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  • fritzlauren

    What to Watch For In the Coming Weeks

    5 years agoReply

    WELCOME BACK CONGRESS: Congress returns to the Hill this week after a long August recess, but don’t look for too much action on energy issues in the coming weeks. Lawmakers’ dance cards are already filling up with issues like Syria, a continuing resolution and the debt ceiling. Here’s what to watch for in the near future:

    Shaheen-Portman: The Senate’s long-awaited energy efficiency bill will have to wait a little longer. The chamber had been scheduled to take up S. 1392 tomorrow morning, one of the first items on its agenda after the August recess. However, with a Syria resolution set to get consideration starting Wednesday and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office making it clear Shaheen-Portman comes after Syria, the odds of the chamber getting around to energy efficiency this week are slim to none. After that, the Senate’s legislative calendar begins to fill up with the need to pass a CR by the end of the month and address the debt ceiling soon after — threatening to punt floor time for Shaheen-Portman to mid-October or potentially even later.

    Ron Binz: His confirmation hearing to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 17 (a date that could change, so stay tuned). The August recess gave opponents of Binz more time to dig up dirt and make their case in the media and to lawmakers. Binz is also getting a boost from a Washington PR firm. (If you need a refresher on preparations for the Binz nomination battle, check out Darius Dixon’s story from last month

    House GOP’s climate change hearing: House Democrats have been asking Republicans to hold a hearing on climate change for years, and now they’re getting their wish. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy are scheduled to show up at the Energy and Power subcommittee hearing next week, which is focused on what various federal agencies are doing on climate change issues. The committee is still hoping to snag top officials from nearly a dozen other agencies.

    Tax extenders: It’s that time of year — when industries with sunsetting tax breaks start ramping up their lobbying efforts. Of particular interest is the production tax credit, which runs out for wind and other renewable energy sources on Dec. 31. Although the language was changed to allow any project that has made a minimal investment by the deadline — no matter when it begins generating electricity — to qualify, manufacturers are still hoping to secure a long-term extension of the credit. Also gaining steam is a proposal for a phase-out of the PTC. Whether Congress will get to tax extenders, or what vehicle it will use, is unclear.

    OFF THE HILL: Because, while it may not always seem like it, not everything is about Congress.

    Keystone XL: The State Department continues to work on its environmental review of the pipeline, posting public comments and dodging questions about a timeline for making a decision. Meanwhile, supporters of the project are eager to point out that Sept. 19 marks five years since TransCanada first submitted an application to the State Department.

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