ILLNESSS OF FORMER EPA OFFICAL CHARGED WITH THEFT POSTPONES HEARING: An arraignment scheduled for today in the case of an EPA employee who stole nearly $900,000 from EPA over more than a decade has been moved to later this month because he is currently hospitalized. John Beale, who has worked at EPA since the 1980s, has been charged with theft of government property obtained via fraudulent bonuses and salary. In a court filing Friday, his lawyer wrote that Beale will be in the hospital at least through today due to "a potentially serious medical condition affecting his throat." The hearing before Magistrate Judge John Facciola of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia now is set for Sept. 27. The Justice Department is seeking to recover $507,207 from Beale.
HARPER PROPOSES ACTION TO WIN KXL APPROVAL - REPORT: In case you missed it Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly sent a letter to President Barack Obama last month proposing "joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector" in an effort to win the Obama administration's approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The proposal quickly drew scorn from green groups who said Canada cannot cut emissions enough to offset the oil development. Link Removed
STEYER KICKS OFF $1 MILLION AD CAMPAIGN AGAINST KXL: Sharp ME readers will remember billionaire activist Tom Steyer said last month he would be launching a $1 million campaign against Keystone XL - and now the ad buy is beginning. The campaign, which will be four parts, began yesterday with 90-second spots during the Sunday shows hitting the project for sending Canadian oil to Gulf Coast refineries for potential export. "Here's the truth: Keystone oil will travel through America, not to America," Steyer says in the spot. The ad also notes next week's round of commercials will focus on the oil spill earlier this year in Mayflower, Ark. While that pipeline is owned by Exxon, Keystone opponents seized on the accident as a sign of what could happen.
The boys are back in town: Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is in town today to meet with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to discuss "the significance of the Canada-U.S. energy relationship and Canada as the United States' responsible energy supplier," according to an advisory.
Why wait? 350.org put out a statement Sunday that it is "great that Oliver and Moniz are meeting" but that "there is no way that Canada can meet its targets for reducing global warming pollution while trying to expand production of the tar sands."
WYDEN MAY PUSH LEGISLATION BOOSTING FERC'S POLICING POWERS: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden on Friday said he is considering legislative action giving FERC more powers to police energy markets. Wyden and other senators earlier this year asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to work with FERC on boosting information sharing, but in an Aug. 29 letter the lawmakers released Friday afternoon, FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff wrote that "the two agencies disagree over whether the CFTC should provide FERC with certain data that we believe is critical to our surveillance program to detect and deter energy market manipulation."
- The jurisdictional waters have been muddied by disagreements over the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and a recent court ruling that CFTC has exclusive oversight of futures markets. Wellinghoff said that he would support "a legislative fix to eliminate uncertainty on this matter and ensure that FERC has the full authority needed to police manipulation of wholesale physical natural gas and electric markets."
EPW GOP REPORT HITS EPA OVER TRANSPARENCY: Senate Environment and Public Works Republicans will release a report today criticizing EPA over transparency and FOIA issues - what the report, previewed to ME, alleges is "a culture of secrecy and evasion" that developed under former EPA chief Lisa Jackson. (Jackson, now at Apple, is testifying on federal transparency issues before a House panel this week.) The report reviews complaints made by ranking member David Vitter and others over the last few months, including Jackson's "Richard Windsor" email account, officials occasionally using their personal email accounts for agency matters, alleged discrepancies in waiving FOIA fees for environmental groups while denying waivers to conservative groups, and more.
- The report concludes: "These actions were taken contrary to official EPA policy and sometimes, contrary to the law. While in some instances the Agency has begrudgingly admitted their mistakes, the culture of secrecy runs deep and it will take the proactive intervention of EPA's new leadership to right the ship and permit the transparency the President promised the American people."
GROUPS ASK OMB TO WITHDRAW SOCIAL COST OF CARBON DOCS: Several industry groups are petitioning OMB to withdraw two technical support documents regarding calculating the social cost of carbon, a key part of determining the costs and benefits of environmental regulations. Among the groups' complaints are that the two estimates, according to the petition, fail transparency tests, were not subject to peer review and do not "offer a reasonably acceptable range of accuracy for use in policy-making." Signatories include the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute and America's Natural Gas Alliance.
BIOFUELS GROUP HOSTS FLY-IN: The ethanol group Growth Energy is hosting its big annual fly-in today through Wednesday, where more than 100 members will be meeting Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, White House officials and lawmakers. As with previous biofuel fly-ins, the group will push the message that Congress should leave the Renewable Fuel Standard alone and allow EPA to use already-existing statutory authority to make small adjustments. They'll also press for higher blends of renewable fuels.