OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA flexes power over waterways

EPA FLEXES ITS MUSCLES: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new rule on Tuesday, asserting their authority over the country's streams and wetlands.

The rule would clarify which waterways the two agencies have jurisdiction over. Green groups cheered the proposal, which they say will provide more certainty on which streams and wetlands are protected, many of which are in legal limbo at the moment.

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Check E2-Wire Wednesday for more reaction to the proposal.

GAS EXPORTS: Rather than pressuring the administration to expedite natural-gas exports and claiming the product would immediately arrive in Ukraine or Europe, Republicans shifted their message on Tuesday.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski presented the idea of accelerating the Energy Department's approval process of exports as a means to send a signal. The Alaska Republican wanted to know, were the administration to speed up the process, whether Russia would get the message, and whether it would be effective.

"I have said it is about the signal that is sent, and about the U.S. role, our leadership role from the geopolitical perspective that is as instrumental as anything," Murkowski added.

Speaking of exports... Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated amendments to the Ukraine aid package in the Senate might not get a vote at all.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) both proposed attaching amendments to Ukraine aid that would expedite natural-gas exports to the country and the surrounding region. But all may be for naught, as time is running out.

"There's only a limited amount of time we have," Reid said on Tuesday.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY: Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) will hold a press conference with veterans on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Vets4Energy, a group of volunteer veterans, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer and the president of the American Petroleum Institute, Jack Gerard, will join the lawmakers.

Hoeven will touch on his visit to Ukraine and the importance of energy security, which he has argued make the case for Keystone XL stronger.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will examine the Environmental Protection Agency's 2015 budget proposal. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will be the sole witness.
 
The agency's overall budget was cut by more than $300 million compared with 2014 levels, but its climate change and air quality program saw a $41 million increase to more than $1 billion.

Rest of Wednesday's agenda ... The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the geopolitical impacts of the U.S. energy boom.

The hearing will include testimony from Dennis Blair, a member of the energy security leadership council of Securing America’s Future Energy, and Harold Hamm, chairman of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, among others.

NEWS BITES:

Mining permits: Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to block mining permits under the Clean Water Act.

The proposal came the day after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Arch Coal Inc. in which it challenged the EPA’s authority to veto a mining permit that the Army Corps of Engineers had granted four years prior.

“The Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014 would give American businesses a fair shot at going through the process of building or mining without having to worry about politics getting in the way,” Vitter said in a statement.

Keystone XL: Tom Steyer is pressuring the new chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Mary Landrieu, on Keystone XL.

Steyer sent a letter to the Louisiana Democrat on Tuesday asking her to subpoena TransCanada executives to have them testify on where the refined oil carried by the pipeline will go. TransCanada has already testified before Congress on Keystone, but Steyer says previous testimony isn't good enough.

"We, of course, believe the entire public would benefit from a real hearing on Keystone so that a number of issues could be explored, including where is the refined oil going; what is the exact nature of the ownership interest in the project by the Chinese companies," among other issues, Chris Lehane, an adviser to Steyer, said in an email.

TransCanada officials have said 100 percent of the oil transported to Gulf refineries is under contract to be refined in the U.S.

AROUND THE WEB:

The Coast Guard is allowing limited use of the Houston Ship Channel as cleanup continues after Saturday’s oil tanker spill, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The Times of North West Indiana reports federal and state officials are investigating an oil spill in Lake Michigan that was caused by a malfunction at a BP refinery in Indiana.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

- Nat gas export approval process may violate international law
- Senators get mixed advice on gas exports
- House GOP, Dems disagree on effects nat gas exports
- House votes to stop Obama's new coal mining rules
- Boehner pressures Obama on gas exports
- GOP issues subpoena over Obama mining rule
- Feds assert authority over streams, wetlands
- Sierra Club poll finds support for coal ash regulation in N.C.
- Oxfam report: Global hunger exacerbated by climate change
- Power plant coal supplies drop to 2-year low
- Biofuel groups push for renewable of tax credits

 

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