OVERNIGHT ENERGY: New Interior chief to face Senate, gas exports in focus, and more

The undercard: Across Capitol Hill, at 9:30 a House Appropriations Committee panel will unwrap the White House budget request for Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which regulates onshore oil-and-gas drilling.

STAY TUNED: A story running Tuesday morning in The Hill and on E2-Wire explores how supporters of expanding U.S. natural-gas exports are courting Democrats by suggesting exports would boost national security interests.

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Speaking of gas exports, they will be the subject of a Tuesday House hearing. More on that below.

THE REST OF TUESDAY’S AGENDA:

Gas exports in focus on Capitol Hill

The geopolitical impact of proposed natural-gas exports is the subject of a 10 a.m. Tuesday hearing for a subpanel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Former Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan (N.D.) and Bennett Johnston (La.) are testifying at the hearing, as is Michael Breen, executive director with the Truman National Security Project.

At issue are a slate of proposals under Energy Department review that would greenlight exports to nations that lack a free-trade agreement with the U.S. According to federal law, such transactions must be in the national interest.

Export backers say sending more U.S. supplies abroad will help allies negotiate lower gas prices while also dinging the influence and finances of Russia and Iran.

Some Democrats, though, are wary that shipping too much natural gas overseas would raise domestic energy prices, despite claims from experts than any increases figure to be modest.

Click here for more on the hearing.

House GOP seeks to boost Keystone pipeline

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Tuesday will become the latest GOP-led panel to leap into the fray over the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

A committee hearing will explore “scientific and environmental issues” associated with Keystone, which would bring Canadian oil sands crude across the U.S. border en route to Gulf Coast refineries.

Republicans are using every tool at their disposal to keep political pressure on President Obama over the proposed pipeline, which remains under White House review and has widespread support among Republicans.

Click here and here for more on the hearing.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Monday and over the weekend ...

— Former chief of wind, gas industry groups joins major lobby shop
— Wind energy group devising plan to present to tax committees
— Major oil sands producer: We need Keystone pipeline
— Judge seeks fast action on challenge to SEC oil disclosure rule
— The week ahead: EPA nominee Gina McCarthy faces Senate committee vote
— Al Gore wants to ‘awaken’ Rupert Murdoch on climate change
Carbon tax backers quietly forge ahead

NEWS BITES:

White House balks at Senate water projects bill

President Obama isn’t waving his veto pen, but he’s not thrilled with the Senate’s version of big water infrastructure legislation that’s coming to the floor this week.

The formal “statement of administration policy” on the Water Resources Development Act says the bill has environmentally harmful provisions on project permitting.

From the White House statement Monday:

The bill constrains science-based decision making, increases litigation risk, and undermines the integrity of several foundational environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Administration is making significant progress to improve the efficiency of Federal permitting and reviews in a manner that encourages early collaboration, stakeholder engagement and better environmental outcomes while not jeopardizing bedrock environmental laws. 

The Administration is aware that discussions on these provisions are ongoing and urges the Senate to reaffirm the current foundational environmental review framework for all water resources projects that fosters transparency, informed decision-making, and strong environmental outcomes, and to encourage the Corps to continue efforts to evaluate the full range of reasonable alternatives and to promote better environmental stewardship.

The bill authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in areas such as flood risk reduction and waterway navigation.

Sen. Vitter: EPA nominee dodged GOP questions

The White House nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave “unacceptable” answers to questions from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Republicans, ranking member Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said Monday.

Vitter said Gina McCarthy, who currently heads the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, dodged GOP lawmakers’ inquiries about transparency at the agency.

The Environment and Public Works Committee will vote on whether to advance McCarthy’s nomination to the full Senate on Thursday.

Click here for McCarthy’s responses to Republicans’ questions.

House tax-writing panel lays out energy policy suggestions

The House Ways and Means Committee outlined a series of policy options Monday that could receive discussion as the panel considers broad tax code changes.

The document spans several tax policy areas, including manufacturing, financial services, pensions and education.

On energy, the choices submitted by industry, regulators and others run the political gamut.

One suggestion was to eliminate all subsidies and replace them with a carbon tax. Others recommended stripping renewable-energy incentives, implementing technology-neutral subsidies and ending oil-and-gas industry tax breaks.

Many of the options, though, were narrow, sector-specific tweaks.

If you dare, you can read the full 568-page report here.


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

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