House Letter on Nuclear Waste

In a December 11 letter, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) urged Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to explain how the Department intends on implementing two decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on nuclear waste. The court first ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must restart its Yucca Mountain repository investigation and then ruled that the Department must zero out its nuclear waste fee.

Radioactive Waste Management Plans Sought

Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and John Shimkus (R-IL) sent a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz December 11 requesting details about how the agency plans to respond to recent appeals court rulings on radioactive waste management and disposal fees. They have asked for a response by January 2.

RIN Verification Program to Be Finalized Early 2014

Chris Grunder, director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee December 11 that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to establish a voluntary verification program for renewable fuel credits will be finalized early next year. The program would establish qualifications for third-party auditors, who would determine the validity of renewable identification numbers.

Keystone EIS Delay Requested

House Democrats asked President Obama December 12 to wait to release a final environmental analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline until conflict of interest allegations are resolved. The State Department inspector general is expected to finalize its report in February.

Military Should Encourage Climate Change Action

Speaking at the Defense, National Security, and Climate Change Symposium December 12, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) aid that the United States military should advocate for addressing climate change, given their role as one of the most trusted voices in the country. The senator reiterated that failure to address climate change could present risks to our national security, pointing to findings in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.

Yucca Mountain Licensing Should Be Hastened

House Republicans told Nuclear Regulatory Commission members December 12 at an oversight hearing that they should hasten the licensing process for the stalled Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site. Chairman Allison Macfarlane told the committee that the commission faces a funding shortage in completing the license review. The next day, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power unveiled its 2014 agenda, citing legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act, to incite the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to complete its review of the Yucca Mountain waste storage site, and to reform Homeland Security’s chemical security program as priorities.

Potential Coal Industry Impacts of Financing Changes

Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew December 13 asking him to answer for the potential impacts to the coal industry of the agency’s recent guidance on ending U.S. support for the public financing of coal-fired power plants overseas. The pair asked the secretary to respond by January 17.

Legislation Introduced

  • On December 10, Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Lee Terry (R-NE), Gene Green (D-TX), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced H.R. 3683, a bill to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to improve United States-Israel energy cooperation.
  • The same day, Representatives Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), David McKinley (R-WV), Cramer, and Luetkemeyer introduced H.R. 3684, a bill to prohibit Federal funding of foreign travel by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency until the Agency conducts public listening sessions on rulemaking targeting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants in each of the 15 States with the highest percentage of electricity generated by coal in 2012.
  • On December 11, Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) introduced H.R. 3702, a bill to delay the effective date of certain rules of the Environmental Protection Agency until a report is submitted and a law is enacted setting the rule's effective date.
  • The same day, Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) introduced H.R. 3703, a bill to provide for the expedited approval of the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline, and for other purposes.
  • On December 13, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-WA) introduced H.R. 3733, the Trade and Environmental Enforcement Act. The bill would increase tariffs on countries with weak environmental enforcement standards.
  • The same day, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013. The measure would eliminate the corn ethanol requirement of the Renewable Fuel Standards.

Upcoming Hearings

  •  On December 17, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the nominations of Janice Schneider to be Assistant Interior Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Neil Kornze to be the Bureau of Land Management Director, Dr. Marc Kastner to be Director of the Department of Energy Office of Science, and Dr. Ellen Williams to be Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). It will also vote on the nominations of Steven Croley to be General Counsel for the Department of Energy and Christopher Smith to be the agency’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy.
  • The same day, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will consider Thomas Burke to be Assistant Environmental Protection Agency Administrator for Research and Development; Victoria Wassmer to be the agency’s chief financial officer; Rhea Suh to be Assistant Interior Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks; and Roy Williams to be Assistant Commerce Secretary for Economic Development.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on legislation December 19, including a bill aimed at increasing energy cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a similar measure last week.