The Week Ahead: House May Vote on Energy Spending Bill, D.C. Court Hears Motions to Dismiss Public Trust Greenhouse Gas Case


A spending bill that would provide nearly $1.4 billion for the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for fiscal year 2013 may be brought to the House floor in the next week.

The bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee April 26, and includes $2 billion for the office, as detailed in an April 26 World Climate Change Reportarticle. The bill is part of a larger spending package totaling $33.4 billion to fund energy and water programs.

Neither the House or Senate version of the bill would fund DOE's loan guarantee program designed to fund clean energy projects.

D.C. Circuit Hears Motions to Dismiss Public Trust Greenhouse Gas

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit is scheduled to hear argument May 11 on motions to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to require the federal government to place an immediate cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

As detailed in an April 3 article, the motions to dismiss Looorz v. Jacksonfollow a federal judge's ruling allowing two business groups to intervene in the case. The case was originally filed by advocacy groups, who sued to force the government to control greenhouse gas emissions under the public trust doctrine. The doctrine, a common law concept, requires governments to manage vital natural resources for the common benefit of everyone, including future generations. 

 Bill Would Delay EPA Rules

The House Energy and Commerce Committee also may take action on a bill to delay environmental rules that some members say are causing gasoline prices to rise.

The Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012 (H.R. 4471) would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing final rules to implement Tier 3 vehicle emissions standards, greenhouse gas standards for oil refineries, and ozone air quality standards. The bill would bar finalization of such rules for at least 6 months, until a multi-agency panel has studied their effect on gas prices.

Details of the bill's markup are provided in an April 24 article.

House Hearings on Green Buildings, Energy

The science behind the systems used the rate green buildings will be the subject of a hearing May 8 by the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.

On May 9, The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing on two bills: the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act of 2012 and the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012.

The bills are part of the House Republicans broad energy plan, dubbed the American Energy Initiative.

 California Energy Commission to Hold Energy Workshop

On May 10, the California Energy Commission will hold a workshop on "Identifying and Prioritizing Geographic Areas for Renewable Development in California."

The commission is seeking input from experts, stakeholders, and the public on what defines a priority area for renewable energy development; current efforts, strategies, and best practices to identify priority areas; and how to meet a statewide goal of generating 12,000 megawatts of renewable distributed generation.

Germany Upper House to Vote on Cuts in Solar Subsidies

In Europe, Germany's upper house (the Bundesrat) is expected to vote May 11 on a bill to further reduce solar subsidies.

As detailed in a April 4 article, the lower house (Bundestag) approved a bill March 29 which excluded a Cabinet-initiated mechanism that would allow future cuts without legislators' approval. The upper house declined to pass that version of the bill and sent it to committee for further review.