Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

Posts in "Congressional Affairs"

October 22, 2014

Coburn’s 2014 Wastebook: Beer Farms, Worm Power & Poop Paks

Tom Coburn 19 033111 240x159 Coburns 2014 Wastebook: Beer Farms, Worm Power & Poop Paks

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., makes his way to the U.S. Capitol from the Senate subway. (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call )

Retiring Sen. Tom Coburn is out today with the last edition of his annual Wastebook. The Wastebook offers the Oklahoma Republican, a notorious budget hawk, a creative way to lambast congressional spending habits by pointing out programs that he views as silly and wasteful. It’s quite the hit!

The report highlights the top 100 projects Coburn deems wasteful. Just about every industry earns his ire, but the following pertain to energy and environmental spending.

New York Beer Farm. I initially thought this was a plot by some handle-bar mustachioed hipster in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who had tricked the federal government into providing seed money to start a microbrewery in his backyard. I even pictured him peddling his fixed gear bike all the way to Sen. Charles Schumer‘s state office to make a pitch– Here man, just try this chocolate chip blueberry pancake stout. But alas, it’s a $200,000 Department of Agriculture grant to New York brewer Empire Brewing to expand from one location in Syracuse to a 22-acre farm in Cazenovia, New York.

Worm Power. A $199,000 grant to farmers to produce compost for Worm Power, a company responsible for creating a process known as “vermicomposting.” According to Coburn, “These earthworms are not just eating through manure. They are also digesting taxpayer dollars.”

Coal to Germany. $638,910 to send anthracite coal to military bases in Germany. The practice was first established in the 1960s by an earmark from the late coal country Rep. Daniel Flood (D-Pa.).

Watching the Grass Grow. This one is exactly what it sounds like. The Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife service is spending $10,000 to “cover the cost to monitor grasses, restore two acres as a demonstration and publish a guide on best practices for cultivating the cordgrass, known formally as Spartina alterniflora.”

Perfect Poop Pak. A $50,000 USDA grant to package and market alpaca manure as “Poop Paks.” Just in time for the holidays!

October 20, 2014

Texas Congressman Claims EPA Analysis Falls Short

Today, Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for a more thorough cost-benefit analysis of the agency’s newly proposed electricity regulations.

In his letter, Smith roundly criticized the agency’s evaluation process, stating that “systematic biases and major omissions in EPA’s limited evaluation produced a cost-benefit analysis divorced from reality. Consequently, EPA’s Regulatory Impact Assessment fails to assess whether the proposed rule will achieve meaningful benefits and, more importantly, whether the benefits are worth the heavy cost.” Smith closed the letter by demanding that without “comprehensive energy and economic modeling,” rule making should not move forward.

The letter to EPA is Smith’s second one in three months and comes on the heels of a report released by NERA Economic Consulting. The report projects that EPA’s new proposals will cause double digit increases in the price of electricity across 43 states. Additionally, it predicts that compliance costs could end up totaling $400 billion over 15 years.

October 15, 2014

Cheap Oil, Sanctions Impact Russia

453610936 445x313 Cheap Oil, Sanctions Impact Russia


Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country may cut budget spending because of falling crude prices, the government news agency TASS reported Tuesday. Full story

October 10, 2014

ICYMI: Oil Slides, Export Reviews & Winter Outlook

456938438 445x296 ICYMI: Oil Slides, Export Reviews & Winter Outlook

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 330 points on energy sales.
(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Oil prices dropped this week, leading to an energy sell off Thursday and the year’s biggest drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Lower oil prices could lead companies to curtail shale development. Full story

October 9, 2014

Lawmakers Press for Alaska LNG Project

Alaska LNG project liquefaction plant 445x333 Lawmakers Press for Alaska LNG Project

Rendering of proposed project.
(Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects)

Members of the Alaska delegation are pushing the Energy Department to expedite approval of exports of 2.55 billion cubic feet per day of liquefied natural gas from a facility planned in their state. Full story

October 1, 2014

WIPP Cleanup Could Top $550M

WIPPCont 445x365 WIPP Cleanup Could Top $550M

(Energy Department)

The Energy Department Tuesday released a plan to reopen the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico following a February accident and release of radiation. The department expects to spend between $310 million and $550 million, with the intention of resuming additional storage of transuranic waste from the nation’s legacy nuclear defense sites by 2016. Full story

September 26, 2014

ICYMI: Climate, ISIS Oil & A Keg Stand

LAPOL14 301 092014 445x511 ICYMI: Climate, ISIS Oil & A Keg Stand

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., holds the beer keg nozzle for LSU football fan as he does a keg stand at a tailgate party on the Louisiana State University campus before the LSU-Mississippi State game Saturday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Taking a look back on the week that was:

  • Addressing the United Nations, President Barack Obama called on countries to join together to try to forestall climate change. “We can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every nation, developed and developing alike,” Obama said. “Nobody gets a pass.” CQ Roll Call’s Lauren Gardner had more on the speech and new administration efforts (subscription). Full story

September 25, 2014

Pushing Arctic Policy

Healy in Ice 445x295 Pushing Arctic Policy

(U.S. Coast Guard)

In the next issue of CQ Weekly, Megan Scully takes a deep look at Russia’s wrangling for control of Arctic resources, which has been in the spotlight with U.S. sanctions that have stopped drilling efforts by Exxon Mobil.  Full story

September 23, 2014

Congress’ Pre-Recess Energy Bills

scaffolding 168 091514 445x319 Congress Pre Recess Energy Bills

Workers continue to erect scaffolding around the Capitol dome last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The stop gap spending measure President Barack Obama signed Friday included provisions to allow the Energy Department to cover additional costs at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico and spending for programs under the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning fund – with requirements to keep Congress apprised of the spending above previous appropriation rates.

The chambers also passed three other energy measures before clearing out of town for final campaign pushes. Full story

You Say USEC…

centrifuge 445x296 You Say USEC...

American Centrifuge Project cascade (USEC)

I’ve read about it several times, but USEC’s new name won’t stick in my head. Full story

September 22, 2014

Week Ahead: Obama Addresses Climate Summit, U.S.-China Oil & Gas Industry Forum Kicks Off in Denver

450568039 445x295 Week Ahead: Obama Addresses Climate Summit, U.S. China Oil & Gas Industry Forum Kicks Off in Denver


It is officially fall and Congress is out but there is plenty going on within the beltway and beyond. Full story

September 19, 2014

Coal Politics & Shifting Loyalties in the Mountain State

National Review has a story up that looks (with glee) at the shifting party allegiance in West Virginia. Once a reliably blue state, West Virginia has been supporting Republicans in recent elections. Of course, this all comes down to one issue: coal. Full story

September 18, 2014

Moniz Unveiled

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Photo courtesy of the Energy Department

CQ Roll Call’s Geof Koss sat down with Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz earlier this summer to discuss his relationship with Congress, as we mentioned last week. The whole story is now available outside the paywall.


September 17, 2014

Senate Passes Oil and Gas Permitting Bill

blm oil 445x229 Senate Passes Oil and Gas Permitting Bill

Oil wells in Railroad Valley, southwest of Ely, Nev. (Bureau of Land Management)

If you blinked, you missed it.

Tuesday the Senate passed a measure to expand a permitting program for oil and gas drilling on federal and Indian trust land. Full story

September 16, 2014

Senators Launch National Laboratory Caucus

wilson hall 1 445x556 Senators Launch National Laboratory Caucus

Fermilab’s Wilson Hall (Energy Department)

A bipartisan group of senators are launching an effort to support the work of the national laboratory system. Full story

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