The Week Ahead: Congress to Consider Bills on Keystone, Natural Gas, Federal Rulemaking

The Senate plans to consider legislation (S. 1) to approve the Keystone XL pipeline during the week of Jan. 12 that could also include amendments to undermine Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants and expedite natural gas exports.

As covered in a Jan. 6 article, the Republican-controlled Senate is moving forward with the plan to approve Keystone pipeline despite a White House announcement that it would veto the measure.

If Republicans are unable to secure 67 votes to override a veto, Republicans are expected to attach the measure to other energy or appropriations bills that President Barack Obama would be less inclined to veto.

On Jan. 9, the House voted 266-153 to approve the pipeline. All but one Republican voted for the measure, joined by 28 Democrats. The vote falls short of the two-thirds needed to override a veto.

Pipeline Permitting Bill

Legislation that would expedite the permitting of new natural gas pipelines is expected to be brought to the House floor in the week ahead.

As covered in a Jan. 5 article, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act would establish statutory deadlines for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and federal resource agencies to approve permits for constructing new interstate natural gas pipelines.

The bill, approved in 2013 by a vote of 252-165, was never taken up by the Senate.

Regulatory Procedures Bill

Also during the week of Jan. 12, the House is expected to debate a bill that would change how federal regulatory agencies promulgate rules and provide industry groups more of a voice in the development of regulations.

As covered in a Jan. 7 Energy and Climate Report article, the Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 185) would require the EPA and other federal agencies to seek the least costly method for industries to comply with regulations. In addition to allowing more input from groups, it would allow judicial review of rules before they are finalized.

Global Temperatures Report

On Jan. 16, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are scheduled to release their 2014 report on global temperatures.

As covered in a Jan. 8 article, NOAA’s U.S.-focused report found that 2014 was the 18th consecutive year of above-average temperatures, with Alaska, Arizona, California and Nevada experiencing their warmest year on record.

Federal Advisory Committee

The Commerce Department’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee will hold a teleconference Jan. 13. The committee advises the commerce secretary on developing and administering programs and policies to expand the competitiveness of U.S. exports of renewable energy and energy efficiency goods and services, in accordance with applicable U.S. regulations.

Other Energy, Climate Events

On Jan. 15, the Environmental Law Institute will host Patricia Beneke, director of United Nations Environment Program’s Regional Office of North America, to discuss UNEP's work on climate change and how governments can strengthen and implement institutions, laws and policies to achieve sustainable development. 

Ryan Lance, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, will be the featured speaker Jan. 14, at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on “The U.S. Energy Renaissance and Exports.”

On Jan. 12, the UNEP will launch its first Massive Open Online Course on “Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate.” The MOOC, which will be offered through March 30, will feature ecosystem-based solutions for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, case studies, guest speakers and related content. The estimated time to complete the MOOC is 40-50 hours.

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