OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate delves into Sandy's climate link

Committee Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerAnother day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs Carly Fiorina 'certainly looking at' Virginia Senate run Top Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report MORE (D-Calif.) recently added language to the draft bill designed to boost infrastructure preparedness for extreme weather, E&ENews PM reported Wednesday. 

Sen. Ben CardinBen CardinMaking water infrastructure a priority Senators introduce new Iran sanctions Senate confirms Trump's pick for Israel ambassador MORE (D-Md.), a member of the committee, says WRDA should be part of efforts to harden coastal infrastructure against destructive storms like Sandy.

The bill covers water infrastructure, flood programs and dam and levee safety. Cardin said Sandy “underscores the urgency” to use that legislation and a number of others to tackle climate change.

“I think we can take a look at WRDA,” Cardin told The Hill. “There’s a lot of bills you can use. There’s a lot of bills moving around here that deal with the consequences of climate change that we can take a look at. ... We’ll use every opportunity we can.”

Democratic committee staff views WRDA as one of its top priorities for the lame-duck session.

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDems introduce MAR-A-LAGO Act to publish visitor logs Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-R.I.), who is also on the Senate committee, said Wednesday that Congress must do more to address the nexus of climate change and resiliency. 

He said WRDA offers an avenue for doing that, commenting that events like Sandy and the destruction it inflicted will be more common "if we do not recognize the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and the need to prepare our infrastructure."

Though scientists said they could not definitively link Sandy’s occurrence to climate change, they say it likely contributed to the storm’s intensity through rising sea levels and warmer water temperatures.

But any mention of climate change would likely draw the ire of the committee’s Republican climate skeptics, namely ranking member Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeRepeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate GOP senator: EPA 'brainwashing our kids' A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Okla.) and Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSanders: 'What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?' Poll: Trump controversies make him more popular among supporters More than ever, Justice must demand a special prosecutor for Trump-Russia probe MORE (R-Ala.).

Those two committee members engaged in a contentious debate with committee Democrats in a climate change hearing this past summer.


Study: Attack on power grid would be more destructive than Sandy

A terrorist attack on the U.S. power grid could kill thousands, according to a National Academy of Sciences study released Wednesday.

The damage would easily trump that of Sandy with damage totaling hundreds of billions of dollars, the study said.

“It would not immediately kill many people or make for spectacular television footage of bloody destruction,” the study said of a terrorist attack on the grid. “But if it were carried out in a carefully planned way, by people who knew what they were doing, it could deny large region of the country access to bulk system power for weeks or even months.”

The study said the nation’s electric grid infrastructure is highly vulnerable to attack, with transmission lines spanning hundreds of miles and many vital facilities left unguarded.

Deregulation of utility markets and cost pressures on consumers and regulators also stunt investment in security, it said.

Greens to Obama: Match talk with new action

President Obama said he'll address climate change in his second term but offered no specifics at Wednesday’s press conference.

Environmentalists want to see more.

“President Obama rightly acknowledges that climate change is happening – now he should do something about it by finishing the job of cleaning up dirty power plants, building on energy efficiency innovations, saying no to dirty fuels like tar sands and scaling up clean energy,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement.

The group 350.org said Obama’s upcoming decision on whether the permit the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline will be pivotal.

“[T]he President can show us he's serious with a decision already on his desk: rejecting the Keystone XL  pipeline. The pipeline would unlock so much carbon that climate scientists say, if it were built, it would be ‘game over’ for the climate,” the group said.


Wyden, Murkowski to lay out energy agenda

The Democratic heir apparent to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gavel and the panel’s top Republican will look ahead to the next session of Congress Thursday.

Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs MORE (D-Ore.), who will inherit the chairmanship from retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), will speak at a CQ-hosted forum on “America’s Energy Future” Thursday morning.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiElle honors 10 at annual 'Women in Washington' event Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (R-Alaska), the committee’s top Republican, and Rep. Ed WhitfieldEd WhitfieldWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? Overnight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science MORE (R-Ky.), who leads the House Energy and Power subcommittee, are also among the guests. Click here for more info.

Senators, advocates look ahead after election

Sens. John HoevenJohn HoevenSenate panel considers how to fund Trump’s T infrastructure package A guide to the committees: Senate GOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget MORE (R-N.D.), Mark UdallMark UdallGorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' Election autopsy: Latinos favored Clinton more than exit polls showed Live coverage: Tillerson's hearing for State MORE (D-Colo.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPence pushes Manchin in home state to support Gorsuch Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-W.Va.) and others will look at the post-election future of energy policy Thursday.

Politico is hosting an event to “break down the issues that have shaped the election and what they mean for the future of energy policy.”

Other speakers include Karen Harbert, who heads the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke. Click here for more info.


Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Wednesday (and Tuesday night) ...

 – Obama calls climate change a priority but stays vague on agenda
– Sen. Thune hopeful on Obama signing bill to thwart EU carbon rule
 – Interior chief 'regrets' threat to punch reporter
 – Greens pressure Obama to veto airline emissions bill
 – Sen. Alexander: Fiscal woes driving demands to cut tax credit for wind power
 – Rep. Upton: 'I'm not a carbon tax guy'
 – US Chamber wants energy legislation in fiscal cliff deal
– GOP governors pressure home-state delegations on wind credit

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

Follow E2 on Twitter: @E2Wire, @Ben_Geman, @zcolman