The Week Ahead: Energy Bill Heads to Full Committee, EPA Panel Meets to Discuss Tailoring Rule Permitting


The House Appropriations Committee is expected to markup a $32.1 billion energy and water appropriations bill in the week ahead for fiscal year 2013.

As detailed in an April 18 World Climate ChangeReportarticle, the bill would provide $26.3 billion for the Energy Department, a reduction of $358 million from current funding levels.

Among the largest cuts proposed in the bill would be for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which would be funded at $1.45 billion, $374 million below enacted levels and $886 million below the 2013 budget request.

Advisory Committee to Meet on Tailoring Rule

Options to streamline the greenhouse gas permitting process under the Clean Air Act will be discussed by an Environmental Protection Agency advisory workgroup in a closed session April 24, with an update to the full advisory committee April 25.

The Clean Air Act Advisory Committee's Tailoring Rule Permit Streamlining Workgroup, as covered in an April 19 article, is considering allowing plantwide applicability limits and EPA to issue synthetic minor permits. 

Chu Memo 'Picks Winners and Losers in Energy Market'? 

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is expected to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee April 26 on a memorandum sent to federal power agencies, which include the Bonneville Power Administration, Southeastern Power Administration, Southwestern Power Administration, and Western Area Power Administration.

As detailed in a March 19 article, Chu sent a memorandum to the federal power administrations to explain that he would push for rate changes that provide incentives for energy efficiency programs, demand response programs, integration of “variable” resources—a phrase typically referring to wind and solar power—and preparation for deployment of electric vehicles.

Committee Chairman Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), who announced the hearing, said the memo will be used to impose "experimental schemes designed to pick winners and losers in the energy market which raising energy costs."

Rare Earth Minerals Focus of House Subcommittee

A bill to promote the development of rare earth minerals in the United States  is scheduled to be the subject of a hearing April 26 by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012, which is the subject of an April 19 article, stems from concern over China's dominance in the supply of rare earth elements, many of which are used in energy-efficient lighting, batteries, wind turbines, and other technologies, including those used by the Defense Department.

Inter-Agency Forum to Discuss Issues

NASA will host a federal interagency forum on “Climate Change Impacts & Adaptations” April 25 in Washington, D.C. These regular forums provide an informal venue for agencies to share approaches, data, expertise, and scenarios related to climate change.

The agenda includes a discussion of new publications on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies; lessons learned from four NASA site-specific climate risk workshops; federal climate change action related to the federal supply chain; and past, present, and future climate-related studies by the Government Accountability Office.

EIA to Release Report

The U.S. Energy Information Administration is expected to release a report April 26 providing its annual energy outlook.

The agency's "reference" case, which is a primary forecast based on current laws and regulations, was released Jan. 23, and predicted that global oil prices would rise to $146 per barrel by 2035, while the share of renewable energy will grow.

As covered in a Jan. 24 article, more scenarios are scheduled to be released this year that will examine the impact of future policy changes, such as greenhouse gas regulations and fuel economy standards for 2017-2025 vehicles.

Jackson to Address Sustainability; Chu Speaks in London

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is expected to speak April 25 during the Ceres conference on "Igniting Innovation, Scaling Sustainability" in Boston. According to Ceres, a coalition of investors and public interest organizations, companies continue to address climate change and other environmental challenges, despite a weak economy.

Chu is scheduled to attend, along with foreign energy ministers, the third Clean Energy Ministerial, to be held in London April 25-26. The ministerial's main focus is on the development of clean energy technologies. Ministers from more than 20 participating countries will discuss progress on the group's 11 clean energy initiatives. They also will explore ways to enhance collaboration between governments and develop strategies to drive public-private engagement to support clean energy.