Energy News for January 23, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on January 23, 2015

Politico Morning Energy: Keystone debate ends in anger – Oil markets seen as stable after Saudi king’s death – Senior FERC official retiring – Meiberg gets formal nod for EPA’s #2 spot – Hogan pulls environmental reg

MIDNIGHT MADNESS – KEYSTONE DEBATE ENDS IN ANGER: The new, freewheeling Senate of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presided over an agitated debate on the Keystone XL pipeline that churned into Friday’s wee hours and ended with aggrieved Democrats crying Koch. Around midnight, a seemingly endless series of amendment votes and quorum calls shifted as McConnell moved to end debate on a bill that would yank President Barack Obama’s authority over the proposed oil pipeline – after quickly disposing of five Democratic amendments. Elana Schor explains what happened:

Pending Republican amendments are: One from Dan Sullivan restricting EPA law enforcement officers from carrying firearms; a Ted Cruz amendment expediting LNG exports to WTO nations; one from Jerry Moran delisting the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species; an amendment from David Vitter and Bill Cassidy on offshore revenue distribution; a proposal from Jeff Flake to consolidate ‘duplicative’ green building programs; and ‘sense of the Senate’ amendments on Arctic projects and national monuments.

Plus: One Democratic amendment from Ben Cardin is teed up; it would give communities reliant on drinking water that could be affected by a Keystone XL spill an analysis of such risks.

Overheard on C-SPAN, an off-camera comment from a senator after McConnell announced the plan for next votes to take place Monday at 5:30 p.m.: “Well I guess we have to go home.”

SO THIS IS REGULAR ORDER? Senate Republicans have opened the door to amendments and a raucous debate on the Senate floor – and a fair amount of drama. It’s not clear whether Republicans can keep up the semi-controlled, freewheeling style of this week’s debate over the amendments to the Keystone XL pipeline bill or if the majority will return to the tightly controlled process used by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for upcoming debates on everything from energy and tax reform to immigration. Darren Goode has more:

OIL MARKETS SEEN AS STABLE AFTER SAUDI KING’S DEATH: The AP writes: “Oil prices rose on the news of the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Thursday, but the king’s death is not expected to change the course of oil prices over the next several months. … The question now is whether Abdullah’s successor, his 79-year-old half-brother Prince Salman, will change the kingdom’s oil policy. That’s unlikely in the near-term, analysts say. Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi has expressed a desire to retire, but he is expected to stay on at least through OPEC’s next scheduled meeting, in June.” AP:


Today’s Washington Brief:

  • After Senators stayed at the Capitol past midnight, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on the keystone pipeline approval bill, which has been under debate since the new Congress began. A vote is expected as early as Tuesday. National Journal has the story.
  • President Obama will nominate Stan Meiburg, EPA’s acting deputy chief, to be officially appointed to the position. The Hill
  • Iowa’s government is launching a campaign to make ethanol a central issue in the 2016 presidential elections, which will likely make it more difficult for lawmakers to repeal or reform the controversial Renewable Fuel Standard. More from The Hill.


Today’s Business Brief:

  • In an interview with Scientific American, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the fall in oil prices won’t kill the business for renewables.
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died yesterday. The news pushed oil prices up to $52 a barrel, Reuters Abdullah’s Successor, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, is expected to maintain the country’s oil policy. More from Vox.
  • A New Mexico federal court struck down a county’s ban on fracking. But the ruling leaves open the possibility for less restrictive rules and is unclear on how far those rules could go. E&E
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