The week ahead: Energy Dept. awaits new chief, an EPA showdown sequel, and more

Senate Democrats were forced to scuttle an Environment and Public Works Committee vote on McCarthy last Thursday when Republicans refused to attend, denying Democrats a quorum.
But Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announced late Friday that Democrats try again on Thursday, May 16 to approve McCarthy, who is currently EPA’s top air quality official.
Democrats hope to have all their committee members present to provide the needed quorum to advance the stalled nomination toward the Senate floor.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who has been in ill health, plans to make the trip to Capitol Hill for the committee meeting, a spokesman said.
Beyond the nomination battles, the acting heads of the EPA and Energy Department will both be on Capitol Hill this week for hearings about their agencies’ fiscal 2014 budget requests.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will explore EPA's budget Thursday. Acting EPA Administrator Robert Perciasepe is slated to appear.
Acting Energy Department Secretary Daniel Poneman, meanwhile, will appear before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday to answer questions about his agency’s proposed spending plan.
Elsewhere, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday will hold the first of three “forums” in May on natural gas.
“The forum will explore what the next applications are for natural gas and how this new demand will be met. Pipeline infrastructure and increased use of natural gas in the transportation sector will be specific points of interest,” according to an advisory.
Witnesses include a number of industry officials and a representative of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Also Tuesday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies will host a Capitol Hill forum on “Africa’s Emerging Energy Landscape.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa, will speak at the event, along with Carlos Pascual, the State Department’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, among others.
On Thursday, a panel of the House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, part of a multi-committee, GOP-led effort to pressure the White House to back the project.
This week’s packed Capitol Hill schedule will also include a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel’s Friday hearing on several GOP-led bills to revise the federal Superfund law.
Off Capitol Hill — way off — Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the multinational Arctic Council’s meeting in Sweden on May 15.
Nations will sign the “Arctic Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response Agreement,” the State Department said Friday.
“The Agreement will forge strong partnerships in advance of an oil spill so that Arctic countries can quickly and cooperatively respond before it endangers lives and threatens fragile ecosystems,” the department said.

This post was updated at 2:48 p.m.