POLITICO’s Morning Energy, presented by America’s Natural Gas Alliance – Joe Barton reaches for energy gavel – Rahall defends climate science, mountaintop mining – Co-chair says spill panel won’t touch larger energy issues

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— On Thu, 10/14/10, Morning Energy <morningenergy@politico.com> wrote:

From: Morning Energy <morningenergy@politico.com>
Subject: POLITICO’s Morning Energy, presented by America’s Natural Gas Alliance – Joe Barton reaches for energy gavel – Rahall defends climate science, mountaintop mining – Co-chair says spill panel won’t touch larger energy issues
To: buzscott@yahoo.com
Date: Thursday, October 14, 2010, 4:40 AM

POLITICO’s Morning Energy
By Josh Voorhees

REACHING FOR THE ENERGY GAVEL – Rep. Joe Barton isn’t hiding the fact that he wants the Energy and Commerce chairmanship, even though GOP leadership has shown no signs of granting him the waiver he’d need to pick up the gavel in the event Republicans retake the House. The Texas Republican and BP apologist (and, to be fair, BP-apologist apologist) is asking the Steering Committee that awards chairmanships to “clarify” whether his time as ranking member counts toward the six-year term limit. He’s also talking openly about the investigations he’d like to launch and has declared that he’s got a “very good” shot at sitting atop the panel in the next Congress. POLITICO’s Robin Bravender and Jake Sherman have the details this morning. http://politi.co/9wHSvc

SILENT COMPETITION – Observers on and off the Hill say the smart money remains on Michigan Rep. Fred Upton to ascend to the top of the energy panel in the 112th Congress. Also in the mix are Cliff Stearns of Florida and John Shimkus of Illinois.

Happy Thursday and welcome to Morning Energy, where we’re taking the Phillies in five games, the Yankees in six and “The Social Network” to stay the No. 1 movie in America for at least another week. And while we’re at it, we’d also like to parlay the over on tomorrow’s DC high (61 degrees) with a yes on rain (91 percent chance). As always, keep the e-mails coming to Josh Voorhees at jvoorhees@politico.com.

HAPPENING TODAY – The League of Conservation Voters will unveil the final addition to its 2010 “Dirty Dozen” list at an 11 a.m. presser. Those in the know have been tightlipped about the identity of the final member but the group is billing it as someone in “the most important race on the ballot.” If that’s the case, ME wonders why they waited so long…

** A message from America’s Natural Gas Alliance: In 2008, the natural gas industry supported 2.8 million jobs across the United States. Natural gas also added $385 billion to the economy. How does your state benefit from natural gas? http://bit.ly/d9LJ7V **

RAHALL SPEAKS – The Beckley Register-Herald has a must-read Q&A with House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), getting into coal, EPA, climate change and mountaintop mining: http://bit.ly/dbWnMW

MOUNTAINTOP MINING BILL WOULD PASS WITHOUT HIM – Rahall, oddly under attack for his coal bona-fides, says he’s the only person keeping the mountaintop removal mining and valley fills bill from passing the House because he won’t bring it up in his committee and T&I Chairman James Oberstar won’t bring it up as a favor:

“I’m gone, those who claim I’m anti-coal, ask them what’s going to happen. The bill will go through the House of Representatives 400 to 20 at the best. To other members of the Congress across the country, Republicans included, if the vote were allowed to get to the House, which it’s not because of me, would be a freebie for them to throw to environmentalists. That’s why it would pass overwhelmingly.”

NO CLIMATE SKEPTIC – Rahall voted against the House bill in 2009, but doesn’t mince words when it comes to climate science: “Climate change – to deny it exists, to just put your head in the sand and, ‘oh no, it doesn’t exist, what are you talking about,’ is about like standing on the floor of Macy’s during the month of December and claiming Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Come on, get real. There are responsible coal operators who work with us and continue to work with us, not only on climate change, but safety is another example.”

More: “[In] the global marketplace in order to make coal competitive with those other domestic fuels that are always attacking it, to ensure a future for coal, we can’t put our heads under the blanket and pretend climate change doesn’t exist or we’re hurting coal.”

WON’T CUT EPA: Rahall: “I’m a realist. You’re not going to abolish (the EPA). If I said pick out an agency today, the fact is that it will have its strong backers somewhere in Congress and in the American public.”

