environment

For Murkowski, Tax Overhaul Isn’t Just Business. It’s Personal
Inclusion of ANWR drilling could put her in new Alaska league

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a conundrum with a clash between two of her key policy goals — drilling in ANWR and protecting access to health care back home. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twelve years ago, Sen. Lisa Murkowski sat at the breakfast table with her youngest son, who was in junior high school at the time. It was a big day. The chamber was set to vote on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, a priority of Alaska lawmakers for the previous three decades.

“My son looks up at me and he says, ‘Mom, I thought grandpa passed ANWR years ago,”’ the Republican senator recalled recently in her Hart Building office, referencing her father, former Sen. Frank H. Murkowski. “You have to kind of say, ‘Well, yeah, they kinda passed it, but it didn’t really pass. And so it’s back before us again and we’re going at it.’”

How Many Gas Pipelines Do We Need?
As demand for natural gas rises, so do questions about pipeline capacity

A natural gas pipeline yard is shown beyond a fence in Skokie, Ill., in this 2003 photo. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images file photo)

BY JACKIE TOTH

When coal-fired and nuclear power plants are retired, they’re usually replaced not by new renewable technologies like solar or wind, but with power plants fueled by natural gas.

Green Energy Industry Says Lower Tax Credit Reneges on Promise
House GOP bill includes provision that removes an inflation adjustment

The House GOP tax bill would remove an inflation adjustment from the renewable energy production tax credit, alarming industry advocates. (Courtesy American Wind Energy Association/Facebook)

Renewable energy advocates are raising alarms that the House Republican tax plan released Thursday would sharply reduce a tax credit that has driven the rapid deployment of wind and solar power over the past two years.

The tax bill includes a provision that would remove an inflation adjustment from the renewable energy production tax credit, likely dropping it from 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour for tax year 2016 to 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Canada Sees ANWR Drilling Threat to Border-Crossing Caribou
But Murkowski says oil development impact on wildlife has been limited

Canada opposes the U.S. proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, citing concerns over its impact on a caribou herd. (Courtesy Derek Ramsey/Wikimedia Commons)

The Canadian government cares about its people — and its caribou. And to protect the latter, the government has come out against the U.S. proposal to open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, citing the feared impact on a caribou herd that migrates across the shared border.

Canada’s opposition, expressed by its embassy in an email to Roll Call, puts the United States’ neighbor on the side of Democrats and environmental groups, both of whom are looking to scuttle Republican attempts to open the refuge using budget reconciliation — a procedural maneuver that enables legislation to pass with only a simple majority in the Senate.

Senate Energy Gears Up for Alaska Drilling Fight
Republicans aim to attach ANWR proposal to tax overhaul effort

Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, right, and Maria Cantwell of Washington, leaders on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, are on opposite sides of the ANWR drilling issue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee prepares for a high-profile hearing Thursday on opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, Republicans are preparing to argue that improvements in drilling technology over the past decade will minimize potential damage to the environment.

That assertion will rile committee Democrats, who plan to raise the specter of oil spills as well as an invasion of drilling infrastructure and manpower in an area described by environmentalists as one of the most pristine habitats on the planet.

Rick Perry Defends Private Travel Costs at House Energy Hearing
Some sites are too remote to be accessed by commercial airlines, secretary says

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies during a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce’s Energy Subcommittee on Thursday. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

BY ELVINA NAWAGUNA

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told lawmakers Thursday that his use of private aircraft for work travel is sometimes justified because his department’s national laboratories and some sites he has to visit are too remote to be accessed by commercial airlines.

GOP Hopes to Undercut Offshore Regulator, Say House Democrats
Republicans are taking aim at an agency created by President Obama after BP oil spill

The site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen from the back of a U.S. Coast Guard cargo plane in 2010. Republicans are re-evaluating a regulatory agency established by Obama in the aftermath of the spill. (Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers are trying to undermine the federal regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the safety and environmental concerns of offshore oil and gas operations, said Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee at a Wednesday hearing.

The complaints stem from a provision in the committee Republicans’ recently released draft bill that would direct the Interior secretary to look for potential “inefficiencies or duplication between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement,” which both regulate aspects of offshore drilling.

EPA Moves to Repeal Climate Rule; Lawsuits to Follow
With Clean Power Plan on the chopping block, environmental groups gear up to sue

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, left, said this week that unraveling the Clean Power Plan would right “the wrongs of the Obama administration.” (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

The EPA’s move on Tuesday to undo the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule will almost certainly trigger an onslaught of lawsuits from environmental groups and many blue states that have been bracing for that action since President Donald Trump took office.

The agency said it had filed a notice with the Federal Register proposing to unravel the 2015 Clean Power Plan and will seek public input into that proposal over a 60-day period. But the EPA did not commit to promulgating a replacement policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which environmentalists have said would lead them to sue to stop the repeal or force the agency to write a new policy.

Uncertain Costs for Renewed Nuclear Waste Push in Nevada
The controversial Yucca Mountain plan would spur a $260 million spending increase, but the math is muddled

Nevada lawmakers — from left, Reps. Dina Titus, Dean Heller, Ruben Kihuen, and Jacky Rosen — confer in April after making statements in opposition to using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste disposal site. On Friday, Titus said a CBO report on the latest Yucca bill was “seriously flawed.” (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

A House bill to restart the process of making Nevada’s Yucca Mountain a permanent repository for nuclear waste would increase spending by $260 million over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday in a report that acknowledges some uncertain numbers.

The CBO’s score could be a hurdle for the Yucca bill by forcing its backers to offset the cost by cutting other federal spending under pay-as-you-go budget mandates. The bill moved out of the Energy and Commerce Committee with surprisingly bipartisan support considering how the issue had divided Capitol Hill while Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada was majority leader. Reid didn’t seek reelection in 2016.

Analysis: In Puerto Rico, Trump Congratulates Himself
GOP mum on messaging; Schumer says enough

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing for Puerto Rico. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump arrived Tuesday in Puerto Rico and offered the hurricane-ravaged U.S. citizens not a truckload of drinkable water or fuel, but Trump himself and his team.

Trump’s day was one of countermessaging about his administration’s widely panned Puerto Rico relief efforts. He used a briefing minutes after he landed there to congratulate his team and solicit praise from Puerto Rican officials — lightly coaching them on what they should say.