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Energy Edge

The Beginning and End of Mary Landrieu's Keystone Push -- Energy Edge Brought to You by Chevron

June 17, 2014

THE BEGINNING AND END OF MARY LANDRIEU'S KEYSTONE PUSH?

Mary Landrieu may be about to find out the limits of her power.

The Louisiana Democrat has scheduled a vote tomorrow on approving the Keystone XL pipeline in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that she chairs. Facing a tough reelection fight, she is sure to use the opportunity to demonstrate her Capitol Hill clout as committee chairwoman.

 

But while the bill is likely to clear the committee, the Senate's top Democrat signaled Tuesday that he's in no rush to bring the legislation, which would divide his caucus, before the full Senate.

Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested that Republicans, who strongly back the proposed pipeline, may have missed their chance in May. That's when negotiations aimed at allowing a Keystone vote in return for Republicans agreeing to advance an energy-efficiency bill collapsed.

"I agreed to give them a vote … they, the Republicans," Reid said at the Capitol on Tuesday, referring to the failed negotiations. "They wouldn't take it. Next question."

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, was equally noncommittal and, like Reid, pointed the finger at Republicans. "We made that offer at one point before," he told reporters at the Capitol when asked about a vote on approving Keystone. "The Republicans wanted more."

Asked if the bill will come to the floor, Durbin said, "I don't think so," before adding: "But I don't know that."

For Landrieu, a strong backer of the pipeline and an ally of her state's oil industry, the rough path for a Keystone approval bill even if it clears committee exposes the limits of her authority. And the opposition won't hesitate to point that out.

"Mary Landrieu can bring this up for a vote every day from now until the end of the year, and it's not going to mean anything," Sen. John Barrasso, a member of the GOP leadership team, said Tuesday.

Ben Geman and Clare Foran
bgeman@nationaljournal.com
cforan@nationaljournal.com

TOP ENERGY NEWS

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

OBAMA ANNOUNCES MAJOR OCEAN SANCTUARY EXPANSION. President Obama unveiled plans to create the world's largest marine sanctuary, setting aside a swath of the south-central Pacific Ocean from fishing, energy development and other activities. The action would double the area of ocean that is protected globally and is meant to protect the coral reefs and marine species in the region. The Washington Post had details ahead of the announcement, made this morning at a State Department event on oceans.

The move, which mirrors Obama's use of executive action to protect land areas, drew a swift rebuke from House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. In a statement, Hastings said that oceans "are intended to be multiple-use and open for a wide range of economic activities that includes fishing, recreation, conservation and energy production. It appears this administration will use whatever authorities—real or made-up—to close our ocean and coastal areas with blatant disregard for possible economic consequences."

NORTH DAKOTA REACHES OIL MILESTONE ... Oil production surpassed one million barrels per day in April, the state's Department of Mineral Resources announced, a milestone that highlights the rapid development growth in the booming Bakken formation. That's up from 790,000 barrels per day in April of 2013, according to Reuters.

... AND NONE TOO SOON, SENATOR SAYS. GOP Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota said turmoil abroad shows the need to keep growing U.S. production. "If recent events in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere in the world teach us anything, it is that we must build our domestic energy resources and reduce our reliance on Middle Eastern oil to strengthen America's national and economic security," he said.

OBAMA'S CODED CLIMATE POLITICS. President Obama's climate speech Saturday got plenty of press for its lengthy assault on global-warming denial. But what excited an aggressive wing of the climate movement were just a few cryptic words elsewhere in the commencement address at the University of California. (Ben Geman, National Journal)

BLUEGREEN ALLIANCE DIRECTOR HEADING TO DOE. David Foster, the executive director of the environmental-labor partnership BlueGreen Alliance, will join the Energy Department as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the group announced today. Kim Glas, deputy assistant secretary of Commerce, will replace Foster to lead the 15-member alliance.

EXXON CHIEF: SANCTIONS, SCHMANCTIONS. Via Bloomberg, a dispatch from a major energy conference in Russia Monday: "Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson talked up his company's prospects in Russia, appearing in Moscow alongside OAO Rosneft (ROSN) CEO Igor Sechin, who's been sanctioned by the U.S. government." Tillerson said existing joint work with Rosneft provides a template for further exploration, especially in the Arctic Kara sea, the story notes. (Eduard Gismatullin, Bloomberg)

BP, CHINA STRIKE MAJOR NATURAL-GAS DEAL. Reuters reports: "Oil major BP will sign a deal worth around $20 billion later on Tuesday to supply China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) with liquefiednatural gas (LNG), BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said at a conference in Moscow." (Vladimir Soldatkin, Nina Chestney, Reuters)

EUROPE'S GAS STOCKPILE CREATES BUFFER AGAINST RUSSIA. Bloomberg reports: "The European Union's biggest gas inventories in three years are cushioning the region from Russian supply disruptions and helping avoid a repeat of previous crises when prices rose as much as fourfold." (Isis Almeida and Anna Shiryaevskaya, Bloomberg).

OBAMA BET HIS ENVIRONMENTAL LEGACY ON HILLARY CLINTON. The president is taking a big risk. He promised to act on global warming and the White House has outlined an ambitious plan to cut air pollution from power plants. But executive branch action is not set in stone. And future administrations could roll back what Obama has worked to achieve. It won't be easy, quick or painless, but it could be done. (Clare Foran, National Journal)

KOCH BROTHERS' NEW SUPER PAC. A new super PAC from Charles and David Koch represents a change in philosophy for the billionaires, Politico reports. The Freedom Partners Action Fund will spend more than $15 million in the midterms to support candidates that share the free market ideals espoused by the Kochs' political network. Traditionally their work has been on issue-based campaigns. (Ken Vogel and Darren Goode, Politico)

BATTLE OF THE AIRWAVES. The Natural Resources Defense Council has released a 30-second ad that seeks to rebut messaging by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Mining Association criticizing EPA's carbon-pollution standards for power plants. The ad, which will run for two weeks, accuses the groups of "polluting the airwaves" by fighting against the standards.

JAPAN, INDIA EYE CARBON OFFSET DEAL. Japanese media are reporting that the country will accelerate negotiations on a deal that would allow Japanese companies to install carbon-reduction technology in India in return for carbon credits for use in Japan. It would be the 12th country and the largest economy to sign up for the Japanese scheme. (Michael Szabo, Reuters)

WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING

WILL THE HOUSE LEADERSHIP SHUFFLE IMPACT ENERGY POLICY? Will the Republican Party move further to the right when it comes to pushing an energy agenda? Or has the GOP already gone as far in that direction as it can go?

"It makes no difference who the majority leader is when it comes to energy policy since there is no present way to reconcile House and Senate notions of what constitutes sound energy policy." —William O'Keefe, CEO, George. C. Marshall Institute.

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

HAPPENING TOMORROW

MARY LANDRIEU'S BIG DAY. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a vote on FERC nominees Norman Bay and Cheryl LaFleur, as well as legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

HOW CAN WE SAVE THE GRID? The Environmental and Energy Study Institute holds a briefing on "Innovative Technologies to Strengthen the Grid."

ENERGY SPENDING BATTLE. The House Appropriations Committee holds a markup of the fiscal 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.

ENERGY JOBS HEARING. The House Natural Resources Committee Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee holds a hearing on "American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for States and Localities."

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