By Zack Colman and Ben Geman - 05/07/13 11:04 PM EDT
LATE BREAKING: President Obama will huddle with power industry officials Wednesday afternoon as hurricane season approaches.
"The President will meet with electric utility CEOs and their trade associations to discuss lessons learned and actions taken since Sandy and to continue the Administration's commitment to a strong industry-government partnership as we approach the upcoming hurricane season," the White House said Tuesday evening.
ON TAP WEDNESDAY: A bipartisan energy-efficiency bill could begin breaking free of political gridlock that has all but halted Capitol Hill energy legislation in recent years.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider that comprehensive energy-efficiency legislation (and a few hydropower bills) during an 11:30 a.m. markup.
Co-sponsors Sens. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenPodesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs Obama signs 'bill of rights' for rape survivors into law Four military options for Obama in Syria MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRob PortmanFive takeaways from Florida Senate debate Endangered GOP senator: I don't know for whom I'll vote GOP vulnerables dial back Hillary attacks MORE (R-Ohio) have been making the rounds with committee members. They’re trying to allay colleagues’ concerns with the legislation in hopes of clearing a smooth path for the bill.
In general, the bill would encourage energy-efficiency upgrades for commercial and industrial buildings through voluntary efficiency codes, a state-based private financing program and other measures.
Even a strong bipartisan endorsement doesn’t guarantee that the bill will get a full Senate vote.
Similar legislation sailed through the committee last year, but squabbles over amendments prevented it from getting called on the floor.
THE REST OF WEDNESDAY’S AGENDA:
House GOP attacks fracking rule, Interior’s Jewell parries
The House Natural Resources Committee will gather Wednesday for a hearing that will feature plenty of criticism of planned Interior Department rules to regulate oil-and-gas “fracking” on public lands.
Many Republicans say that state oversight of the oil-and-gas development method is protective enough. The hearing is titled, “DOI Hydraulic Fracturing Rule: A Recipe for Government Waste, Duplication and Delay.”
Click here for the witness list.
The federal rule would require disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process and address well integrity and management of so-called flowback water.
Interior officials plan to release draft rules within weeks.
Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into shale formations to open seams that enable hydrocarbons to flow. It’s enabling the U.S. production boom but leading to pollution concerns.
Interior Secretary Sally JewellSally JewellInterior aiming to bolster land work with tribes U.S. veterans call on Obama Administration to finalize a strong natural gas waste rule now Overnight Energy: Flint deal clears way for funding bill MORE, who has worked in the oil industry, said Tuesday that she sees fracking as “essential” to producing energy from shale formations.
“It can be done safely and responsibly,” she told a Senate Appropriations Committee panel.
In later remarks to reporters, she parried suggestions that Interior is weakening the rule in response to oil-and-gas industry pressure.
“I would say that the fracking rules are not bowing to industry pressure or environmental pressure. They are taking the best science available,” Jewell said.
“They are looking at historical practices. They are looking at modern technologies and how they are being used,” she said of the rule's development.
Acting EPA chief to face House lawmakers
Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Bob Perciasepe will appear Wednesday afternoon before a House Appropriations Committee panel to defend his agency’s fiscal 2014 budget request.
Click here for more.
And far away from Washington ...
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be in Houston for the big Offshore Technology Conference.
“Secretary Jewell will tour the exhibition floor where she will talk to offshore oil and gas industry stakeholders and see firsthand the current and developing technologies used for offshore exploration and production,” an advisory states.
She’ll also hold a press conference there as she settles into the job heading Interior, which has overhauled its troubled offshore drilling oversight in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Tuesday ...
— Senior Republican presses Interior for ‘certainty’ on Arctic drilling
— Liberals to pull Facebook ads to protest Zuckerberg's political group
— Senate panels mull hearings on explosion at Texas fertilizer plant
— Climate advocate Steyer weighs attacking Markey foe in Mass. Senate battle
— EPA denies request to regulate coal mine methane emissions
— Lawmakers: Gas exports could undercut US rivals Russia, Iran
This post was updated with breaking news at 7:04 p.m.
Fracking ban possible in California
California is getting closer to banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Quartz reports that three bills to ban the controversial drilling practice are “swiftly moving through the state’s legislature.” California currently leaves fracking mostly unregulated.
The state’s Monterey shale formation — estimated to be the nation’s largest oil reserve — is attracting attention from drillers as well as environmentalists who are concerned about pollution linked to fracking.
Unreachable by conventional drilling, the Monterey Shale has come into play with advances in fracking, which injects chemical-laced water into wells under high pressure to fracture rock formations so oil and gas can be extracted.
Read the full story here.
Mexican president eyes changes to state oil company
The Washington Post reports that re-tooling Mexico’s state-run oil giant Pemex is a “top priority” for the nation's new president, Enrique Peña Nieto.
“With an overhaul plan expected by late summer, U.S. and other global energy companies are waiting to see whether Mexico will once more give outsiders a crack at the country’s hydrocarbon treasures, including the massive, virtually untapped beds of shale gas south of the Texas border,” the paper reports.
Click here for the whole story.
Feds scrap California lease sale
The Associated Press reports that an Interior Department agency is scuttling California oil-and-gas lease auctions — for now. From the story:
Federal land managers on Tuesday postponed all oil and gas lease auctions in California until October, citing budget problems and low staffing as well as the toll of environmental litigation.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced it would put off an auction planned for later this month to sell leases to drill almost 1,300 acres of prime public lands near the Monterey Shale, home to one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the nation.
Click here for the whole thing.
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