OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Obama’s team takes shape in Ernest

ON TAP THURSDAY: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on the nomination of Ernest Moniz, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist that President Obama has tapped to run the Energy Department.

Moniz is expected to easily clear the panel with bipartisan support.

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Some evidence: A pair of conservative Republicans on the committee, Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), said Wednesday afternoon that they plan to vote for Moniz.

Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is hopeful that the full Senate will approve Moniz as soon as next week.

Moniz has, thus far, faced the least GOP resistance of Obama’s nominees to major energy and environmental roles.

The Senate already confirmed Sally Jewell as Interior Secretary; she won approval easily in the end, but faced a fair amount of GOP criticism.

Gina McCarthy, the nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency, has faced the toughest attacks.

But Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) hopes to have a committee vote on McCarthy next week or in early May.


THE REST OF THURSDAY’S AGENDA:

Senators revive energy-efficiency bill

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) will reintroduce their long-awaited industrial energy-efficiency bill during a 10 a.m. Thursday news conference.

The bill includes more stringent efficiency standards for new building codes and incentives to encourage energy-efficiency upgrades at industrial facilities, among other measures.

It's largely the same as one that cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last session but never got to the floor. But the new version does have some differences with last year's model, which E2-Wire covered a bit here.

The first step will be to clear it through the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where the bill is scheduled for a legislative hearing next Tuesday.

Shaheen told The Hill on Wednesday that she also is talking with House lawmakers about sponsoring companion legislation.

DOE budget in focus

The Obama administration will defend its fiscal 2014 budget proposal for the Energy Department during a Thursday Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

The White House wants to give the department $28.4 billion, an 8 percent bump compared with 2012 enacted levels.

Most of that increase would go to alternative fuel and clean-energy technologies, funded in part by a proposal to end $4 billion in annual tax breaks for the oil-and-gas industry.

Energy Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman will testify on behalf of the administration.

For more on the 10 a.m. hearing, click here.

State Dept. to get earful on Keystone pipeline

The State Department will hold a public hearing in Nebraska to receive input on its recent draft environmental study of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The “listening session” is the latest battleground for opponents and backers of the controversial project to bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

Click here for more.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

– EPA faces lawsuit threats over blown climate rule deadline
– Congress gets poor grade on offshore drilling safety
– Supreme Court hands broad victory to business in human rights case
– House GOP: Obama regs slowing oil-and-gas development
– Kerry staying ‘far away’ from Keystone pipeline review — for now
– Amid Keystone fight, Canadian official defends climate comments
– Senior House Dem blasts Energy and Commerce chief on climate change
– International Energy Agency: Progress toward low-carbon energy ‘stalled’
– Oil-and-gas lobby talks biofuel rule with White House, EPA, senior lawmakers


NEWS BITES:

House committee backs Keystone pipeline

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday put fresh political pressure on the White House over the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The panel voted 30-18 in favor of GOP-led legislation that would authorize the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline, which remains under Obama administration review.

Four Democrats joined Republicans in favor of the measure. They are Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah), Bruce Braley (Iowa), Gene Green (Texas) and John Barrow (Ga.).

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has said the bill will likely come before the full House before Memorial Day. But GOP leadership offices did not provide a timeframe Wednesday.

World, US clean-energy investment dips

Clean energy accounted for a record 88 gigawatts of new electric generating capacity worldwide last year despite an 11 percent drop in investments, according to a report released Wednesday.

China eclipsed the United States for investment dollars, snagging $65.1 billion of a total $269 billion globally, the Pew Charitable Trusts report said.

The report attributed the downturn in investment to curtailed clean-energy incentives in several countries, including Spain, Italy and Germany.

For the U.S., investment dipped 37 percent, down to $35.6 billion. Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s clean-energy program, credited that to policy uncertainty.

“Although the United States invented many of the leading clean energy technologies, it continues to underperform in investment and deployment relative to the size of its economy and its history in the field,” Cuttino said in a statement.

Read the full report here.

Sierra Club names leader for conservation program

The Sierra Club has hired Dan Chu to lead its new conservation and national monuments campaign.

The environmental group introduced Chu as its campaign director for the “Our Wild America” program on Wednesday. The effort will focus on protecting federal lands from fossil fuel development.

“With 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide, the Sierra Club is well-positioned to mobilize the diverse citizens across the West and across the country who care about protecting our nation’s wild legacy for their children to enjoy,” Chu said in a statement.

Chu was most recently with the National Wildlife Federation, where he served as vice president for affiliate and regional strategies.


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