TOP ENERGY NEWS
YOUR ONE-STEP GUIDE TO INFURIATING AN EPA OFFICIAL. Allegations that EPA leaned on the Natural Resources Defense Council for its carbon-pollution rule for existing power plants surfaced again at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today. After Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming said the group's "powerful, wealthy, Washington lawyers and lobbyists" drafted the rule, Administrator Gina McCarthy dismissed the claims as a "discredit" to her staff's work. But Barrasso has vowed more follow-up to find out how much of a role the NRDC played. (Jason Plautz, National Journal)
EPA STANDS FIRM ON CLIMATE-RULE RESPONSE DEADLINE. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said there are no discussions about extending the 120-day comment period for the power-plant rule, despite pleas from the business community to do so. During the hearing, McCarthy said there were legitimate questions about the plan and data EPA would like from states related to economic development and the cost of compliance during the comment period and listening sessions. Business groups have said they want more time to do their own analysis of the impact on each state.
TRANSIT REGULATORS FLOAT RULE TO PREVENT EXPLODING OIL TRAINS. The Transportation Department unveiled plans Wednesday to improve the safety of trains hauling crude oil at a time when the use of railways to move growing U.S. supplies is surging. The draft regulation follows a series of accidents. It would require reduced speeds for trains hauling flammable materials, new braking system requirements, and the phaseout of a type of older tank cars.
ENERGY SECRETARY: CONFIRMATION DELAYS LEAVE ME SHORTHANDED. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is irked about the large number of nominees for senior Energy Department roles that are languishing in the Senate. "Our energy-science team is not in place," Moniz said at a Washington conference hosted by the American Energy Innovation Council. "We have five positions directly engaged in energy and science that are not filled." He called the delays "extremely frustrating." The Senate has not confirmed nominees to be director of the Office of Science, head of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and other roles.
UTILITY GIANT EYES MAJOR NEW NUCLEAR PROJECT. Southern Company President Tom Fanning said the power company is weighing construction of a second U.S. nuclear plant. The company, one of the nation's biggest utilities, is already building two reactors in Georgia, the first new U.S. commercial power reactors in decades.
"I would love to announce by the end of this year the development of a new nuclear option," Fanning told reporters at an energy conference hosted by the American Energy Innovation Council. He did not provide details but said the company has about six sites that are suitable for new nuclear development. The Energy Department is providing $6.5 billion in loan guarantees for the ongoing project in Georgia, and Fanning didn't rule out seeking federal backing for the potential new project.
"To the extent there were loan-guarantee money available to keep prices low for the benefit of our customers, we would certainly go after it," he said on the sidelines of the Washington energy conference.
SEN. MARKEY PRESSES COMMERCE CHIEF ON CRUDE EXPORTS. Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey is speaking with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on Wednesday afternoon about the nation's crude-oil export ban and recent federal decisions that appear to have softened it. The discussion comes several weeks after Markey, who favors maintaining the decades-old ban, wrote to Pritzker seeking more information about Commerce Department decisions to allow two companies to export an ultralight form of crude oil called condensate that has been minimally processed. Markey and Sen. Robert Menendez argued in the letter that the Commerce action may have run afoul of laws that prevent crude exports under most circumstances.
Flashback: Pritzker said early this month that a "serious conversation" is underway within the Obama administration about export policy.
QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT NRC PICKS. CQ Roll Call cautions that it might not be an easy path for President Obama's two picks for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama warned about links between nominee and former NRC General Counsel Stephen Burns and troubled former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, saying "I hope we're now not seeing a Jaczko Junior." The Nuclear Energy Institute also raised questions about nominee Jeffrey Baran, an aide for Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, saying he has little experience with nuclear technology or the NRC process.
BUDGET COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE COSTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE. The Senate Budget Committee announced plans to hold a hearing next week on climate change, with a focus on how global warming will affect the federal budget. The hearing next Tuesday will include testimony from green business group Ceres, the firm NERA Economic Consulting, the CNA military advisory board, and the Government Accountability Office. Chairman Patty Murray of Washington has spoken out on the costs before, saying in March that rising federal emergency disaster budgets were a side effect of climate change.
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EPA DENIES TEXAS BID TO USE CONTROVERSIAL WEEDKILLER. The Wall Street Journal reports that EPA denied farmers' request to use a powerful herbicide against "pigweed" that's threatening cotton crops. "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited risks to drinking water and other hazards in its refusal of state officials' emergency request to allow the farmers to use Milo-Pro. The herbicide includes the chemical propazine, a restricted product that requires a license to purchase and use," the paper reports. (Jacob Bunge, Wall Street Journal)
FEDS WILL PAY FOR HEALTH STUDIES AFTER W.VA. SPILL. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health will coordinate with West Virginia officials to conduct health studies on MCHM, the coal-scrubbing chemical that poisoned the water of 300,000 residents in January. A lack of information about the chemical slowed the response and stirred confusion after the spill. (Dave Boucher, Charleston Daily Mail)
WILDLIFE GROUP: VIKINGS STADIUM WILL BE DEADLY FOR BIRDS. Audubon Minnesota, the state chapter of the conservation group, says that 200,000 square feet of glass in the new publicly funded football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings will pose a threat to migrating birds. What's more, they say, the Vikings won't adopt glazing or lighting techniques to mitigate the risk. "We know the people of Minnesota do not want their money killing birds," said Executive Director Matthew Anderson. (Rochelle Olson, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
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WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING
HOW SHOULD CLIMATE CHANGE BE TAUGHT? Should there be national science-education standards that mandate teaching climate-change consensus, or is it better left to individual states, counties, schools, or teachers to decide?
"It is not surprising that climate alarmists, who desire above all else blind allegiance to their cause, would demand all schoolteachers toe the 'official party line' and quash any dissent on the subject of man-made global warming in their classroom. What is absurd is that any teacher, or free-thinking person for that matter, should listen to them." --Craig Rucker, executive director, Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.
ENERGY DEPUTY NOMINEE MEETS THE SENATE. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall to be deputy secretary of the Energy Department.
STATE ENERGY POLICY HEARING. The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the economic impact of state energy policies.
LAND-MANAGEMENT HEARING. The House Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation holds a hearing on "Threats, Intimidation and Bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies."
WATER POLICY HEARING. The House Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment holds a hearing on EPA's water quality planning and permitting.
MIDTERMS DISCUSSION. The Women's Council on Energy and the Environment hosts a discussion titled "Will the Midterms Enable Progress or Procrastination for U.S. Energy Policy?"
EXPORTS DISCUSSION. The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on energy exports.
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