The Week Ahead: Energy Policy Framework to Be Released by House Republicans, Congressional Hearings on Agenda


House Republicans are expected to unveil an energy policy framework the week of Feb. 9 that will focus on modernizing energy infrastructure and the U.S. energy workforce and boosting energy efficiency, among other things.

The effort is being coordinated with Senate Republicans, who are in the beginning stages of writing a multi-title, comprehensive energy bill led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Congressional Hearings

On Feb. 11, Janet McCabe, the Environmental Protection Agency acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, will testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the agency’s proposed carbon dioxide emissions rules for new, modified and existing power plants.

On Feb. 12, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the Department of Energy's budget request for fiscal year 2016.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will also hold a hearing Feb. 11 on the DOE budget request.

As covered in a Feb. 2 Energy and Climate Report article, DOE would receive $29.9 billion under the budget request released by the White House, a $2.6 billion increase over current funding levels and $2 billion more than President Barack Obama requested for fiscal year 2015.

International Events

The United Nations will hold climate talks Feb. 8-13 in Geneva with the goal of developing a draft text for an international climate agreement.

The draft text must be available for negotiations by late May under UN rules. Negotiators also are expected to work on new strategies to facilitate increased climate action before 2020, when a Paris accord—to be negotiated at the end of 2015—would enter into force.

On Feb. 9 envoys to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, which was signed by 77 countries in 1994, will meet in Vienna during which they are expected to make a declaration—instead of adopting legal obligations—to mitigate against contamination from nuclear accidents.

As covered in a Feb. 5 article, Europeans want to tighten nuclear-safety regulations by forcing regulators to show how old reactors can be retrofitted to mitigate against accidents. The U.S. and Russia oppose imposing the EU standards everywhere, claiming they would be divisive.

California to Hold Hearings on Draft Oil, Gas Report

The California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources will hold public hearings Feb. 10 in Ventura and Feb. 11 in Los Angeles on a draft report that found the most significant environmental impacts of oil and gas well stimulation activities could be minimized under the state’s new regulations and proposed mitigation measures. 

As covered in a Jan. 15 article, the draft report looks at potential greenhouse gas emissions, seismic impacts, cultural impacts, noise and vibration, visual impacts and other environmental risk areas.

Additional hearings are scheduled for Feb. 18 in Oakland, Feb. 19 in Sacramento, Feb. 23 in Bakersfield and Feb. 25 in Salinas.

Other Energy, Climate Events

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds highly experimental research unlikely to get traditional financing, will host its annual summit Feb. 9-11 in Washington. On Feb. 11, DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz is scheduled give a “fireside chat.”

The Western Governors' Association will host a webinar Feb. 13 on its Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop, an online platform that collects critical state and federal information related to siting and permitting of renewable energy and bulk electricity transmission projects in the western U.S.

On Feb. 9, Texas-based Waste Control Specialists is expected to announce its plans to develop an interim consolidated storage facility for commercial spent nuclear fuel. According to a Nuclear Energy Institute news release, the facility would be the first U.S. interim storage facility, a concept that was recommended in 2012 by President Barack Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.

The Electric Drive Transportation Association’s Electric Drive Congress 2015 will be held Feb. 10-11 in Washington. Industry executives, policymakers and other stakeholders will discuss what to expect in the electric vehicle market and what role federal and regional leaders will play in developing next generation transportation options.

On Feb. 10, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute and the Electric Drive Transportation Association will hold a briefing  in Washington on the “Road Ahead for Electric Vehicles.”  Featured speakers include Sens.  Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tracy Woodard, director of government affairs for Nissan. 

Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service Center for Contemporary Arab Studies will hold an event Feb. 11-13 in Washington on “An Energy Revolution? The Political Ecologies of Shale Oil in the Middle East, U.S. and China.”

On Feb. 12, the Association of Climate Change Officer’s Women's Climate Collaborative will hold a webinar on “Lean In to Fight Climate Change.” Featured speakers include Connie Sasala, chief sustainability officer for Cameron-Cole LLC, and Margery Moore, director of environmental strategic alliances for Bloomberg BNA.

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