Jeremy Dillon

Senate Energy-Water Rejects Research Cuts Sought by White House
‘We started with an unrealistic budget proposal by the administration’

The Senate Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee advanced by voice vote Tuesday a $43.8 billion draft fiscal 2019 spending measure that, like the House’s bill, does not include drastic reductions in applied research programs proposed by the Trump administration.

The draft legislation, parts of which were made public Tuesday in the committee majority’s summary, represents a $566 million increase from fiscal 2018 enacted appropriations and a $7.2 billion increase from the Trump administration request. The House version would fund the same agencies at $44.7 billion.

Growth in Domestic Oil and Natural Gas Poses New Policy Issues
Republicans want to make overseas shipment of liquefied natural gas easier

When it comes to U.S. energy supplies, Congress’ default setting for decades had been worry: worry that America did not have enough energy to meet its needs and worry that OPEC would hold the U.S. hostage by jacking up the price of — or withholding — its oil.

That setting has changed. With the U.S. flush with supplies of oil and natural gas over the past few years, Congress has permitted the export of domestic oil and raided the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reduce the budget deficit and offset costs of unrelated legislation. And now Republicans want to make it easier for producers to ship liquefied natural gas overseas.

Florida Delegation Playing Hardball to Extend Offshore Drilling Moratorium
Sunshine State Democrats and Republicans may target NDAA

Emboldened by a Defense Department report that expressed worries about unfettered offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s House delegation is preparing to throw its weight around to win a multiyear extension of a moratorium off its coasts.

The bipartisan commitment from the third largest congressional delegation, reached last week, may affect the $708.1 billion defense authorization bill that is being considered by the Rules Committee Monday and Tuesday ahead of a vote as soon as Wednesday.

Yucca Mountain’s Lone Ranger Finally Corrals House Attention
Nuclear waste bill passes easily in House, faces roadblocks in Senate

Visiting Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2011 was like walking through a ghost town, Rep. John Shimkus recalled in an interview this week.

It was the year after the Obama administration surrendered to fervent local opposition and halted work by the Department of Energy to prepare the site to store the nation’s commercial nuclear waste, even though Congress designated it for that purpose in the 1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Bipartisan Support for Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Bill — Except in Nevada
State’s congressional delegation prepared a series of amendments, but hardly any reached the floor

The House will take up legislation this week that would help restart the stalled process for making Nevada’s Yucca Mountain a central repository for commercial nuclear waste. After years of false starts and misses, the bill is moving with bipartisan support.

In Nevada, however, there is bipartisan opposition to the Yucca project, and the state’s congressional delegation prepared a series of amendments meant to ensure that the House would consider key safety provisions for the project, which is located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas and adjacent to the land where the government tested nuclear weapons.

Grid Cybersecurity Bills Advanced by House Energy Subcommittee
Bipartisanship crumbles for export bill

Bipartisan bills that aim to improve the government’s response to cybersecurity attacks on the electric grid advanced out of a House Energy and Commerce panel Wednesday. The action was the latest sign of heightened awareness on Capitol Hill that malicious hackers might be able to turn out the lights.

Four pieces of legislation — all focused on putting into statute coordination within the Department of Energy to prevent cyber attacks on the grid and other energy infrastructure — were advanced by the Energy Subcommittee by voice votes. The votes showed unusual unity on the often-partisan panel.

Dragging an Energy Bill From the Ashes
For their bipartisan bill, Murkowski and Cantwell are willing to try, try again

Amid a forest of judicial appointments and other Trump administration confirmation votes, lawmakers pushing a bipartisan energy and natural resources bill in the Senate are still taking whacks in hope of moving legislation — or parts of it — before the end of this Congress.

The bill would represent the first major energy policy update in a decade, with provisions to bolster cybersecurity, speed up permits for energy infrastructure and promote energy efficiency. It could represent a rare opportunity for energy-state lawmakers to bring home some policy victories ahead of the midterm election.

Gowdy’s Oversight Panel Knocking On Interior’s Pricey Doors
Committee wants answers about $139,000 doors, in latest showdown over spending by Trump’s Cabinet officials

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s $139,000 replacement doors have earned him a trip to the principal’s office.

In a letter dated March 22, House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy requested a briefing from Zinke following news reports surrounding the procurement of replacement doors for his office at the Interior Department.

Perry Told to Do More on Grid Cybersecurity After Russian Hacks
‘We don’t need rhetoric at this point, we need action’

Energy Secretary Rick Perry got an earful from senators on both sides of the aisle Tuesday about the importance of a robust cybersecurity policy at the Energy Department in the aftermath of last week’s report of Russian intrusion into key energy infrastructure last year.

The response, Perry told the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at a fiscal 2019 budget hearing Tuesday, will lie in a new breakout office dedicated to cybersecurity with a direct communication pathway to his office.

