E2 Morning Roundup: Renewable power advocates press lawmakers for mandate, EPA probes hydraulic fracturing and much more

Reid closed the door on an RES, then opened it a bit
 
An RES didn’t make the cut when Senate Democratic leaders unveiled a narrow energy package before the August break, and Reid said the provision lacked enough votes.
 
But Reid – who is eyeing a lame duck energy vote – has since opened the door to including a renewables standard, citing interest by some Republicans. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has publicly called for adding an RES.

The governors letter is one part of when advocates say will be an aggressive push. “What we are working on is demonstrating that the votes are there. We think 60 are there to move this issue,” Marchant Wentworth of the Union of Concerned Scientists tells The Hill.

EPA hearings focus on 'fracking'

EPA Monday and Wednesday holds a pair of public hearings in Binghamton, New York, on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas drilling technique that’s enabling a boom in production but bringing concerns about water contamination. The hearings are make up dates for a public meeting originally set for Aug. 12 that was postponed when the venue was deemed inadequate to accommodate the high public interest.

More information about the Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 public hearings can be found here.

Green groups have pressed EPA to probe two large “fracking” companies regarding whether they violated the Safe Drinking Water Act and there are several bills floating around Capitol Hill that would increase federal oversight of franking by ending an exemption from certain SDWA rules.

Federal oversight fought by industry

But the American Petroleum Industry and individual oil-and-gas companies are fighting the bills, alleging state regulations provide needed protections and that another layer of rules would make many drilling operations too costly.  Mike Doyle, New York State Petroleum Council executive director, will represent API at Monday’s EPA hearing. 

Website espouses benefits, reality of shale gas

The American Clean Skies Foundation is sponsoring a recently launched website, shalecountry.com, which showcases stories about those living in areas rich in shale gas. “Many of them have been thinking about and living with natural gas production for a long time, and they have drawn conclusions about the process that are worth hearing,” according to the website. This includes in the Marcellus region in New York, where EPA’s two public hearings are being held this week.

All EPA, all the time

While not much is brewing on Capitol Hill, it’s quite a busy week for EPA. The agency also hosts a public meeting Wednesday in Washington, D.C. about its looming rules to limit emissions from power plants, refineries and other industrial plants. The hearing will specifically address agency plans to handle permitting for large emitters in states that are unable to handle the Clean Air Act permitting. More information about EPA’s permitting plans is available here.

It’s not just polar bears

Speaking of climate change, a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity and Care for the Wild International documents 17 Arctic animals other than polar bears – including foxes, whales and plankton – that are struggling due to climate change and ocean acidification. “The polar bear is the best-known victim of rapid melting in the Arctic, but if we don’t slash greenhouse pollution, many more creatures will follow it down the path to extinction,” Shaye Wolf, the Center’s climate science director and lead author of the report, said in a press release.

EPA’s Jackson talks to ethanol industry

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaks this afternoon before Growth Energy’s inaugural fall legislative conference Monday. Jackson is speaking at 4:15 pm at Washington, DC’s L’Enfant Plaza Hotel conference room.

In other news

“Residents returned Sunday to the ruined hillsides of their suburban San Francisco neighborhood, three days after a natural gas pipeline exploded into a deadly fireball,” AP reports.

“State utility regulators announced Sunday that they will order Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to inspect its entire natural-gas transmission system for leaks, preserve all records from the San Bruno explosion and report how much the company is spending on pipeline safety and replacement.” The Los Angeles Times and other news outlets reported. “Michael R. Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, also said he would appoint an independent panel of experts to assist in the commission’s investigation.”

“The prospects of a new global climate change pact still hinge on resolving the divisions between rich nations and the developing world, a top Chinese climate negotiator said in remarks published on Monday,” according to Reuters. “Negotiators from nearly 200 nations continue to haggle over the smallprint of a sprawling 34-page draft agreement to combat global warming, and an additional round of talks at the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin will begin on Oct. 4.” Few expect a binding deal to emerge before the new deadline of December 2010 when talks move to Cancun, Mexico.

 “Los Angeles Unified district officials have spent $4 million to clean up the site of the new Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Studies, which is set to open Monday,” AP reports. “The three-acre site, located in a low-income neighborhood west of downtown LA, was contaminated with carcinogenic solvents that leaked from 17 underground storage tanks discovered during construction.” The land had been previously used by light industrial businesses, before being turned into the $75 million school named after noted conservationists Rachel Carson and former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreGinsburg calls proposal to eliminate Electoral College 'more theoretical than real' Difference between primaries and caucuses matters in this election Emma Thompson pens op-ed on climate change: 'Everything depends on what we do now' MORE.

In case you missed it

• Some highlights on E2 from Friday and over the weekend include:

• Carter-era solar panel won’t return to the roof of the White House

• GOP candidate suggests drilling for oil in Teddy Roosevelt National Park

• Blunt, Carnahan split on offshore drilling

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