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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Keystone Study, Ethanol Decision, Chemical Threats

Bitumen in handsThe heavy bitumen crude that the Keystone XL pipeline would carry is no more likely to cause pipeline leaks than other crude oils, according to a National Research Council report released yesterday, Reuters says. The finding is a major boost for the pipeline’s backers.

In his widely anticipated climate speech yesterday, President Obama said his administration’s decision on Keystone depends on the pipeline’s net effects on carbon emissions“The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward,” he said, according to Reuters.

President Obama’s climate plan came under immediate attack from Republicans. House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) accused the president of waging a “war on affordable energy” and a “war on jobs.” House Natural Resources Committee chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) repeated the “war on jobs” claim.

But Chistiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Obama’s plan could be a critical move towards a global climate agreement, helping to strengthen political trust and build business momentum. She said it is significant that the Obama plan ramps up quickly, and covers the “full menu of solutions,” including clean energy, energy efficiency and climate adaptation.

The Supreme Court has declined to review a case brought by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers, in which the groups argue that the EPA allowed E15 ethanol onto the market without sufficient testingThe oil industry argues that the fuel is dangerous for car engines, the Hill reports.

In committee action today: the energy and power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce committee will hold a hearing on the renewable fuel standard; a House Appropriations subpanel will mark up the fiscal 2014 energy and water spending bill; and the House Budget Committee will examine how the domestic natural gas and oil boom has affected jobs, the Hill reports.

The US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing tomorrow on “Oversight of Federal Risk Management and Emergency Planning Programs to Prevent and Address Chemical Threats, Including the Events Leading Up to the Explosions in West, TX and Geismar, LA.” Witnesses will include US Chemical Safety Board chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso,  and representatives from the EPA, United Steelworkers and Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters.

BP placed full-page advertisements in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post today, accusing trial lawyers and politicians of encouraging businesses to submit thousands of claims for inflated or non-existent losses related to the the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The oil giant is appealing a federal district court’s decision over a multi-billion-dollar settlement in the case, the Times reports.

Only 40 percent of American see global warming as a major threat, compared to 54 percent from other countries, according to a Pew Research Center study, cited in The Hill. Americans thought the biggest threats to the US were North Korea’s nuclear program (59 percent), Islamic extremist groups (56 percent) and Iran’s nuclear program (54 percent).

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