The Week Ahead: Blueprint for Energy Legislation Expected to Be Circulated Among Senators


How the United States can increase domestic energy production will be a major component of a "blueprint" for energy legislation expected to be released the week of Jan. 28 by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The blueprint, which will include "concepts for discussion" rather than specific provisions, will be circulated among Republicans for their input, she said. Murkowski's remarks, along with comments over potentially exporting U.S. liquefied natural gas to Japan, are covered in a Jan. 23 World Climate Change Report article.

To overcome partisan gridlock, Murkowski said she has been meeting with committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House counterparts, including Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to determine if energy legislation can be approved by both chambers within the next two years.

Meanwhile, the House will hold a constituent work week and is not scheduled to meet until Feb. 4.

Pretrial Hearing on Keystone Scheduled

On Jan. 31, a pretrial hearing will be held in Nebraska District Court over a lawsuit filed by Nebraska landowners challenging a state pipline siting law for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that would transport crude oil from the Alberta oil sands region in Canada to Texas.

As detailed in a Jan. 7 article, if the plaintiffs succeed in their lawsuit, the state could be forced to start all over with a new process to find an acceptable route for the pipline, even if the State Department approves it and President Obama grants a federal permit for the project.

As covered in a Jan. 22 article, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) has approved a revised route for the pipeline. However, the new route, which would run farther east than the original route, still crosses over the Ogallala Aquifer, an environmentally sensitive area.

NOAA Faces Deadline

Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, faces a Feb. 1 deadline to provide Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, with answers to questions related to dust storm activity in the United States.

In a letter sent to Lubchenco Jan. 14, Markey said the extreme drought in the United States is on par with the worst months of the Dust Bowl and could be exacerbated by climate change, resulting in increased dust storms. Among the questions posed by Markey is whether NOAA can predict when and where dust storms will occur and what the scientific understanding is of the relationship between climate change and dust storms.

NASA to Hold Forum

On Jan. 29, NASA will host an Inter-Agency Forum on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptationsin Washington, D.C. The agenda includes a presentation by Jacqueline Richter-Menge, a polar researcher for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, on The Arctic Report Card, which describes conditions for summer 2012; a presentation by Margaret Peloso, an associate with Vinson and Elkins LLP, on governance issues associated with sea-level rise adaptation; and Blair Feltmate, chair of Canada's Climate Change Adaptation Project, on a report, Climate Change Adaptation: A Priorities Plan for Canada.

New York to Host Webinar 

As part of its ClimAid webinar series, the New York Energy Research and Development Authority will hold a webinar Jan. 29 on "Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee: Impacts and Responses." William Solecki, a professor at City University of New York will present the results of a case-study project that investigated the hydrological, vulnerability, and adaptation implications of the storms in Orange and Ulster counties. Simon Gruber, also a CUNY professor, will discuss steps some communities hit by the storms have taken to increase their resilience to future extreme weather events.

Webinar to Feature Energy Developments in China

On Jan. 29, the Woodrow Wilson Center will host a webinar on the launch of a new book by Joanna Lewis, assistant professor at Georgetown University, on Green Innovation In China: China's Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low Carbon Economy. Casey Delhotal, director of East Asian Affairs for the Department of Energy, also will provide an update on Sino-U.S. cooperation on clean energy during the second Obama administration. A panel discussion will follow.