OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Koch-backed group to hit Obama with latest energy ads

AFP spent $6 million in January on television ads in battleground states hitting Obama over Solyndra, the failed solar panel maker that received a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009.

The ads suggested that the administration approved the loan to please Obama’s campaign donors, echoing allegations made by Republicans in Congress.

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A year-long investigation by House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans has found no evidence that the loan was made for political reasons. But the probe uncovered information that could be embarrassing and potentially politically damaging for Obama, including that administration officials raised questions about the wisdom of approving the loan.

The Obama campaign has hit back at AFP with television advertisements of its own.

“Secretive oil billionaires [are] attacking President Obama with ads fact-checkers say are not tethered to the facts, while independent watchdogs call this president’s record on ethics unprecedented,” the campaign said in a January advertisement, referencing the AFP ads.


NEWS BITES:

House panel to examine extension of key wind tax credit

A House Ways and Means Committee panel will examine a series of expiring tax credits at a hearing Wednesday.

The hearing, which will start at 10 a.m., will focus in part on the extension of the production tax credit for wind, which expires at the end of the year.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the co-sponsor of legislation to extend the tax credit, will testify at the hearing. King touted the legislation on a call organized by the wind industry’s trade group Wednesday. Read more about that here.

Hoeven readies conference committee Keystone push

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) is hopeful he can win support for authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline during upcoming House-Senate talks over transportation legislation, despite heading into the negotiations with the numbers stacked against him.

Hoeven is among the six GOP Senate conferees. Of the eight Senate Democrats, only Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has voted to mandate a permit for the Alberta-to-Texas line, and the Montana senator has signaled he won’t demand Keystone language in the final bill.

Hoeven hopes to change some minds.

“Senator Baucus is certainly supportive of the project. Obviously we will talk to the other conferees and see if we can get one more,” he told reporters in the Capitol Wednesday.

The House appointed its negotiators on Wednesday. The House version of the bill would approve a permit for the project to bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

But the Senate, in March, rejected Hoeven’s Keystone authorizing amendment when the upper chamber crafted its transportation bill.

The vote was 56-42 in favor of the pipeline when 60 were needed, but Hoeven sees a floor of 58 supporters because Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) were absent from the vote.

“I will continue to talk to other senators too,” Hoeven said Wednesday. “I may be able to go to the conference committee and say there are 60 [senators] that support it.”

But Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), while cautioning that he couldn’t say what the final outcome will be, predicted that the Democratic conferees won’t provide votes in favor of Keystone.

“I think we are going to be a pretty close group on it,” he said of the Senate Democratic negotiators.

Begich ‘very confident’ that Interior will allow Shell’s Arctic drilling

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell isn’t across the finish line yet in its push to begin drilling this summer in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast. But Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), a supporter of the plan, is “very confident” that the Interior Department will provide the needed drilling permits.

How confident? “I think it’s like a 95.5” percent chance,” he said Wednesday.

The company has cleared several other hurdles already, including approval of oil spill response plans and Environmental Protection Agency air pollution permits.

Environmentalists oppose the project, arguing that drilling in the fragile Arctic waters presents major environmental risks.

Hastings blasts Interior over drilling subpoena

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) blasted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for not fully complying with a subpoena over a 2010 drilling report.

The subpoena, issued earlier this month, calls for documents related to the federal report, which erroneously suggested outside engineers had endorsed a deepwater drilling moratorium imposed after the BP oil spill.

“In failing to comply with the subpoena, the Department’s official response does not live up to your publicly stated pledge of doing ‘everything we can to cooperate’ and similarly fails to uphold President Obama’s pledge of unprecedented transparency by his Administration,” Hastings said in a letter to Salazar Wednesday.

“I am prepared to initiate further action, should the Department continue to refuse to comply,” he added.

The letter marks the latest back-and-forth between the committee and the department over the subpoena. Interior has provided documents in response to the subpoena, but said the committee’s request is “broad and ill-defined,” making it difficult for the department to comply.

Read more here and here.

Energy events Thursday

There are a slew of energy-related events Thursday:

- A House Transportation Committee panel will examine balancing environmental concerns with jobs in maritime regulations by 9 a.m.

- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote at 9:30 a.m. on the nominations of Adam Sieminski to head the Energy Information Administration; Marcilynn Burke to be an assistant secretary of the Interior Department; and Anthony Clark and John Norris to commissioners at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

- The committee will then hold a hearing on “weather-related electrical outages.” Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary in the Energy Department's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, will testify, among others.

- The House Natural Resources Committee will examine electricity costs at a 10 a.m. hearing.

- At 10:30 a.m., the Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on fiscal 2013 Energy Department spending legislation.

- The Sierra Club is slated to make "a major announcement about a breakthrough on stopping liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports” at 11 a.m., according to the environmental group.

- American Electric Power President Nick Akins will speak at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at 11:30 a.m.

- At 2:15 p.m., the Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing called “Gas Prices in the Northeast: Potential Impact on the American Consumer Due to Loss of Refining Capacity.”

- At 3:00 p.m., a House Natural Resources Committee panel will hold a hearing on a suite of new bills aimed at boosting onshore energy development. Read more about the bills here.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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

- House names 33 conferees to highway funding bill
- Video bashing enviro rules, green energy goes viral
- Report says 40 percent of the public breathes unhealthy air
- Wind industry pressures Congress to extend key tax credit
- Obama vows to fight for climate action, make global warming a key 2012 issue
- Pro-Obama super-PAC ad slams Romney as ‘in the tank’ for ‘Big Oil’
- Hatch looks to free up House-passed energy bills in Senate

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

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