MAYNARD SEEKS TO SPIKE EPA – Rahall’s opponent, Elliott “Spike” Maynard, tells the Register-Herald that EPA must go. “The EPA is the tip of the spear pointed at the heart of southern West Virginia today. They are the people who are waging the war against coal miners and coal miners’ jobs. The generals in that war are Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. The EPA needs to be defunded and disbanded and that’s my life’s work when I get to Washington is to defund the EPA.

“These people don’t care about the impact they are having on southern West Virginia families. They are cruel and they are heartless. I don’t know how you can work with them. I could live with an EPA that was fair and reasonable, but the one we have now is not. They are tyrants and dictators, if you’ll let me engage in name-calling, but that’s what I think about them.” http://bit.ly/aEFpRY

STAYING IN SCHOOL – Oil companies have funded more than $800 million of energy research at U.S. universities over the past decade, according to a Center for American Progress report set for release this afternoon. The paper, entitled “Big Oil Goes to College,” finds that BP, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil have underwritten research at top-tier schools “with few contractual protections for objectivity or scholarly independence.”

“GREEN-WASHING” HATERS – Former White House ‘Green Jobs Czar’ Van Jones is accusing anti-immigrant groups of using phony environmental arguments to drive their political agenda. “There is a green-washing of hate that is going on in our country,” Jones told reporters yesterday. He and his colleagues at the Center for American Progress released a report asserting that immigrants tend to live “greener” lifestyles than native-born Americans. http://bit.ly/anlEQU

BARTON SAYS SELECT COMMITTEE SHOULD GO – He told POLITICO that he wants to jettison the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming if the GOP takes over the House next year. “I don’t think it has served a useful purpose other than giving a media platform to Chairman Markey,” Barton said in an interview.

FLASHBACK – Barton’s views on the Ed Markey-led panel are shared by a number of GOP lawmakers, but not by Jim Sensenbrenner, the Republican currently in line to pick up the Select gavel. The Wisconsin lawmaker told POLITICO last month that he wants to keep the committee alive so he can turn the tables and probe Obama’s climate policies. http://politi.co/cKXBtk

MORE THURSDAY ACTION – Cato Institute fellow and Cornell professor Harry de Gorter will deliver an 8:15 a.m. speech today on “the unique interaction effects of renewable energy policies” at a National Economists Club discussion. 1201 F St. NW.

NUCLEAR DARK AGES – The Nuclear Information and Resources Service, an anti-nuclear group, will brief reporters this afternoon (1:30 p.m.) on how Constellation Energy’s decision to pull out of talks with DOE for a $7.5 billion loan guarantee “is the latest setback” for what industry backers have called a nuclear renaissance, and how it will negatively impact the loan applications for reactor projects in Texas and South Carolina.

PROP 23 POLL RETRACTED – Reuters/Ipsos has retracted a poll and an accompanying story published last week showing low public support for the California ballot initiative that would effectively nix the state’s primary climate law, AB 32. The wire service said on Sunday it will conduct a new poll later this month on the issue. (Hat tip: Samuelsohn)

The pollsters mistakenly relied on an old version of the Prop 23 ballot language written by California AG Jerry Brown that had remained on a state website. In fact, a Sacramento judge in August softened Brown’s wording, including a reference to “major polluters” that’s now been changed to “sources of emissions.” The judge also edited wording in the initiative’s title from “suspends air pollution control laws” to “suspends implementation of air pollution control law (AB32).”

SEPTEMBER FINDINGS – In September, the California Field Poll found the initiative had 34 percent support among likely voters, with 45 percent opposed and 21 percent undecided. A Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll from last month had 40 percent in favor, 38 percent in opposition and about 20 percent undecided.

DELAWARE “DUCK” – A couple of minutes of the “Delawarean-Fest” last night focused on energy and climate policy. Christine O’Donnell reminded everyone that the winner on Nov. 2 can take the seat immediately and vote in a POTENTIAL LAME DUCK SESSION (!). “The winner of this US Senate race can be immediately sworn in and serve in Harry Reid’s lame duck session and vote for cap and trade,” she said, describing the dead bill as a “national energy tax that will ration our energy use.”

