House Passes Energy Omnibus Legislation – White House Issues Veto Threat
Last Thursday, September 18, the House considered and passed H.R. 2, the “American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act,” by a largely partisan vote of 226-191. The legislative package includes thirteen energy policy proposals ranging from provisions to require executive approval of the presidential permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, to a provision that would amend the Natural Gas Act to force the Department of Energy to expedite consideration of applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG). The legislation was considered under a closed rule prohibiting amendment. Not surprisingly, the White House issued a statement of administration policy explaining that, if presented to the President in its current form, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passes Russian Sanctions Bill
On Thursday, September 18, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved legislation that would impose new sanctions on Russia’s energy and defense sector. The legislation, titled “The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014,” would require President Obama to impose a minimum of three additional sanctions against: (1) Rosoboronexport and other defense firms that allegedly contribute to instability in Ukraine and the region; (2) firms that invest in unconventional Russian crude oil energy projects; and (3) Gazprom, if President Obama determines that Gazprom is withholding significant natural gas supplies from NATO member countries or withholds natural gas from countries in the region. The legislation passed by a roll call vote of 18-0.
EPA Extends Comment Deadline in Clean Power Plan Docket
On Tuesday, September 16, the EPA agreed to extend its comment deadline in the Clean Power Plan docket by 45 days. EPA agreed to extend the deadline after 53 senators wrote a letter to the EPA making a request for an extension of 60 days. The comment deadline will now fall on December 1, 2014. In a letter responding to the Sen. Heitkamp (D-ND) (who co-authored the original letter of request with Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)), EPA’s acting chief of the Air Office, Ms. Janet McCabe, agreed to extend the deadline even though EPA’s outreach process, in her view, has already been extensive. She noted that the EPA has already received comment from at least 300 stakeholder groups from around the country, and conducted 8 days of public hearings where agency officials received testimony from roughly 1,300 people