OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Hastings to embark on Alaska oil tour

“Alaska is a tremendous asset to our Nation and possesses the ability to help create new jobs, significantly expand American energy production, spur our economy and strengthen our energy security,” Hastings said in a statement. “During this trip I hope to learn more about obstacles that impede energy production in Alaska and how I can work with Governor Parnell and the entire delegation to harness Alaska’s vast resources in a responsible, safe and efficient manner.”

The trip comes as Hastings is putting new focus on Alaskan oil development. The panel’s Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee held a hearing last week on Alaska’s “abundant energy resources.”

“This is part of the chairman’s effort to take a look at the whole of Alaska,” Hastings spokesman Spencer Pederson said.

Amid the Republican criticism, the Obama administration has sought to show that it is serious about oil and gas development in Alaska. Last month, President Obama outlined a plan to hold annual leases sales in the NPRA and to coordinate offshore permitting.

NEWS BITES:

Cain: RGGI is a 'rip-off' 

Presidential hopeful Herman Cain blasted the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state cap-and-trade program, Wednesday at a rally hosted by conservative group Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

“It should have been RGGR – Regional Greenhouse Gas Rip-off,” Cain said.

AFP hosted the rally at RGGI headquarters in New York City. The rally came after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) pulled out of the cap-and-trade program late last month.

Here are Cain's full remarks.

IG report on Yucca complete, but few details

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s inspector general has completed a much anticipated report on the agency’s handling of Yucca Mountain.

But the NRC is not releasing the report publicly, NRC spokesman David McIntyre told The Hill.

NRC said it sent the report to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Monday. And the panel’s Environment and the Economy Subcommittee scheduled a hearing next week on the report.

So far, all parties are mum on the details of the report, but you can be sure Republicans will tout its findings during next week’s hearing.

The NRC, for its part, released a statement Wednesday about the report, which focuses on NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s handling of the decision to abandon Yucca Mountain as the country’s nuclear waste repository.

“The conclusions of the report reaffirm that my actions have been and remain consistent with established law, guidance, and my authorities as Chairman,” Jaczko said in the statement. “With the IG report now completed, we can all move forward with a renewed commitment to ensuring public health and safety in the use of nuclear materials – the essential mission of the NRC.”

Upton: Moratorium delayed Exxon oil discovery

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Wednesday that the administration’s initial moratorium on Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling delayed Exxon Mobil’s discovery of a massive oil reserve.

Here’s Upton, in a statement:

"ExxonMobil began work on this discovery well before the administration’s drilling moratorium was initially put in place. Without the moratorium, this discovery could have been made months sooner. Instead, development of an oil resource of nearly one billion barrels was stalled at a time when millions of Americans continue to struggle with high gasoline prices.”

Exxon Mobil said Wednesday it discovered an estimated 700 million barrels of oil equivalent about 250 miles south of Louisiana.

The company made the discovery after the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) approved an application in March allowing the company to resume exploratory drilling. Drilling at the well was halted in the aftermath of last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

API launches ad campaign, call for approval of pipeline


The American Petroleum Institute, the country’s most powerful oil and gas trade group, launched a new advertising campaign Wednesday aimed in part at garnering support for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

In the ads, API argues that approval of the pipeline – which would stretch from Canada to Texas – and other key steps would result in the United States receiving 92 percent of its liquid fuel from North America by 2030.

The ad campaign will run in Washington, D.C., and nine states: Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The ads come as the existing Keystone pipeline, which runs from Canada to Oklahoma, sprung two leaks last month, forcing federal regulators to issue a corrective action order.

Environmental groups, pouncing on the leaks, have argued that Keystone XL – which would extend the existing pipeline to Texas – is unsafe and a threat to the environment.

The administration, lead by the State Department, is in the process of reviewing the Keystone XL proposal.

Enviros: Reopen comment period on Keystone XL

More than 30 environmental groups wrote to Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Polls flash warning signs for Trump Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE Wednesday calling for more time to comment on an updated environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline

The groups cite a corrective action order issued by the Department of Transportation raising concerns about the safety of the existing Keystone pipeline.

“We are writing once again to request that you re-open the comment period on the SDEIS and keep it open until DOT’s Office of Pipeline Safety has determined what actions are necessary to ensure that the Keystone pipelines do not present hazards to public safety, the groups, which include the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, said in the letter.

The letter comes a day after the Environmental Protection Agency called the State Department’s environmental review “insufficient.”

Udall floats bill to wean military off oil dependence


Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallPoll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down MORE (D-Colo.) unveiled legislation Wednesday meant to help wean the military off of its dependence on oil.

The bill, which Udall developed with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) before she was shot in the head earlier this year, establishes a Joint Contingency Base Resources Service to study renewable develop and appoints an official at the Defense Department to focus on alternative fuel development.

“The U.S. military pays a heavy price for its reliance on fossil fuel.  Osama bin Laden reportedly called our fuel convoys our military’s ‘umbilical cord,’ and we risk the lives of thousands of troops each year because of our dependence on fossil fuel in theater and at home,” Udall said in a statement. “Decreasing dependency on foreign fossil fuel must be a military – and an American – priority.”

Markey blasts OPEC decision not to boost production

Here’s Rep. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyJoseph Kennedy mulling primary challenge to Markey in Massachusetts Overnight Energy: Trump sparks new fight over endangered species protections | States sue over repeal of Obama power plant rules | Interior changes rules for ethics watchdogs To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (D-Mass.), ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, on OPEC’s decision Wednesday not to increase oil production:

“OPEC, led by Iran and Venezuela, has snubbed its nose at the United States and the rest of the Western nations addicted to OPEC oil,” Markey said. “This is a clear sign that America must engage in a long-term plan to break our ties to this OPEC-controlled market, and prepare to deploy America’s oil reserves now to head off an economic collapse from continued high gas prices.”

ON TAP THURSDAY:


- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a markup on legislation instructing the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate cancer and disease clusters. The committee will also vote on the nomination of William Ostendorff to join the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold back-to-back legislative hearings on a series of bills. They include legislation to increase federal agency’s energy efficiency; boost building efficiency; and ensure that the United States has supplies of key critical minerals.

- The Woodrow Wilson Center will host a discussion on U.S. and Chinese environmental law.

- Thursday is day three of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s oceans conference. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief Congress kicks bipartisan energy innovation into higher gear MORE (R-Alaska) will speak at the event.

- The Environmental Law Institute will hold a discussion on clean air with Patrick Taylor, a partner at Hogan Lovells.

- Physicians for Social Responsibility is doing a conference call on “mounting U.S. setbacks” to nuclear power.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

Here's a quick roundup of Wednesday's E2 stories:

- McConnell: Obama working 'behind the scenes' to block domestic energy production
- US energy future being dictated by OPEC, says former intel director
- Former Interior chief slams Obama's 'silence' on conservation
- Exxon makes major oil discovery in Gulf

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

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