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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: GOP to spar with EPA over mercury rules


State of play: Republicans will take aim Wednesday at new national standards to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.

A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will hold a hearing on the costs of the regulations, which the GOP has alleged will greatly burden the economy, cost jobs and potentially cause wide-spread power outages.

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The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the new standards late last year. The agency said the rules — which require coal- and oil-fired power plants to install technology to reduce harmful air pollution — will prevent 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 cases of childhood asthma per year.

Amid aggressive opposition to the regulations from Republicans and industry groups, President Obama issued a memorandum directing EPA to ensure the standards impose the least possible cost on industry and don’t threaten electric reliability.

Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyEPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump replaces head of energy regulatory commission | Biden climate agenda would slam into Senate GOP roadblocks | Emails show Park Police reliance on pepper balls, outside police forces during Lafayette protests MORE, EPA’s top air official, will testify at the hearing. McCarthy has worked to fight back against GOP attacks on the legislation, arguing they offer major health benefits and will not cause power outages.

Expect fireworks at Wednesday’s hearing, as Republicans bash EPA over the regulations and Democrats come to the agency’s defense.


NEWS BITES:

Baucus supports Keystone, but not in highway bill

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (D-Mont.) said Tuesday that he “strongly” supports approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But he warned that efforts to attach a measure forcing the project’s approval to the highway bill would “kill” the package.

Baucus laid out his position during his committee’s markup of the highway bill. Utah Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line Bottom line MORE, the top Republican on the committee, offered an amendment that would approve the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

Hatch agreed to withdraw the amendment after Baucus said it is not germane. But before withdrawing the amendment, Hatch said he hopes “that those who are working on the payroll tax bill will put it in there.”

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reported last month that Republicans are hoping Baucus will break with most Democrats and push for approval of the pipeline in the payroll tax cut package.

President Obama rejected the Keystone pipeline late last year, blaming Republicans for securing a measure in a two-month payroll tax extension that forced a decision on the project by Feb. 21.

Lawmakers press Salazar to expand drilling

A slew of House lawmakers is pressing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to broaden his agency’s 2012-2017 offshore oil-and-gas leasing plan, arguing a more expansive plan would bring “new jobs, new energy, and new revenues to the Treasury.”

In a letter Tuesday, 182 lawmakers bash Salazar’s draft plan because it doesn’t include lease sales off the Atlantic or Pacific coasts even though decades-old moratoria covering those areas lapsed in 2008.

Salazar’s initiative is focused on lease sales in the western and central Gulf of Mexico and, in the later years, off Alaska’s northern coast.

"[W]e were disappointed that the proposed plan announced by your Department on November 8th would open no new areas of the [Outer Continental Shelf] for assessment and leave exploration and development activities focused in the same places where we have been looking for a generation," states the letter led by Reps. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Texas) and Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanOvernight Defense: Mike Rogers slated to be top House Armed Services Republican | Defense bill hits another snag | Pentagon dinged for 0M loan to trucking company using COVID funds Mike Rogers set to serve as top House Armed Services Republican Trade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program MORE (R-Va.).

The letter is largely Republican but includes 15 pro-oil Democrats such as Dan Boren (Okla.), Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeePocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime MORE (Texas), Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenBottom line Texas New Members 2019 Two Democrats become first Texas Latinas to serve in Congress MORE (Texas) and Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonMcAdams concedes to Owens in competitive Utah district Trump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot MORE (Utah). The letter is available here.


ON TAP WEDNESDAY:

Chu to headline electric power forum

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will speak Wednesday about “Visualizing the 21st Century Electricity Industry.”

His speech will keynote the National Electricity Forum, a two-day conference hosted by the Energy Department and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

More here.

Nuke waste report in focus

On Wednesday the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will dig into the recent report by a presidential panel on the future of nuclear waste policy. Click here for more info on the hearing.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future report calls for, among other things, development of consolidated interim storage sites to handle waste that’s piling up at the nation’s power reactors; revived efforts to develop one or more permanent geologic disposal sites; and a new federally chartered body to take control of the issue away from the Energy Department.

We have more on the report here and here.

Offshore energy environmental panel to meet

The Interior Department’s outside advisers on offshore science will gather for two days in Reston, Va., starting Wednesday.

The Outer Continental Shelf Scientific Committee advises Interior’s offshore environmental reviews, which in turn informs offshore energy policy decisions, according to Interior.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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

— Senate Dems take aim at Republicans over boiler rules
— House panel approves Keystone pipeline bill
— Bernanke: Oil price spike could ‘stop the recovery’
— Canadian PM in China trying to sell Keystone oil, says Sen. Hoeven
— Green group ranks lawmakers’ environmental voting records
— Gingrich says he'd authorize Keystone pipeline on 'day one'

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

Follow us on Twitter: @E2Wire, @AndrewRestuccia, @Ben_Geman