Legislative Activity

Energy Efficiency Legislation

Today, the Senate is scheduled to resume consideration of S. 1392, energy efficiency legislation introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). The Senate began to consider the legislation last Wednesday, September 11, but disagreements regarding non-germane amendments related to the Keystone XL Pipeline and implementation of the Affordable Care Act forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to postpone debate regarding the legislation.

Whitfield Draft Emissions Legislation

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, is preparing draft legislation that would establish emissions “parameters” for coal-fired power plants in advance of a proposed rule that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to release on Friday, September 20 to restrict carbon dioxide emission levels for stationary source power plants. Chairman Whitfield explained that he will introduce the legislation if the EPA proposes the rule, but has not finalized the text of the draft at this time.

Yucca Mountain

Last week, on Tuesday, September 10, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing regarding spent nuclear waste titled “Implementing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act – Next Steps.” During the hearing, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Allison M. MacFarlane announced a tentative plan to comply with an order issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which forced the NRC to complete its safety review on Yucca Mountain. Chairman MacFarlane also announced that she will not recuse herself from the Yucca Mountain proceeding; rejecting a request filed by a county government in Nevada that supports the Yucca Mountain proposal.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, September 17 the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Mr. Ron Binz to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Ms. Elizabeth M. Robinson to serve as Under Secretary of Energy, and Mr. Michael L. Connor to serve as Deputy Secretary of Interior.
  • Wednesday, September 18: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies.”
  • Thursday, September 19:  The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold an oversight hearing titled “Keeping Hydropower Affordable and Reliable: The Protection of Existing Hydropower Investments and the Promotion of New Development.”

Regulatory Activity

DOE Approves Dominion LNG Export Contract

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Wednesday, September 11 that it had conditionally authorized Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that do not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. In approving the export contract, DOE concluded that opponents of the Dominion application failed to demonstrate that the requested authorization would be inconsistent with the public interest, and will instead “yield net economic benefits to the United States.”

NRC Publishes Spent Nuclear Fuel Proposal

On Friday, September 13, the NRC published a notice of proposed rulemaking and supporting environmental study in the Federal Register regarding effects of extended storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed operating life of commercial reactors. The Commission established a 75-day public comment period for the “Waste Confidence” proposal that will terminate on November 27, and the Commission will hold 12 meetings across the country to receive public comment on the proposed rule.

President Obama Nominates Acting Fossil Energy Chief At DOE

President Obama nominated Chris Smith to serve as the full-time Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the Department of Energy.  Since February, Mr. Smith has served in this position in an acting capacity.

Upcoming Meetings and Events:

  • Thursday, September 19: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold an open meeting.  An agenda for the meeting should be circulated by the agency soon.
  • Thursday, September 26: The NRC will hold a public meeting in Carlsbad, California to discuss the decommissioning process for nuclear power reactors.