OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Bill blocking Obama climate rule clears House

HOUSE SLAMS EPA CARBON RULE: Legislation that would deal a significant blow to an Obama administration rule, which would reign in the country's biggest polluters, passed the House on Thursday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), would gut the proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule of a provision that requires new coal-fired power plants to use carbon capture technology as a means of reducing emissions.

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It also puts a stopgap measure before the EPA's plan to issue greenhouse gas limits for existing power plants. The proposal for that is due out in June.

E2-Wire has more on the vote here.

NATURAL GAS EXPORTS: A number of lawmakers are pushing legislation that would expedite natural gas exports to Ukraine and the surrounding region.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced a bill on Wednesday night that would allow for the fast-tracking of natural gas exports to World Trade Organization member countries.

Udall's challenger in his Senate reelection bid this year, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), introduced a bill on Thursday, which like Udall's modifies the standard review for export applications to include World Trade Organization members instead of just Free Trade Agreement countries.

Gardner's bill also mandates that all pending natural gas export applications that had a notice published in the Federal Register as of March 6 would be approved "without delay."

"The turmoil in Ukraine underscores the problem with DOE’s unnecessarily sluggish LNG export approval process. Passing this legislation sends the clear signal that America intends to take full advantage of our energy resources, developing them not only for our own use, but to ensure the lifeline of U.S. gas supplies will be available to our allies, and that we will stand firm to Putin and supplant Russia’s influence," Gardner said in a statement on Thursday.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) joined with the House Energy and Commerce Committee in pushing Gardner's bill and others that call for expanded natural gas exports.

Earlier in the week, however, Turner introduced his own bill, which treats WTO countries like FTA countries.

The administration's response?

"The Administration is taking steps to assist the Government of Ukraine, including in the area of energy security, energy efficiency and energy sector reform," said Bill Gibbons, a spokesman for the Department of Energy.

"The Administration’s support for energy-related reforms will help the Government of Ukraine to take the steps needed to restore economic stability and growth and reduce Ukrainian dependence on imported Russian gas."

As for the Energy Department's actions on natural gas exports specifically, the Department said it focuses on an expeditious and responsible process, Gibbons said. The department makes determinations on a case-by-case basis while considering economic factors, energy security and environmental and geopolitical impacts when approving permits.

On Tuesday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz signaled the department would be open to discussing reforms.

Still, after a permit is approved it likely takes years before exports truly come online.

IT'S A WRAP ON KXL PUBLIC COMMENTS: In the final hours before the public comment period on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline wraps up, a coalition of anti-Keystone XL activists will march to the State Department in protest.

The Energy Action Coalition, CREDO, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, will urge Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the pipeline.

Check E2-Wire Friday for more on the public comments submitted to the State Department.


NEWS BITES:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) applauded the House for passing Whitfield's bill blocking the EPA's carbon limits for coal-fired power plants on Thursday.

"I could not be more pleased that my colleagues in the House voted to pass this critical piece of legislation, which will ensure reliable and affordable electricity for millions of Americans. It’s just common sense that regulations should be based on what is technologically possible, and unfortunately, what the EPA has proposed is simply unobtainable," Manchin said in a statement. "I thank Congressman Whitfield for his leadership in the House on this issue, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow suit by passing this bill quickly."

Manchin told reporters on Wednesday that he is working to create a path forward for the bill, which he co-sponsored with Whitfield, in the Senate.

On the other hand, the Sierra Club blasted House Republicans for passing the bill.

“It is disappointing, though not surprising, that House Republicans have yet again chosen to side with polluters over the health and well-being of their constituents," said Michael Brune, president of Sierra Club, in a statement.

“Unrestricted carbon emissions have driven climate disruption and increasingly erratic weather, droughts, and superstorms. Climate inaction has devastated our health, communities, and local economies. Yet, in their efforts to shill for the same polluters that are fueling the climate crisis, Rep. Whitfield and his colleagues remain stubbornly opposed to basic, common sense solutions for American families."

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out the stories that ran E2-Wire on Thursday ...

- Obama signs bill funding drought forecast program
- House votes to limit environmental reviews
- Pro-Keystone XL ad airs on White House site
- Patience wearing thin on chemical safety push
- House votes to block EPA regs on coal-fired electricity plants
- Two more energy bills advance in House
- Gardner to introduce natural gas exports bill
- Report: Clinton passes on Keystone question
- Udall pushes natural gas exports measure amid Ukraine crisis

 

Please send tips and comments to Laura Barron-Lopez, laurab@thehill.com.