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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Fracking, Energy Acts, and EU Moves to Cut GHGs

Democrats and Republicans are blaming different parties for the cost of gasoline, which lingers near the $4 per gallon mark, Market Watch reports. On Tuesday, House Republicans released a report that said the Obama administration has stifled domestic oil and gas production. The report criticised proposed restrictions on the natural gas-drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, as well as the government’s pace in issuing offshore oil drilling permits. In their own report this week, Democrats blamed “excessive speculation” in oil markets.

A U.K. parliamentary committee said that the country does not need to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, saying there is no evidence that the process is directly harmful to the environment. And next month, France’s senate is set to decide whether to permanently ban shale gas drilling and revoke permits that have already been awarded, Reuters reports.

The House energy and commerce subcommittee on energy and power yesterday approved two pieces of legislation under the American Energy Initiative, the GOP plan to lower gas prices and increase U.S. energy production. The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, led by subcommittee members Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gene Green (D-TX), would allow oil gas exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf by streamlining the Environmental Protection Agency’s permitting process. The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act, introduced by subcommittee Vice Chairman John Sullivan (R-OK) and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), would require an interagency committee to conduct an analysis of the cumulative economic impacts of regulations that critics say increase energy costs and threaten job growth.

The Senate committee on energy and natural resources will consider several pieces of energy legislation tomorrow at 10 a.m. Eastern. These include S. 630, a bill to promote marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy research and development; S. 699, a bill to create a demonstration program for carbon sequestration; S. 757, a bill to encourage development of systems to capture carbon from dilute sources; S. 916, a bill to facilitate oil and gas development on federal lands and waters; and S. 917, a bill to reform management of energy and mineral resources on the outer continental shelf off the east coast of the U.S. Other bills to be considered aim to provide analyses of the impact of energy production on U.S. water resources, protect electric infrastructure against cyber threats and promote domestic development of clean energy technologies.

In the House today, the foreign affairs committee will hold a hearing on United Nations climate-change talks, the Hill reports. Scheduled to appear is Todd Stern, the State Department’s special envoy for climate change.

The European Parliament’s environment committee has backed a resolution calling for the EU to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020, from 1990 levels, Business Green reports. The current goal is a 20 percent reduction by 2020. The committee said the reduction should be met mostly by increases in renewable generation and energy efficiency, rather than through carbon offsets. Parliament is scheduled to take a plenary vote on the resolution, put forward by Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout, on June 23.

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