June 14, 2010

Break Out the Flash Cards: AidesSay Markey "Has Been Prepping for Weeks" Ahead of Tomorrow’s Annual Show Trialwith Big Five Energy Executives.E&E News (6/14,subs. req’d) reports, "Rep. Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has summoned the topexecutives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips and Shell OilCo., as well as BP, to a hearing in his House Energy and EnvironmentSubcommittee tomorrow. While the other executives are unlikely to deliver theharsh rebuke that BP has received from lawmakers and elsewhere, they will beput on the spot to explain how their safety protocol and response plans differfrom BP’s, making it difficult for them to completely avoid leveling at leastimplicit criticism against BP, according to congressional aides. Markey hasbeen unrelenting in his criticism of BP’s handling of the oil spill, sayingthat the actions and comments from company executives show that "they areeither incompetent or they are lying." He has floated a number oflegislative proposals in response to the accident, ranging from efforts toincrease the financial liability of oil companies drilling offshore to thecreation of an industry-funded research and development fund for spill cleanupand leak containment. Markey — a key ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)and one of several Democratic leaders crafting a package of oil spill responselegislation — has been prepping for weeks for tomorrow’s hearing, according toaides.

Mutiny: In-Cycle Senate Dems,Sensing a Setting Sun on Cap-and-Raid, Rush to Fill the Hopper with as ManyBills As Their Staff Can Write Press Releases For. TheHill (6/14) reports, "No clear answers emerged from a meeting Reid heldwith several committee chairs and other Democratic leaders Thursday, while abroader Senate Democratic caucus meeting on energy awaits this coming Thursday.Ahead of that session, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) plans to outline proposalsMonday for curbing reliance on oil, and will speak on the matter at the Centerfor American Progress, a liberal think tank with deep ties to the White Houseand influential Democrats. Other members are preparing new energy plans too.Sources on and off Capitol Hill say Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is readyinglegislation on renewable electricity and biofuels. Across the aisle, Sen.Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) unveiled a plan last week aimed at curbing oil usethrough various vehicle efficiency and renewable energy provisions. Other ideasabound. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is pushing a plan backed by severalenvironmental groups that would levy new fees on offshore oil-and-gas leases tofund alternative energy programs.

Demands from Gulf Coast forObama to Lift Short-Sighted Deepwater Moratorium Clearly Making a Difference;Browner Tells Press the Ban Will Likely Be Shortened. E&E News (6/11,subs. req’d) reports, "The Obama administration hopes to shorten the six-monthban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a top presidential advisersaid today. Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy andClimate Change Policy, said the independent commission President Obama hastasked with investigating the causes and effects of the ongoing BP PLC spill inthe Gulf may issue its final report sooner than its November deadline, leadingto an earlier end to the deepwater moratorium. "We certainly hopeso," Browner said on CNN’s "American Morning." "As soon aswe have those answers, clearly we want to make sure these people get back towork." The news will likely be welcomed by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), whoearlier today urged Obama to strike a balance between boosting the safety ofoffshore drilling and recognizing the importance of the offshore energyindustry to Louisiana’s economy.

And Just In Case Browner’sFibbing: Members of the House Line Up to Introduce New Legislation Demandingthe Job-Destroying Moratorium Be Lifted Now. TheHill (6/13) reports, "Freshman Texas Rep. Pete Olson plans to introduce abill to lift the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwaterdrilling, Texas TV station KPRC Local 2 reports.  Olson, a Republican, said the moratorium could cost the GulfCoast upward of 100,000 jobs if its 33 rigs remain idle.  "What that’s doing is turning thistragedy into an unmitigated disaster for our nation," Olson said."We’re going to lose thousands of jobs." Separately, Rep. CharlesBoustany (R-La.) wrote to President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary KenSalazar on Thursday to warn them that the moratorium could cause Louisiana tolose thousands of jobs. Boustany was one of 58 bipartisan House members whosigned a letter urging the administration to lift the earlier ban on shallow-wateroperations. "While recent decisions allow some shallow-water oil and gasproduction, the administration’s inconsistency furthers the uncertainty forthousands of Louisiana workers," Boustany wrote in an editorial publishedSunday by the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La. "The knee-jerk reactionto stop all permitting demonstrates a lack of informed decision-making from thefederal authorities."

