OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Keystone, drilling battles rage in both chambers, wind tax credit amendment

Source: Ben Geman and Andrew Restuccia • The Hill.com • Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012

State of play: Political skirmishes over White House energy policy will unfold on both sides of Capitol Hill Tuesday.

House and Senate Republicans are planning to force committee votes on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, and Senate lawmakers are also poised to spar over offshore drilling and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development.

In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee is marking up GOP legislation that would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a permit for the pipeline within 30 days.

The markup comes after President Obama rejected a permit for TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Alberta-to-Texas pipeline last month, claiming an “arbitrary” deadline Republicans demanded would have short-circuited review.

Keystone has become a major political focus for Republicans seeking to hammer the White House for rebuffing jobs the project would bring.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is planning to include Keystone provisions in major transportation legislation that’s heading to the floor next week.

Across the Capitol, the Senate Finance Committee is marking up the portions of that chamber’s transportation package.

Republicans are preparing amendments to approve Keystone and mandate vastly wider oil-and-gas leasing than the White House supports.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has filed an amendment that would approve the pipeline and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

It would also require oil-and-gas lease sales in regions off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and repeal the moratorium that covers most of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The plan would raise as much as several billion dollars over a decade, according to Hatch’s office. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has also filed an amendment that would mandate a major offshore leasing expansion.

Their plans are among several energy-related amendments prepared for Tuesday’s markup, although it wasn’t clear as of press time which amendments will come up for a vote.

Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.), for instance, are floating a plan to extend the production tax credit for wind energy projects for one year through 2013.