By Ben Geman and Zack Colman - 09/20/12 09:51 PM EDT
House Republicans are bashing Obama administration mining and air quality policies on several fronts before they leave town at the end of this week to campaign for November's elections.
House Natural Resources Committee Republicans released a report Thursday slamming potential Interior Department rules to tighten controls on wastes from mountaintop removal mining — and the process used to craft the policy.
The House bill slated for a vote Friday includes provisions aimed at halting the potential Interior rule. It would block Interior from issuing rules that would “adversely impact” coal mine employment, designate any areas unsuitable for surface coal mining, or reduce U.S. coal supplies.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, are casting the GOP bill as a gift to the coal industry by lawmakers spurred on with corporate donations.
“Coal has backed the GOP’s political campaign with heavy spending on TV ads, lobbying and political contributions. Coal and dirty utilities have spent a total $66 million on lobbying since 2011. House Republicans have received $4.4 million in career contributions from the coal industry — nearly 5 times the amount Democratic members received, according to a ThinkProgress analysis of Center for Responsive Politics data,” the Center for American Progress Action Fund said in a memo circulated Thursday.
Follow E2-Wire and The Hill’s Floor Action blog for coverage of the bill Friday, including votes on amendments that address climate science and the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to nix mining projects.
Obama to designate new national monument
President Obama is slated to designate Colorado's Chimney Rock as a national monument Friday, ensuring protections for the formation.
The move that will help preserve 4,726 acres in southwestern Colorado, according to The Denver Post, which notes that the site is “deeply spiritual to the Puebloan people and other tribes.”
Gingrich to lament ‘destructive’ energy policies
Off Capitol Hill, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who failed to capture the GOP White House nomination, will take his shots at White House energy policies in Friday remarks at the National Press Club.
He will “address the connection between the anti-American uprising in the Middle East and our nation’s destructive energy policies, as exemplified by the actions of the Obama administration,” an advisory states.
House pair floats green-energy bill
A pair of lawmakers introduced a House companion bill Wednesday to Senate legislation that would unlock a cost-saving tax structure for clean-energy investors.
Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) want to change the tax code to let clean-energy backers take advantage of a mechanism that is currently available only to investors in fossil fuel sources.
That measure, known as a master limited partnership, is a business arrangement that is taxed like a partnership but whose ownership is traded like corporate stock. Proponents say that would lower the cost of financing clean energy projects.
Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) sponsored the Senate version of the bill (S. 3275). That bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
Lawmakers offer plan to fight biofuels fraud
Two lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday aimed at fixing a program that awards renewable fuel credits to refiners in lieu of purchasing physical gallons.
Texas Reps. Pete Olson (R) and Gene Green (D) want to change the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program after the agency said it found 140 million fraudulent renewable fuel credits.
Those credits are awarded for biofuel under the renewable fuel standard. Refiners can use those credits instead of buying actual gallons of biofuels.
The Renewable Fuels Association estimates about 2.5 billion such credits are available for use.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Thursday ...
- Panel sets floor votes on climate science, EPA mine veto power
- Report: US fuel efficiency standards for trucks tougher than Europe, Canada
- Report: Climate change means taxpayers could pay for more disaster cleanups
- Grid regulator creates cybersecurity office
- Sen. Manchin mum on supporting Obama
- Shell gets green light for first-stage drilling in Beaufort Sea
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