Overnight Energy: House passes energy reform bill

HOUSE GOP POWERS THROUGH ENERGY BILL: House lawmakers approved a bill Thursday to overhaul federal energy laws, though the legislation has limited Democratic support and is opposed by President Obama.

The House passed Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonShimkus says he's reconsidering retirement Shimkus says he's been asked to reconsider retirement Trump urges GOP to fight for him MORE's (R-Mich.) bill on a 249-174 vote. If signed into law, it would update federal energy policy for the first time since 2007.

The bill looks to modernize energy infrastructure and increase energy efficiency standards, as well as update other federal regulations and policies. Upton and Republicans have hailed it as an important way to keep federal policy up to date with growing energy production in the United States.


"A decade ago no one could have imagined where we would be in 2015 and how much the energy script would be flipped in our favor," he said during floor debate this week.

"But now that we are here, it is time to bring our energy policy in line with the new realities. It's time we put the scarcity mindset in the rear view mirror and say yes to energy and yes to jobs."

The bill faces opposition from Democrats, who said Republicans attached too many controversial provisions during the committee process. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, called it "the Republican Party's 19th century vision for the future of U.S. energy policy in the 21st century."

The White House, too, threatened to veto the bill earlier this week.

But Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days The Hill's Morning Report - Dem impeachment report highlights phone records MORE (R-Alaska) said Thursday she expects to eventually be able to craft a compromise energy bill with House members and see it signed into law next year.

Murkowski, the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, worked with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) on a bipartisan energy bill earlier this year. She said that after it hits the floor next month, senators and House members will be able to write a compromise package.

"I like the Senate bill," she said at an event put on by The Hill on Thursday. "I think the House has been working hard and we appreciate that, but absolutely there is room to meld the two together when we get to that point in time."

Read more here and here.

COAL BARON GUILTY: Former Massey Energy head Don Blankenship was found guilty Thursday of conspiracy to violate federal safety rules leading up to the deadly West Virginia coal mine disaster in 2010.

Though Blankenship only faces up to a year in prison for the conspiracy charge, the jury verdict represents the first conviction of a coal executive in the United States related to safety violations.

The charge stemmed from the Upper Big Branch Mine collapse, which killed 29 miners, the deadliest mine disaster in the country in 40 years.

"This is a landmark day for the safety of coal miners," United States Attorney Booth Goodwin said, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "If you violate the laws and gamble with the lives of your workers, you will be held accountable."

Bill Taylor, Blankenship's attorney, said he was "disappointed, but not as disappointed as we could have been. The case should never have been brought."

Read more here.

EPA CHIEF HEADS TO PARIS: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy heads to Paris this weekend to plug President Obama's climate action plan.

McCarthy will be in France from Saturday through Dec. 10, the day before United Nations negotiators hope to secure an international pact on climate change.

While in Paris, McCarthy will highlight the Obama administration's new greenhouse gas rules for power plants, the linchpin to his climate agenda. She'll appear with the European Union's Energy and Climate Action commissioner for an event on the rule on Monday.

McCarthy will also discuss Obama's broader climate plan and the EPA's role in implementing it, according to a schedule released by the agency on Thursday.

ALASKANS, INHOFE TOSS ANWR BILL: Three lawmakers and Alaska's governor decided to be creative in showing their opposition to a Democratic proposal to formally prohibit oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) in ripping the bill up, throwing it in the trash and tweeting a photo.

The four politicians "put the Dems' new #ANWR bill right where it belongs," Murkowski's staff on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee tweeted late Wednesday.

Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the bill with the support of 32 other Democrats to formally designate the entire refuge as wilderness.


Wyoming's highest court unanimously ruled that an oil company is responsible for cleaning up coal-bed methane wells that it sold to another company that went bankrupt, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

The Columbia Journalism Review weighs in on the growing fight between ExxonMobil Corp. and Columbia University over reporting from the school's journalists.

Actor James Cromwell got himself kicked out of a business gala this week for yelling at a natural gas company executive who was accepting an award. New York Magazine's Vulture has more.


Check out Thursday's stories ... 

-Senate panel chair expects compromise energy bill next year
-Republican ex-EPA heads back Obama in climate lawsuit
-House energy bill boosts cybersecurity for electric grid
-Dem: Climate deniers among 'the greatest ignoramuses of all time'
-Coal executive found guilty on federal conspiracy charge
-House passes energy policy overhaul bill
-Memos show Bush advisers worried about climate change
-Anonymous claims to leak Paris climate officials' data

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