OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dems pounce on EPA ‘fracking’ report

“Those familiar with the scientific method recognize that it would not be appropriate to make a judgment without verifying all of the testing that has been done,” Mead said.

ClearView Energy Partners said in a note Thursday that the report is not “conclusive” and, like EPA, noted that it surveyed gas wells that differ from many fracking operations.

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But it could nonetheless affect federal policy, the consulting company said.

“EPA and [the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management] may continue to make their case for expanded federal regulation of oil and gas production, potentially using today’s report to suggest that state-level disclosure, well integrity and water treatment rules are weak or inconsistent,” ClearView states.

“Second, state-level regulators themselves may seek to augment existing rules in an effort to stave off federal intervention, accelerating a trend we have described in the past as ‘preemptive self-regulation,’ ” their note states.


NEWS BITES:

Cummings to Boehner: Take your ‘political cap’ off

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) blasted House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Thursday for a GOP plan to attach a measure forcing action on the Keystone XL pipeline and delaying EPA regulations to a package aimed at extending the payroll tax credit.

"I think that John Boehner needs to take his political cap off, put it down, and get this done,” Cummings said on MSNBC. “I mean, this is not time to play politics.”

Cummings's remarks come as President Obama has vowed to veto the payroll tax credit package if Republicans attach the Keystone XL measure. Obama said Thursday that the package, which would also extend unemployment insurance, would create more jobs than approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta to refineries in Texas.

Here are Cummings's full remarks:

"I think that John Boehner needs to take his political cap off, put it down, and get this done ... I mean, this is not time to play politics. ... They want to put all kinds of riders, by the way, on this legislation. One of the things they want to do is reduce the amount of money going to the EPA so it won't be as effective as we would like for it to be and this will go on and on and on. The president is right. We need to shut the door to these riders and take care of the American people. ... And, again, I think Mr. Boehner, some of our Republican friends are playing politics but I think this is no time for that."

Compromise pipeline safety bill headed for House floor

Bipartisan pipeline safety legislation could come up for a vote on the House floor as early as next week, House Republicans said Thursday.

Lawmakers reached a compromise Thursday on pipeline safety, combining two separate House measures — one from the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the other from the House Transportation Committee — along with a bill that passed the Senate in October.

“I have worked hard with my colleagues in the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Senate to provide strong pipeline safety legislation that will safeguard our communities,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a co-author of the panel’s legislation, said in a statement.

“This bill does much to hold those responsible for pipeline accidents accountable, but we recognize that the top priority is to prevent any pipeline failure before they occur, which is why the bill takes measurable steps to strengthen safety standards.”

Chemical, farm groups attack Pickens gas bill

Chemical companies and agriculture industry groups are bashing Senate legislation that provides a suite of tax credits to spur conversion to natural-gas-powered cars and trucks.

The groups are hostile to the proposal — which is championed by billionaire energy magnate T. Boone Pickens — because it could drive up demand for the fuel that’s vital to the manufacturing and farm sectors.

From their letter to the Senate Thursday:

As manufacturers who compete globally and rely heavily on the use of natural gas as both an energy source and an essential raw material or “feedstock” we are concerned that such legislation could result in higher costs, causing industrial “demand destruction” that forces good U.S. manufacturing jobs to overseas competitors.  
 
The farm sector depends on natural gas for food processing, irrigation, crop drying, heating farm buildings and homes and nitrogen fertilizer production. By far, the most intensive agricultural use of natural gas is in the production of nitrogen fertilizer, which is used on virtually every crop produced in this country. Natural gas represents approximately eighty percent of nitrogen fertilizer production costs.

Groups signing the letter include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and several other state agribusiness groups, the Agricultural Retailers Association, the American Chemistry Council, the American Forest & Paper Association, Dow Corning Corp., Eastman Chemical Co., and several other companies and groups.

The bill's sponsors include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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

— Obama makes Boehner’s job easier with payroll veto threat
— EPA pollution finding shakes up ‘fracking’ debate
— Issa accuses Obama administration of hiding problem with electric car batteries
— Cantor: Keystone proposal is bipartisan and backed by unions
— Farm dust bill approved in House
— Obama: More jobs from payroll tax package than Keystone approval
— House accepts GOP amendments to farm dust bill, spikes Dem proposals
Issues remain as clock ticks on omnibus
— Dems accuse GOP of favoring mining operators with farm dust bill
— House advances farm dust bill
— Energy Department plans new grid reliability effort as EPA rules loom
— Democrats push extension of expiring green energy grants
— White House: We did not ‘cherry-pick’ Solyndra documents

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


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