Week ahead: Senate to vote on energy efficiency bill

The Senate will vote next week on an energy efficiency bill sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) that could also include a provision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has set up procedural votes to end debate on the Shaheen-Portman bill and has been in talks with senators about linking a measure on the controversial oil project. 

Fifty-six senators are supporting a bill to immediately approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and Republican leaders want to see it attached to the energy efficiency legislation. But Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a staunch supporter of the measure, wants the Senate to vote on it as a stand-alone bill.

Shaheen and Portman have worked for years to bring the bill to a floor vote. Their legislation would boost energy efficiency in buildings, industry and in federal agencies, and help train energy workers. 

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will host a hearing Thursday about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule, which defines what bodies of water are subject to its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

The rule has been controversial, with Republicans and many diverse business interests calling it an EPA power grab. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the Transportation Committee, held a hearing on April 28 in Pennsylvania about the rule, which he said would hurt the energy, agriculture and homebuilding industries.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s budget request for 2015. All of the commissioners are expected to testify at the hearing.

The House Natural Resources Committee will explore issues surrounding rights-of-way for electricity transmission on federally managed land at a Wednesday hearing.

In the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled a Maryland field hearing for Monday on the Conowingo Dam, a hydroelectric dam on the Susquehanna River. The dam’s operating license will expire later this year. But sediment that has built up behind the dam has raised concerns for the health of the Chesapeake Bay downstream.

Off of Capitol Hill, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is hosting an event about Statoil Tuesday, where Helge Lund, the president of the company, will speak. Statoil is a massive, multinational energy company, and Sweden’s government owns a majority stake.

Melanie Kenderdine, head of the Energy Department’s policy office, will speak at a CSIS event Thursday.

Craig Zamuda, another top policy official at the Energy Department, will present some findings from a recent department report about the nexus between water and energy, and their interdependence at a Center for Climate and Energy Solutions event Thursday.