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Never Say Die on Efficiency Bill


By Jason Plautz (@jason_plautz) and Clare Foran (@ckmarie)

NEVER SAY DIE ON EFFICIENCY BILL. The Senate is no stranger to taking legislating to the brink before salvaging a bill with a last-minute deal. And some supporters think the same narrative is possible on the Shaheen-Portman energy-efficiency bill, as discussions continued throughout the day Thursday on reaching a deal.


"I hoped that we wouldn't be in a position to have to fill the tree, but as you know filling the tree doesn't preclude working something out," said Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who said he's going to keep working through the weekend ahead of Monday night's scheduled cloture vote on the bill. It's expected that enough Republicans will shed their support for the efficiency bill that it will fail unless the Right can get a set of five energy amendments attached, plus a separate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota said that there are member-to-member conversations going on about how to strike a deal on the five amendments Republicans would like to offer, focusing specifically on language from Wyoming Republican John Barrasso regarding natural-gas exports. That, he said, would grease the gears to bring up the standalone Keystone pipeline vote as well.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE. Even if a vote on Keystone doesn't materialize, Hoeven said he's keeping his hopes alive that that measure—and other GOP energy priorities—can remain on the books, especially if Republicans pick up more seats in the midterm elections. As for the pipeline vote, "if it doesn't get done this year, I think it will get done next year," Hoeven said.


MORE THAN JUST KEYSTONE DIED IN THE SENATE YESTERDAY. The perceived collapse of the bipartisan energy-efficiency bill may have imperiled the Senate's Keystone vote, but it's also got some members sweating their chances of moving other energy measures. "We have things that need to be resolved and advanced in the energy sector," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "If we can't get an energy-efficiency bill through the floor, what does that say about our ability as a Senate to act?" (Jason Plautz, National Journal)

EUROPE TAKES AIM AT RUSSIAN ENERGY GIANTS. The European Union is mulling over a decision to sanction a number of Russian companies as a result of continued conflict in Ukraine. Diplomats have not yet finalized the list of companies likely to be targeted by an additional wave of sanctions, but European authorities have said that they won't rule out taking action against energy enterprises like Gazprom. (Adrian Croft, Reuters)

ENERGY JOBS CAN BE DEADLY. The AFL-CIO is out with a new report, titled "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect," that catalogues workplace fatalities in the energy sector. According to the report, North Dakota had the highest workplace fatality rate of any state with a death toll of 17.7 workers out of every 100,000. Wyoming had the next highest fatality rate followed by Alaska, Montana, and West Virginia. Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction also clocked in as one of the industry sectors with the highest fatality rates in the workplace. The report states that this is due to lack of adequate safety regulation and oversight. Read the report here.

COMMITTEE APPROVES CROSS-BORDER PIPELINE BILL. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill from Chairman Fred Upton and Texas Democrat Gene Green that would streamline approval for pipelines and energy infrastructure projects that cross U.S. borders. The bill passed with a bipartisan 31-19 vote.


EPA ADDS SEVEN SUPERFUND SITES. A former New Jersey chemical manufacturing plant, an Arkansas oil refinery, and a pair of groundwater plumes in Nebraska are among the seven Superfund sites EPA added today to the National Priorities List for cleanups.

NEWLY MINTED GREEN GROUP DOLES OUT ENDORSEMENTS. The newly minted political action committee America's Conservation PAC has handed out an initial round of candidate endorsements as the midterm elections loom large. Twelve members of Congress made the cut, including Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, and Lindsey Graham. On the other side of the political spectrum, Democratic Sens. Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, and Mark Udall also got a nod. In addition to standing behind the candidates, the PAC has promised to cut a check of $5,200 for each of the candidates and has pledged to spend more than $100,000 in total to back the races.

THE BUSH-ERA KEYSTONE LEGACY. A new book titled Keystone and Beyond: Tar Sands and the National Interest in the Era of Climate Change argues that the long road toward a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline was set in motion by energy policy decisions made by former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Download the book here.

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KEYSTONE MOVES CASH. And Politico looks at the exploding influence industry around the pipeline project, where spending has tipped into the tens of millions already. (Alexander Burns and Andrew Restuccia, Politico)

THE GREEN MOVEMENT HAS A WHITE PROBLEM. Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian takes a look at the leadership of the environmental movement and concludes that the movement has a diversity problem. Read the article here.

INSURANCE COMPANY SOUNDS ALARM ON CLIMATE. Lloyd's of London is asking insurance providers to take climate-change risk into account in their financial estimates and projections. The move marks the first time the world's largest and oldest insurance market has issued a warning on global warming. (Julia Kollewe, The Guardian)

GOP SENS ASK EPA IG TO HALT FRACKING INVESTIGATION. In a letter to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr., five Republican senators call on his office to halt an investigation into how states can regulate water pollution from fracking. They say the IG is "reaching beyond its authority and considering a duplicative study" with the investigation.

WHO SAYS DELHI HAS DIRTIEST AIR? Indian officials have disputed a World Health Organization report that says the capital of Delhi has the dirtiest atmosphere in the world, but has admitted that pollution in the city is comparable to that of Beijing. (AFP)

TONY HAYWARD NAMED HEAD OF MINING GROUP. Glencore Xstrata named Tony Hayward, the former BP CEO forced out after the Deepwater Horizon spill, as chairman of its mining and commodities trading group today, a role he has filled on an interim basis. (Silvia Antonioli and Karolin Schaps, Reuters)

POLLUTION THREATENS FOOD SUPPLY. New research indicates that elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide may strip crops of basic nutritional value. (Mary Macvean, Los Angeles Times)

THE DIVESTMENT DOMINO EFFECT. Stanford University's recent decision to rid its portfolio of fossil-fuel investment has given student activists hope that other schools may soon follow. (Michael McDonald, Bloomberg)


"During my time in the Clinton White House I really became an advocate for both climate change and a change in our energy system to react to that, so I guess I was the green chief of staff." —Senior adviser to president Obama John Podesta, speaking at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy Spring 2014 energy policy conference about how he first got interested in climate change and energy issues


WILL MIDTERMS MOVE THE NEEDLE ON ENERGY ISSUES? A major push is underway in Congress to create a legislative path forward on liquefied natural-gas exports and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. How will electoral politics make a mark on those battles?

"As an energy-abundant nation, America should logically be a major energy exporter. This is already the case with coal, and there is no reason we can't become one of the world's largest gas exporters as well, with all the attendant job creation and environmental benefits that will follow." —Bernard Weinstein, associate director, Maguire Energy Institute

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders


OBAMA TALKS ENERGY IN CALIFORNIA. The president will deliver remarks on energy efficiency in Mountain View.

ANIMALS AND AGRICULTURE. The Animal Agriculture Alliance holds its 13th annual stakeholders summit on "Cracking the Millennial Code," May 8-9.

CLEAN AIR ACT EVENT. The Environmental Law Institute holds a discussion on "The Clean Air Act: New Directions in Law, Policy and Practice," May 8-9.

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Exactly what I need as a busy college student."

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