OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate goes nuclear

State of Play: Wednesday will bring heavy Senate focus on battles over nuclear power plant safety and waste.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane will make her first appearance before the Senate since winning confirmation to the post in late June.

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She will testify at the Environment and Public Works Committee hearing about the NRC’s steps to boost safety in light of the March 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Battles over the scope and pace of the NRC's post-Fukushima safety reforms for U.S. plants have unfolded since the accident.

Macfarlane will appear alongside the NRC’s four other commissioners.

Senate lawmakers will also plunge into a topic that has vexed Congress and policymakers for decades: what to do with nuclear waste piling up at the nation's power plants.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will gather Wednesday to discuss a bill aimed at breaking the logjam.

The bill would implement recommendations from a January report by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. President Obama, who has dropped long-delayed plans for the Yucca Mountain waste dump, formed the commission to evaluate the nation’s handling of nuclear waste.

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The commission recommended developing interim storage sites to hold the waste accumulating at nuclear power reactors; restarting efforts to build one or more permanent disposal sites; and establishing a new independent federal body to assume oversight duties from the Energy Department.
 
Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who is retiring this session, has acknowledged his bill will not pass this year. He could not agree on language with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

But Bingaman has cast the bill as a step toward ending the nation’s impasse over nuclear waste policy.
 
Retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who co-chaired the Blue Ribbon Commission, will testify, among others.


NEWS BITES:

Issa seeks Energy Secretary Chu’s appearance next week


House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is pressing Energy Secretary Steven Chu to appear before the panel Sept. 20 to discuss the embattled federal green energy loan program.

The Energy Department did not immediately say whether Chu would appear before the committee.

Issa said he wants to focus on what he alleges are inaccurate statements that Chu has made before the committee. “We would like to give him a chance to clear it up,” Issa told reporters Tuesday.

Click here for prior coverage of Issa’s claims, which Chu's supporters say are based on cherry-picked statements.

Romney’s energy adviser heads for Capitol Hill Thursday

Harold Hamm, the billionaire oil executive who chairs Mitt Romney’s energy advisory team, is showing up on Capitol Hill as the White House race enters its final phases.

The CEO of Oklahoma-based Continental Resources will be among the panelists at a Thursday House hearing on achieving North American energy independence within a decade.

That also happens to be the goal of Romney’s recently released energy platform.

The Energy and Power subcommittee hearing will also feature a number of other experts and advocates. Click here for more about the hearing.


Quote of the Day: “If he wants a veto, he will have to win the election, [the] majority.” – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

The chairman was responding to committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who is upset about subpoenas Republicans issued to Energy Department aides.

Quote of the Day II: “This is an effort to try and embarrass the President.” – Cummings, alleging that Issa’s probe of green energy loan guarantees is politically motivated.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out these items that ran on E2-Wire Tuesday ...

— Issa: US Marshals were last resort for subpoenas
— EPA official: GOP bill would ‘cripple’ global climate efforts
— Dem lawmaker slams Issa for sending US Marshals to serve subpoenas

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