Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 28, 2015

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January 23, 2015

ICYMI: Keystone, SOTU & Oil

The Senate plowed through a laundry list of amendments this week and is set to vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline Monday. CQ subscribers can read more about how the process devolved Thursday and about pending amendments.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama gave a nod to – or threw shade on – the pipeline, but folks seemed more interested in Ernest J. Moniz’ hair, which as the energy secretary has explained is more related to groovy fashion than founding fathers. Obama’s push for more trade authority got a reaction from environmental groups that want to put the brakes on fast-tracking deals. Groups are also pushing the EPA to move faster on carbon dioxide regulations for aircraft.

The oil price plunge may dampen the drive toward increased exports.

Researchers detailed the issues arising from increased dependence on natural gas to generate electricity.

Oil spilled in Montana and millions of gallons of fracking water poured into a creek that feeds the Missouri River in North Dakota.

By Randy Leonard Posted at 12:01 p.m.

January 22, 2015

Report: Gas/Electricity Relationship Needs Work

A natural gas-fueled power plant in June 2013 in Burbank, Calif.  (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A natural gas-fueled power plant in June 2013 in Burbank, Calif.
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Regulatory and market changes are needed to support the growing use of natural gas to generate electricity, according to a review from the Illinois Institute of Technology, which cited concerns about reliability as increased capacity and regulatory pressure reduce dependence on coal-fired plants. Full story

December 22, 2014

A Look Back

Here are some of the highlights of our coverage since Energy Xtra rolled out in July.

  • This summer Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan laid out his agenda for a potential GOP controlled-Congress.
  • Just as the oil market began a plummet that has halved prices, we looked at how OPEC would respond to the added supply from the U.S. shale boom and actions leading to a global oil showdown.
  • The Energy Department is continuing to develop geothermal energy using hydrofracturing techniques that led to the oil and gas boom.
  • Industry struggled to make sense of changes in Commerce Department crude oil export policy, which raised questions of where condensate exports would go and the possible effects on consumers.
  • Advancements in LED technology led a Philips Lighting executive to predict the end of light bulbs as we know them.
  • We dug into the details of Enbridge’s work around to bring increased amounts of oil from Canada’s bituminous sands without the type of permit that has hampered the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Lockheed-Martin is part of an effort to generate electricity from the temperature difference in ocean water.
  • Grid modernization efforts could lead to changing system demand by giving utilities access to controls inside consumer’s homes.
  • There is wide disparity in how the EPA’s proposed tightening of ozone restrictions by geography and industry, depending on the limit set.

Energy Xtra will resume regular publication on Jan. 5 — Enjoy the holidays!

December 9, 2014

Week Ahead: Hearings on Nuclear, RFS and Arctic

Congress is under pressure to pull together a deal for a spending package and groups have piled lots of activities into the rest of the week ahead of the holidays. Here’s what is on tap: Full story

October 31, 2014

ICYMI: Diesel Demand, Pipeline Opposition & Nuclear Licensing

Heavy-duty truck fueling up on diesel. Photo courtesy of New Haven Clean Cities Coalition. (

Heavy-duty truck fueling up on diesel. Photo courtesy of New Haven Clean Cities Coalition. (

  •  According to a new report released by the Fuel Institute, demand for diesel fuel is expected to drop after 2015 due to greater vehicle efficiencies, combined with growing use of natural gas. Full story

Mark Your Calendars: CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference Next Week

Want to know the impact of the elections on the 114th Congress? Check out CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference on Nov. 6. It will be held at the Liason Capitol Hill. See below for more info and a code for 20 percent off your registration fee.


CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference is next week!  Here are 3 reasons you shouldn’t miss it:

  • Frontline perspective from our keynotes and sessions, including our newest keynote panel with Rob Collins, Executive Director, NRSC and Guy Cecil, Executive Director DSCC
  • Behind-the-scenes revelations into what happened, what’s next and what’s on the horizon for the 114th Congress
  • “You-won’t-hear-it-anywhere-else” insight from our panelists and speakers.  View our newest speakers – including Gov. John Engler, President of the Business Roundtable.

Don’t miss all the insight, perspective and networking next week at CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference!


Register today to secure your spot! Use code SUB2014 to receive 20 percent off!

Register now!

October 30, 2014

U.S. Demand For Diesel Fuel Expected to Drop After 2015

Truckers line up in front of the  U.S. Capitol to protest high diesel fuel prices.CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY PHOTO BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM

Truckers line up in front of the U.S. Capitol to protest high diesel fuel prices. CQ photo by Douglas Graham

It looks as if T. Boone Pickens dreams of kicking diesel to the curb may be coming true. According to a new report developed by the PIRA Energy Group and commissioned by the Fuels Institute, demand for diesel fuels will begin declining in 2016. The United States is expected to go from using a near term peak of 4 million barrels per day to 3.5 million by 2030 (a 12.5 percent drop). Full story

By Clyde McGrady Posted at 3:32 p.m.

