OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate Dems want answer from Obama on Keystone

AND THE WAR RAGES ON: A group of Senate Democrats threw down the gauntlet on Keystone XL Thursday.

In a letter to President Obama, 11 Senate Democrats led by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Mary Landrieu (La.) urged the president to set a hard and fast timeline for his decision on the $5.4 billion project.

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The Democrats, five of whom are facing reelection this year in pro-energy states, want Obama to answer the long-delayed question of whether the U.S. should allow construction on the proposed pipeline by May 31. That answer, they hope, is yes.

But the White House won't be put in a corner on such a contentious issue.

Press secretary Jay Carney blamed Republicans for dragging out the process in the first place.

Carney made clear the ongoing process at the State Department would continue "without interference from the White House or Congress."


RENEWABLE FUELS: Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said Thursday at an event hosted by The Hill that the ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard is “killing” farmers, who now have to pay more to feed their livestock thanks to higher corn and grain prices.
 
Welch said the mandate also hurts people who use small engines that cannot handle ethanol and restaurants that have to pay more for food. Stakeholders also spoke at the event about ethanol’s effects on restaurants, global conflict, the environment and producers of advanced biofuels.
 

ON TAP FRIDAY: Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) will host a press conference call on new developments regarding the health impacts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. This follows a February press conference at which the senators said the air pollution related to Keystone XL would cause cancer.


Rest of Friday's agenda...

The American Council on Renewable Energy will host a conversation on clean energy in the media, specifically on how to research and talk about the new challenges and opportunities the U.S. faces with a growing renewable energy industry.


NEWS BITES:

Climate change... Former Vice President Al Gore's Climate Reality Project is getting a new president and CEO, Kenneth Berlin. He previously served as vice president and general counsel on the Coalition for Green Capital, a bank aimed at financing clean energy and efficient projects.

“I am deeply impressed by Ken’s wealth of expertise on climate issues and his passionate commitment to the climate fight,” said Gore, chairman of the Climate Reality Project. “As we continue to communicate both the urgency of the climate crisis and the reality of the solutions at hand around the world, Ken’s vision, knowledge and global understanding of climate change will prove invaluable to Climate Reality’s work. We are honored to welcome him on board.”

Energy savings... Los Angeles has 443 Energy Star-certified buildings, the most of any city in the United States, according to rankings released today by the Environmental Protection Agency. Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New York and San Francisco round out the top five. Check out the EPA’s website for the top 25 cities and the top small cities.

AROUND THE WEB:

Nearly 100 Harvard University professors sent an open letter to the institution’s leadership Thursday urging them to divest Harvard of its fossil-fuel investments, the Guardian reports.

The recent release of the Obama administration’s methane strategy has revitalized efforts to reduce methane emissions from cows, the Financial Times reports.

The Gulf Coast region has 202 million barrels of crude oil in storage, the most on record, because it can’t ship the oil out, Bloomberg News reports.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

- Lawmakers weigh growing absence of coal on electric grid
- Interior moves to standardize oil and gas permits on federal lands
- White House: No deadline on Keystone
- Shell joins ranks in fight against climate change
- US energy boom benefits allies, DOE official says
- Reid wants Senate vote on tax break bill 'sooner rather than later'
- OIG: Threats to power grid should have remained classified
- DOE: 'All of the above' not getting all it needs
- Rep. Welch: Ethanol mandate 'killing farmers
- Senate Democrats press Obama to give Keystone the green light soon

 

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