OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Keystone curveball?

It wants Congress to sign off on the 2012 U.S.-Mexico pact, but is balking at a provision in the House measure.

Click here for more information on the bills and the White House complaints.

Biofuel-blending mandate gets look in House panel

A biofuel rule at the center of a contentious lobbying and political fight takes center stage in a Wednesday House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing.

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The rule, the renewable fuel standard, requires refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuel into conventional transportation fuel by 2022. It has detractors and supporters on both sides of the aisle, with a bloc of Midwest lawmakers being its most ardent backers.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) have produced a series of white papers on the rule. And lawmakers in both chambers have floated bills that would either change or repeal the blending mandate.

Witnesses for the 1:30 p.m. hearing include Adam Sieminski, administrator with the U.S. Energy Information Administration; Joseph Glauber, chief economist with the Agriculture Department; and Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA’s office of transportation and air quality.

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Jobs, natural gas explored in House hearing

The House Budget Committee on Wednesday will examine the impact of the domestic natural-gas and oil boom on jobs.

Lawmakers and industry have touted the nation’s new-found abundance of natural gas as a winner for manufacturers, who say they have regained global footing because of cheap energy.

The hearing comes after Obama’s promoted natural gas as a means for lowering carbon emissions in his climate speech. The power source produces half the carbon emissions as coal, and Obama said it would be vital as a bridge fuel to renewable and other low-carbon energy.

Witnesses for the 10 a.m. hearing include Marty Durbin, president of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow with left-leaning think tank the Center for American Progress.

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Energy and water spending bill in focus

A subpanel of the House Appropriations Committee will mark up the fiscal 2014 energy and water spending bill at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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Interior to release carbon storage report

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will release the “first-ever detailed national geologic carbon sequestration assessment,” which was crafted by the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Researchers are investigating the potential of carbon sequestration to help reduce and mitigate carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change. The most common method of geologic carbon storage involves pressurizing carbon dioxide gas into a liquid and then injecting it into subsurface rock layers for long-term storage. Based on present-day geologic and hydrologic knowledge of the subsurface and current engineering practices, the USGS assessment reported on technically accessible carbon storage capacity in 36 sedimentary basins around the nation,” an advisory states.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

— Obama invites court fight with aggressive climate rules
— Al Gore calls Obama climate change speech the best ‘by any president ever’
— Manchin: Obama declared ‘war on coal’
— Obama touts gas mileage standards in climate speech
— Obama: All weather events affected by warming planet
— In climate speech, Obama sets carbon limits on Keystone project
McConnell vows to raise 'war on coal' comment with Obama in meeting
— White House adviser: 'War on coal is exactly what's needed'
— Poll: 40 percent see climate change as ‘major threat’ to US
— Obama’s climate plan seeks new trade talks
— Obama unveils climate change plan that goes around Congress


NEWS BITES:

Sen. Whitehouse to GOP: EPA chief won’t stop Obama plan . . .

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said he thinks President Obama’s decision to forge ahead with a climate plan should tell Republicans that regulations are coming no matter who helms the Environmental Protection Agency.

Senate Republicans have held up the nomination of Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s chief air regulator, to lead the agency. They say they want more information about the data the EPA uses to craft air- and water-pollution rules the GOP and industry oppose.

“A different EPA administrator isn’t going to change the president’s directive,” Whitehouse told reporters after the president’s speech.

Whitehouse said that he’s “confident” McCarthy’s nomination will be brought up “soon” on the Senate floor.

“I would personally argue that if they can’t confirm her it’s time to consider whether we should permit filibusters on executive nominees. That should be part of the discussion,” Whitehouse said.

. . . but Republican calls McCarthy's chances 'tarnished'

Republicans are gearing up to hold new power plant regulations floated by President Obama against Environmental Protection Agency nominee Gina McCarthy.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) took to the Senate floor Tuesday to decry the regulations — and McCarthy. He said McCarthy told senators that the EPA wasn’t working on emissions standards for existing coal plants.

“I would say it is clear with today’s announcement by President Obama about existing power plants, that Gina McCarthy is either arrogant or ignorant,” Barrasso said.

“This tarnishes her chances of being approved by the Senate, tarnishes her nomination,” he said in separate remarks in the Capitol.

Rep. Waxman: Obama Keystone comments 'encouraging'

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the House Energy and Commerce Committee's top Democrat, insisted that much could change on the State Department's evaluation of Keystone's greenhouse gas impact between the draft and final versions.

State said in its draft March analysis that Keystone wouldn't substantially boost greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, President Obama said in his Tuesday speech that the pipeline shouldn't go forward if it "significantly exacerbates" carbon emissions — leaving both Keystone supporters and backers claiming victory.

In that context, Waxman told reporters that he found Obama's comments on Keystone "encouraging."

"I hope that they will come to the right position," Waxman said of the State Department. "But even if they don't, the president has rejected recommendations made to him by some in the government because he's looking out for the whole overall public interest."


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