Legislative Activity

Cabinet Secretary Selections and Confirmation Hearings (Energy, Interior and EPA)

President-Elect Trump has selected former Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry as his nominee to lead the Department of Energy; current Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) for Secretary of the Department of Interior; and Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. According to Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Representative Zinke could be the first of that list to have his Senate confirmation hearing – possibly as soon as this week

Drought Legislation

While Congress passed drought legislation at the very end of the 114th Congress via the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, House Republicans labeled the drought measures in the bill as only a “short-term” fix and already appear eager to pass more comprehensive drought legislation this year. On January, 3, 2017 – the first day of the 115th Congressional Session – Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) introduced the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act (H.R. 23). The bill, which would aim to address the drought in California and other Western States, contains several measures that were opposed by Senate Democrats and ultimately dropped from the compromised language that was included in WIIN. Among other things, the bill purports to ease environmental water flow restrictions, move forward major water storage projects, and require regulators to comply with the bipartisan Bay-Delta Accord.

Potential Energy Legislation

After Congress failed to pass an energy bill late in in the 114th, Chairman Murkowski of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently publicly stated her continued desire to pass a comprehensive bill in the 115th Congress. The Chairman has not yet provided any further information, such as timing or breadth and depth of a potential bill.

Regulatory Activity

Department of Energy Quadrennial Energy Review Released

With a goal of “transforming the nation’s electricity system,” the Department of Energy has released a second installment of its Quadrennial Energy Review (QER 1.2), a nearly 500-page document which addresses “electricity from generation to end use.” The QER is intended as a guide for policy makers as well as investors concerning the nation’s energy market for the next 20-plus years. According to the agency, “the QER provides a roadmap for federal energy policy objectives, legislative proposals to Congress, Executive actions, and potential R&D, financing and incentive programs. The QER 1.2 analyzes trends and issues confronting the Nation’s electricity sector out to 2040, examining the entire electricity supply chain from generation to end use, and within the context of three overarching national goals to: (1) enhance economic competitiveness; (2) promote environmental responsibility; and (3) provide for the nation’s security.”