OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior under Senate panel microscope

ON TAP THURSDAY: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell makes her first appearance before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee since being confirmed in her new role.

The Senate panel will take a look at the department’s programs and policies at a 10 a.m. hearing.

The Senate panel recently finished up a series of roundtables on natural gas, of which hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was one of the topics. That roundtable delved into draft rules governing fracking on federal lands recently released by Interior.

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Expect that discussion to resurface Thursday. Other topics could include Interior’s Tuesday announcement to hold the nation’s first-ever federal offshore wind lease sale, offshore drilling policies and wildfire management practices.

Click here for more on the hearing, which will be webcast.

SPEAKING OF OFFSHORE DRILLING ...

A subpanel of the House Natural Resources Committee will discuss legislation to expand offshore drilling to zones in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Committee Chairman Doc Hastings’s (R-Wash.) bill is largely similar to the one he sponsored last year, which passed the House.

It would require President Obama to submit a new five-year offshore drilling plan that includes areas off the coasts of California, South Carolina and Virginia. The current White House plan, which runs through 2017, keeps the coasts off limits to drillers.

The bill stands a good chance of passing the GOP-controlled House, which has said Obama’s drilling plan is too restrictive. But it likely won’t get called in the Senate.

Witnesses include John Felmy, chief economist with the American Petroleum Institute, and Christopher Guith, vice president for policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy.

Click here for more on the 10 a.m. hearing.

Reid lifts curtain on ‘Clean Energy Summit’

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will detail the speakers and theme of the sixth annual National Clean Energy Summit in a Thursday media call.

This year’s summit, scheduled for Aug. 13 in Las Vegas, will focus on the “future of our clean energy economy,” an advisory states.

Reid has helped lead the event each year, which draws business executives, entrepreneurs and policymakers from across the globe.

John Podesta, founder and chairman of left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, will also be on the 2:30 p.m. call.

Chinese energy policies, Middle East relationships explored

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission will hold a Thursday hearing on China and the Middle East.

The panel will tackle Chinese policies on energy security, trade and investment and regional conflicts.

Panelists for the hearing, which runs from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., include Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Yitzhak Shichor, professor emeritus with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Haifa; and Erica Downs, fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center with the Brookings Institution.

Click here for more.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

— Dems up for reelection target of Americans for Prosperity carbon tax campaign
'America must take steps now' on climate, says Obama agriculture chief
— Obama officials increase ‘social cost’ of carbon in federal regulations
— GOP lawmakers: Renewable fuel rule hurting economy
— Dems urge Obama to get climate agreement from Chinese President Xi
Ex-Interior staffer joins Center for American Progress
— Dems push for quicker White House approval of pending regulations


NEWS BITES:

Sen. Vitter compares delay on NRC nominee to EPA

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s top Republican, slammed committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) for what he called a delay of a vote to re-nominate Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane.

Boxer has requested documents on the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant before proceeding with a committee vote to advance Macfarlane's re-nomination. She would serve a five-year term if re-confirmed by the full Senate.

Vitter compared that to what the committee’s Republicans were trying to get from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) ahead of the panel’s vote on EPA nominee Gina McCarthy.

“While her voluminous requests focus on one particular facility, our more targeted transparency requests relate to the actions of a cabinet-level agency, which employs about 17, 000 people and issues regulations affecting the entire economy,” Vitter said of Boxer’s actions.

Republicans boycotted the initial vote on McCarthy, currently the EPA’s top air quality regulator, because it wanted her to answer more questions about transparency at the agency. Democrats insisted Republicans were being “obstructionist,” claiming McCarthy had answered more than 1,000 questions.

Obama taps EPA counsel

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Avi Garbow to be the EPA’s general counsel.

Garbow is currently deputy general counsel with the agency, a post he has held since 2009.

Report forecasts solar boom

Demand for solar panels is poised to jump 20 percent this year, according to a report released Wednesday by market research firm NPD Group.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Some states are spurring growth in solar panel installations in the U.S. with mandates and incentives for homeowners and businesses, a market information and advisory services firm says in a new report. 

Click here for the whole story.

Green groups sue coal shippers

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. and several other coal transport firms are the subjects of a lawsuit filed Wednesday in a U.S. federal court in Washington state.

The Sierra Club and other groups filed the lawsuit, which alleges the coal shippers violated the Clean Water Act by allowing coal dust to settle in Washington waterways.


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

Follow E2 on Twitter: @E2Wire, @Ben_Geman, @zcolman

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