OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Federal officials to defend EPA air rules

On Tap Tuesday: Senior Obama administration officials will gather with state-based energy regulators Tuesday to chat about Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air pollution rules that have come under fire from Republicans and some state officials.

Gina McCarthy, EPA’s top air pollution regulator, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Deputy Director Gary Guzy will be among the panelists at the Washington, D.C., conference.

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EPA over the last year has finalized a pair of major rules to curb smog-forming, particulate and toxic emissions from power plants. The agency is also crafting greenhouse gas performance standards for new power plants.

The rules will be addressed at a conference hosted by a trio of state-regulatory groups: the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and the National Association of State Energy Officials.

Other federal officials speaking Tuesday will include Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and Patricia Hoffman, who heads the Energy Department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

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Click here for more about the conference.

And Steven Chu, too ...

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will also be making an appearance Tuesday at a separate conference on bioenergy.

He’s among the speakers at Biomass 2012: Confronting Challenges, Creating Opportunities – Sustaining a Commitment to Bioenergy.

Click here for more.



NEWS BITES:

Macfarlane takes the helm at NRC


Allison Macfarlane was sworn in as chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday, officially bringing the controversial tenure of Gregory Jaczko to a close.

Click here for more on what Jaczko had to say on his way out the door.

Macfarlane, an MIT-trained geologist, called the post a “singular honor” in a statement that thanked President Obama for nominating her and the Senate for approving the pick.

She repeated her vow to foster collaboration with her fellow commissioners, who complained that Jaczko froze them out of key decisions.

“The agency faces multiple challenges. I look forward to working collegially with my fellow commissioners and the excellent, dedicated staff at the NRC to address these issues,” she said in a statement.

Senators press EPA on chemical review


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must expedite its review of harmful flame-retardant chemicals and take steps to restrict their use, a group of 26 senators urged EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Monday in a letter.
 
American babies are born with the highest concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are found in everyday products such as furniture and plastics, the letter said. The EPA has suggested those chemicals cause cancer and have been linked to neurological and reproductive diseases.
 
But the Toxic Substances Control Act limits the EPA’s ability to protect the public from those chemicals, the letter said. That law permits EPA to test chemicals for safety only after evidence shows a chemical is dangerous. As a result, EPA can require testing for 200 of 80,000 chemicals registered in the United States.
 
“This reinforces why there is broad agreement that TSCA must be reformed to protect American families from dangerous chemicals in a cost-effective way and we urge you to continue to work with Congress to enact consensus reforms,” the letter said.
 
The letter is signed by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

House hearing to feature biofuels battle

A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will gather Tuesday to discuss the “challenges and opportunities” of renewable fuels and vehicles.

Look for the powerful American Petroleum Institute to bash EPA’s implementation of the national Renewable Fuels Standard, which was expanded in a 2007 energy law. It requires increasing amounts of ethanol and other biofuels in the nation’s motor fuel supply.

“EPA has allowed the RFS law’s volume requirements to drive decisions that are inappropriate and unwise. The law has become increasingly unrealistic, unworkable, and a threat to consumers. It needs an overhaul, especially with respect to the volume requirements,” API President Jack Gerard says in his prepared testimony to the Energy and Power subcommittee.

Not surprisingly, the ethanol industry will offer a different view.

“The RFS is among the most successful energy policies this nation has ever adopted; it is working exactly as intended,” states the written testimony from Bob Dinneen, the CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry trade group.

Click here for more on the hearing.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these E2 stories that ran Monday and over the weekend ...

— Gasoline prices are creeping upward again

— Fed agency says last 12 months were hottest on record in US

— Possible corn shortfall's effect on ethanol prices unclear

— Offshore energy industry group expands team

— Interior touts 1.5M jobs from energy development

— Climate activists scuttle plans for ice-melting protest on Capitol Hill

— Boehner faintly praises highway bill, vows more Keystone efforts


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