OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Wildfires, forest health come into focus

State of Play: A House Natural Resources Committee panel will gather Friday for a hearing on a trio of bills designed to curb wildfire risks and improve forest health.

Click here for more on the hearing.

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The committee event follows big Western blazes that have devastated swaths of Colorado and other areas this summer.

It also arrives as some Democrats have been pushing for more attention to links between extreme weather and climate change.


NEWS BITES:

Poll: Scorching weather fuels belief in climate change

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Bloomberg unwraps a new poll about public attitudes:

A record heat wave, drought and catastrophic wildfires are accomplishing what climate scientists could not: convincing a wide swath of Americans that global temperatures are rising.

In the four months since March there has been a jump in U.S. citizens’ belief that climate change is taking place, especially among independent voters and those in southern states such as Texas, which is now in its second year of record drought, according to nationwide polls by the University of Texas.

House GOP slows push to sunset energy loan program

A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel never got around Thursday to marking up GOP legislation to modify and ultimately sunset the Energy Department’s embattled loan guarantee program.

The Energy and Power subcommittee didn’t take up the measure, which had been scheduled to be part of a markup of several bills.

A GOP aide said that with 15 amendments slated for consideration, panel Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) pulled the plug because there wasn’t time to get through them and he “wants to give members ample time for debate.”

It has been rescheduled for next Wednesday. The Energy Department doesn't like the bill.

The loan guarantee program has faced widespread GOP attacks in the wake of solar company Solyndra’s collapse last year and headwinds facing other loan recipients. But views vary on what to do with the program. Some Republicans have voiced support for killing it, while others take a mend-it-don’t-end-it approach.

Bingaman, Waxman press DOE on efficiency rule

Two senior Democrats are criticizing an Obama administration rule intended to curb demand for fossil fuels in federal buildings.
 
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) say the new Energy Department (DOE) rule is written ambiguously and might actually lead to less energy-efficient buildings.
 
“DOE’s proposed rule lacked sufficient detail to assure the public that DOE will not promulgate a rule that will encourage energy efficiency and avoid perverse results,” the lawmakers wrote Tuesday to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Click here to read the letter.

Bipartisan Senate group revives hydrogen push


A bipartisan handful of senators will revive the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Caucus at a time of reduced federal support for these technologies.
 
Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and John Tester (D-Mont.) will re-form the caucus, Coons announced Wednesday.
 
Coons said the technology has created 11,000 U.S. jobs.

"Fuel cells and hydrogen-based technologies have enormous potential and should be an important part of our energy mix,” he said.
 
That line might sound familiar. Hydrogen fuel cells were the energy darling of the Bill Clinton administration and the early George W. Bush years, but they never lived up to the hype.
 
The Obama administration has consistently reduced fuel cell and hydrogen fuel research and development budgets. In fiscal 2010, those programs got a combined $121.4 million. The administration halved the request for those programs in fiscal 2013, totaling $63.1 million.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Thursday ...

— Issa: Name US waters after Reagan 

— RNC hits Obama on loan to automaker

— Sen. Merkley, citing climate fears, wants big study of coal export plans

— Navy pushes forward with 'Green Fleet' despite GOP resistance

— GOP-led panel rips GOP donor's business practices in Peru

— Reports: Obama backs Iraqi concerns with Exxon deal


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