OVERNIGHT ENERGY: It’s into the great wide open for Obama’s Interior pick – maybe

Murkowski is using Jewell’s nomination to gain leverage with Interior in a battle over whether to allow construction of a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Murkowski and other Alaska lawmakers say the road is vital to providing emergency medical evacuations for a small Aleutian village by enabling access to an all-weather airport (more on that here and here).

ADVERTISEMENT
The Alaska senator is livid over a preliminary decision by Interior not to allow the road. Negotiations with the Obama administration are ongoing Wednesday evening, according to Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Murkowski.

“Senator Murkowski is hopeful that a resolution can be reached and therefore it won’t be an issue” for Jewell, Dillon said.

Asked what would be acceptable, Dillon said, “something that allows for consideration of the road.”

SPOTTED: Jewell herself, in the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

Jewell didn’t say much to reporters (pending nominees for Cabinet roles aren’t famously chatty), but did offer that she’s “optimistic.”


THE REST OF THURSDAY’S AGENDA:

Oil industry group to unveil polling on taxes

The American Petroleum Institute will ramp up its fight against removal of lucrative tax incentives Thursday.

The powerful lobbying group will unveil “new polling data that reveals fresh insights about voters’ views on oil and natural gas industry taxes,” an advisory states.

Mining and job creation subject of House hearing

The House Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will explore how expanding mining on federal lands could benefit the manufacturing sector in a Thursday hearing.

The discussion will address, among other topics, rare-earth minerals and the role they play in high-tech manufacturing. The hearing will also consider various legislative efforts on mining issues.

Some lawmakers, mainly Republicans, argue the U.S. could develop more of those minerals on federal lands to compete with China, which controls the world’s bounty of critical minerals.

Witnesses include Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar (R) and Raúl Grijalva (D); Jamie Connell, acting deputy director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management; and Hal Quinn, president and chief executive of the National Mining Association.

Click here for more on the 10 a.m. hearing.

Free-market group looks at energy

Jerry Taylor of the free-market CATO Institute will look at the nexus between government and energy markets during a speech to the National Economists Club.

The title of his address: “The (Qualified) Case for Government Intervention in Energy Markets: Theory & Practice.”

Click here for more info.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

– Senate committee approves bill to boost waterways
– Senate rejects amendment gutting military biofuels program by 40-59 vote
– Report: Mining industry clout grows with lobbying, donations
– Senators reveal coastal energy revenue-sharing bill
– Senate, House energy leaders talk nuclear waste, hydropower, efficiency
– Nuclear regulators under fire for delay of post-Fukushima safety requirement
– US oil production set to surpass imports

NEWS BITES:

Former GOP lawmaker’s company lobbies for ‘responsible’ energy

A lobbying company led by former GOP Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) is representing a client that promotes “responsible energy solutions” — of some sort, anyway.

“Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions” has hired McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC, according to a Lobbying Disclosure Act filing.

LaTourette, who spent nearly two decades in the House and was a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), heads McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC.

It's not yet clear what, exactly, the “Citizens” group wants its new lobbyists to achieve.

The recent filing, effective March 15, briefly describes “Citizens” as a “non-profit energy solutions advocacy organization.” It lists the focus of the lobbying only as “issues and initiatives regarding responsible energy solutions.”

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC did not comment on its new client. The lobbying registration form, meanwhile, provides no phone number, contact name or Web address for Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

A Washington, D.C., street address listed for “Citizens” is the same address as Civitas Public Affairs Group. Civitas did not respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Green groups advise caution on WTO complaint

A dozen green groups sent a letter Wednesday to Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis urging restraint in a U.S. World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint against India’s solar industry.

The U.S. alleges the Indian government is enforcing domestic content rules that discriminate against U.S. suppliers. The U.S. says the policy particularly affects thin film solar technology, which comprises the bulk of solar exports to India.

The green groups, which include Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, 350.org and Friends of the Earth, want the U.S. to use a light touch on India to allow its solar industry to develop.

“Domestic content rules have been a vital policy tool used to foster, nurture, and grow new industries throughout history and can be used today to build and support renewable energy industries,” the letter reads.

Read the letter here.

Sides agree to voluntary Northeast fracking rules

Environmental groups and energy firms have struck a deal on a voluntary standards program that would create some of the nation’s strictest rules on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

From The Associated Press:

In this case, drilling and pipeline companies will be encouraged to submit to an independent review of their operations, and if they are found to be taking certain steps to protect the air and water, they will receive the blessing of the brand-new Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development.

If the project succeeds, it could have far-reaching implications for both the industry and environmental groups. A nationwide boom in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has unleashed huge new energy reserves but also led to fears of pollution and climate change.

Read the full story here.


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