The Week Ahead: Senate May Hold Vote on Moniz, Energy Bills on Agenda, NOAA to Brief Congress


The Senate may hold a floor vote the week of April 22 on whether to confirm nominee Ernest Moniz to be Secretary of Energy. He is expected to be confirmed.

As detailed in an April 18 Energy and Climate Reportarticle covering his approval by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Moniz said he supports renewable energy as well as the nation's "stunning" boom in domestic natural gas and oil production.

Moniz, who serves as head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Energy Program, said if confirmed, he would help implement a broad review of national energy policy that likely would affect DOE's research and development budget. 

Energy Bills in Congress

On April 23, the Senate Natural Resources Committee will hold hearings on energy efficiency and hydropower legislation.

An April 17 article covers the introduction of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (no bill number assigned) that would create energy efficiency financing programs for commercial buildings and the industrial sector and require the federal government to increase efficiency, among other conservation measures. The bill was introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). 

The committee will also hold a hearing April 23 on the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (S. 306), the Hydropower Improvement Act (S. 545), and the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act (H.R. 267).

As covered in an April 10 article, the House passed its version of S. 306 on a 416-7 vote after an amendment was added from its sponsor that removed one of its central provisions—a blanket exemption from review under the National Environmental Policy Act—in favor of codifying the bureau's recently updated “categorical exclusion” process under NEPA. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.).

On April 24, the House Natural Resources Committee plans to markup provisions of legislation for the Keystone XL oil pipeline—the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3)—dealing with protection of rivers and streams and wildlife habitat. H.R. 3 would approve the northern leg of the pipeline without the need for a presidential permit. The bill cleared the Energy and Commerce Committee April 17.

The committee also will hold a hearing April 26 on a bill—The Native American Energy Act (H.R. 1548)— that would facilitate the development of energy on Indian lands by reducing federal regulations.

On April 25, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing "to explore drought and the effects on energy and water management decisions."

NOAA to Brief Congress

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Program Office will hold a congressional briefing April 22 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on "Adaptation Strategies and Information Needs in Response to Extreme Weather Events."

The briefing will also feature a panel discussion on a case study series on water resource strategies needed in response to climate change and extreme weather events.

As detailed on its website, NOAA, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, Water Environment Research Foundation, Water Research Foundation, Concurrent Technologies Corporation, and Noblis, have prepared case studies for the following areas that have been impacted by extreme weather events, such as floods, storms and derechos, sea-level rise, storm surges, drought, and unseasonable frost:

  • California's Russian River watershed
  • Georgia's Upper Apalachicola- Chattahoochee-Flint River basin
  • Kansas/Missouri's Lower Missouri River basin
  • Virginia's Tidewater area
  • Washington, D.C.'s: national capital area

CARB to Hold Meeting

The California Air Resources Board will hold a meeting April 25 to discuss a draft Cap-and-Trade Auction Proceeds Investment Plan for Fiscal Years 2013-14 through 2015-16.

As detailed in a Jan. 10 article, the state's budget plan calls for spending $437.6 million derived from the sale of greenhouse gas allowances under its cap-and-trade program in 2013-2014. According to budget provisions, CARB must develop a plan for spending the auction revenue that would be consistent with state climate policies.

WTO to Hear Dispute

On April 22, the World Trade Organization's Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Committee will hear claims by India that it has identified an additional four U.S. state programs for the promotion of renewable energy that it says might be offering illegal subsidies.

As detailed in an April 18 article, India said it was "concerned" that solar energy incentive programs in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Minnesota have provisions relating to local or domestic content requirements which raises "issues of consistency" under other WTO agreements.

For example, India said Delaware's Solar Renewable Energy Credits program grants energy suppliers an additional 10 percent credit toward meeting mandated requirements if at least 50 percent of the cost of renewable energy equipment is sourced in the state.

PNC Shareholders to Vote

On April 23, PNC Financial Services Group's shareholders are scheduled to vote on a resolution that would require the company to report to them by September on the firm's exposure to climate change risk. 

As detailed in a Feb. 20 article, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the resolution that would require the firm to provide an assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions "resulting from its lending portfolio and its exposure to climate change risk in lending, investing and financing activities." SEC's approval of the PNC resolution did not create a new duty for the entire financial services industry, SEC said.