Legislative Activity

House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds FERC Oversight Hearing

Last Thursday, December 5, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing titled “Evaluating the Role of FERC in a Changing Energy Landscape” featuring testimony of all sitting members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The hearing was also Cheryl A. LaFleur’s first opportunity to testify before the committee as acting chair of the Commission.  Chairman LaFleur’s testimony focused primarily on grid reliability, grid security, and cyber-security issues.  In her prepared remarks, the acting chair noted that while “the Commission is making progress on [these] fronts,” it is still coming to grips with new threats that require the Commission to develop “meaningful, cost-effective regulation in an environment of rapid change and imperfect knowledge.”

EPA’S Carbon Capture and Sequestration Justification Comes Under Fire

Last Tuesday, December 3, House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy criticizing the quality of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific justifications the agency used to support carbon capture sequestration as the best available control to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at new coal-fired power plants. In his letter, Chairman Smith cited to a recent memorandum drafted by members of the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Committee which asserts that EPA’s technical justifications supporting carbon capture sequestration as viable control “would benefit from additional review.” Chairman Smith argued that the EPA should not ignore these concerns, and “should not act to unilaterally impose regulations on the American people, particularly when its own advisors have expressed reservations regarding the science on which those regulations are based.”

House Appropriations Committee Adds Three New Members

Last Wednesday, December 4, the House Appropriations Committee named three new Republican members to join the panel following the passing of the late Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) and the resignation of Rep. Joe Bonner (R-AL) and Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA). Committee Chairman Hal Rogers announced that Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-UT) will fill the three vacancies.

 This Week’s Hearings

  • Thursday, December 12: the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a legislative hearing for H.R. 3132, the “Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reorganization Plan Codification and Complements Act.”
  • Thursday, December 12: the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing and business meeting in executive session to consider pending nominations for key positions at the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of the Interior (DOI). During the hearing, members will evaluate the nominations of Dr. Franklin M. Orr to serve as Under Secretary for Science at the DOE, Jonathan Elkind to serve as Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at DOE, and Tommy Beaudeau to serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy at DOI. Committee members will also vote on the nominations of Christopher A. Smith to serve as Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, and Steven P. Croley to serve as General Counsel at the DOE.

Regulatory Activity

President Obama Issues Federal Renewable Energy Mandate Memorandum

Last Thursday, December 5, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum directing the heads of executive departments and agencies to ensure that by 2020, “20 percent of the total amount of electric energy consumed by each agency during any fiscal year shall be renewable energy.” The directive fulfills a pledge the President made in his Climate Action Plan released in June of this year. To ensure that departments and agencies are abiding by the President’s directive, progress for meeting the 2020 benchmarks will be measured “by reference to the ownership of renewable energy certificates for electric energy consumed.”