just adds to the frustration': Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) met with Michael Bromwich, the Interior Department’s offshore drilling chief, in New Orleans Tuesday to discuss the lawmakers’ concerns with the pace of oil-and-gas permitting.

Bromwich agreed to meet with Landry after initially canceling a staff-level meeting when the lawmaker accused Interior Department personnel of behaving “like the Gestapo.” Vitter said last week that he would join Landry at the meeting.

Vitter, in a statement, said the meeting didn’t assuage his long-time concerns about offshore permitting and leases.

“Unfortunately we just got the same old company line today that they’re working on extending leases and granting permits,” Vitter said in a statement. “This just adds to the frustration, especially as we’ve seen 14 rigs leave the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve been very clear about my concerns with the Interior Department’s pace of permitting and its growing regulatory authority, and I will continue pushing to open up the Gulf of Mexico and create more jobs.”

Bromwich — director of the newly formed Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement — said he attended the meeting so that career staff in the Gulf of Mexico regional office wouldn’t “be subjected to political influence.”

"Our career staff should not be placed in positions where they may feel they are being subjected to political influence, especially in connection with decisions on specific regulatory matters,” he said in a statement. “That is why I insisted that I be present for any meeting between elected officials and our career staff.”

You can read more about the fight over the meeting here and here.

House Energy panel touts bipartisanship: Democrats and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee don’t agree on much. But they’ve found common ground on the issue of pipeline safety.

Committee Republicans sent reporters an op-ed published Tuesday in the Kalamazoo Gazette by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) — a former committee chairman — touting the compromise pipeline safety legislation.

From the op-ed: “With the many challenges facing our nation, Americans are looking for bipartisan leadership in Washington. That is especially true here in Michigan, where unemployment has hovered above 10 percent for nearly three years and the recent economic downturn has further magnified problems for our state's manufacturers and small businesses. People want their elected leaders to find common ground where they can, producing tangible results that will benefit our state and our nation.”

The pipeline safety bill unanimously passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee in September. Similar pipeline-safety legislation is being held up in the Senate by freshman Rep. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who argues that the bill creates burdensome new regulations.


ON TAP WEDNESDAY

House panel to review deepwater drilling: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the “lingering economic impacts” of the temporary ban on deepwater drilling that followed last year's BP oil spill.

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The hearing coincides with the one-year anniversary of the formal end to the moratorium. 

Permitting, under tougher safety rules, began again early this year, but GOP and industry critics say Interior should go faster.

House Energy and Commerce panel looks ‘line-by-line’ at EPA budget:
A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel meets Wednesday to review EPA spending as part of a “line-by-line” review of the federal budget.

Witnesses at the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing will include EPA’s chief financial officer and inspector general.

Think tank hosts oil industry heavyweights:
The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host a discussion with several oil industry executives to review a recent National Petroleum Council report on the “Prudent Development of North America's Oil & Gas Resources.” More here.

Winter fuels in focus:
Winter is coming, and the Energy Department and the National Association of State Energy Officials will unveil their winter fuels forecasts at D.C.'s Newseum. Several senior Energy Department officials and other experts will be at the event. More here.

Offshore wind energy conference rolls onward:
Wednesday brings the second day of the American Wind Energy Association’s big offshore wind conference in Baltimore. More here.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

— Hastings wants Salazar to testify before issuing gas ‘fracking’ rules
— Rep. Waxman urges 'supercommittee' to adopt efficiency, export measures
— Green groups sue Obama administration for scuttling ozone rule
— Obama's jobs council gives cautious endorsement to Keystone pipeline
— White House fast-tracks environmental review of 14 infrastructure projects

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


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