Week Ahead: N.J. Republican Lawmaker Boosting EPA’s Budget

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By Chuck McCutcheon

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) will get an initial public crack at boosting EPA spending as House Appropriations Committee chairman at a Tuesday committee markup of the fiscal 2018 budget bill, one of numerous environment and energy events scheduled for the week of July 17.

Frelinghuysen, who took over as Appropriations chairman in January, has compiled a moderate voting record since arriving in Congress in 1995, though he has grown more conservative in recent years as his caucus shifted to the right.

He worked with environmental advocates on a 2004 law to preserve land in environmentally sensitive areas of New Jersey and nearby states. He differs with some of his Republican colleagues in having said publicly that humans have “some effect” on climate change.

Frelinghuysen questioned Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt at a June hearing about the Trump administration’s proposed 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget. The House Appropriations’ Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee approved a spending bill this month that would cut the EPA’s budget about 7 percent.

In particular, Frelinghuysen cited his home state’s large number of Superfund sites and noted that the majority of cleanup money comes not from the federal government, but from companies and other parties found responsible for contamination. He also lauded the EPA’s “damn good team” serving the mid-Atlantic region.

“I think it’s good to sort of move with precaution and caution before you take any, too many dramatic steps,” Freylinghuysen told Pruitt.

The House subcommittee’s spending bill would provide more than $1.1 billion for the Superfund program, well above the $516 million requested in Trump’s budget. Pruitt told Frelinghuysen, however, that Superfund remains “absolutely a priority for this administration.” Tiffany Stecker will cover the appropriations markup.

In Other News

House bills: The House is expected to consider several environment-related bills:

  • H.R. 806, which would delay deadlines for the EPA’s 2015 ozone standards and has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats. Catherine Douglas Moran will cover.
  • H.R. 2883, which would accelerate the permitting process for cross-border pipelines, transmission lines, and other energy projects. Bloomberg BNA staff will cover.
  • H.R. 2910, which would reinforce the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s role as the lead agency for siting interstate natural gas pipelines. Bloomberg BNA staff will cover.
Senate energy bill: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will hold a Tuesday hearing to help build support for comprehensive energy legislation ( S. 1460) she introduced with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking member. The hearing will feature testimony from representatives of the American Nuclear Society, International Energy Agency, and Carmot Strategic Group. Brian Dabbs will cover.

Energy Committee nominations: The Energy and Natural Resources Committee will meet Thursday to consider six Trump administration nominees, including Mark Wesley Menezes to be undersecretary of Energy; Paul Dabbar to be Energy’s undersecretary for science; David Jonas to be Energy’s general counsel; and Susan Combs to be an assistant secretary of the Interior for policy, management and budget. Rebecca Kern will follow.

Electricity industry: The House Energy and Commerce’s Energy Subcommittee will hold a Tuesday hearing on the state of the electricity industry. Panelists include representatives from Duke Energy Corp., NextEra Energy, and American Municipal Power Inc. Rebecca Kern will cover.

Energy technology: The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a Wednesday hearing on how the private sector can commercialize next-generation energy technology to increase efficiency, environmental benefit, and consumer savings. Panelists include representatives from Oklo and AES Energy Storage. Bloomberg BNA staff will monitor.

Resources bills: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a Wednesday hearing on five bills, including a measure ( H.R. 424) that would delist gray wolves from federal Endangered Species Act protections in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Wyoming. Alan Kovski will track.

California cap-and-trade: California lawmakers are scheduled to vote Monday on a bill that would extend the state’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions. The measure ( A.B. 398) would preserve the basic structure of the existing trading program, which establishes declining annual caps that businesses such as oil refineries, power plants, cement producers, and distributors of natural gas and transportation fuels must meet. California’s powerful environmental justice community says the bill is too friendly to the oil industry. Carolyn Whetzel will handle.

Perry at Press Club: Energy Secretary Rick Perry will speak Tuesday at the National Press Club with International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol. Perry is expected to discuss how the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for oil and gas will provide energy security for the U.S., as well as trading partners and allies. Rebecca Kern will cover.

Renewable fuels: The Center for Strategic & International Studies will hold a Wednesday forum on the renewable fuel standard. Participants include representatives from Citi Research and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Brian Dabbs will monitor.

Children’s health panel: The EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee will discuss lead emissions from aircraft fuel, lead in drinking water, chemical safety, and other issues Tuesday and Wednesday. Sylvia Carignan, David Schultz, and Pat Rizzuto will cover.

Colorado pipelines: An update on a recent flowline notice to operators will be the focus of a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission industry operations meeting on Tuesday. The commission issued the notice, which required inspections and pressure testing of underground natural gas and oil pipelines within 1,000 feet of homes and other occupied buildings, after a fatal explosion was caused by a severed natural gas line near a home in Firestone in April. Tripp Baltz will watch.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chuck McCutcheon in Washington, D.C., at cmccutcheon@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

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