Week ahead: Senate showdown on Keystone

After years of anticipation and multiple attempts by supporters to bring it to the floor, a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline will get a vote in the Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world MORE (D-La.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenators introduce bill to prevent border agency from selling personal data Overnight Energy: Bipartisan Senate group seeks more funding for carbon capture technology | Dems want documents on Interior pick's lobbying work | Officials push to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US Officials, automakers aim to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US: report MORE (R-N.D.), is identical to a bill the House passed Friday, sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is challenging Landrieu for her seat in a runoff election next month.


Senators will vote on the measure Tuesday after six hours of formal debate.

Keystone is playing out to be one of the biggest issues of the lame-duck session. While the House has voted to approve it eight times, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidLobbying World Mitch McConnell is not invincible Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary MORE (D-Nev.) has repeatedly refused to allow a vote.

Now, with Landrieu facing a close election, one of her top issues is coming to the floor. 

As of Friday, 14 Democratic senators have announced that they will join their 45 Republican colleagues in voting for Keystone, bringing the tally just one vote short of a filibuster-proof majority.

But even if 60 senators vote yes, President Obama remains a wild card. He has not promised to veto it, but he has also not looked kindly on what he sees as lawmakers’ attempts to force his hand on a permit the executive branch alone should judge.

Later in the week, the House will vote on three bills aimed at reining in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Two of the bills seek to increase transparency in how the agency conducts scientific research, part of Republicans’ allegations that the EPA uses “secret science” to write regulations.

Another is meant to increase certainty in air pollution permits by introducing new requirements for the EPA to publish permit standards.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on investigations will hold a two-part hearing Thursday and Friday on Wall Street banks’ involvement with physical commodities like oil, natural gas and metals, in addition to power plants and infrastructure.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the environment is planning a hearing Wednesday on cyanotoxins in drinking water. Cyanotoxins, toxic substances produced by certain algae species, became fodder for national news this summer when high concentrations of them caused Toledo, Ohio, to prohibit residents and businesses from using tap water for a weekend.

The House Natural Resources Committee is hosting a pair of hearings.

First, on Wednesday the energy and mineral resources subcommittee will look at federal efforts to prepare for and respond to volcano hazards.

On Thursday, the subcommittee with oversight over insular affairs will examine the Interior Department’s management of Midway Atoll, a remote island atoll in the Pacific Ocean that lawmakers say is improperly closed to the public.

The Hill will host an event Wednesday to discuss the future of electric transportation technology. It will feature Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Democrats push EPA to collect 4K in 'excessive' Pruitt travel expenses | Greens angered over new rules for rocket fuel chemical | Inslee to join youth climate strikers in Las Vegas Democrats push EPA to collect 4K from Pruitt for 'excessive airfare expenses' Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE (D-R.I.) and California Reps. Janice Hahn (D) and Jared Huffman (D). Officials from the Energy Department and the private sector will also participate.

Outgoing Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane will speak Monday at the National Press Club about nuclear power plant safety. She has led the agency since 2012 and will leave it in January.

The Center for American Progress will host an all-day policy forum Wednesday.  In the energy and environment sphere, EPA head Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA Overnight Energy: Joshua Tree National Park lost M in fees due to shutdown | Dem senator, AGs back case against oil giants | Trump officials secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada Overnight Energy: Ethics panel clears Grijalva over settlement with staffer | DC aims to run on 100 percent clean energy by 2032 | Judges skeptical of challenge to Obama smog rule MORE will give a keynote address. Shortly after, White House adviser John Podesta will moderate a panel on climate change with former EPA head Carol Browner, Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin and billionaire climate activist and election financier Tom Steyer.


Recent stories:  

Keystone one vote from 60 in Senate: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/224209-keystone-one-away-from-60-in-senate

Obama faces tough Keystone call: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/224144-obama-faces-tough-call-on-keystone

Obama: Don't 'short-circuit' Keystone review: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/224156-obama-dont-short-circuit-admins-keystone-review

GOP: Climate deal is ‘job-crushing’: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/223963-gop-climate-deal-with-china-job-crushing

US, China agree to limit greenhouse gases: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/223808-us-china-agree-to-limit-greenhouse-gases