Legislative Activity

House Natural Resources Committee Approves Mountaintop Mining Lesiglation

On Thursday, November 14, the House Natural Resources Committee voted to favorably report H.R. 2824, the “Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America” Act, introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson, by a margin of 24-14. The legislation would prevent the Department of Interior (DOI) from promulgating any regulation under the authority of Section 503 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 “relating to stream buffer zones or stream protection before” for at least five years by: (1) requiring certain states to issue regulations in the first instance; (2) requiring DOI to study the effectiveness of those regulations over the course of a five-year period; (3) and issuing a report evaluating the effectiveness of those regulations.

Senate Energy Committee Pose to Approval Key DOE Nominees

Last Thursday, November 14, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider several of President Obama’s pending nominations for key positions at the Department of Energy (DOE) and DOI, including the nominations for Mr. Christopher A. Smith to serve as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Fossil Energy and Stephen A. Crowley to serve as the DOE General Counsel. Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) expressed support for the nominees and no other committee members expressed opposition.

House Appropriations Committee Names New Energy and Water Cardinal

On Wednesday, November 13, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) appointed a new chairman for the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which has jurisdiction over the DOE, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The new chairman will be Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), who currently chairs the subcommittee on Interior and the Environment (which has jurisdiction over the EPA, the DOI, and related agencies).

This Week’s Hearings

  • Tuesday, November 19: the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a markup for H.R. 3301, the “North American Energy Infrastructure Act.”  .
  • Thursday, November 21: the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled “NRC’s Implementation of the Fukishima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety.”

Regulatory Activity

EPA Proposes Rule to Reduce the RFS Level for 2014

Last Friday, November 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to revise the annual percentage standards for renewable fuels in 2014. The proposal seeks to reduce the percentage of renewable fuels that oil refiners must blend into petroleum products from 16.55 billion gallons to 15.21 billion gallons of biofuel. If finalized, the proposal would reduce the RFS blend standard for the first time in the program’s history, and down to a level established for 2012. EPA is seeking public comments on the proposal for a number of items, including whether the RFS standard should be set at a range between 15 billion gallons and 15.52 billion gallons. The public comment period will last 60 days after the NPRM appears in the Federal Register.