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As Senate Stalls, House Gears Up Energy Agenda—Energy Edge Brought to You By Chevron

TOP ENERGY NEWS

By Ben Geman (@ben_geman), Clare Foran (@ckmarie), and Jason Plautz (@jason_plautz)

HOUSE GOP PUTS ENERGY MESSAGING INTO OVERDRIVE. The Senate may be unable to move, but the House is pushing forward with a week of familiar red-meat energy proposals. The lower chamber is set to consider a bill that would offer up more coastal regions for offshore drilling, set a 60-day deadline for federal approval of offshore leases, and speed up lease sales and development approvals for Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve. Also on tap are a bill to streamline the permitting process for cross-border pipelines, a bill to expedite exports of liquefied natural gas and the energy and water spending bill.

 

Ahead of the week of votes, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton will deliver the weekly GOP address, which will focus on domestic energy production.

SENATE BUDGET BILLS STALLED FOR NOW. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has put aside a package of appropriations after bringing them to the floor Thursday. The legislation was scuttled amid Republican threats to tack on amendments to the package that would kill the Environmental Protection Agency's power-plant regulations. And, according to Washington insiders watching the debate, Reid isn't planning to bring the bills back up for consideration next week. For a more detailed rundown of how the climate rule has so far stymied efforts to pass spending legislation in the Senate, read our recap here.

FOSSIL-FUEL OUTPUT FROM FEDERAL LANDS DECLINES. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that combined production of coal, oil, and natural gas from federal lands and waters fell 7 percent in fiscal 2013.

 

"Crude oil production on federal lands increased slightly in FY 2013, but that increase was more than offset by decreases in coal, natural gas, and natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) production," states EIA, which is the Energy Department's independent statistical arm. Click here for the detailed report.

WHITE HOUSE: POLLINATOR HEALTH IS EVERYONE'S BEESWAX. The White House launched an initiative Friday to combat the decline in honeybees and other species that pollinate huge swaths of U.S. crops. The strategy includes protecting pollinators from harmful pesticides and pursuing habitat conservation efforts at multiple agencies.

Pollinator losses are bad news for cultivation of various fruits, nuts, and veggies. Honeybees alone enable production of at least 90 U.S. crops and add more than $15 billion in value annually, the White House said. The number of honeybee colonies in the U.S. has fallen from 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million today, according to the White House. "Loss of natural forage and inadequate diets"—as well as mites and disease, pesticides, and other threats—are harming bees, the administration said.

It's not just honeybees dying, either. Native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies have also suffered losses. "The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment," President Obama said in a memo.

 

WHAT'S THE BUZZ, TELL ME WHAT'S HAPPENING. The plan seeks to engage multiple federal agencies in fighting pollinator declines.

A centerpiece is creation of a Pollinator Health Task Force led by EPA and the Agriculture Department that includes more than a dozen other agencies and White House offices. It's tasked with creating a Pollinator Research Action Plan within 180 days, and developing plans to increase and improve habitat for pollinators. It has marching orders on public education and development of public-private partnerships, too.

Obama's memo also assigns tasks to several of the specific departments involved. Some examples: USDA is told to "increase both the acreage and forage value of pollinator habitat in the Department's conservation programs." The Defense Department is told that bases, when possible, should use "pollinator-friendly native landscaping." EPA, meanwhile, will "assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinator health and take action, as appropriate, to protect pollinators." Check out the whole memo here.

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LOBBYING BATTLE OVER BEES. Administration and Capitol Hill efforts to save pollinators are already animating lobbying fights. Politico reported Friday: "Pharmaceutical and chemical giant Bayer Corporation has hired Gephardt Group Government Affairs to defend against claims that its pesticides are causing devastating damage to honeybee populations."

HACKERS TARGET GLOBAL ENERGY COMPANIES. The Houston Chronicle reports: "A network of hackers called AnonGhost says it launched a barrage of cyberattacks on international energy companies Friday, in a political strike against the widespread use of U.S. currency in oil trades, especially in Middle Eastern states." (Collin Eaton, Houston Chronicle)

E.U. CLIMATE CHIEF: EUROPE HAS ENERGY CARDS TO PLAY. While talk of U.S. gas exports to Europe is all the rage on Capitol Hill, the European Union's top climate official says homegrown renewables provide a good way to curb reliance on Russian gas and other energy imports.

"Wouldn't it be wise to break this dependency by saving and producing energy here in Europe? The foreign providers may freeze oil and gas supply, but they can't freeze our sun or our wind. They can't charge us for the energy we don't consume," writes Connie Hedegaard, the E.U. commissioner for climate action, in a Reuters op-ed.

U.S. OIL SURGE TEMPERS IRAQ-FUELED JITTERS. Via Bloomberg: "The U.S. shale boom, which has sent the nation's output to a 28-year high, is curbing the impact of the Iraq crisis on the oil market, said Nansen Saleri, former head of reservoir management at Saudi Arabian Oil Co." (Mark Shenk, Bloomberg)

ABANDONED WELLS LEAK METHANE. A study conducted by a Princeton University scientist indicates that oil and gas wells that are no longer in use in Pennsylvania are leaking methane. (Bobby Magill, Climate Central)

PENNSYLVANIA TO SUE OIL COMPANIES. The state of Pennsylvania is suing an undisclosed number of oil companies over environmental damage caused by the gasoline additive MTBE. The suit seeks millions of dollars for contamination to groundwater, damages to water resources, and penalties related to marketing of MTBE gasoline, which was phased out in 2005. (Stephanie Ritenbaugh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

GERMAN AIR POLLUTION THREATENS EUROPEAN EMISSIONS TARGETS. Coal consumption in Germany has risen by 13 percent in the past four years, and it has also increased in other European Union nations like Britain. All that air pollution now looks like it could make it more difficult for the bloc to reach pollution-reduction targets. (Matthew Carr, Bloomberg)

LANDRIEU MAKES A PITCH FOR LNG EXPORTS. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is trying to persuade members of the Senate Democratic caucus to support legislation that she cosponsored with fellow Democrat Mark Udall of Colorado. And it could be a tough sell, especially with Democrats like Debbie Stabenow and Edward Markey opposed to LNG exports. (Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill)

NATIONAL PARKS MOVE TO BAN DRONES. National Parks Service Director Jonathan Jarvis is working to ban unmanned aircraft from the service's 401 parks, saying the drones can upset wildlife and ruin the experience for visitors. "Imagine you're a big wall climber in Yosemite working on a four-day climb up El Capitan, and you're hanging off a bolt ready to make a [difficult] move, and an unmanned aircraft flies up beside you and is hovering a few feet from your head with its GoPro camera running," Jarvis said. "Think about what that does to your experience and your safety." (Joan Lowy, AP)

WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING

Next week's National Journal Energy and Environment Insiders discussion asks the question: Could the climate rule come undone? What are the immediate and long-term threats to regulations limiting carbon emissions from the nation's power plants? What can be done to either unravel or protect the regulatory regime that the Obama administration has worked to put in place?

HAPPENING MONDAY

HOUSE REPUBLICANS LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR ENERGY VOTES. The House Rules Committee meets to formulate a rule on H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act; and H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act.

HOW CAN WE PLAN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE? The World Bank holds a media conference call briefing on a new report, "Climate-Smart Development: Adding up the Benefits."

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