House Narrowly Passes Two Partisan Rules Bills During “Energy Week”
Last week, the House narrowly approved two partisan energy-related bills, H.R. 3826 (the “Electricity Security and Affordability Act”) and H.R. 2641 (the “Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2013” or RAPID Act), as part of the House Republican Leadership’s thematic “energy week.” H.R. 3826, which was introduced by Rep. Whitfield (R-KY) and would restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to promulgate a new standard to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new fossil-fired power plants, passed with a vote of 229-183. H.R. 2641, which was introduced by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and would force federal agencies’ to more expeditiously complete environmental analysis for projects that require review under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), passed by a vote of 229-179.
Energy Efficiency Legislation Passes in the House on Suspension of the Rules
Last Wednesday, March 5, the House passed H.R. 2126, the “Energy Efficiency Improvement Act,” by a strong bipartisan vote of 375-36. H.R. 2621 was introduced by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), and included a number of provisions that would promote federal and private sector energy efficiency. Importantly, the legislation’s success could set up a potential conference with the Senate if more comprehensive legislation such as the S. 2074, the updated energy efficiency legislation re-introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) on Thursday, February 27, ultimately advances through the legislative process.
THIS WEEK’S HEARINGS
- Wednesday, March 12: The House Science Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Science of Capture and Storage: Understanding EPA’s Carbon Rules.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA SUBMITS HIS FY 2015 BUDGET REQUEST TO CONGRESS
On Tuesday, March 4, President Obama transmitted his roughly $3.9 trillion FY 2015 budget request to the Congress. The proposal includes modest budget increases over FY 2014 funding levels for several agencies, while others, like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would receive moderate or modest cuts. The EPA budget would drop to $7.9 billion from $8.2 billion (a 3.7 percent reduction from FY 2014 levels), for example, while the Department of Energy would receive $27.9 billion (a 2.6 percent increase from the FY 2014 funding level). The Department of Interior would also receive a boost to $11.9 billion (including $753.2 million for activities related to expanding conventional and renewable energy programs), the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) would receive $170 million (a $1 million increase from FY 2014), and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement would receive $205 million (a budget cut of $17 million from FY 2014 levels).
EPA RELEASES FINAL STANDARD FOR GASOLINE SULFUR CONTENT
On Monday, March 3, the EPA finalized a new, more stringent air quality standard to reduce air pollution associated with sulfur content in gasoline. According to the EPA, the new rule will “make emission control systems more effective for both existing and new vehicles, and will enable more stringent vehicle emissions standards.” The final rule will require gasoline refiners to meet an annual average sulfur content of 10 parts per million (ppm) by Jan. 1, 2017, which represents a significant reduction from the current standard of 30 ppm. The final rule also offers refiners limited flexibility to come into compliance with the new standard over a six-year period by participating in a sulfur credit averaging, banking and trading system between 2014 and 2019.
EPA EXTENDS COMMENT PERIOD FOR NEW POWER PLANT GHG RULE
On Wednesday, March 5, the EPA extended the public comment period for the agency’s proposed rule to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for new fossil-fired power plants. Stakeholders may now file comments until May 9, as opposed to the previous March 10 deadline.