Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Obama likely to give coal rules personal touch

THE CLIMATE LEGACY: The Environmental Protection Agency is set to unveil proposed standards limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in early June, and President Obama may make the announcement himself.

EPA chief Gina McCarthy said on Monday that Obama has “indicated his intent” to announce the rule for existing coal-fired power plants in June.

{mosads}McCarthy noted that Obama’s move to possibly personally unveil the rule is a “strong indication of how important he sees this.” Read more here.

TOO COOL: EPA set standards for industrial cooling water intake devices Monday that will require technology to protect fish at more than 1,000 power plants and factories.

Most facilities will only have to take measures to stop fish from getting trapped, but the biggest water users will have to prevent fish from getting pulled into the intakes. More than forty percent of the affected facilities have the necessary devices, EPA said. Read more here.


ON TAP TUESDAY I:  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the nomination of Norman Bay as chairman of the nation’s top electric grid regulator.

Bay, nominated by President Obama to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, may be in for a bumpy ride.

A number of senators have voiced their wariness of Bay, citing his inexperience as a commissioner. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has said Bay’s tenure as head of FERC’s enforcement wing is one of her biggest concerns with the nominee.

Could this be the second time an Obama nominee fails to make it through scrutiny from the Senate? Read more here.

On Monday, former attorneys for the Justice Department backed Bay’s nomination ahead of Tuesday’s hearing in a letter to Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska), the top two senators on the committee.

Former U.S. attorneys for Alaska, Arizona, and Nevada, among others, highlighted Bay’s 12 years at the Justice Department, calling him a “distinguished career public servant.”

“He is an outstanding lawyer who is fair and balanced in his administration of the law, committed to furthering the public interest, and steadfast in deciding issues on the merits based on the law and the record,” the former U.S. attorneys wrote on Monday.

The Senate will also consider the nomination of Cheryl LaFleur as a commissioner for FERC. LaFleur is currently the acting chairwoman for the commission.

ON TAP TUESDAY II: The Hill will host a policy discussion about the federal government’s role in the alternative fueled vehicle industry Tuesday at the Newseum.

The event will feature Pat Davis from the Energy Department’s vehicle technologies program, Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Sam Ori of Securing America’s Future Energy and Emil Frankel from the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Rest of Tuesday’s agenda:

Energy jobs. A House Natural Resources Committee subcommittee on energy and mineral resources will examine energy job opportunities in the manufacturing sector. The panel will hear from representatives of Dow Chemical Co., Forge USA, the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Oil and gas. A House Natural Resources subpanel will hold a hearing later Tuesday about oil and gas exploration activities in the wildlife refuge system.

The first panel at the hearing will feature Steve Guertin, assistant director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Kip Knudson, the state and federal relations director for Alaska. The second panel will have representatives of the Independent Petroleum Institute of America, the National Association of Royalty Owners, Cook Inlet Region Inc. and Defenders of Wildlife.

Pipeline safety. A House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s subpanel will review the major 2011 pipeline safety law with a Tuesday hearing.

It will feature Cynthia Quarterman, administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, along with stakeholder witnesses from the American Gas Association, the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, the Natural Gas Association of America and the Pipeline Safety Trust.

Veteran jobs. The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is looking into jobs for veterans in the energy sector.

Off Capitol Hill on Tuesday. The American Council on Renewable Energy and Stoel Rives will host a reception to honor former FERC Chairman John Wellinghoff.

And the Environmental Law Institute will host a webinar with former EPA chief Lisa Jackson on methane leaks from hydraulic fracturing.


Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) on EPA’s finalized water cooling rule: “EPA’s cooling water rule today is a clear misuse of the Endangered Species Act and could lead to the shutdown of even more power plants. Previous plant closures have obviously affected jobs, the economy, and accessibility and affordability of basic power needs, but this new rule will likely have a far greater impact than what is currently predicted by the Administration.”

EPA chief Gina McCarthy cracks wise: “I’m better at pollution reduction than I am at baseball, but I’ll live with that,” she said when asked who was the better pitcher, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz or herself.


Louisiana is suing oil and gas companies for what the state said is their role in its shrinking coast, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Fracking” — short for hydraulic fracturing, in which oil and gas drillers force fluid into wells to break shale — is now in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary and on its website, the Associated Press reports.

The EPA has withdrawn its approval of a 7,300-foot-deep well to store fracking fluid waste in Clearfield County, Pa., the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.


Here’s more from The Hill’s energy and environment team.

– Biden to headline fundraiser at billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer’s home
– EPA sets standards for cooling water intakes
– Dem calls on McDonald’s to only use beef raised without antibiotics
– Energy companies eye drones for pipelines, offshore platforms
– Obama to create largest national monument of his presidency
– Obama may personally announce new coal rules
– Climate activists to ‘sound alarm‘ on Hill
– Gov. Perry: EPA behaving like ‘den of activists’
– Bill would give states bigger role in closing nuclear power plants
– NC bill would ban tracking chemical disclosure
– Increasing wildfires tied to climate change
– Fisker owner to build US electric cars
– Holder hits China on cyber spying
– Week ahead: Wait is over for energy commission nominees

Please send tips and comments to Laura Barron-Lopez, laurab@thehill.com and Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com.

Tags carbon emissions climate Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Gina McCarthy Norman Bay United States Environmental Protection Agency

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