Budget pressures could force senators to narrow the scope of energy legislation being drafted that is expected to include tax breaks and other incentives to boost energy supplies. Sources note that lawmakers may ultimately have to confront the tension between an array of potentially expensive proposed energy and efficiency incentives for various industries, and competing pressures from the White House to pay for President Bush's proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut.
Midwest environmentalists and energy efficiency advocates are throwing their support behind legislation to establish an investment fund to support conservation measures by utilities and appliance manufacturers. Support for the fund is articulated in a broad strategy released by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) to boost the use of clean sources of energy to avoid power shortages in the Midwest similar to those experienced in the West.
Environmentalists are planning to file a lawsuit claiming that an increasingly used method to extract natural gas throughout Western states is in violation of the Clean Water Act. The dispute could have national implications as policymakers at the federal and state levels look for ways to boost energy supplies, including natural gas drilling. Sources say that the contentious gas extraction process is experiencing a boom throughout the West, and that environmentalists are taking a more aggressive legal stance to avert what they say is a serious threat to surface water quality.
Environmentalists have come out swinging for the first time since California's energy crisis prompted state officials to look at ways to ease environmental regulations -- including emission limits, permitting requirements and siting rules -- in an effort to boost electricity generation. The environmentalists are particularly concerned about a series of recent executive orders by Gov. Gray Davis (D) to approve the construction of "peaking" power plants in 21 days and to allow existing plants to exceed pollution limits if they pay the state a mitigation fee.
Federal appeals court litigation challenging EPA waste disposal standards could have nationwide implications on the supply of natural gas, sources say. The case focuses on the agency's approval of Alabama's underground injection control (UIC) program for the disposal of liquid wastes. But environmentalists say that a widely used method for retrieving natural gas threatens underground sources of drinking water and should be regulated under the waste injection program.
EPA air officials will launch an air quality review on the emissions from emergency generators in California which are being used in response to the state's power crisis. The upcoming assessment was announced by the agency as part of its rejection of a request by California that EPA suspend indefinitely operating restrictions on the heavily polluting, diesel-powered generators.
California Gov. Gray Davis (D) has asked President Bush to do whatever he can to expedite federal permit reviews for the operation and siting of power plants in California to address the state's energy crisis. White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer, in response to questions about the letter, indicated that the administration will examine ways to ease Clean Air Act emission limits after a power plant has used up its allotted emission credits.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) will delay for two weeks the introduction of his comprehensive energy bill to allow the Joint Committee on Taxation to examine the cost of the measure to the federal government. The committee will assess government expenditures under the bill through tax incentives and the creation of new federal programs, as well as revenue the government would receive through royalties from drilling on federal lands.
In an apparent attempt to eases California's power crisis, the state's senior senator, Barbara Boxer (D), has introduced a bill that would require the Department of Energy to make loans to states to construct electricity generation facilities for use in emergencies. The measure, S. 221, would make $15 billion available between 2002 and 2006, with $5 billion available the first year.