OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA nominee to face tough crowd

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) met with McCarthy Tuesday, and his office said they chatted about “her nomination and the impact that job-killing regulations pursued during her tenure at the agency have had on Kentucky.”

“If confirmed as Administrator, I am concerned that Gina McCarthy would continue to foster this administration’s radical environmental and anti-coal jobs agenda,” McConnell said in a statement.

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That didn’t sit well with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Environment Committee that’s hosting McCarthy Thursday.

“This attack on Gina McCarthy is inexplicable given that she was previously confirmed by the Senate for a top EPA position without a single recorded ‘no’ vote, and she is one of the most qualified and bipartisan nominees to ever come before the Senate,” Boxer said in a statement.

She noted that McCarthy, before coming to the EPA, worked for a GOP governor of Connecticut and under several Republican governors of Massachusetts.

Environmental groups that say the agency has boosted vital public health protections are seeking to boost support for McCarthy.

Check out E2-Wire Thursday for coverage of the hearing.


THE REST OF THURSDAY'S AGENDA:

Interior budget faces scrutiny

Outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will testify on his agency’s portion of the fiscal 2014 White House budget proposal during a Thursday hearing.

Salazar will appear before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

He will likely have to swat away GOP criticism of proposed royalty rate increases and fees for energy development on federal lands floated by the White House.

For more on the 1 p.m. hearing, click here. And for more on the White House’s budget proposal for Interior, click here.

Nuclear waste programs and strategies in focus

Federal officials will discuss nuclear waste programs and policy during a Thursday hearing.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on Energy and Water hearing comes as chatter about nuclear waste storage legislation is picking up in both the House and the Senate.

Witnesses for the 10 a.m. hearing include Peter Lyons, assistant secretary for nuclear energy with the Energy Department, and Susan Eisenhower, a former member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.

Click here for more.

House weighs plan to limit EPA on coal ash

A House Energy and Commerce Committee subpanel will meet to review legislation that would limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants.

The EPA has long been planning rules to toughen oversight, but they face opposition from the coal industry and allied lawmakers.

Click here for more info on the hearing.

House panel to explore western hemisphere energy

A pair of senior State Department officials will appear before a House Foreign Affairs Committee subpanel Thursday at a hearing on “energy opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Click here for more info.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

— Senate votes 87-11 to confirm Sally Jewell to be Interior Secretary
— House GOP plans hearing on struggling Obama-backed automaker
— Lawmakers look to move biofuel bill through House Energy Committee
— House votes 416-7 in favor of easing hydropower regs
— ConocoPhillips, citing ‘regulatory uncertainty,’ delays Arctic drilling
— House takes step toward passing bill easing hydropower regulations
— Obama’s budget seeks defenses against climate-fueled extreme weather
— White House proposes royalty, permitting changes on energy development
— Obama’s budget revives battle over oil industry tax breaks
— Dem leader seeks Wednesday vote on Interior nominee Jewell
Nike, Starbucks: Betting against climate scientists is ‘false hope’
— Former EPA chief Jackson sounds off on email probe
— Senior Energy Dept. official to depart 


NEWS BITES:

White House budget goes big on clean energy at DOE

President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal for the Energy Department (DOE) doubles down on clean energy and alternative fuels and vehicles — at the expense of oil companies.

Clean-energy research funding would get a sizable boost under the plan, paid for in part by eliminating $4 billion in annual tax breaks awarded to the oil-and-gas industry.

“As we continue to pursue clean energy technologies that will support future economic growth, we should not devote scarce resources to subsidizing the use of fossil fuels produced by some of the largest, most profitable companies in the world,” the budget proposal said.

Several new administration initiatives made it into the DOE’s budget proposal.

One is a $200 million competitive state grant program for energy efficiency and electric grid upgrades. Another is a $2 billion “Energy Security Trust” aimed at weaning the transportation sector off oil. (More on that here.)

Obama’s plan also would pump more money into basic research, pushing the Energy Department’s Office of Science budget above $5 billion, an increase of 5.7 percent.

Overall, the department’s budget would hit $28.4 billion — an 8 percent bump — compared with 2012 enacted levels.

Snowboard star to talk climate with Obama

Big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones will tell Obama how climate change is affecting winter sports when the two meet this week.

Jones is one of 12 White House Champion of Change nominees, a distinction that honors climate change advocates.

Jones, who runs the nonprofit organization Protecting Our Winters, will deliver a letter from 75 top skiers and snowboarders urging Obama to address climate change.

From ESPN:

"This is probably the best opportunity we've had to put the winter-sports community front and center with policy makers in Washington," Jones said. "We're overdue on this kind of access, and each time we go to Washington we drill a bit deeper. It doesn't get much better than having an audience at the White House."

Read the full story here.

OPEC drops demand growth predictions

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Wednesday revised downward its 2013 estimate for worldwide growth in oil demand, according to Reuters.

The oil cartel now expects a rise in demand of 800,000 barrels per day, 40,000 less than previously predicted. It pegged the change on weaker demand from Europe, Japan and other developed economies.

The move follows a similar alteration by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday.

Read it all here.


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

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