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McConnell Fights EPA with Song—Energy Edge Brought to You by the Corn Farmers Coalition

TOP ENERGY NEWS

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

TOM STEYER'S GREEN GROUP ISN'T TALKING ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, FOR NOW ... NextGen Climate, the brainchild of major Democratic benefactor Tom Steyer, has promised to make climate change a key issue in the midterm elections. But you wouldn't know that from watching the green group's latest ad. A television spot released by the organization Wednesday sidesteps climate entirely and focuses squarely on jobs. The ad accuses Iowa Republican Senate hopeful Joni Ernst of promising to protect tax breaks that benefit companies responsible for shipping jobs abroad. The message marks a departure from what has been a strictly environmental refrain from the group until now. It may also signal the start of a broader push from the Steyer-backed organization as the midterms approach. (Clare Foran, National Journal)

 

... AND GROVER NORQUIST HITS BACK. The president of Americans for Tax Reform quickly shot back against the ad in a statement saying: "Tom Steyer needs to find honest and original consultants, the plagiarized attack ads he's running have already been proven false by several fact checkers."

HOUSE DEM UNVEILS CLIMATE BILL. Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland debuted a carbon-cutting bill Wednesday that the lawmaker has labeled a "cap-and-dividend" approach to curbing emissions. Here's how it would work: Fossil-fuel companies would purchase carbon permits to fully offset air pollution created by their operations. The proceeds from these permit sales would then go back into the pocketbooks of U.S. citizens. Van Hollen says the system would cut carbon emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The legislation is unlikely to gain traction, however, in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

OBAMA KNOCKS HOUSE ATTACK ON BORDER ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS. The president waved his veto pen at House Republicans' border-crisis funding bill for several reasons in a White House statement this afternoon—including its provisions that would waive conservation restrictions. "H.R. 5230 ... waives important environmental protections for National Parks, National Monuments, and other public lands within 100 miles of the border for Customs and Border Protection activities," the White House noted in its statement opposing the bill.

 

SENATE REPUBLICAN ALLEGES COLLUSION BETWEEN ENVIROS, EPA, BILLIONAIRES. David Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released a report alleging a group of wealthy donors he calls the Billionaire's Club "funnel money to far-left environmental activists through public charities."

"It also shows that current leadership at the EPA is very much an active partner in the far-left environmental movement, and even sponsors their efforts through grants to environmental activists," adds a summary of the report called "The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama's EPA."

RELIGIOUS LEADERS EMBRACE CLIMATE RULE. The New York Times reports from Tuesday's public hearing on EPA's big climate-change regulation: "[M]ixed in with the coal lobbyists and business executives were conservative religious leaders reasserting their support for President Obama's environmental policies—at a time when Republican Party orthodoxy continues to question the science of climate change. More than two dozen faith leaders, including evangelicals and conservative Christians, are expected to speak at the EPA headquarters in Washington by the time the hearings conclude on Wednesday." (Theodore Schleifer, New York Times)

MCCONNELL FIGHTS BACK, WITH MUSIC. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke at the hearing today to highlight the climate rule's economic impact on his home state of Kentucky, and later gave a press conference flanked by members of the state's congressional delegation. Joining him was an unusual advocate: singer Jimmy Rose, a former miner who finished third on "America's Got Talent." In an interview, Rose said he hoped to put a face on the pain of coal country. (Jason Plautz, National Journal)

 

COMING TOMORROW ... The EPA hearings continue Thursday and Friday in Pittsburgh, with West Virginia secretary of state and Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant testifying against the rule. Her opponent, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, testified in D.C. yesterday.

Capito also came out today with a new ad that sought to emphasize Tennant's support for Obama's election, saying that "the president doesn't understand West Virginia."

RUSSIA WARNS THAT ENERGY SANCTIONS WILL RAISE PRICES. Via Reuters: "Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that sanctions imposed by the European Union over the crisis in Ukraine will 'inevitably' lead to higher energy prices in Europe." (Vladimir Soldatkin, Reuters)

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HALLIBURTON, EXXON STAND TO LOSE FROM NEW SANCTIONS. Bloomberg reports: "U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia's Vladimir Putin threaten to shut off some of the world's largest energy companies from one of the biggest untapped energy troves on the planet." (David Wethe and Joe Carroll, Bloomberg)

CHINA, RUSSIA EYE FLOATING NUCLEAR PLANTS. Reuters reports. "Russia and the world's top energy user China may jointly develop six floating nuclear power plants, Russia's nuclear export body said on Tuesday, a further joint energy project since the signing of a US$400 billion gas supply deal." (Svetlana Burmistrova, Reuters)

REPORT: GREEN GROUPS LAG ON DIVERSITY. A report by University of Michigan professor Dorceta Taylor charges that environmental groups don't show the diversity of the rest of the country, with no group having more than 16 percent of its staff made up of minorities. In the report, groups say that a lack of job openings and few minority candidates have hindered their progress. Read the report here.

WILL TESLA REV UP SOLAR PROFITS? Our sister website Quartz reports: "How lucrative could the solar energy storage business be for Tesla? Almost as lucrative as selling cars. That's according to Morgan Stanley, which this week placed a figure—$2 billion—on how much it thinks Tesla could make in annual revenue from solar energy storage." (John McDuling, Quartz)

A REFINERY PROJECT GROWS IN CALIFORNIA. Bloomberg reports: "Chevron Corp. gained approval from city regulators to finish a $1 billion upgrade at its Northern California refinery that's been planned for almost a decade, after agreeing to spend $90 million on community programs." (Bloomberg)

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

WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING

SHOULD WE BUDGET FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

"Government budget projections are more likely to be statements on the climate change issue than serious estimates for planning purposes. A better approach, at least for now, might be for an independent body to look at the relationship between climate change impacts and budgeting and see whether a neutral methodology can be developed." Michael Canes, distinguished fellow, LMI

HAPPENING TOMORROW

IMF REPORT ON FUEL TAXES. International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde will present a report on taxing fossil fuels at a Center for Global Development event.

EFFICIENCY FORUM. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute and the Sustainable Energy Coalition hold the Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo and Policy Forum. Republican David Reichert of Washington and Democrat Chris Van Hollen of Maryland are among those who will deliver remarks.

POWER CONFERENCE. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' annual Power and Energy Society General Meeting concludes.

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