E2 Morning Round-up: Political fight over drilling ban rages, Gulf seafood safety in the spotlight, Feingold foe’s sunny view of climate change ignites the left, EPA thinks globally, Al Gore and more

More info on the drilling-safety road show can be found here.

Obama administration faces pressure over Gulf seafood

The Natural Resources Defense Council and about two dozen Gulf Coast groups are pressing the Obama administration to improve guidelines for evaluating the quality of the region’s seafood following the BP oil spill.

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In letters Tuesday to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the groups say they are concerned about the safety of the catch from commercial and recreational fisheries, and call for improved guidelines before more federal waters are opened up for fishing. They also want the federal government to do more to protect pregnant women, children and others vulnerable to contaminants.

They are asking FDA to revise its seafood risk assessment and coordinate with NOAA and states “to make sure that reopening decisions are based on publicly available and robust data, and ensure the adequacy of warnings to vulnerable populations.” Monday marked the beginning of the fall shrimp season in the Gulf, while nearly a quarter of federal waters in the Gulf remain closed to fishing.

The letters also come as Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and lawmakers in both parties representing the region are emphasizing that Gulf seafood is safe.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) Wednesday morning is holding an event in her state to highlight this point. She is calling for “a comprehensive marketing plan to address any misperceptions that Gulf seafood is unsafe,” according to a press advisory. She also wants “a national strategy to promote domestic seafood and [that] realizes the significant impact the Florida seafood industry has on jobs and small businesses in the community.”

Locke — while touring a Louisiana seafood processing plant on Monday — similarly said he was concerned about “misperceptions” about the quality of Gulf seafood. “We need to let the American people know that the seafood being harvested from the Gulf is safe to eat,” Locke said. “I think there have been a lot of misperceptions out there. A lot of testing is done before we open state and federal waters to fishing. We’re being very thoughtful, very careful and very deliberate.”

House panel continues probe of Gulf spill

NOAA and FDA officials — and several seafood industry representatives — are among the invited witnesses for Thursday’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Gulf spill, according to a list released by the panel Tuesday.

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The hearing is aimed at examining “how much oil could remain in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil spill, and some of the potential impacts to the marine environment and fisheries that are associated with the spill and its cleanup,” according to a press advisory. The Energy and Environment Subcommittee is hosting the session.

Here’s the full list of invited witnesses:

· Bill Lehr, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Office of Response and Restoration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
· Paul Anastas, Ph.D., Assistant Administrator, Office of Research and Development, Environmental Protection Agency
· Donald Kraemer, Acting Deputy Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration
· Ian MacDonald, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Oceanography, Florida State University
· Mike Voisin, Chief Executive Officer, Motivatit Seafoods, LLC
· Acy Cooper, Jr., Vice President, Louisiana Shrimp Association
· Dean Blanchard, President, Dean Blanchard Seafoods, Inc.

But the number of actual lawmakers who will attend the 10 a.m. hearing – occurring smack in the middle of the congressional summer break – is likely to be rather small. The only confirmed Democratic panelist so far is Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyUS must act as journalists continue to be jailed in record numbers Warren proposes 'Blue New Deal' to protect oceans There's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down MORE (D-Mass.), who chairs the subcommittee, a Democratic committee spokeswoman said. There are no Republicans yet who have signaled they will attend, a GOP committee spokeswoman said.

Wisconsin GOP Senate hopeful’s ‘sunspot’ climate explanation ignites Feingold, lefty blogs

Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Hillicon Valley: Twitter to start verifying 2020 primary candidates | FTC reportedly weighs injunction over Facebook apps | Bill would give DHS cyber unit subpoena powers | FCC moves to designate 988 as suicide-prevention hotline Senate Republicans air complaints to Trump administration on trade deal MORE, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that human activity is not causing climate change, noting he “absolutely” does not believe the science. “It's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time,” he said.

That has drawn attention from the Feingold campaign, which is highlighting the comment on the front of its website and its blog. The comment is also lighting up left-leaning blogs like Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo and Think Progress.

In other news ...

NPR continues a look into the promise and challenges of renewable power in California. “Solar and wind power are booming in California, but there are times when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. So California utilities are looking to smooth out those bumps by doing something rarely done on the grid today: storing electricity,” they report.

The Associated Press looks at how the BP spill is playing in the Alabama governor’s race.

The Boston Globe looks at how the Cape Wind project is playing in the Massachusetts governor’s race.

Bloomberg looks at the Louisiana environmental crisis that began unfolding long before the BP oil spill: the ongoing erosion and destruction of the state’s vital marshlands.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is mulling his legal options in response to the BP oil spill.

EPA: Think globally

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EPA used this week’s meeting of a North American Free Trade Agreement environmental panel — called the Commission for Environmental Cooperation — in Guanajuato, Mexico, to lay out the agency’s international priorities.

In brief, they are: Building Strong Environmental Institutions and Legal Structures; Combating Climate Change by Limiting Pollutants; Improving Air Quality; Expanding Access to Clean Water; Reducing Exposure to Toxic Chemicals; and Cleaning Up E-Waste.

More on each can be found here.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of Tuesday’s E2 blog posts:

Green groups to take 'CarnivOIL' on the road next week

Oil industry group to hold 'citizen rallies'

Shallow-water drillers cautiously greet Interior review plan

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