OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate delves into Sandy's climate link

Committee Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerBarbara Boxer recounts harassment on Capitol Hill: ‘The entire audience started laughing’ 100 years of the Blue Slip courtesy Four more lawmakers say they’ve been sexually harassed by colleagues in Congress 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 CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinTop Dem: Lawmakers taking 'more active role' in Trump foreign policy Questions loom over Franken ethics probe State Dept. spokeswoman acknowledges 'morale issue' 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 in Germany: Trump can't stop clean energy revolution Senate Dems demand answers on Social Security info given to election integrity commission Strange bedfellows on criminal justice reform could offer Trump a legislative win 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. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenators tear into controversial Trump environment nominee McCain backs Pentagon nominee despite concerns over defense industry ties GOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate MORE (R-Okla.) and Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsFederal judge rules Trump defunding sanctuary cities 'unconstitutional on its face' FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Alabama election has GOP racing against the clock 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 WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico Photos of the Week: Nov. 13-17 Senate panel approves GOP tax plan 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 Ann MurkowskiSenate bill would cut EPA funding by 0M GOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal 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 Henry HoevenOvernight Health Care: Initial Senate tax bill doesn't repeal ObamaCare mandate | 600K sign up for ObamaCare in first four days | Feds crack down on opioid trafficking Overnight Finance: Senate GOP unveils different approach on tax reform | House tax bill heads to floor | House leaders eye vote next week | AT&T denies pressure for CNN sale Adoption tax credit restored after conservative backlash MORE (R-N.D.), Mark UdallMark UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (D-Colo.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Overnight Finance: House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP | Senate confirms banking regulator | Mulvaney eyed for interim head of consumer agency Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog 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