Week ahead: Supreme Court to hear challenge to EPA power plant regs

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that challenges one of the Obama administration's most significant environmental regulations.

In Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, states and industry groups are asking the justices to overturn the EPA’s 2011 mercury and air toxics standards limiting certain air pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

The court is being tasked with deciding whether or not the EPA properly took into account the costs of the regulation when it was writing it.

Critics have blamed the multi-billion-dollar regulation for many recent and planned shutdowns of coal-fired power plants, calling it a part of Obama’s “war on coal.” The case could also have wide-ranging implications for how regulatory agencies interpret their authority from Congress.

Meanwhile, Republicans will hold events to discuss some of their environmental and energy priorities and those of the Obama administration.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will bring in Energy Secretary Ernest MonizThursday to discuss the Energy Department’s Quadrennial Energy Review.

The report is a wide-ranging, time-consuming effort to assess the state of the country’s energy, including exploration, infrastructure and consumption, among other factors.

The report has yet to be made public, though Moniz says it will be soon. The Energy Department is being tight-lipped about whether it will come out before the hearing.

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee will also hold a hearing on the management of national forests.

Also in the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a field hearing in West Virginia to talk about the local impact of the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants, while the Agriculture Committee will talk about the EPA’s “waters of the United States” rule.

In the House, lawmakers will start to formally discuss whether to ease the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports.

The Foreign Affairs subcommittee on trade has scheduled a Wednesday markup meeting on Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) bill to lift the ban.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has a pair of hearings this week on energy and environmental policy.

Two of its subpanels are planning an oversight hearing on allegations that the EPA does not properly preserve records as required by federal law.

The full committee will hold a hearing on the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Lawmakers will hear from the agency’s assistant secretary, David Danielson, two free-market advocates and a representative of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

It’s still budget season in Congress and lawmakers have a full plate next week, with hearings on the 2016 requests from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service and other agencies.



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