OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior 'fracking' regs still not ready for prime time

The Interior Department has been promising for months that the regulations would be coming “soon.”

The Interior regulations for fracking on public lands will require disclosure of chemicals used; ensure the integrity of the wellbore; and prevent flow-back water contaminating streams.

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The rules have been the subject of an intense lobbying campaign, including recent White House meetings with industry and environmental groups.

Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations to open up seams that enable trapped gas to flow.

President Obama has called for expanded domestic natural-gas production, while underscoring the need for improved oversight. The Environmental Protection Agency, which is studying the health effects of the practice, issued final regulations last week to limit air pollution from fracking.

Meanwhile, Obama formed a high-level task force to coordinate federal oversight of fracking, a move intended to quiet industry fears of overlapping regulations.


NEWS BITES:

House committee to approve energy bills

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to approve legislation Wednesday to expand domestic oil-and-gas leasing and ensure that federal environmental regulations don’t raise prices at the pump.

The Gasoline Regulations Act would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing key air pollution regulations until a Cabinet-level commission analyzes the regulations’ potential impacts on gasoline prices.

And the Strategic Energy Production Act would expand oil-and-gas leasing on federal lands if the president releases oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), a 696-million-barrel emergency oil stockpile.

The committee met Tuesday so lawmakers could deliver opening statements.

E&C Republicans to speak at energy conference

Reps. Ed Whitfield (Ky.) and Lee Terry (Neb.), two top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will speak Wednesday at the second day of the National Energy Marketers Association’s annual conference.

Chu heads to London

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will deliver remarks Wednesday morning at the Clean Energy Ministerial in London.

House panel to examine bill to streamline enviro permitting

A House Judiciary Committee panel will hold a hearing on the “Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act,” which caps federal reviews of infrastructure projects at 4.5 years. William Kovacs — senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — will testify at the hearing.

NRC to examine 'blackout' rules

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will meet Wednesday to discuss changes to regulations aimed at ensuring nuclear power plants can deal with a loss of power.
 
The changes are part of a series of new rules being put in place in the aftermath of the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant last March.

Wind energy backers press for tax credit extension

Wind energy supporters are ramping up their push for the extension of expiring tax credits that the industry calls vital to continued growth.

The production tax credit is slated to expire at the end of the year, and its prospects for renewal remain uncertain.

Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) will hold a press conference touting the benefits of the incentives Wednesday.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the industry’s main trade group, is working with the lawmakers.

A number of lawmakers supportive of the credit have said they’re uncertain about the timing of an extension even if there’s enough support to move ahead — and the industry group said the lack of certainty is already proving harmful.

“American wind power has generated $15 to $20 billion a year in private investment over the past five years, in the process becoming one of the fastest growing U.S. manufacturing industries. But with the tax credit that is wind power’s primary policy driver set to expire at the end of the year, already the supply chain is feeling the uncertainty, and layoffs have now begun,” an AWEA advisory states.

It’s one of two events on the credits Wednesday. Separately, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) will hold a briefing calling for extension along with Mike Breen, who is vice president of the Truman National Security Project, and other veterans supporting the incentives.

The credits will be under the microscope Thursday when a House Ways and Means Committee panel holds a hearing on various expiring tax provisions.

House panel to mark up Energy Department spending bill

The full House Appropriations Committee will gather Wednesday afternoon to mark up fiscal year 2013 Energy Department spending legislation. More here.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

Here's a quick roundup of Tuesday's E2 stories:

- Reid draws line against Keystone
- Republicans set sights on NRC chief
- Salazar: GOP living in energy 'fairy tale'
- Hoyer supports Keystone, but not 'jammed' down the country's throat
- DOJ files first criminal charges in connection with BP oil spill
- Senate names highway bill conferees, setting up showdown on Keystone

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Andrew Restuccia, arestuccia@thehill.com.

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