THE REVOLVING-DOOR PIPELINE DEBATE
Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota believes a vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is still possible before the midterms—despite the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid squashed the chances of that happening as part of an energy-efficiency deal earlier this week.
"Yeah, I'm disappointed, but of course I'm continuing to work on it," Hoeven said Tuesday at an event hosted by Politico.
What's the way forward? Hoeven thinks Keystone could win approval if it's bundled with energy issues such as LNG exports and energy efficiency—legislative items he says have broad bipartisan support. Either that, Hoeven said, or Reid could reverse course and allow a vote as an amendment.
If all else fails, the senator believes the pipeline could sail through the Senate after the elections.
"Even if we don't get a majority, I think we're going to pick up enough pro-energy votes that we're going to be able to move these items," Hoeven said, referring to Keystone, LNG exports, and legislation to block Environmental Protection Agency regulations to limit power-plant emissions. Any attempt to dismantle the climate rule, however, is sure to face sharp pushback from the Oval Office. White House senior adviser John Podesta said earlier this month that Congress has no chance of stopping the rules, which stand as a centerpiece of the president's second-term climate agenda.
And when it comes to Keystone, the only thing that's really certain is that the politics of the pipeline has become the story that never ends.
TOP ENERGY NEWS
U.S. OIL-EXPORT REVIEW MOVES MARKET. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's remark that the U.S. is weighing whether crude-oil exports should be allowed sent oil prices upward Tuesday, even though John Podesta already said the same thing recently. (Nicole Friedman, Wall Street Journal)
SIERRA CLUB GIVES NOD OF APPROVAL TO JASON CARTER. The Sierra Club announced its endorsement of Democrat Jason Carter in the Georgia gubernatorial race.
TWO DEAD AT MINE CITED BY FEDS. Two miners have died after an incident at a Patriot Coal mine in Boone County, W.Va., on Monday night. The Brody Mine No. 1 had been cited by federal inspectors for more than 250 "significant and substantial" violations, including unreported injuries. The mine was under increased scrutiny by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. (Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette)
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GOP OFFERS PREVIEW OF ENERGY AGENDA. The amendments that became the center of the dispute that doomed the Shaheen-Portman energy-efficiency bill to failure Monday also gave a preview of what energy priorities the Right wants to push. Language barring EPA's greenhouse-gas standards for power plants, air-quality rules for ozone, and, of course, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline are all issues that will be brought up again—especially if Republicans win back the Senate in the midterms. (Jason Plautz, National Journal)
RUBIO TALKS CLIMATE, PART TWO. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a presidential hopeful, clarified his position on climate change at a National Press Club event Tuesday. The senator from Florida seemed to soften his stance on global warming, which he claimed over the weekend is not caused by human activity, when he said: "The issue is not whether the climate is changing.... The issue is whether there are legislative proposals before us that can do anything about it. And what I have said, and what I disagree with, is the notion that if we pass cap-and-trade, for example, it will stop this from happening." (Alexandra Jaffe, The Hill)
17 DEAD IN TURKEY MINE EXPLOSION. A power unit explosion and subsequent fire at a Turkish coal mine has left 17 dead and more than 200 trapped underground. (Suzan Fraser, AP)
SOLAR GROWTH BOOSTS GREEN JOBS. Employment in the solar-power industry increased by two-thirds, a surge that stems largely from green job growth in China and Japan. As a result, total green jobs hit 6.5 million in 2013, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency in a new report. (Marc Roca, Bloomberg)
DEMOCRATS DROP NUKE SAFETY BILLS. Three Senate Democrats have introduced a trio of bills aimed at increasing the safety of decommissioned nuclear sites ahead of an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the subject. The bills would bar the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from exempting spent fuel at reactors that have been shut down from emergency response requirements until the fuel has been moved into dry casks. Another bill would give local and state authorities more input into decommissioning plans for retired plants, while the third would ensure greater use of dry casks for spent fuel.
STEYER HEDGE FUND BOOSTED COAL ABROAD. Reuters looks at international fossil-fuel investments made by Farallon, the hedge fund where billionaire and green advocate Tom Steyer worked as a comanaging partner until 2012. During his tenure, the report says, Farallon helped finance coal-project acquisitions in Indonesia and Australia valued at more than $2 billion and ramped up coal production in both countries. Steyer has said he left Farallon because he wasn't comfortable being at a firm whose investments included coal and tar sands and has asked the fund to divest his holdings in fossil fuels. (Richard Valdmanis, Fergus Jensen and Sonali Paul, Reuters)
ACID RAIN LEAVES MIXED LEGACY. FiveThirtyEight digs into the recovery of lakes and streams that were affected by acid rain 24 years after landmark legislation went after the pollution. The findings show that waters in the Northeast have been cleaned up, while problems continue to linger in the central Appalachians. (Brooks Miner, FiveThirtyEight)
HOUSE COMMITTEE PREPS FIELD HEARING ON HABITAT DESIGNATION. Even though the House is in recess, the Natural Resources Committee will travel to Arkansas on Wednesday for a hearing on a Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to designate more than 700 river miles in the state as a critical habitat for neosho mucket and rabbitsfoot mussels. The proposal has rankled businesses, which say it will cause too much disruption in their activities.
GORE SAYS CLIMATE DENIAL FUNDED BY THE KOCHS. In an address delivered at the University of Chicago on Monday, Al Gore said Republicans refuse to face facts on climate because fossil-fuel backers are cutting them big checks. Referring to conservatives, Gore said: "They will face primary opponents financed by the Koch brothers, and others who are part of their group, if they even breathe the slightest breath of sympathy for the truth about climate science. It's not really that complicated." (Mollie Reilly, Huffington Post)
FOR LANDRIEU, POLITICS HAS BECOME A FAMILY AFFAIR. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is out with a new campaign ad featuring none other than dear old dad. The senator appears in the television spot with her father, Moon Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans. The father-daughter duo talk up Landrieu's push to approve Keystone and how she fought hard for Gulf Coast restoration. (Alexandra Jaffe, The Hill)
WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING
CAN CONGRESS EVER HAVE A REASONABLE ENERGY DEBATE? What will it take for lawmakers to pass an energy bill or carry out meaningful debate on energy policy? How might the political calculus on energy change after the midterm elections? And what gets lost when bipartisan bills can't get to a vote?
"While the Shaheen-Portman bill is solid energy policy, with no drawbacks, and has no 'negatives' for either political party—the timing is a negative factor preceding the midyear congressional elections. Parties try to differentiate themselves before elections to provide stark choices for voters, and the Keystone pipeline has become a symbolic issue regarding energy, as is President Obama's support of 'green' energy." —Scott Sklar, founder, The Stella Group, Ltd.
NUCLEAR FACILITY HEARING. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on decommissioning nuclear reactors.
CRITICAL HABITAT HEARING. The House Natural Resources Committee holds a field hearing in Arkansas on the impact of federal critical-habitat designations on private landowners.
WILDFIRES HEARING. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a hearing on wildfires and forest management.
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE DISCUSSION. The Value of Water Coalition hosts a discussion on water infrastructure.
CLIMATE CHANGE DISCUSSION. The Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program hosts a discussion on the role of demography in addressing climate change.
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