Democrat Chris Coons didn’t address the lame duck issue directly, instead saying: “I am someone who thinks greenhouse gases are a concern, a problem for the long term.” He also said he would oppose a plan to open areas off the Delaware coast to oil and gas drilling. On drilling, O’Donnell said she doesn’t want oil rigs off Rehoboth Beach either, but it shouldn’t be a federal call: “I don’t want to see oil rigs off the state of Delaware; however, it should be up to states to decide.”

SPILL PANEL RECAP – The president’s Oil Spill Commission held a public meeting yesterday to fine tune a suite of “potential general findings” from its initial research into offshore drilling, but the seven-person panel briefly got sidetracked by the larger question of the nation’s energy future and what role offshore drilling in specific, and oil in general, would play in it.

But after the hearing, co-chair William Reilly was quick to stress that those discussions do not foreshadow a final report that makes sweeping energy recommendations to the president. “We are not trying to establish a national energy policy,” he told reporters. “I think in a conversation that covers as much ground as we necessarily did today it may sound that way. … But we do not intend to opine on most major energy questions. … We’re not going to go very far down that road and we’re not going to get into climate change either.”

WHAT WOULD THE NORWEGIANS DO? – Reilly said that the panel is looking to Norway for insight into how to improve U.S. regulatory policies. In particular, the panel is intrigued by a Norwegian rule that requires any driller without a demonstrated history of safe operations in a specific area to team with another company with the necessary safety record. “I think that’s a good initiative,” Reilly said. “It’s almost an obvious one.” The panel’s support staff has been in contact with Norway regulators in recent weeks, and is attempting to set up a meeting between the commission and Norway’s top drilling regulator at some point in the future.

STANDING FIRM – Reilly didn’t mince words when asked about the White House push back against a working paper from the panel that found that OMB may have blocked disclosure of “worst case” spill scenarios. “We stand by our staff reports. Those are high quality reports meticulously vetted for fact-based conclusions,” he said. “I don’t think anything I have heard would suggest the slightest alteration.”

AND ON THE DRILLING BAN – “The rationale for lifting the moratorium, I think, is very good,” Reilly said. “I think we need to get on with the business of resuming responsible drilling.”

DISPERSANTS RESURFACE – Enviros and shrimpers want EPA to issue new regulations for dispersants used to break down oil slicks. Earthjustice filed the petition yesterday on behalf of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, Florida Wildlife Federation, Gulf Restoration Network, the Alaska-based Cook Inletkeeper, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Waterkeeper and Sierra Club.

ETHANOL POLITICS – EPA’s decision yesterday to allow more ethanol in gasoline angered enviros and Big Oil, but it could help Democrats in the nation’s Corn Belt. The timing seems aimed at securing Democratic support in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin – states that Obama carried in 2008 but where Democrats are currently struggling. Bravender has more: http://politi.co/dow1Gu

URANIUM AD – LCV and the Sierra Club yesterday announced a six-figure ad buy in Virginia highlighting House candidate Robert Hurt’s ties to the uranium mining industry, and what they are calling his “shocking conflict of interest” when he sided with the industry as a state lawmaker (his father is an investor in Virginia Uranium). Hurt is challenging Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello. The ad: http://bit.ly/cGyKjh

Ken Salazar – The Interior chief is in California today for the groundbreaking of the Delta-Mendota Canal/California Aqueduct Intertie Project this morning. He will then visit the SunPower Corporation.
Steven Chu – The Energy secretary is in Ohio today to tour the Cincinnati State Technical and Community College to learn about the school’s workforce training efforts in renewable energy, energy auditing and sustainable building.

Lisa Jackson – The EPA administrator is slated to return from her weeklong trip to China.

** A message from America’s Natural Gas Alliance: One solution for more abundant domestic energy is staring us in the face. Natural gas is the natural choice-now and in the future. We know we need to use cleaner, American energy. And, we have it. Today, the U.S. has more natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil, giving us generations of this clean, domestic energy source. Natural gas supports 2.8 million American jobs, most states are now home to more than 10,000 natural gas jobs. As Congress and the Administration look for ways toward a cleaner tomorrow, the answer is right here: natural gas. Learn more at www.anga.us. And, follow us on Twitter @angaus. **

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