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems: GreensSwimming in Cash in Wake of Offshore Tragedy, But Some Enviros Concerned thatNot Enough Attention Being Paid to … Rain Forests. Kate Galbraith writes (6/14) in the NYTimes, "As Rahm Emanuel says, a disaster is a terrible thing to waste,"said Zygmunt J.B. Plater, a law professor at Boston College, paraphrasing a2008 comment by the White House chief of staff about the then-burgeoning economiccrisis. Environmentalists, for their part, are hoping that the country will paymore attention to green issues after seeing the devastation in the gulf.  Another environmental group, AmericanRivers, is anticipating more attention to wetlands issues in general, eventhough oil was spilled into the sea, not rivers. "People are simply more tunedinto environmental issues right now, especially when it comes to clean water,"said Amy Souers Kober, a spokeswoman for the group. There is a flip side,however: other environmental causes could get starved of money and attention.For the past 50-plus days, the oil spill has dominated the headlines, the newsprograms and even the comedy shows across the United States. Other issues couldget overlooked. "Nobody’s talking right now about whales and rain forests," Mr.Plater said, "but what we are discovering is there is a huge economic backlashwhen environmental things go wrong."

Sestak Forced to Stake OutAggressively Anti-Marcellus Position to Beat Specter in Democratic Primary -But Now, In the General, He Finds Himself In a Pretty Tough Spot. PittsburghPost-Gazette (6/14) reports, "Sestak has endorsed legislation proposed byhis colleague, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., that would bring Marcellus Shale drillingunder the oversight of the Safe Drinking Water Act. He has echoed PresidentBarack Obama’s call for a strict moratorium on offshore drilling. The Democrathas also endorsed a proposal from Mr. Casey and New York Democratic Sen.Charles E. Schumer that is designed to increase federal oversight of gasdrilling. Asked about the measure last week, Mr. Toomey warned that overlappingbureaucracies pose threats of inefficiency and rising costs. He pointed withapproval to the regulatory steps taken by Pennsylvania’s environmentalofficials in response to a Clearfield County gas blowout last week. To justifythe new federal oversight, Mr. Toomey said, "the burden is on Mr. Sestak"and other supporters of the Casey-Schumer bill to demonstrate thatPennsylvania’s environmental officials are somehow derelict in their oversight.

Eagle Ford the New Marcellus:Companies See a Shale Formation with Gas and Oil, and a State that Knows aThing or Two About Going Large. Bloomberg(6/14) reports, "KKR & Co., the buyout firm run by Henry Kravis and GeorgeRoberts, may purchase about $400 million of Texas shale assets from HilcorpEnergy Co., two people with direct knowledge of the talks said. KKR andHilcorp, a closely held exploration and production company based in Houston,may partner to develop the formation known as Eagle Ford in the southern partof the state, which has unconventional gas deposits, according to one of thepeople who declined to be identified because the deal is private. KKR’spurchase of a stake may be announced as early as today, the person said. KKRspokeswoman Kristi Huller said she couldn’t comment. Calls to Hilcorp over theweekend weren’t returned. Unconventional gas is the industry term to describefuel trapped in shale formations, coal beds and impermeable sandstone rock.Marc Lipschultz, global head of KKR’s energy business, is looking for oil andgas investments as the firm exits a 1-year-old minority stake in East ResourcesInc. That developer, focusing on the Appalachian basin’s Marcellus Shale area,agreed last month to sell itself to Royal Dutch Shell Plc for $4.7 billion.

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