October 29, 2014

NRC Reinstates Nuclear Licensing Program

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has resumed issuing license renewals for nuclear power plants, ending its two-year hiatus. Full story

October 28, 2014

New Regs Unpopular With Likely Voters

Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)

Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/CQ)

A new survey out by the Partnership for a Better Energy Future highlights the potential political fallout from the administration of EPA’s new greenhouse gas regulations. According to the group, which is a coalition of trade associations, a plurality of voters (47 percent) oppose the new regulations. Almost half of respondents said “they are not willing to pay a single dollar more in their energy bill to accommodate the new EPA regulations.” Additionally (and of great interest to politicians), 40 percent of respondents said that they were “less likely to cast their vote for a candidate that supports EPA’s Clean Power Plan.”

The poll was conducted by Paragon Insights and surveyed 1,340 likely voters nationwide. However, it oversampled in what it deems key states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.

The poll comes on the heels of continued congressional pushback on EPAs proposed electricity regulations and the skepticism of the agency’s Regulatory Impact Assessment. And as energy policy plays an increasingly large role in campaign politics it will be interesting to see how much credence lawmakers give to the findings in this survey.

By Clyde McGrady Posted at 1:02 p.m.

October 27, 2014

Union Leader Outraged Over Pipeline Opposition

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass

Houston-based energy company, Kinder Morgan is looking to build a natural gas pipeline that will run through northern Massachusetts but first it needs federal approval. The company, through its subsidiary, Tennessee Gas Co., has already filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The company hopes that by filing they can identify any potential environmental problems associated with construction of the pipeline.

However, Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren recently announced their plans to potentially block the pipeline by pressuring federal energy regulators.

Today, Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), shot back, issuing a statement. O’Sullivan, to put it mildly, was not very happy with the Massachusetts Democrats:

The Senators’ comments are a vulgar attempt to politicize our nation’s energy regulatory agencies. These agencies should be left alone to do their work based on facts and analysis, not pressure politics.  Their comments are especially disconcerting when too many working people lack affordable fuels, our armed services are in harms-way due in part to our historical lack of energy independence, and at a time of growing concern over climate change – all of which the Tennessee Gas Co. line will do its part to help address.

The pipeline has faced intense opposition from citizens in Massachusetts. Environmental activists are lining up legal experts to challenge the proposal. O’Sullivan later added that those opposing are “environmental extremists” and that the pipeline is a “lifeline to good family-supporting careers.”

The Week Ahead: Natural Gas & Clean Coal in China

Here’s what’s on tap for the week. Full story

October 24, 2014

ICYMI: Wastebooks, Oil Bans & Energy Politics


Attendees of a rally for American coal jobs held by the Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security, bow their heads in prayer in Upper Senate Park.

Attendees of a rally for American coal jobs held by the Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security, bow their heads in prayer in Upper Senate Park.  (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images)

  • Earlier this week, retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., released his final Wastebook, an annual report that targets government funded projects he views as indulgent and wasteful. The senator’s scorn was aimed at several projects related to energy and environment, including money for beer farms, international coal shipments and “poop paks.”
  • Energy and environment issues are playing increasingly larger roles in many 2014 senate campaigns. As control of the Senate hangs in the balance, both parties are ramping up spending for energy ads in Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Alaska, West Virginia and Michigan. Ad content ranges from pro-coal and pro-oil to green energy and climate change. Electric automobile manufacturer, Tesla Motors, suffered a setback as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that forbids automakers from making direct car sales outside the franchise dealership network.
  • The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has a new study out that surveys the potential damage wind farms inflict on marine life. Calls for lifting the ban on American crude oil exports are growing louder as proponents have found a new argument: lifting the ban could be detrimental to Russia’s economy, thus giving the United States a foreign policy “win.” 

October 23, 2014

Offshore Wind Farms Pose Threat To Marine Wildlife

Offshore wind turbines might pose a hazard to the birds that fly into them, but marine mammals bear most of the risk during their construction, according to a recent study from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The recently released paper doesn’t offer solutions for mitigating the environmental damage caused by turbine installation, but it does make recommendations for “future monitoring and assessment” of potential consequences.

Scientists have been watching the turbines’ possible danger for birds, but according to the study, mammals like harbor seals and porpoises may also face risks. “The loud sounds emitted during pile driving could potentially cause hearing damage, mask communication or disorient animals and fish as they move out of the area to avoid the noise,” the study says.

The researchers found that there are very few studies examining how marine wildlife responds to wind farm construction and operation, and none that measure the long-term effects of the farms — largely because U.S. wind power operations are in their nascent stages.

Among their recommendations, the Maryland researchers call for targeted data collection and better scientific modeling. This fall, the Maryland Energy Administration’s Offshore Wind Development Fund and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will fund a study that measures noise pollution. Over the course of two years researchers will place underwater microphones off the coast of Maryland and record marine mammals. Their goal is to better understand their habits and inform any future planning of wind farms with the new data.

By Clyde McGrady Posted at 5:25 p.m.

October 17, 2014

ICYMI: Oil Slides, CO2 Talk & Yucca Echoes

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Down, down, down was the way oil looked this week, with the global benchmark Brent crude dropping 27 percent from July before rebounding slightly Thursday. Full story

September 19, 2014

UC Board of Regents Votes to Approve New Sustainable Investment Framework

The sustainable investment movement gained more momentum after the University of California’s Board of Regents voted Wednesday to approve a new framework – Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) – for its investments. Full story

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