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How to Disclose Your Energy Lobbying While Keeping the Public in the Dark

TOP ENERGY NEWS

By Ben Geman (@ben_geman) and Jason Plautz (@jason_plautz)

HOW TO DISCLOSE YOUR ENERGY LOBBYING WHILE KEEPING THE PUBLIC IN THE DARK. Some companies' and groups' lobbying reports deploy language so vague that they reveal almost no information at all, undermining the efficacy of laws aimed at keeping the public abreast of how insiders are lobbying their elected officials. (Ben Geman, National Journal)

 

EXXON PLOWS AHEAD WITH RUSSIAN DRILLING PROJECT. The New York Times reports that despite calls for tougher sanctions against Russia, Exxon is moving ahead with a key project there with Russian state oil giant Rosneft: "Exxon Mobil, which is assisting a Russian state energy company in exploring the Arctic Ocean for oil and natural gas, took a pivotal step to further this project over the weekend," the paper reports. (Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times)

AUDIT: 'UNDERFUNDED' PA. REGULATORS BEHIND ON OVERSIGHT. An audit released today charges that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is not doing enough to oversee the state's shale gas industry and respond to citizen concerns. Among the failings, auditor Eugene DePasquale said, are a lack of enforcement orders to drilling companies after operations had harmed water supplies. DePasquale said DEP needed assistance, because it was "underfunded, understaffed, and does not have the infrastructure in place to meet the continuing demands placed upon the agency by expanded shale-gas development." (Laura Legere, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

BUSINESS GROUPS ASK EPA TO PUMP BRAKES ON CLIMATE RULE. The Partnership for a Better Energy Future, an industry coalition that includes more than 150 groups including the American Petroleum Institute and the Chamber of Commerce, has submitted a letter to EPA asking that the agency "go back to the drawing board" on its rule for existing power plants. The groups write that the rule "will be disruptive to and is fundamentally incompatible with numerous practical and technical aspects of America's electricity system." The groups also request an extended comment period and additional public hearings to present technical analyses.

 

...AND GUESS WHAT MIGHT MAKE A CAMEO. Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy, said the industry groups will "certainly" be looking into the Supreme Court's June decision that slightly rolled back the EPA's greenhouse-gas permitting program. "That will be instructive for all constituencies going forward," Harbert said, even though the decision did not affect the power-plant program.

DEM SENATORS TO OBAMA: BEEF UP ENERGY SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA. A trio of Democrats who lead major Senate committees want the administration to impose tougher restrictions than measures announced last week. "We ... urge you to give additional consideration to imposing broader sanctions on Russia's energy and financial industries, as well as other sectors of the Russian economy as appropriate," states a new letter from Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Robert Menendez and Carl Levin. They are the chairmen of the Intelligence, Foreign Relations, and Armed Services Committees, respectively.

WHAT'S THE MILITARY DOING TO PREPARE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE? A lot, according to Daniel Y. Chiu, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development. That includes a plan to "more fully integrate the impacts of climate change into our humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and other exercise plans, and are working to enhance the capacity of partner militaries and civil-response readiness groups to plan for, and respond to, natural disasters." He testified Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

MURKOWSKI: WILDERNESS PROTECTION WORSENS BORDER CRISIS. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday that wilderness protections are making it tougher to secure the southern border. "As we deal with border-enforcement issues, part of our reality in being hamstrung in our ability to enforce is that we have public lands along that border that are held by the Department of the Interior in refuge and wilderness status," Murkowski, who visited Texas last week, said at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. "We can't get access to a road, to a trail for an ATV so our Customs and Border Patrol agents can patrol that. We are not asking for a major highway around there," said Murkowski, the top Republican on the panel.

 

BILL GATES: ON GREEN ENERGY, THE PRIVATE SECTOR SHOULDN'T GO IT ALONE. Bill Gates, GE Chairman Jeff Immelt, and other private-sector heavyweights say that government investment in advanced energy technology has played a big role in spurring private-market production of natural gas, advanced auto technologies, efficient windows, and more. "Acting as a catalyst or instigator, government innovation investments quicken the cycles of discovery and invention," states a new report by the American Energy Innovation Council that's led by Gates, venture capital kingpin John Doerr, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, and others. The report is titled "Partners in Ingenuity: Case Studies of Federal Investments Enhancing Private-Sector Energy Innovation."

OFFICIALS VOW FIX TO BLACK LUNG PROGRAM. ABC News reports: "Federal labor officials told lawmakers today that they have notified dozens of coal workers they should reapply for black-lung benefits because their claims were denied in part based on medical reviews by a controversial Johns Hopkins physician." (Matthew Mosk, ABC News)

SANDERS: CLIMATE COVERAGE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. After a Media Matters for America report found that Sunday talk shows are devoting more time to covering climate change, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said that uptick is a "step in the right direction." According to Media Matters, the four major Sunday shows spent a total of 1 hour and 5 minutes on climate change in the first six months of 2014, as much as the previous four years combined. Sanders has been a frequent critic of television networks for not covering climate change seriously and was one of nine senators to sign a January letter asking for more airtime.

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For the latest energy news throughout the day, check out National Journal's Up-To-The-Minute Energy.

WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING

HOW SHOULD CLIMATE CHANGE BE TAUGHT? Should there be a national set of science-education standards that mandate teaching climate-change consensus, or is it better left to individual states, counties, schools, or teachers to decide?

"There are folks who don't believe in vaccines, fluoride in water, warnings on tobacco, warnings for pregnant women regarding alcohol consumption—and again, we can say some don't agree, but the science trumps the doubters." – Scott Sklar, The Stella Group.

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders.

HAPPENING TOMORROW

MCCARTHY TESTIFIES ON CLIMATE RULE. The Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on the EPA's carbon-pollution standards for existing power plants, featuring EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

ENERGY FORUM. The Bipartisan Policy Center's American Energy Innovation Council holds a forum titled "Driving Resources into Energy Innovation," featuring an appearance from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION HEARING. The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on modernizing energy regulation, with a focus on aligning federal and state regulation.

WILDLIFE-REFUGE BILL HEARING. The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs holds a hearing on several bills, including one that would limit expansions of wildlife refuges.

NUCLEAR-ENERGY SUMMIT. The U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council hosts a summit titled "Nuclear Energy Economics."

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ENERGY HEARING. The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere holds a hearing titled "U.S.-Dominican Republic Relations: Bolstering Economic Growth and Energy Independence."

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