Monday, December 07, 2015

The Last Big Scramble of 2015

The National Journal has a nice summary of what Congress will be up to this week, including the following on issues followed here:

While gov­ern­ments gath­er in Par­is for the second week of a United Na­tions con­fer­ence to ham­mer out a glob­al agree­ment to fight cli­mate change, a dif­fer­ent sort of cli­mate de­bate will take place in the halls of the Sen­ate. Pres­id­en­tial con­tender and well-known cli­mate-change doubter Ted Cruz will hold a hear­ing in the Space, Sci­ence and Com­pet­it­ive­ness sub­com­mit­tee of the Com­merce Com­mit­tee ques­tion­ing the role of hu­mans in cli­mate change, with a wit­ness list full of sci­ent­ists who have ques­tioned the main­stream con­sensus on the is­sue.
The House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form’s In­teri­or sub­com­mit­tee holds a hear­ing Tues­day on a pro­posed In­teri­or De­part­ment rule pla­cing lim­its on coal pro­du­cers op­er­at­ing near streams. The stream-pro­tec­tion rule has been cri­ti­cized by the in­dustry for be­ing too re­strict­ive, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion says it will pro­tect drink­ing wa­ter and nearby land.

In­teri­or Sec­ret­ary Sally Jew­ell will testi­fy at a Wed­nes­day hear­ing in the House Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee about her agency’s role in the Au­gust spill of min­ing waste in Col­or­ado, which was caused by an EPA-backed team.

On Fri­day, the Se­cur­it­ies and Ex­change Com­mis­sion will un­veil draft rules that would force oil and min­ing com­pan­ies to dis­close pay­ments to for­eign gov­ern­ments for pro­jects in their coun­tries. A fed­er­al court shot down an earli­er ver­sion in 2013, and now the big ques­tion is wheth­er the re­vised ver­sion will provide ex­emp­tions (or loop­holes, de­pend­ing who you ask) that power­ful oil com­pan­ies such as Ex­xon and Shell have lob­bied for.

The long-delayed reg­u­la­tion is re­quired un­der the 2010 Dodd-Frank fin­an­cial over­haul law. It’s aimed at in­creas­ing trans­par­ency in or­der to com­bat the “re­source curse”—the cor­rup­tion, con­flict, and poverty that of­ten af­flict en­ergy-rich na­tions in Africa and else­where. The SEC, which has slow-walked the rule, has prom­ised a fed­er­al judge that it would fi­nal­ize the reg­u­la­tion by June of 2016.

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