OVERNIGHT ENERGY: White House, rather quietly, advances climate change agenda

Tuesday brought the most important day in the landmark Supreme Court battle over Obama’s signature healthcare reform law as justices considered whether the so-called individual mandate passes constitutional muster.

The lack, thus far, of presidential comment on the new climate measure continues a wider trend in White House messaging on its energy and environment agenda.

{mosads}Obama has been frequently talking up his administration’s efforts to boost green energy, but has framed it largely in economic terms, calling it vital for the country’s competitiveness in emerging industries.

Indeed, in a pair of speeches about alternative energy last week in Nevada and Ohio, Obama steered clear of discussing the climate benefits of the technologies, never once mentioning climate change or carbon emissions.

The tack comes as Republicans are continuing an intense election-year effort to cast climate regulation as a threat to the economy.

EPA and its allies call the claims inaccurate and at odds with the decades-long history of clean-air protections that have not hindered growth.

But Jackson, on the call, nonetheless downplayed the breadth of EPA’s climate agenda, noting there are currently “no plans” to craft greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants.

However, environmentalists asked about the comment told The Hill that they’re confident such rules will eventually be crafted, noting Tuesday’s proposal for new plants explicitly cites future Clean Air Act rules for the existing fleet.

“[T]he Clean Air Act requires EPA to follow up with requirements for those sources too. The proposal acknowledges this responsibility,” said David Doniger, the policy director of the climate program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

NRDC is one of the groups that reached a settlement with EPA in 2010 that requires the power plant carbon rules.

“We look forward to reaching an agreement with EPA on a schedule for completing the standard for new sources and developing standards for existing sources,” Doniger said in an email.

Whatever the volume of the announcement Tuesday, most environmental groups and liberal senators cheered the draft rules for new power plants.

“The action speaks for itself. They did it, and they did it right, and it is going to help clean air,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said in the Capitol.

And Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) disputed the notion that the administration played down the announcement.

“It’s not a Friday,” he told The Hill, referring to the day on which administrations’ often announce news they’re hoping to downplay. “So they are not trying to bury it.”

Udall said he agrees with Obama’s messaging on green energy.

“When you talk about energy the popular part of the energy agenda is alternative energy,” Udall said. “And that all fits in with a jobs agenda, looking to the future … I think he needs to keep hammering that. It takes a while to get a strong message on an issue like energy out there.”


House panel expected to subpoena Interior Department

The Natural Resources Committee is expected to green-light a subpoena Wednesday requiring the Interior Department to turn over documents related to a 2010 report that incorrectly implied outside engineers had endorsed a freeze on deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill.

The panel is also expected to approve a subpoena for Interior documents about a planned rule to toughen regulations governing so-called mountaintop-removal coal mining.

Read more about the subpoena votes here.

House committee to hear from EPA, Interior officials

A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will hear Wednesday from EPA’s top air pollution regulator and the head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management.

The Energy and Power subcommittee hearing will explore a pair of GOP-led bills. One would delay several EPA rules to enable a new interagency panel to review their effects on gasoline prices.

The other would require any drawdown from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be accompanied by an expansion of domestic oil-and-gas leasing.

Click here for more about the hearing and the bills.

Energy Department officials testifying on budget

Top Energy Department officials will testify Wednesday on the agency’s fiscal 2013 budget request before a House Appropriations subcommittee.

The witnesses are Arun Majumdar, director of the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and David Frantz, acting director of the department’s embattled loan guarantee program.

House panel to examine EPA budget

A House
Transportation Committee panel will examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s fiscal 2013 budget Wednesday.

Witnesses at the hearing include Acting Assistant EPA Administrator Nancy Stoner, who
heads the agency’s water office, and Assistant EPA Administrator Mathy
Stanislaus, who heads the agency’s solid waste office.

Report: DOE had ‘sufficient information’ about Solyndra

A new report says the government was aware of Solyndra’s financial problems.

The Wall Street Journal reports

Solyndra LLC, whose abrupt bankruptcy filing last summer put the Obama administration’s solar-power efforts in the spotlight, kept the government well informed of its finances and business prospects, according to a report by the company’s chief restructuring officer.

The report—whose author was hired by Solyndra’s board—is based on a four-month investigation and was filed in bankruptcy court on Tuesday. It concludes that the Department of Energy, which had guaranteed a $535 million loan to Solyndra, was fully aware of the risks and kept up to date on the solar-power company’s deteriorating finances.


Here’s a quick roundup of Tuesday’s E2 stories:

– Bernanke calls gas prices a ‘moderate’ risk to the economy
– Reid blocks amendments to bill nixing oil tax breaks, setting up Thursday vote
– Republicans block Dems from moving off their own Big Oil tax bill
– Reid: GOP siding with Big Oil rather than taxpayers
– EPA chief Jackson: ‘No plans’ to issue climate rules for existing power plants
– EPA proposes first-ever greenhouse gas regulations for new power plants
– Consumer confidence drops amid higher gas prices
– Sanders, Dems push oil speculation vote on tax bill

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Andrew Restuccia, arestuccia@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @E2Wire, @AndrewRestuccia, @Ben_Geman

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