The Week Ahead: Senate Expected to Take Up Energy Legislation, House to Address Obama's Climate Change Plan


The Senate is expected to continue its consideration of an energy efficiency bill Sept. 16. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 1392) was stalled last week over Republican efforts to block health provisions of the Affordable Care Act, largely referred to as Obamacare.

As detailed in a Sept. 13 Energy and Climate Reportarticle, S. 1392 would authorize $350 million over five years for measures to increase energy conservation in the federal government, establish voluntary national model building codes and increase energy efficiency in the manufacturing sector. The energy efficiency bill is largely supported by companies, including Johnson Controls Inc. and United Technologies Corp.    

More than 80 amendments have been filed on the bill, which is the first energy measure to be considered on the Senate floor since 2007.

House to Hold Hearing on Obama's Climate Change Plan

In the House, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will testify Sept. 18 at an Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on President Barack Obama's climate change plan, which, among other measures, directs EPA to repropose a Clean Air Act new source performance standard for new power plants by Sept. 20.

As covered in a July 9 article, the reproposed NSPS is expected to set different emission limits based on fuel type rather than a single emission limit regardless of the fuel burned to generate electricity. However, as detailed in a Sept. 12 article, while the reproposed rule is expected to be structured differently, the electric industry continues to oppose the regulation.

For existing power plants, as detailed in a June 25 article, Obama's plan, calls on EPA to propose emission guidelines to control carbon dioxide emissions by June 1, 2014, and issue final guidelines within a year. 

Senate to Consider Nominees

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold confirmation hearings Sept. 17 for President Barack Obama's nomination of  Ronald J. Binz to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Elizabeth M. Robinson to be under secretary of the Energy Department and Michael L. Connor to be deputy secretary of the Interior Department.

As discussed in a Sept. 9 article, Binz, who formerly served as chairman of the Colorado Public Utility Commission, has been criticized by the coal industry and its Republican allies for replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas and renewable energy in Colorado. 

House to Hold Hydropower; Climate, Weather Satellite Hearings

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold an oversight hearingSept. 19 on “Keeping Hydropower Affordable and Reliable: The Protection of Existing Hydropower Investments and the Promotion of New Development.”

As covered in an Aug. 9 article, Obama signed into law two pieces of legislation to encourage the development of small hydropower projects. Both the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act received nearly unanimous support from the House and Senate (P. L. 113-23 and P. L. 113-24).

On Sept. 19, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittees on Oversight and Environment will hold a hearing on "Dysfunction in Management of Weather and Climate Satellites."  

Witnesses scheduled to appear include David Powner, director of Information Technology Management Issues for the Government Accountability Office; Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for Satellite and Information Services at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Marcus Watkins, director of NASA's Joint Agency Satellite Division. 

Other Energy, Climate Events

On Sept 16, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute will hold a briefing in Washington on "Fast-Action Climate Mitigation: A Focus on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants." The featured speaker will be Achim Steiner, United Nations under-secretary general and executive director for the UN Environment Program.

The Environmental Law Institute will hold an event Sept. 17 in Washington on "How Best to Use CAA Section 111(d) to Regulate Existing Power Plants' Carbon Emissions." The institute also will hold an eventSept. 18 in Washington on "The Smart Grid: The Policy Challenges of a Connected Grid."

A group of nongovernmental climate skeptics will release a report Sept. 17 that says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has overstated the impact of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions on global temperatures.

Calling themselves the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, the group is made up of the Science & Environmental Policy Project, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and The Heartland Institute. Details of the report's release, including remarks by those who claim the group is trying to fool policy makers, are included in a Sept. 3 article.

On Sept. 18, Swiss Re will release a report on "Mind the Risk: A Global Ranking of Cities Under Threat From Natural Disasters." As discussed in a March 27 article, Swiss Re said high losses from disasters in 2012 failed to shake the insurance industry. The article also covers a Ceres report that found a majority of insurance companies lack a comprehensive plan to address climate change risks, but that some major companies, including Swiss Re, are better prepared than others to address risks posed by natural disasters and climate change.