‘I’m Serious, I’m Persistent, I’m Determined’: Whitehouse Talks Climate Change Ahead of 200th Floor Speech
 

Every week the Senate has been in session since his first floor speech on climate change on April 18, 2012, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has urged his colleagues to take action to curb carbon emissions. Tuesday’s planned speech marks a milestone 200th appearance on the topic that he says isn’t going away anytime soon....
Whitehouse Preps 200th Climate Speech, Hoping Senate Will Stir
“It is an indicator of the extent [to] which the fossil fuel industry owns the joint”

Every week of every Senate session for the last six years, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has taken to the floor to urge his colleagues to “wake up” to the dire consequences of their inaction on climate change.

But the slumbering chamber keeps hitting the snooze button.

Russians Meddled in Energy Policy, Science Committee GOP Says
Report reveals Russian agents used social media in attempt to influence the U.S. energy market

Russian social media meddlers tried to influence U.S. energy markets and undercut the country’s emerging domestic natural gas production capabilities, according to a report released Thursday by the Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

The report written by GOP committee staff cited data provided by major social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for activity that occurred from 2015 through 2017.

Cold Snap Showed Grid Resilience, Lawmakers are Told

The recent cold snap and “bomb cyclone” weather event that chilled much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast this month appears to have showed the reliability and resilience of the electric grid as currently operated, energy officials said Tuesday at congressional oversight hearing.

But it also showed some of the vulnerabilities to the grid, especially as they relate to energy infrastructure, including natural gas pipelines, as wholesale market consumers saw high prices in response to record demand.

Holds on Energy and Environment Nominees Pile Up — Again
Procedural roadblocks reflect concerns about Trump administration policies

A series of energy- and environment-related nominees are stuck in limbo as procedural roadblocks, or “holds,” pile up over concerns by Republican and Democratic lawmakers about policy implementations by the Trump administration.

The holdups — five announced last week — have almost become a rite of passage for Trump nominees looking to take positions within the Energy Department, Interior Department and the EPA.

Florida Offshore Decision Unleashes Opposition Tidal Wave
Other states want similar treatment

The Interior Department’s decision to remove Florida’s coasts from its draft five-year offshore oil and gas drilling plan because of staunch opposition from the state has opened a floodgate of coastal state governments demanding similar treatment.

[Florida to Be Spared In Offshore Drilling Expansion, Zinke Says]

Florida to Be Spared In Offshore Drilling Expansion, Zinke Says
Sen. Bill Nelson alleges move was aimed at helping rival score political points

A plan to open Florida’s tourism-dependent Atlantic and Gulf coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling was dropped by the Trump administration on Tuesday after a bipartisan backlash that also threatened to complicate a must-pass fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose department on Jan. 4 revealed a draft five-year plan for expanding the sale of federal offshore drilling leases to the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans, as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico, announced Tuesday night on Twitter that Florida’s two coasts would not be included in the expansion.

West Coast, Florida Foes Resist Trump Offshore Drilling Plan
Both Republicans and Democrats pan Interior Department proposal

There is a reason the last federal sale of oil or gas drilling leases off Florida’s Gulf Coast or California’s Pacific coast was in the 1980s: The local and congressional opposition is bipartisan and intense.

That’s also why the Trump administration can expect a fight over its new offshore strategy, which calls for drilling in areas once thought to be sacrosanct.

Plan to Boost Coal and Nuclear Could Cost Consumers
Should consumers pay more so coal and nuclear plants can survive?

For years, federal regulation of the electric grid has focused on keeping prices low and competition stiff. But that could change with a recent proposal from the Trump administration to put more emphasis on what it calls resiliency.

According to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the electric grid is more resilient — able to bounce back from disasters of the natural and man-made variety — when it has plenty of so-called baseload power that can run 24/7, with or without sunshine or wind and regardless of supply snags.

Green Energy Industry Says Lower Tax Credit Reneges on Promise
House GOP bill includes provision that removes an inflation adjustment

Renewable energy advocates are raising alarms that the House Republican tax plan released Thursday would sharply reduce a tax credit that has driven the rapid deployment of wind and solar power over the past two years.

The tax bill includes a provision that would remove an inflation adjustment from the renewable energy production tax credit, likely dropping it from 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour for tax year 2016 to 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Canada Sees ANWR Drilling Threat to Border-Crossing Caribou
But Murkowski says oil development impact on wildlife has been limited

The Canadian government cares about its people — and its caribou. And to protect the latter, the government has come out against the U.S. proposal to open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, citing the feared impact on a caribou herd that migrates across the shared border.

Canada’s opposition, expressed by its embassy in an email to Roll Call, puts the United States’ neighbor on the side of Democrats and environmental groups, both of whom are looking to scuttle Republican attempts to open the refuge using budget reconciliation — a procedural maneuver that enables legislation to pass with only a simple majority in the Senate.