Though Congress is out on Memorial Day recess this week, we anticipate a significant amount of work to be accomplished the weeks to follow. The Senate is expected to easily approve Dr. Allison Macfarlane to be Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman, Penny Pritzker to be Secretary of Commerce, and Anthony Foxx to be Secretary of Transportation. It is less clear when the Senate will vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. The spokesperson for Senate Environment and Public Works Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA) projected the vote to be held in June, although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he does not have a time frame for the vote.
Last Tuesday and Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held its second and final forums on natural gas. Issues discussed included export terminals and hydraulic fracturing. Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he, Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and committee members will have high level conversations in the upcoming weeks to create legislation around recommendations from the participants.
The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the Farm Bill following this recess, possibly next week. The Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency package and several bipartisan hydropower bills are likely to receive floor time this summer. However, the Northern Route Approval Act, which was approved by the House 241-175 on Wednesday, is less likely to see time in the Senate. The President has released a memo stating his intention to veto the bill, and members from both sides of the aisle have written to him on the issue.
Off the Hill, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz was sworn in on Tuesday and has already spoken out about energy efficiency, natural gas export terminals, and renewable energy. The same day, the Environmental Protection Agency published its long awaited Tier 3 rule. Following industry comments, the agency extended the public comment period on the gasoline sulfur concentration regulations to July 1.