This article, from law firm Mintz Levin, is authored by Sarah Litke, Bryan Stockton, David Leiter, Jordan Collins, and R. Neal Martin.
Now that 2013 has come and gone, and with the second session of the 113th Congress scheduled to begin shortly and President Obama beginning the second year of his second term, ML Strategies looks forward to providing an overview of the legislative and regulatory efforts we anticipate for 2014. Here is a brief forecast of energy and environmental action on the federal level in the new year.
Climate change policies are prepared to reenter the national debate as significant features of President Obama’s climate plan are executed. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce an historic rule in June aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from the nation’s power plants, but not before Congress and industry groups debate the issue for several months. The agency is expected to finalize its greenhouse gas emissions rule for new power plants this year, though it has not yet published a draft rule in the Federal Register, and it is scheduled to release its draft regulation for existing power plants this summer.
Another regulation from the EPA will garner additional attention as the Supreme Court will hear in February a limited challenge to the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. While the court heard arguments in a challenge to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in December, rulings on both cases will come by June. Another case involving a revoked mountaintop mining permit may also get some debate time. Additionally, regulations on coal ash and cooling water towers are facing January deadlines.
The State Department is poised to release its final environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline early in the new year, and as the country attempts to lead other countries toward stronger climate standards in 2015, our own Arctic oil exploration expansions will garner significant debate this year, as will exports of liquefied natural gas.
In addition to holding its first climate hearing of 2014 on January 16, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee plans to address reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act and oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the renewable fuel mandate early this year.
While preparing for a committee leadership shuffle, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has listed its top priorities for the first part of the year as a markup of a bipartisan nuclear waste bill and readdressing an amended energy efficiency bill from Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH).
Debates over tax reform, whether it is comprehensive or not, will score additional time in Congress, as will several energy-specific tax pieces, such as the now-expired Production Tax Credit and various other tax extenders pieces.
On the nominations front, President Obama will have to start anew on filling open posts across the agencies, including at the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, and the Interior Department. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said last week that more than ten nominations already cleared by the committee can not be carried over to the second session of the 113th Congress because the Senate did not approve them before recessing for the holidays, and was unable agree to hold them at the desk on December 20.
Filed Under: News, Policy