Federal lawmakers return from their August recess to a packed agenda that includes energy issues and a multiday Senate panel hearing on President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 4 will begin considering Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh, who has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006, has issued decisions to check federal agencies' powers and overturn certain environmental regulations affecting the energy sector.
If confirmed to the high court, Kavanaugh could shift the Supreme Court more solidly pro-business as he replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing voter who has sided with the majority in several cases defending agency authority and more stringent air and water quality protections.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he expects the hearing could last up to four days and will include witnesses from outside legal experts and the American Bar Association. Kavanaugh will testify on Sept. 5.
House to take up LNG export bill
Lawmakers also have some energy-related items on their calendars, including a House floor vote on a bill aimed at expediting permits for small-scale LNG exports. The House Rules Committee, which decides the full floor voting process for legislation, will meet Sept. 4 on the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act, H.R. 4606, which would queue up a potential floor vote on the measure as early as the next day.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee favorably reported out the legislation in May. The bill by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, would shorten the approval time for developers seeking to export or import LNG as long as the shipments do not exceed 0.14 billion cubic feet per day and only if the application does not require an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Also in Congress, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on Sept. 6 evaluating federal and disaster response and recovery efforts and two of the panel's subcommittees will hold a joint hearing on permitting issues.
As for nominees, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will vote Sept. 5 on Trump's pick for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Kelvin Droegemeier, who is a meteorologist and an expert on extreme weather events. The extent to which Trump would rely on Droegemeier if he is confirmed to the position is unclear. But in past administrations, the president's science adviser has served as a policy consultant on a variety of issues including economic, environmental, energy and agricultural, according to the Congressional Research Service.
On the issue of the environment, energy industry officials, lawmakers and environmental advocates are slated to speak Sept. 6 on ways the public and private sectors can work together on climate change and other environmental goals. The event titled "Partnerships & Progress: Driving Climate Solutions" is being co-hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and The Hill and speakers include Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and officials from the American Petroleum Institute and Pepco Holdings LLC.
Agencies schedule hearings on proposed vehicle fuel efficiency freeze
The Trump administration has scheduled three hearings in September on its proposal to suspend rules that would boost fuel efficiency standards for cars and light-duty trucks and to revoke California's permit to set its own standards. The proposed rule released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would set up a showdown between the federal government and a number of states, led by California, over their right to set higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.
EPA and DOT will hold a hearing on Sept. 24 in Fresno, Calif., on Sept. 25 in Dearborn, Mich., and on Sept. 26 in Pittsburgh, Penn.
DOE grid modernization peer review
The U.S. Department of Energy will hold its Grid Modernization Initiative peer review event on Sept. 4-7 in Virginia to discuss 13 programs, including one aimed at improving communication between distributed generation and the bulk power system. Another featured program uses machine learning and massive amounts of data to identify power grid vulnerabilities. Bruce J. Walker, DOE assistant secretary for the Office of Electricity, is among the agency officials expected to speak at the event.
|Sept. 4|| |
Senate Judiciary Committee begins consideration of Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
|Sept. 4|| |
House Rules Committee to take up the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act, HR 4606.
|Sept. 5|| |
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will vote on the nomination of Kelvin Droegemeier to be Office of Science and Technology Policy director.
|Sept. 6|| |
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on federal and disaster response and recovery efforts.
|Sept. 6|| |
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Subcommittees on Intergovernmental Affairs and on the Interior, Energy and Environment joint hearing on federal and disaster response and recovery efforts.
|Sept. 4-7|| |
U.S. Department of Energy Grid Modernization Initiative Peer Review event in northern Virginia.
|Sept. 6|| |
Partnerships & Progress: Driving Climate Solutions event co-hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and The Hill.
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