OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House GOP, Obama administration to face off over Keystone

"I thought the report to Congress was really vague," Terry said. "It didn’t say anything about national interest, which was the only basis for turning it down. So as far as I am concerned they violated the law unless there is a clearer reason than what was issued in the report, so I think we will have some questions about what their real reasoning was."

Obama, who denied the pipeline last week, had faced a Feb. 21 deadline to make a decision about Keystone under the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut enacted in December.

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GOP leadership is eyeing Terry’s bill, among other measures, in its effort to overturn Obama’s rejection of the pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast. Kentucky Rep. Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? Overnight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science MORE, a top Republican on the committee, said Tuesday he plans to move Terry's legislation through the panel.

"The administration had more than enough time to review the pipeline and make a decision," a GOP committee staffer said in a statement. "Since politics prevented the president from saying yes to the pipeline and yes to tens of thousands of jobs, we are taking politics out of the equation by relieving the president of his decision making authority."

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the committee, said last week he hopes to include a measure aimed at forcing approval of the pipeline in upcoming legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for the rest of the year. House GOP leaders are BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerIsrael should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support Lobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom Rising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief MORE-mulls-tying-keystone-approval-to-payroll-tax-cut" href="http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/205641-boehner-mulls-tying-keystone-approval-to-payroll-tax-cut">weighing that approach, and Terry also said Keystone provisions could find a spot in separate infrastructure legislation.

Wednesday’s hearing will also include testimony from Jeffrey Wright, director of the Office of Energy Projects at FERC.

State of the Union!

The White House says energy will be a big part of Obama’s address tonight (read more about that here). Check E2 early and often for SOTU coverage, analysis and reaction.

The administration is also dispatching energy officials across the country to build momentum for Obama’s agenda.

Senior Energy Department officials will make a suite of appearances this week to highlight Obama's State of the Union remarks. On Thursday, for instance, Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be at New Mexico’s Sandia National Laboratories to tour renewable energy research facilities.

Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman, meanwhile, will visit the Eolos Wind Energy Research Station at the University of Minnesota on Thursday, according to the department, while other top officials also have stops this week.


NEWS BITES:

Reid bashes Keystone, doesn't fully close payroll door

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE (D-Nev.) is no fan of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline that President Obama rejected last week, a stance he reiterated to reporters in the Capitol Tuesday.

“If we want to wean ourselves from foreign oil, why would we allow a pipeline to be built for 1,700 miles to manufacture petroleum products to be shipped overseas? That's the purpose of this,” he told reporters.

“So if they have some reasonable proposals, I'll be happy to look at them, but that doesn't sound too reasonable to me,” he said.

Reid’s critical comments are likely a signal that he wouldn’t take kindly to allowing measures effectively mandating approval to find a way into the next payroll tax bill.

But he stopped short of completely ruling out inclusion of GOP provisions that would force approval of the pipeline in the yearlong payroll tax cut extension bill that lawmakers are negotiating.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE (D-Mont.), who backs the pipeline, is on the bicameral committee negotiating the payroll deal.

Reid, asked by reporters if he’s warned Baucus against including Keystone language, replied: “Max Baucus has been around here longer than I have, and he is certainly a free agent.”

“We'll just have to wait and see how that comes out. I told you how I feel about it, and that's how I feel about it,” Reid said.

Whitfield: Keystone hearings will be Koch-free


Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), a top Energy and Commerce Committee member, isn’t giving much consideration to Democrats’ request to have a witness from Koch Industries at Keystone pipeline hearings.

“We are not going to have a witness of the Koch brothers,” Whitfield said in the Capitol Tuesday, referring to the billionaire conservatives whose business conglomerate includes refining and other businesses.

The Energy and Commerce panel Whitfield chairs is having a hearing Wednesday on GOP legislation that would effectively mandate approval of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline, and Whitfield plans to move the bill through the committee.

The committee’s Democratic leaders say the panel should explore whether the Kochs will benefit from Keystone. Whitfield called the effort off the mark — and threatened to retaliate.

“If they are going to condemn the Koch brothers, we are going to condemn General Electric, we are going to condemn NextEra Energy, we are going to condemn all of those big companies that receive millions of dollars from the federal government to build windmills from this administration, and they are going to profit from it with taxpayer dollars, and then here in the Keystone pipeline there is not going to be one dollar of taxpayer money involved,” Whitfield said, referring to renewable energy tax credits.

“If they want to do that, we will bring in [GE CEO] Jeff Immelt and all of them who have been receiving all these millions of dollars from the federal government. If they want to start playing that game we will just bring them all in,” he said.

Cardin fumes over oil transparency rule delay

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinAmerica is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction Financial aid fraud is wrong — but overcorrection could hurt more students Democrats denounce Trump's attack on Cummings: 'These are not the words of a patriot' MORE (D-Md.) is irked that the Securities and Exchange Commission hasn't completed rules that require SEC-listed oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.

Cardin, along with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), authored language in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that requires the disclosure to the SEC. But the oil industry is fighting the rules, which were proposed in draft form in late 2010.

‘I am very disappointed they haven’t acted by now. I am concerned as to why they have taken so long,” Cardin said in the Capitol Tuesday. “I didn’t think it was that complicated, I thought they should have had the rulings out by now.”

The oil industry claims the rules will place many companies at a competitive disadvantage to state-owned or state-controlled Chinese and Russian firms that won’t be captured by the mandates.

Oil companies are seeking exemptions and now pushing the SEC to re-propose the rule.

“We hope [the SEC] will not be yielding to industry pressure,” Cardin said.

The rule is aimed at creating more transparency to help end the “resource curse” that has seen oil- and mineral-rich nations in Africa and elsewhere afflicted with high levels of corruption, poverty and conflict.

House panel to examine Volt fires

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will examine problems with General Motors’s Chevy Volt at a hearing Wednesday morning.

The panel’s subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending will focus on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ongoing investigation of the electric vehicle.

The hearing is titled, “Volt Vehicle Fire: What Did NHTSA Know and When Did They Know It?"

NHTSA found in tests that the Volt’s battery could catch fire several days after a high-impact crash, leading GM to offer customers a series of modifications to the vehicle.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson and John German, senior fellow at the International Council on Clean Transportation, will testify at the hearing.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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

— Boehner will host Keystone pipeline supporters at State of the Union address
— Obama looks to steer energy discussion away from Keystone
— Rep. Poe proposes bill forcing Keystone approval
Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreOcasio-Cortez blasts Electoral College as a 'scam' 2020 Democrats release joint statement ahead of Trump's New Hampshire rally Deregulated energy markets made Texas a clean energy giant MORE: Obama right to reject Keystone
— Obama regroups on energy after failure of his 2011 proposals
— Obama taps Deutsche Bank economist to read energy crystal ball

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

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This story was updated at 8:31 p.m.