Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 28, 2014

July 25, 2014

Landrieu Expects Vote on Energy Department Nomination Soon After Recess

468846663 445x296 Landrieu Expects Vote on Energy Department Nomination Soon After Recess

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, the nominee to be deputy Energy secretary, arrives with husband Jeffrey Randall for a White House state dinner in February honoring French President Francois Hollande. (Andrew Harrer/Getty Images, pool photo)

Senate Energy Chairwoman Mary L. Landrieu is signaling that her committee could vote after the August break on the nominee for the No. 2 spot at the Energy Department, reports CQ Roll Call’s Geof Koss.

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The Decrepit and Unused Buildings of the NNSA

The National Nuclear Security Administration “is now spending significant amounts of money to maintain about 450 facilities no longer needed for program use and that now sit empty,” according to a newly-released Senate Appropriations Committee report.

Nuclear Waste Bill Not Dead, Just Sleeping

feinstein004 031114 445x298 Nuclear Waste Bill Not Dead, Just Sleeping

Feinstein. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Senate measure to set up a new agency to oversee nuclear waste is lying dormant while election year priorities take the spotlight.

Despite prodding from the bill’s supporters, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., has yet to move the bill.

As CQ’s Geof Koss reports, for at least the third time this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday publicly urged Landrieu to take up the bill, which Feinstein cosponsored and which the committee seemed about to move forward when Landrieu took the gavel in February.

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July 24, 2014

Coal Country Kentuckians Will Invade Washington, Mitch McConnell Says (Video)

The EPA plans four public hearings on its proposed “Clean Power Plan” for greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, but none of them are in “coal country” — much to the chagrin of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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By Joe Warminsky Posted at 3:33 p.m.
Coal, Emissions

One Caribbean Nation’s Dramatic Increase in LNG Use

An energy company executive’s testimony at House hearing this week shows just how rapidly liquified natural gas can become a major part of a developing country’s economy, especially if it isn’t known for having a native supply of fossil fuels.

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Finding a Market for U.S. Condensate Exports

As the Commerce Department moves to allow companies to ship off exports of mildly processed ultralight oil known as condensate, some might wonder if there is a global market to take in the excess. Full story

July 23, 2014

NRC Nominees Heading for Trouble?

sessions 028 060314 445x296 NRC Nominees Heading for Trouble?

Sessions doesn’t want a “Jaczko Jr.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are “already signs that the path to Senate confirmation won’t be a cakewalk” for the two men nominated by President Barack Obama to fill seats on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, reports CQ Roll Call’s Geof Koss.

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Microgrids: How the U.S. Military Can Benefit

The rise of microgrids — small, site-specific electrical power generation and distribution systems — has been documented among homeowners in disaster-prone areas and noticed by the companies that run the big grids. Nationwide, microgrids produce only about a gigawatt of power collectively, reports say, and many of those projects are by homeowners and institutions such as colleges. But there also another potentially big American player: the Defense Department.

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Airline CEO Sees Refinery — and Cheaper Domestic Crude — as Big Advantages

Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson said Wednesday that his airline’s control of fuel costs gives it a significant advantage over its competitors.

“This quarter, we’re at $2.93 a gallon…. The industry average, excluding Delta, is $3.08. And we’ve been doing that quarter in and quarter out,” Anderson told CNBC in an interview.

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Making Sense of Shifting Crude Oil Export Policy

While the oil industry is still sorting out the meaning of a recent Commerce Department decision to allow exports of certain petroleum liquids, the movement toward loosening restrictions on the crude oil trade has taken a faster than expected trajectory.

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July 22, 2014

Critical-Minerals Bill Faces Conservative Backlash

ytterbium Critical Minerals Bill Faces Conservative Backlash

Rare-earth ytterbium metal (Energy Department)

Conservative groups are pushing against a critical-minerals bill the House is expected to vote on Tuesday evening.

The Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America urged House members to vote against the bill by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., which would authorize a program within the Energy Department to focus on creating a long-term supply of domestic critical minerals, Geof Koss reports on (subscription).

The measure would reauthorize a research and development program to improve production methods, develop alternatives and evaluate methods of recycling chemical elements that are at risk of supply disruptions and are critical to energy-related technologies. Full story

By Randy Leonard Posted at 5:11 p.m.

Fracking Better

rfi 3dsubsurface 445x166 Fracking Better

A researcher examines a 3D subsurface reservoir image at Idaho National Laboratory’s computer-assisted virtual environment, or CAVE facility. (Energy Department)

“The state of hydraulic fracturing as is, is not really good,” said Iraj Salehi, a fellow at the Gas Technology Institute, speaking Tuesday at an Energy Department seminar hosted by the Unites States Energy Association.

Production from hydrofracked oil wells decreases dramatically, petering down to almost nothing in several years, resulting in production of about 5 percent of the oil that exists in formations. Meanwhile companies move on to drill more wells to provide for that lost production.

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Utah Tar Sands Operation Sparks Protests

More than a dozen activists protesting a Canadian company’s oil sands development in Utah were arrested Monday, according to protesters.

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By Randy Leonard Posted at 9:05 a.m.
Natural Gas, Oil

July 21, 2014

Industry Comes Down on LNG Export Rules Proposal

While some lawmakers have embraced export policy changes for liquefied natural gas that the Energy Department announced in May, industry groups voiced clear opposition Monday, the last day to file comments on the proposal.

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Moniz: Obama Wants More, Cleaner Oil and Gas Production

Citing the greenhouse gas emission reductions from increased natural gas use and the economic benefits of both gas and oil development, Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz is reiterating previous calls from President Barack Obama to increase production. Full story

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