OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Obama, Romney camps to square off over energy

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NEWS BITES:

Mining showdown in House

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The House will begin debate Wednesday on a GOP-led bill to speed up permitting for the mining of rare-earth minerals. The White House is no fan of the bill, arguing it will strip away needed environmental protections.

A final vote isn’t expected until Thursday.

Probe finds ‘weak’ regulation behind pipeline spill

The Wall Street Journal reports on the federal probe of a 2010 pipeline spill that dumped lots of oil into a Michigan river. From their piece:

Various safety failures by pipeline company Enbridge Inc. and "weak regulation" by U.S. government officials are to blame for the 2010 spill of 20,000 barrels of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River, the lead U.S. transportation regulator said Tuesday.

Rural energy programs on the line in House farm bill markup
 
The House Agriculture Committee will mark up its version of the farm bill Wednesday, which could include more than $500 million in cuts to rural energy programs.
 
The House bill contains only discretionary funding for energy programs. Its Senate counterpart guarantees $800 million for energy programs over five years.
 
Of the 23 Republican House Agriculture Committee members, 16 are freshmen eager to prove their cost-cutting credentials.

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) have both signed off on the bill, which includes much deeper cuts to food stamps than the Senate bill does.
 
The House version reduces direct spending by $35 billion, about $11 billion more than does the Senate-passed bill.
 
There's no guarantee the proposed cuts will stand. The legislation must be passed by the House, which would then have to be reconciled with Senate bill.
 
Many of the farm bill energy programs support loans and grants for bio-refineries and renewable energy systems, as well as subsidies for dedicated energy crops.


Inglis looks to beat the odds on carbon tax

Earlier Tuesday, E2 looked at efforts by former South Carolina GOP Rep. Bob Inglis to combat conservative “denial” on climate change.

Inglis, who is heading a new “Energy and Enterprise Initiative” at George Mason University, talked at length to the online magazine Grist about his goals — they include a carbon tax — and the prospects for building support.

Here’s what Inglis said when asked if he hopes to affect the 2012 elections or whether the effort is a “long play.”

Long play. We think it’s 2015, 2016 before anything happens. After the next midterm. Either a new Republican president will, under market pressure, say to the country that we need a grand bargain to bring down rates and broaden the base, and a great way to do that is to shift off of taxing income and toward taxing CO2. Or it’s a second term for President Obama and the same market pressure pushing Congress and the president to do something. Perhaps some of the rejectionism of Obama will be declining because he’s a lame duck, just like the Clinton hatred subsided some as he moved toward the end of his second term.

The energy crystal ball

Senior officials with the International Energy Agency will be at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Wednesday to provide their forecasts for natural gas and renewable energy over the next five years. More here.

Top Sierra Club official to talk conservation

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune will be among the speakers at the Center for American Progress Wednesday, where the left-leaning think tank will premier its “Public Lands, Private Profits” series of documentaries.

“Participants in this event will discuss how conservation fits into an overall progressive approach to land management and how Congress, President Barack Obama, and the next administration can work to make sure that our matchless American icons are truly protected from development and managed for values like hunting and fishing, recreation, clean air, and clean water,” an advisory states.

Top White House energy aide to talk bioenergy

Wednesday brings the second day of the Energy Department’s conference called Biomass 2012: Confronting Challenges, Creating Opportunities — Sustaining a Commitment to Bioenergy.

Speakers include White House energy and climate aide Heather Zichal. More here.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these items that ran on E2-Wire Tuesday ...

- White House slams GOP mining bill

- Sen. Kerry plans major committee review of oceans

- EPA official predicts major pollution rule will survive court challenge

- House GOP floats 'No More Solyndras' bill

- Renewable Fuel Standard faces political headwinds at hearing

- Former GOP lawmaker says conservatives must end climate 'denial'


Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com and Zack Colman, zcolman@thehill.com.

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