Split Senate panel approves FERC nominees, bill to fast-track KXL

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

ENR Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters after the meeting that she has assurances from the White House that Bay will serve as a commissioner for nine months before ascending to chairman. During that time, LaFleur will continue to lead the agency. “The president as I understand is very happy to have both of his [nominees] moving forward,” she said, adding that President Obama has signaled he will elevate Bay to chairman after nine months. “It satisfies some of the concerns that I thought were legitimate.”

Koch brothers launch energy-focused super PAC

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

A new political group backed by billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch plans to spend millions of dollars on energy-related issues in the midterm elections. The oil magnate Koch brothers unveiled the super political action committee, Freedom Partners Action Fund, at a closed-door conference with GOP donors over the weekend near Laguna Beach, Calif. Freedom Partners, run by a former Koch Industries lobbyist, plans to spend more than $13 million on anti-environmental messaging as part of a reported $290 million election-year effort to help elect conservative candidates.

Interior’s Mass. lease sale will be largest ever

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

The Interior Department today will announce plans to auction more than 1,100 square miles of waters off the Massachusetts coast for offshore wind projects, the largest lease sale of its kind in U.S. history. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is scheduled to make the announcement this afternoon in Boston alongside Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acting Director Walter Cruickshank.

Reid open to compromise on Bay nomination

Source: Hannah Northey and Elana Schor, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today left the door open to delaying the ascension of Norman Bay, President Obama’s choice for chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Reid, whose interest in FERC runs deep, said in a brief interview that he would be inclined to support whatever solution Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) advances to a bipartisan impasse over installing Bay immediately as chairman. When asked if that would extend to backing a delay in Bay’s move to the helm, however, Reid stopped short of full assent.

On eve of Senate panel vote, commissioner frets over agency’s politicization

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision to get involved in choosing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s next chairman is creating “dysfunction” at the agency and threatening its ability to function properly, a member of the commission said yesterday. John Norris, a Democratic member of FERC, during an interview yesterday expressed concerns that the commission, an arcane yet powerful agency that oversees the U.S. electric grid and natural gas infrastructure and pipelines, is being subjected to too much political pressure. “It’s concerning that an independent agency responsible for regulatory decisions has become so overly politicized,” Norris said.

EPA to publish carbon rule today, starting comment period

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

U.S. EPA will publish its proposal to limit existing power plant carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow in the Federal Register, marking the opening of a 120-day public comment period. But as interest groups prepare comments for and against the proposal, and states continue to assess its impact, Capitol Hill remains deadlocked over how or whether to respond to the rule. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) have introduced legislation in their respective chambers to prevent EPA from implementing the rule unless several agencies certify it would have no negative economic impact.

Fate of Obama centerpiece rule might be in his successor’s hands

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Reining in U.S. power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions may be one of President Obama’s top priorities, but it’ll be his successor who’ll have to finish the job — or try to undo it. The proposal for curbing carbon emissions from existing power plants that U.S. EPA rolled out on June 2 set in motion events that won’t be wrapped up by the time a new president is sworn in January 2017. “The outcome of the 2016 presidential election will be extremely important to the future of these rules,” said Michael Gerrard, climate law director at Columbia Law School. “If the American people elect a Republican president who adheres to the current party position on climate regulation, it’s likely that EPA implementation of the rules will stop, and there will be an effort to repeal them.”

9 governors ask Obama to nix carbon, water rules

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Nine Republican governors asked President Obama today to scrap U.S. EPA’s climate rule proposal for existing power plants, blasting it as an unprecedented infringement on state authority. The governors, whose states are major producers and consumers of fossil fuels, told Obama in a letter the June 2 proposal from U.S. EPA would “largely dictate to states the type of electricity generation they could build and operate.” The letter was signed by the governors of Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

Tax cuts, wind energy restrictions signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. Here are four takeaways  

Source: By Jeremy Pelzer, Cleveland Plain Dealer • Posted: Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

John Kasich gave final approval Monday to sweeping budget review legislation that includes expanded tax cuts and credits and major new restrictions on new wind turbines in the state. Kasich, speaking at a signing ceremony held at a food bank in suburban Columbus, praised the tax cuts, as well as funding for issues such as mental health services.

Political spotlight returns to Energy panel this week with votes on FERC nominees, KXL pipeline

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 16th, 2014

The arcane but powerful Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will once again spark political conflagration this week as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee casts its vote on Norman Bay, President Obama’s second contentious pick in recent months to lead the agency. The Senate committee Wednesday is scheduled to vote on Bay and the renomination of Cheryl LaFleur, the agency’s acting chairwoman whose term expires this month, as well as a bill fast-tracking the stalled Keystone XL pipelin