The week ahead: House Energy Committee set to tackle Yucca Mountain, Solyndra federal loan program

The hearing will tackle NRC policy and governance oversight, with NRC commissioners Kristine Svinicki, William Magwood and William Ostendorff joining the new chairwoman as witnesses.

Macfarlane, whom the Senate confirmed in June, is sure to raise the ire of at least a few committee members with her views on the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal site. She, like President Obama and her predecessor, Gregory Jaczko, has raised technical questions about using the site to store spent nuclear fuel.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle railed against the administration and the NRC for what they felt was a unilateral decision to close Yucca Mountain. Lawmakers said the administration’s actions violated the Constitution.

The NRC contends there wasn’t enough money to continue reviews of the site, but House lawmakers were happy to give the commission more money, voting in June to give it an additional $10 million to carry out the review.

The House Energy and Commerce panel will also hold a markup this week of the “No More Solyndras” bill. 

That legislation aims to sunset the Energy Department program that gave a $535 million federal loan guarantee to California solar panel maker Solyndra, only to see the firm go bust in 2011. 

The Department of Energy says the bill would harm the program and does nothing to improve taxpayer protections.

The Wednesday markup, originally scheduled last week, should feature a host of colorful comments as Republicans try to make political hay out of the Solyndra failure. 

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a Tuesday hearing on the opportunities for, and obstacles to, using natural gas as a transportation fuel.

And the House Natural Resources Committee will keep chipping away at the Obama administration’s offshore drilling policies when it calls a handful of Interior Department officials in for a Wednesday hearing.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will host a pair of hearings as well. On Wednesday, the full committee will discuss national drought forecasting capabilities, and on Thursday, the Energy and Environment subcommittee will delve into the Energy Department’s spending activities on its vehicle technology program.

Off Capitol Hill, think tank NDN will sponsor a Wednesday event titled “Department of Defense and Next Generation Energy Technology.” It is the 11th event NDN is holding as part of its clean-energy solutions series.

Jeff Marqusee, director of a pair of Defense Department environmental and technology programs, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, will speak at the event. He will be joined by Jeff Weiss, co-founder and chief financial officer of solar energy firm Digital Sun, and Holmes Hummel, senior policy advisor for policy and international affairs with the Energy Department.

The American Enterprise Institute is hosting Robert Zubrin on Thursday to talk about his new eye-catching book Merchants of despair: Radical environmentalists, criminal pseudo-scientists, and the fatal cult of antihumanism.

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