TURNING 17 BILLS INTO ONE: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) kicked her pursuit of a federal energy overhaul into high gear on Thursday, introducing 17 bills she said could eventually make up an energy reform package this session.
The bills are diverse and cover an array of topics, and she knows that there might not be room for all of them in a final bill. Her main goal right now, she said Thursday, is to try to craft a package that can win bipartisan support and actually become law.
"It's not going to benefit me to try to move a measure that has no bipartisan support," she said. "I might be able to move it through committee, but if I can't actually move it through the floor, that's a lot of work for no gain. We've done enough messaging around these parts of late, and I want to actually make some changes to our energy policy."
Murkowski also said she'll introduce a bill to repeal the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports on Tuesday. She said she may tie the measure to a trade bill the Senate could consider next week.
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ON TAP FRIDAY I: Colette Honorable, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will speak at a Bipartisan Policy Center event to discuss electric reliability as it relates to Obama administration's climate rule for power plants.
ON TAP FRIDAY II: The National Museum of Natural History will kick off its Arctic Spring Festival with a discussion on the changing Arctic.
NEWS BITE: Six Senate Democrats blasted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Thursday for its delays in setting biodiesel blending levels under the renewable fuel standard.
The 2014 standard is 18 months behind, and the 2015 one is six months behind, hurting the biodiesel industry, they said.
"For years, critical jobs that spur economic growth and help significantly reduce greenhouse gases have been reduced or uncertain because the EPA has failed to live up to its legal duty," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said in a statement following a news conference.
"Our farmers and families -- who rely on biodiesel in fields and factories across this country -- are hurting because fuel standards that establish certainty in this industry have been left in the dark," she said.
They emphasized that the renewable fuel standard is working, and urged the EPA to work quickly to catch up on its obligations.
"We need to provide policy stability so the biofuels industry can grow," said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). "We must do more to help an emerging industry grow, rather than simply subsidizing a mature one."
The EPA this week sent its proposed levels for 2014, 2015 and 2016 to the Office of Management and Budget for review. It has promised in court to deliver final 2014 and 2015 levels by the end of November.
AROUND THE WEB:
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens will back former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2016, the New York Times reports. He has already donated $100,000 to the cause.
The crude oil aboard a train that derailed and exploded Wednesday in North Dakota was less volatile than the state's new regulatory limits, Reuters reports.
New Jersey and federal officials have started the process of rebuilding beaches on Long Beach Island with sand from offshore, NJ.com reports.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out Thursday's stories ...
-Alaska Republican gears up energy reform package
-Environmental groups sue feds over natural gas export project
-Chemical safety bill picks up support in Senate
-Senator: Take Congress out of pipeline approval process
-Energy secretary plugs infrastructure plan on 'Daily Show'
-Michigan voters reject gas tax hike