Legislative Activity

Shaheen/Portman Energy Cloture Vote Fails

On Monday, May 12 the Senate voted against a motion to invoke cloture and end debate on S. 2262, the “Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2014,” after Senate leaders were unable to reach a deal to consider a group of energy-related amendments. While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) voted against the cloture motion to preserve his ability to bring the legislation up again for reconsideration at a later date, it is unlikely that S. 2262 will be reconsidered in its current form before the midterm election.

This Week’s Hearings

  • Tuesday, May 20: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Ms. Cheryl A. LaFleur to serve a second term as commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and to consider the nomination of Mr. Norman C. Bay to serve as chairman of the FERC.
  • Tuesday, May 21: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing titled, “American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for American Manufacturing.”

Regulatory Activity

FERC Staff Issues Helpful EA Report on Dominion Cove LNG Export Facility

On Thursday, May 15, staff for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released an environmental assessment (EA) for the Cove Point Liquefaction Project proposal for eastern Maryland concluding that “approval of the proposed Project, with appropriate mitigating measures, would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” The staff EA is open for public comment until June 16, 2014. The full FERC will consider the staff EA and the public comments associated with it before issuing a final decision approving or rejecting the EA. If the FERC approves the EA, and adopts the staff conclusion that the project does not constitute a major federal action that would significantly affect the environment, DOE is likely to issue a final order approving the project without conditions.

EPA Issues Proposed Rule for Refineries

On Thursday, May 15, the EPA proposed a new standard to require U.S. petroleum refineries to perform air pollution monitoring for benzene concentrations at the fence-line of refinery properties. The proposed standard would also require refiners to engage in new emission control requirements for storage tanks, flares, and coking units. EPA’s proposal results from a consent decree the agency signed after a number of environmental groups sued the agency alleging it failed to perform its obligations under Section 112(d)(6) of the Clean Air Act. That provision requires EPA to “review, and revise as necessary (taking into account developments in practices, processes, and control technologies), emission standards . . . every eight years.” The consent decree required EPA to review its existing standards and either propose a new standard by May 15, 2014 (and promulgate a final standard by April 17, 2015) or issue a finding that revisions to existing standards are unnecessary. The proposal will be open for public comment 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.