OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Natural gas exports to Ukraine a moot point?

GAS DEBATE: In case you missed E2-Wire's big story on Tuesday, here's a refresher: The recent Ukraine crisis is fueling the natural gas exports debate raging in Congress. But is the question of expanding exports a moot point?

E2-Wire's story dives into whether legislation allowing for liquified natural gas (LNG) exports to World Trade Organization member countries, or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, would relieve Ukraine, and surrounding nations, of Russia's threats to raise or cut off natural gas supplies.

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Energy experts said expediting exports wouldn't help Ukraine.

"The real problem for the U.S. isn’t a slow approval process. It’s that the U.S. doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to liquefy the natural gas for shipping overseas," the E2-Wire articles states.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) added, that "unless Congress directed exports to go to Ukraine, the gas would go to the country paying the highest price, which would likely be in Asia."

Check out the full story here.

Speaking of LNG exports ... Despite the fact that the only U.S. export terminal is currently under construction and won't be able to export natural gas until 2015, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) wants to attach natural gas exports to the Ukraine aid package being debated in the Senate.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee planned to consider the package Tuesday but the meeting was postponed. The committee will now mark up the bill Wednesday afternoon; Barrasso plans to propose his amendment on exports during the markup.

UNIONS PUSH KEYSTONE: Building trades unions joined prominent oil and gas lobby American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday in urging the administration to approve Keystone XL.

"Our anger doesn't just stop with Keystone XL," Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), told The Hill. "We are extremely angry about the Affordable Care Act and the fact that there is 12.8 percent unemployment in construction."

In other Keystone XL news ... TransCanada on Tuesday released the final official comments it sent to the State Department last week.

Surprise, surprise, the Keystone XL pipeline developer said the $5.4 billion project should be deemed the nation's best interest. An interesting number from the final comments is that less than 8 percent of Keystone XL's daily crude transported would be U.S. oil, coming from the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY: The acting assistant administrator of Air and Radiation for the Environmental Protection Agency will testify before the a House Science subcommittee.

The subpanel will examine the science behind EPA carbon limits for coal-fired power plants. Lawmakers will also dive into the agency's carbon capture requirements in its proposed rule, which aims to help curb greenhouse gas emissions.

House Republicans are bent on tearing down the science behind the EPA’s regulation, which is a key pillar of President Obama’s climate change legacy.

Rest of Wednesday's agenda...

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing on the new draft proposal by Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) that seeks to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Later on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on President Obama’s fiscal budget for 2015, which will highlight the environment, energy and installation funds under the Department of Defense.

Acting Deputy Defense Undersecretary for Installations and Environment John Conger will testify, as well as Dennis McGinn, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, among others.


NEWS BITES:

On all of the above energy ... Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) took to the Senate floor Tuesday to call for a comprehensive all-of-the-above energy plan, saying the first action should be approving the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline.

Thursday's hearing on Keystone XL ... Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told The Hill he thinks the hearing will add to the views Secretary of State John Kerry considers when reviewing whether the pipeline is in the national interest.

"It's a hearing that will deduce the facts, we have a very balanced hearing of witnesses," Menendez said.

Rail safety ... Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) met with representatives from BNSF railway to talk rail safety and improvements that are being made to tankers in light of recent crude-by-rail accidents.

Three years to the day ... In 2011, Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was dealt a crippling blow by a tsunami, leaving the nation scrambling to find a backup for nuclear power.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) voiced her criticism with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for not working fast enough on a safety plan for U.S. facilities.

“Today marks three years since the Fukushima disaster, and I am still concerned that the NRC is taking so long to require the implementation of the safety plan that its own staff recommended. Our committee will continue oversight on this issue to make sure safety measures are carried out," Boxer said in a statement.

AROUND THE WEB:

The Washington Post reports talking about climate change could help Democrats win elections this year and down the road.

The move by Democrats to renew the push for climate change in an election year may be a direct result of recent academic research revealing pro-green lawmakers got a boost in recent elections.

Japan is looking at steep costs to restart its nuclear power plants, roughly $12.8 billion and counting, Bloomberg reports.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

- Unions: Keystone review 'reeks of politics'
- Obama designates Calif. coastline as national monument
- Senate panel postpones Ukraine vote
- McConnell dares democrats on carbon tax
- Staying mum on Keystone may hurt Clinton with greens
- Barrasso wants to tie gas exports to Ukraine aid
- Climate talkathon ends after 14 hours
- Ukraine crisis fuels gas debate


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

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