Legislative Activity

Rep. Upton and Rep. Green Introduce Energy Infrastructure Project Reform Legislation

Last Tuesday, October 22, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), along with a bipartisan group of original cosponsors, introduced the North American Energy Infrastructure Act (H.R. 3301). The legislation would eliminate the State Department’s authority to approve an energy infrastructure project, defined as an oil or gas pipeline or electric transmission facility that crosses the U.S.-Canadian or U.S.-Mexican border, and instead delegate that responsibility to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Department of Energy (DOE), or the Department of Commerce, depending on the nature of the project. H.R. 3301 also would require the relevant government agency to approve an application unless it finds that the project is not in the national security interests of the United States. Under current law, the State Department may approve a project if it deems the project to be in the national interest. Finally, the draft bill would clarify that energy infrastructure projects covered under the legislation are not “major federal actions” subject to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

This Week’s Hearings

  • Tuesday, October 29: The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “EPA’s Regulatory Threat to Affordable, Reliable Energy: The Perspective of Coal Communities.”
  • Tuesday, October 29: The Energy and Commerce Committee also will hold a legislative hearing to examine H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act.

Regulatory Activity

EIA Releases New Analytic Tool for Shale Production

Last Monday, October 21, the DOE’s Energy Information Agency (EIA) unveiled a new tool to measure U.S. production output of oil, with a focus on drilling in the six shale regions responsible for 90 percent of domestic oil, in its monthly “Drilling Productivity Report.” The first report shows that production is up in the six shale regions, in particular oil production in the Permian Basin and natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale.

State Department Articulates Goals For 2015 Climate Summit

Last Tuesday, October 22, the State Department’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Ambassador Todd Stern, delivered a speech in London at the Chatham House titled “The Shape of a New International Climate Agreement.” During his speech, Ambassador Stern outlined the State Department’s goals for achieving a legally enforceable international climate change agreement by the end of 2015, and noted that the United States will seek an agreement that contains a “supple architecture that integrates flexibility with strength” that does not contain a strict timeline to achieve targets for limiting carbon emissions. He indicated that the U.S. government will push for a flexible package that will be “internationally legally binding in all respects” and applicable to all members of the international community.

NRC Reschedules Spent Nuclear Fuel Meetings

Due to the recent government shutdown, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was forced to postpone the first five “waste confidence” meetings planned to inform the public comment period for the commission’s proposed rule to govern storage of spent nuclear fuel. The NRC rescheduled three of those meetings last Monday, October 21. The three meetings now will take place in Oak Brook, Illinois, Carlsbad, California, and San Luis Obispo, California on November 12, 18, and 20, respectively. The NRC is still working to confirm new times for waste confidence meetings in Perrysburg, Ohio, and Minnetonka, Minnesota.