OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Dems take on Keystone pipeline

Waxman had wanted to question a representative from Koch Industries, the Kansas-based conglomerate headed by the billionaire Koch brothers, about whether the company stands to benefit from approval of the pipeline. Koch Industries has consistently said it has no stake in the project. (Read more about that here.)

But Rep. Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldBottom Line Why Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? MORE (R-Ky.), the chairman of the committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee, rebuffed Waxman’s request to bring in a Koch Industries representative. Whitfield, in a letter to the company Monday, transmitted the Democrats' invitation, but said he will not “invite or subpoena” a representative of the company to testify.

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Expect Waxman and other committee Democrats to criticize Republicans for rebuffing their call to hear from a Koch witness.

Waxman has scheduled a press conference before Friday’s session, which continues an earlier hearing. Democrats used their procedural rights to demand a continuation of a Jan. 25 hearing on Keysatone XL and GOP legislation to force its approval.


NEWS BITES:

Payroll tax conferees fight over delaying EPA boiler rules

House and Senate conferees working to negotiate an extension of the payroll tax cut sparred Thursday over whether to include a measure in the package delaying Environmental Protection Agency boiler pollution regulations.

Here’s more from The Hill’s Bernie Becker:

“The costs are real, and they are both in dollars and in terms of jobs,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTo stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US GOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-Wyo.) said about the boiler regulations.

Democrats were the ones calling the boiler regulations outside the scope of the conferees’ negotiations this time, and added that policymakers could find a better way to balance the need for job growth and clean air.

“I hope we can put this provision aside and get on with the task that’s before us,” said Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The measure, known as the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, would force the agency to delay and weaken the regulations, which require operators of industrial boilers and incinerators to install technology to reduce harmful air pollutants like mercury and soot.

Thursday’s debate came a day after 300 business groups sent a letter urging lawmakers to delay the boiler rules in the payroll tax cut package.

Stearns: No decision on Solyndra contempt charges

Republicans on the investigative panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee met Thursday afternoon to consider seeking contempt charges against the White House over its response to last year’s subpoena for Solyndra documents.

But Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), the chairman of the investigative panel, said no decisions have been made on whether to move forward with the charges. He said committee staff briefed members at the meeting.

“We’re hoping to get more information and we’re hoping that the administration is transparent,” Stearns said Thursday evening in the Capitol. “As of now, that’s all I can tell you. I think by Monday we’ll have a better feel for it.”

Republicans on the committee have criticized the White House for not fully complying with a subpoena for all internal documents related to the $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee for Solyndra, the solar panel company that collapsed last year.

The committee has launched a months-long probe of the Obama administration’s decision to grant the loan guarantee in 2009. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September, shortly after laying off 1,100 workers.

Waxman questions Hoosier State Keystone lobbying

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wants to know why the state of Indiana is so interested in the Keystone XL pipeline.

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) has criticized President Obama’s rejection of a permit for Keystone. Waxman sent a letter Thursday to Deborah Hohlt, a lobbyist for the state whose work, records show, includes the project.

Waxman asks Hohlt for a briefing to "better understand the State of Indiana’s interest in Keystone XL."

From his letter:

This seems unusual as the State does not have an obvious interest in seeing the Keystone XL project constructed.  The proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline does not pass through the State of Indiana, nor does it come close to the State’s borders; the nearest the proposed route would approach would be hundreds of miles away in Nebraska and Kansas. Indiana facilities would not have access to the pipeline, nor would it appear that Indiana would particularly benefit from any economic activity associated with the construction of the pipeline.

Sen. DeMint takes aim at (some) oil subsidies

Tea Party-backed Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeZuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (R-Utah) are floating legislation aimed at scrubbing the tax code of incentives for renewable energy and oil and gas.

Their bill mirrors Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-Kan.) plan that ends credits for biofuels, renewable power production, carbon sequestration, plug-in electric vehicles and a suite of other incentives — including a pair of oil-industry tax breaks.

Under the plans, the new revenues would be offset by an equal reduction in the corporate tax rate. “Our tax code is riddled with loopholes for special interests and it’s time to end this corporate welfare that is hurting our economy. When Washington picks winners and losers in the energy market, those with the highest paid lobbyists win while the small businesses and taxpayers lose,” DeMint said in a statement.

The bill would end roughly $90 billion worth of tax breaks over a decade, the lawmakers said (although the figure assumes extension of credits that died at the end of 2011).

However, the bill would leave some incentives that the oil industry enjoys intact, including companies' ability to claim lucrative deductions on domestic manufacturing income. Democrats have sought to end this incentive, but industry officials say this would single them out unfairly because other sectors claim the credit as well.

House panel to probe EPA science

A House Science, Space and Technology Committee panel will place the state of science at EPA under a microscope Friday.

The panel will hold the second part of a two-stage hearing, and will discuss EPA with experts including Health Effects Institute CEO Daniel Greenbaum and Deborah Swackhamer, the University of Minnesota professor who heads EPA’s outside Science Advisory Board. More here.

E2 is guessing the hearing won’t be as exciting as Wednesday’s Science Committee look at hydraulic fracturing, which featured the arrest of fracking critic Josh Fox.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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

— House GOP delays mine-safety hearing to wait for internal review
— Sen. Murkowski: Obama having an 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 moment on domestic oil drilling
— Interior moves closer to Atlantic wind leasing
— White House to release post-Solyndra review of green-energy loans
— GOP lawmaker offers $1 billion prize to first 100 mpg gasoline car
— House Energy Committee Republicans name new counsel
— House Republicans ask White House to kill climate rule

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

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