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Washington Week: Industry awaits Clean Power Plan redo, vote on spending bill

Q3: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Path to Carbon-Free Power Generation by 2035

The Growing Importance of Data Centers for European & U.S. Renewable Projects

CAISO and ERCOT Power Forecasts by the Hour


Washington Week: Industry awaits Clean Power Plan redo, vote on spending bill

The U.S. federal energy landscape could be busy in the pre-Independence Day holiday week, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set to roll out a proposed rule to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan for cutting electricity sector carbon emissions.

In a regulatory agenda released in May, the EPA said it planned to propose a replacement rule in June for the Clean Power Plan, which required state-specific carbon emissions rate cuts from existing fossil fuel-based power plants. The agency also said it would propose new greenhouse gas standards for new and modified power plants during June.

The Clean Power Plan and accompanying standards for new sources were some of former President Barack Obama's biggest priorities on the environmental and energy fronts. But the Trump administration has moved quickly to repeal those rules in favor of less stringent regulations.

Many electric generators and industry groups opposed the Clean Power Plan but have nevertheless pushed the EPA to develop a replacement to avoid regulatory uncertainty and possible legal challenges for not addressing carbon emissions.

Senate to vote on energy spending bill

After a week of floor consideration, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote June 25 on its fiscal year 2019 energy, water and related agencies spending bill. The legislation rejected many of the White House's proposed cuts to energy research, including to the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, known as ARPA-E.

Senate lawmakers also resisted attaching controversial or divisive policy riders to the bill, including an amendment submitted by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that would have terminated the Obama administration's Clean Water Rule, more commonly known as the "Waters of the U.S.," or WOTUS, rule.

But the WOTUS rule, which defines water subject to federal regulation, is still on shaky ground. The Trump administration has proposed repealing the measure and expects to issue a new definition of federally protected waters in August, followed by a final rule in September 2019, according to EPA's May regulatory agenda.

Following likely Senate passage of the spending bill, the legislation will head to a conference where lawmakers from the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives will reconcile their separate energy and water appropriations bills.

Elsewhere in the upper chamber, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider several DOE nominees June 26. The nominations include Karen Evans as Assistant Secretary of DOE's new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response and Daniel Simmons for Assistant Secretary of Energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

House panel to mark up energy bills

The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a June 27 markup of five bills aimed at speeding energy development in federal areas.

Those bills include House Bill 6088, or the "Streamlining Permitting Efficiency in Energy Development Act." The legislation would direct the Secretary of Interior to establish procedures to allow oil and gas producers to start drilling activities after sending notice to the secretary instead of obtaining an application to drill. The proposal is aimed at speeding up permitting of new projects in the "least controversial areas," including those where an environmental review has already been conducted, according to a release from U.S. Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, who introduced the bill.

The committee will also mark up H.R. 6107, or the "Ending Duplicative Permitting Act." The bill, from Republican Rep. Stevan Pearce of New Mexico, would clarify that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will not require permits for oil and gas activities on non-federal surface areas needed to access subsurface mineral estates that are less than 50% federally owned.

Gas conference to pull in Trump officials, lawmakers

The World Gas Conference, which is held every three years, will take place June 25-29 in Washington, D.C. Conference organizers said the 2018 event will be the first one held in a country that is both the world's largest gas consumer and producer.

The gathering will feature several top Trump administration officials and congressional lawmakers. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., will speak at the event June 26. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will speak June 28, followed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on June 29.

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US Congress

June 26

The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing on three bills to promote offshore energy development, including legislation to establish offshore wind lease requirements.

June 26

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Energy Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "The Shifting Geopolitics of Oil and Gas."

June 26

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources will consider Teri Donaldson to be inspector general of the U.S. Department of Energy; Christopher Fall to be director of the DOE's Office of Science; Karen Evans as Assistant Secretary of Energy (Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response); and Daniel Simmons to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy).

June 27

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will host a roundtable on progress and next steps for the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.

June 27

The House Committee on Natural Resources will mark up five energy-related bills, including the "Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act" and the "Streamlining Permitting Efficiency in Energy Development Act."

Industry events

June 25-29

The 27th World Gas Conference will take place in Washington, D.C.

June 25

The Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy & Climate will host International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol at its Washington, D.C., office to discuss recent evolutions in global energy markets and prices, and the intersections of climate change and energy policy.

June 26

The HydroVision International conference will take place in Charlotte, N.C.

June 28

The U.S. Energy Association will hold a forum on energy access and climate change in Washington, D.C.

June 28

FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee will headline the Icons of Infrastructure energy grid event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Other notable stories from last week

US Supreme Court ruling on SEC case raises questions about FERC judges

Trade tension puts small but growing Chinese export market for US coal at risk

Trump floats proposals to reorganize agencies, sell federal power lines

Court upholds Minn. law giving local utilities 1st right to build new lines

FirstEnergy unit again seeks FERC action to prevent generation retirements

Supreme Court's Kennedy calls for reconsideration of agency deference doctrine

NERC sees no immediate problems with the grid

Years behind on rules, federal pipeline safety agency faces congressional wrath