Dems send Suh, Schneider nominations to Senate floor

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday voted to send two Interior Department nominees to the full Senate, including one who has become caught up in election-year GOP challenges to Democrats on the panel.

On a 12-10 party line vote Democrats pushed aside Republican opposition to Rhea Suh to endorse her nomination. Committee Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., acknowledged that Suh was a controversial pick for the post of assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, but defended her as someone who will not be hostile to fossil fuel development.

Louisiana Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, seeking to unseat Landrieu this fall, called for Suh's rejection because of her past comments raising concerns about natural gas drilling. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., a challenger to Democratic committee member Sen. Mark Udall, did the same.

The committee on a 18-4 vote also approved the nomination of Janice M. Schneider to be assistant secretary for lands and minerals management.

Energy Guardian Photo

Landrieu expects Interior nominees to win Energy panel vote

Two delayed Interior Department assistant secretary nominees likely will advance out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, new chair Sen. Mary Landrieu said, though not without Republican resistance.

Republicans on the panel are expected to oppose nominee Rhea Suh, over concerns similar to those raised by Landrieu's likely GOP Senate challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy. He has called on the Senate to reject her nomination because of the department's moratorium on Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling after the 2010 BP spill, and because of its land use policies.

McCrory counsel: Cooper has politicized coal ash

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory's top lawyer says his administration was forced to hire an outside attorney to deal with a federal investigation into its regulation of Duke Energy's coal ash dumps because the state's attorney general is politicizing the issue.

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper is expected to seek the 2016 Democratic nomination to run against McCrory, a pro-business Republican who worked at Duke for more than 28 years.

Green coalition looks to counter Koch spending in 2014

The Wall Street Journal

A coalition of environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund announced they would spend $5 million in 11 states and three races to counter election spending from Americans for Prosperity, a group funding by the conservative Koch brothers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Landrieu's global warming dodge drives away greens, but wins energy money

National Journal

Sen. Mary Landrieu's, D-La., reluctance to answer questions on climate change has alienated her among large environmental donors, but she has continued to raise considerable campaign donations from the oil and gas industry, National Journal reports.

Obama's Europe ties get new test in Russia dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's complex relationship with Europe faces new challenges during a weeklong trip as he tries to persuade allied leaders to hold firm in efforts to punish Russia for its incursion into Ukraine.

The deepening dispute between East and West is expected to dominate his visit to Europe, which begins Monday in the Netherlands. The four-country trip was long-planned, but now provides the U.S. and Europe a well-timed chance to present a united front against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But behind the scenes, Obama will be gauging how far the still economically shaky European Union is willing to go in punishing Russia, one of its largest trading partners. He'll also be confronted with other European frustrations with the U.S. that are bubbling just below the surface.

Maine senator joins Arctic excursion with Navy

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — U.S. Sen. Maine Angus King says his military excursion to the Arctic underscores the need for the United States to take immediate action against global climate change.

King arrived in the Arctic on Saturday night to meet with Navy officials about their ability to operate in the warming Arctic environment.

The U.S. says the Arctic is a region important to national security, and the senator says the trip will help him make better decisions in Congress through his position on the Armed Services Committee. The Navy trains in the challenging environment every three years to test combat readiness.

Obama invites G7 leaders for meeting on Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday invited allied leaders for an emergency meeting in Europe next week to discuss further action in response to Russia's involvement in Ukraine, as world economic powers considers whether Moscow' should keep its membership in their organization.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Obama wants to gather leaders of the Group of Seven nations and the European Union to meet on the sidelines of a nuclear summit next week in the Netherlands. Russia is one of 53 countries which will participate in the nuclear meeting in The Hague.

In a statement, Hayden said the meeting that Obama is organizing "will focus on the situation in Ukraine and further steps that the G-7 may take to respond to developments and to support Ukraine."

Issa seeks EPA's Pebble Mine documents in subpoena

Washington Examiner

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa issued a subpoena for Environmental Protection Agency documents related to its decision to veto the Pebble Mine project in Alaska, following his call for EPA's inspector general to investigate the move, the Washington Examiner reports.

Beaudreau promotion could ease political situation for Landrieu


The selection of Tommy Beaudreau as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's chief of staff may lessen pressure on Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., who may be spared from casting a vote to confirm Rhea Suh to lead Interior's management of parks and the Fish and Wildlife Service, E&E reports.


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