Week ahead: Senate to consider nominee for top EPA post

A Senate panel is set to consider President Obama’s nominee for a top post within the Environmental Protection Agency this week, which will likely stir up the fight over contentious climate change regulations.

On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Janet McCabe for assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, which she currently occupies in an acting capacity.

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McCabe has testified before Congress multiple times in the past year on the administration’s carbon emissions limits for coal-fired power plants, and the science behind a number of the agency’s regulations.

Senate Republicans on the committee like Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) who fiercely opposes Obama’s climate change policies and the power plant regulations could put up a fight over McCabe’s nomination. Vitter and his fellow Republicans know McCabe plays a crucial role in finalizing the rules, which are a key piece of Obama’s second-term legacy.

The committee will also consider on Tuesday the nominations of Ann Dunkin as assistant administrator for Environmental Information at the EPA, and Manuel Ehrlich Jr. for a post on the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

The second hottest issue on the agenda for lawmakers next week is liquefied natural gas exports.

On Wednesday, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will vote on Rep. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) bill to expedite natural gas exports to U.S. allies in Eastern Europe.

Gardner is running against Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who also proposed legislation that would speed up exports to Ukraine.

Lawmakers are going to continue pushing the possibility of liquefied natural gas exports during a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing, which will focus on the trade implications of exporting natural gas. No witnesses have been announced.

The rest of the week will be filled with a number of energy and environment hearings.

Also on Tuesday, a House Appropriations subpanel will hold a hearing on the Energy Department’s 2015 budget request for its Environmental Management division. Division Acting Assistant Energy Secretary Dave Huizenga will testify.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will examine the impact of advanced biofuels at the gas pump on Tuesday. Witnesses include Nancy Young of Airlines for America and Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council.

Also on Tuesday, a House Natural Resources subcommittee will mark up a slew of state coastal barrier bills.

On Wednesday a Senate Appropriations subpanel will examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget request for 2015.

EPA chief Gina McCarthy and acting EPA chief financial officer Maryann Froehlich will testify.

Later, a different Senate Appropriations subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Energy Department’s 2015 budget request. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will testify, along with Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman.

Moniz will return to Congress on Thursday to testify before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

This time, however, Moniz will be testifying on the department’s science and technology priorities, not the 2015 budget.

Wrapping up events on Capitol Hill, a House Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies subpanel will hold two hearings on a budget proposal for the agencies under its jurisdiction.

Off Capitol Hill, the Bipartisan Policy Center will host a workshop with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners on options for reducing greenhouse gas emission in the power sector.

EPA head Gina McCarthy will keynote the event on Monday.