The Week Ahead: Keystone XL Pipeline Takes Center Stage in House


Legislation to circumvent the need for presidential approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil derived from Canadian tar sands to refineries in Texas is expected to be marked up by the House Energy and Commerce Committee the week of April 15.

As detailed in an April 4 Energy and Climate Report article, the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3) has been put on the fast track, with a floor vote expected before the Memorial Day recess in May.

However, doubts remain over whether the Democratic-led Senate will take up the measure.

Meanwhile, the State Department, is conducting a supplemental environmental impact statement on changes to the pipeline route in Nebraska made in 2012. The department released a draft SEIS March 1 which found that the project would result in some environmental impacts but they could be mitigated.

Also, the State Department will hold one public hearing April 18 on the draft SEIS in Grand Island, Neb. The comment period ends April 22.

However, five major environmental groups have requested that the department extend the comment period from 45 days to 120 days, claiming the extra time is needed to determine what caused the March 29 oil spill of ExxonMobil Corp's Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Ark., which also carried Canadian oil sands output.

Senate to Hold Budget Hearing

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing April 18 on President Obama's $28.4 billion budget request for the Department of Energy.

An April 10 article provides details of the fiscal year 2014 request, which would increase funding for clean energy sources and alternative vehicle research while cutting fossil energy and nuclear programs.

The funding priorities outlined in the budget request, which represents an 8 percent increase in funding over fiscal 2012 enacted levels of $26.3 billion, are similar to previous Energy Department budgets proposed by the Obama administration.

California Air Resources Board to Meet

On April 19, the California Air Resources Board will meet to consider amendments to the state's cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions to link it to Quebec's.

As detailed in an April 9 articlecovering Gov. Jerry Brown's (D)  approval to link the programs, the amendments would allow California's regulated entities to use Quebec's compliance instruments, specifically offsets, to meet their annual emissions limits. Once finalized, the amendments call for the two programs to be linked, effective Jan. 1, 2014. 

Airlines on International Agenda

The European Parliament is expected to ratify a decision by the European Union to adopt a "stop the clock" measure to postpone by one year the inclusion of international airlines in the bloc's emissions trading system.

As covered in a March 12 article, international airlines have been included in the ETS since Jan. 1, 2012, a move that provoked protests from a number of countries, including China, India, and the United States. 

The postponement, which also must be approved by the EU Council, would only affect flights into and out of the European Union. Flights within the bloc must continue to report their emissions and surrender allowances to cover their 2012 emissions.

Energy Ministerial to Be Held in India

The fourth Clean Energy Ministerial will be held April 17-18 in New Delhi. The ministerial meeting is an outgrowth of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together representatives from 17 major economies that are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, including the United States, China, various EU member nations, Canada, and Indonesia.

Jonathan Pershing, who resigned as a senior U.S. climate negotiator at the State Department to serve as a senior climate policy official for the Energy Department, will represent the United States. A Jan. 18 article covers remarks by federal officials over Pershing's new role.

Other Energy, Climate Events

On April 17, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold a webinar on "Climate Change Adaptation for State and Local Governments: Overcoming the Uncertainty Barrier to Adaptation."

The International Integrated Reporting Council is expected to release a draft global integrated reporting framework April 16. Integrated reporting is combining financial information, such as would appear on a 10K form, and sustainability information, into one annual report. A final framework is planned to be released in December.

On April 16, the Worldwatch Institute will release a book, State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?

The Brookings Institution will launch a new report, The Policy Climate,April 15 in Washington, D.C. A panel discussion will follow, featuring Thomas C. Heller, executive director for the Climate Policy Initiative; Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for Energy and Climate Change in the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy; and Jennifer Morgan, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute.