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Standoff over government climate study provokes national uproar by scientists

A top House lawmaker’s confrontation with government researchers over a groundbreaking climate change study is provoking a national backlash from scientists, who say his campaign represents the most serious threat Congress has posed to scientific freedom. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and demanded that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Their findings contradicted earlier work showing that global warming had paused, and Smith, a climate change skeptic, has accused them of altering global temperature data and rushing to publish their research in the June issue of the journal Science. [ NOAA chief tells lawmaker: No one will ‘coerce the scientists who work for me’ ] So far, NOAA officials have resisted Smith’s demands, and the showdown has escalated. The lawmaker has threatened to subpoena Commerce Secretary Penny […]

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Report: Senators voting against EPA rules received more coal industry cash

Legislators opposing new Environmental Protection Agency efforts to mitigate climate change have received large sums of cash from the coal industry, according to an analysis released Thursday by Maplight , an independent research group that tracks the influence of money in politics. Maplight’s analysis compared coal industry donations to two groups of senators: those who recently voted to block new EPA regulations designed to limit greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, and those who voted to leave the rules intact. The group of senators who opposed the EPA rules “received, on average, 17 times as much money ($75,802) from the coal mining industry compared to senators voting against them ($4,464)” over the six year period beginning in April 2009 and ending in March of this year, Maplight said in a statement. EPA rules mandate that states cut power-plant emissions by 32 percent , compared to 2005 levels, by the year […]

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Climate scientists to be grilled by congressional investigators, but their e-mails are still off-limits

The U.S. Capitol behind the natural gas and coal fueled Capitol Power Plant. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News) Scientists and top officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have agreed to start interviews akin to depositions this week with House investigators, who are demanding to know their internal deliberations on a groundbreaking climate change study. But the interviews may not be enough to placate the chairman of the House science committee, a global warming skeptic who last week stepped up the pressure on the Commerce Department to comply with his subpoena for e-mails that NOAA has refused to turn over. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) wants thousands of e-mails among scientists and NOAA’s staff of political appointees that he thinks will show that the researchers had something to hide when they refuted claims that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the past decade. [ Congress demands climate change documents as […]

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Hoeven tries again to erase oil export ban

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., says he’ll try to work language into a highway funding bill that would lift a ban on crude oil exports. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 13 (UPI) — A Republican senator from North Dakota said he was working to insert language in a highway-funding bill that would lift a ban on U.S. crude oil exports. U.S. Sen. John Hoeven , R-N.D., told oil industry leaders gathered in Williston, a city at the heart of the state’s shale oil boom, that lifting a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports would help support the state’s industry workers . "That’s why I am working to include legislation lifting the ban in the new highway bill that Congress is on track to pass," he said in a statement. Washington enacted a ban on domestic crude oil exports after Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum […]

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Murkowski: Why no oil swaps with Mexico?

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a supporter of repealing a U.S. oil export ban, asks Commerce Department if any oil swaps have taken place with Mexico. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski , an advocate for repealing a 40-year-old ban on oil exports, said she wants to know why no oil is getting to Mexico under a swap deal. The U.S. Commerce Department in August granted a request from Mexican energy company Petroleos Mexicanos, known also as Pemex, to swap as much as 100,000 barrels of U.S. crude oil per day for refining. Legislation enacted in response to an oil embargo enforced in the 1970s by Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries forbids the export of crude oil. The Commerce Department agreement requires Mexico to refine the crude oil at home and forbids re-export to other nations. Similar agreements are […]

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Why lifting oil export ban can help U.S. foreign policy

A service truck drives past an oil well on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, November 1, 2014. A House of Representatives bill is due to go to the floor this week, one step closer to lifting the 40-year-old ban on the export of U.S. crude oil. The window of opportunity was opened by the continuing plunge in oil prices, now at a six-year low, as falling demand and booming production have created an overabundance of global supply. Congress must seize this opportunity: Lifting the ban on crude oil export would not only be good for the economy, it could also benefit U.S. foreign policy. U.S. firms have been unable to export crude oil since 1974 — a legacy of the energy security fears in the wake of the Arab oil embargo. The only exceptions are crude oil exports to Canada, and oil produced in Alaska. There […]

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NYT: Oil export push well-funded machine

Effort to repeal ban on U.S. crude oil exports akin to a presidential campaign, the New York Times reports. File photo by tcly/Shutterstock WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) — The push to ease the ban on U.S. crude oil exports is a well-funded effort akin to a presidential campaign in terms of its political machinery, a report finds. Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate have moved various pieces of legislation meant to end the ban placed on U.S. crude oil exports after Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the 1970s blocked their exports to the United States in response to Washington’s support for Israel. A report published in The New York Times finds the effort is a well-funded initiative supported in part by major Washington think thanks, like the American Enterprise Institute. The Brookings Institution , the report finds, was backed with more than […]

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Ending the U.S. oil export ban is an empty gesture

Both the House and Senate are considering measures that would lift a ban on the export of U.S. crude oil that has been in place since 1975, the height of the Arab oil embargo. Ending the 40-year prohibition may seem counter-intuitive in an era of global supply glut and collapsing prices. For oil producers and lawmakers from oil-producing states, repeal is seen as a way to find new markets for American energy and bring back jobs to districts that have been hard-hit by the excess supply. While many Republicans, including presidential candidate Jeb Bush, have come out in favor of the idea, most Democrats, including President Barack Obama, are lukewarm, if not opposed. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said last month that she worried about the potential harm to the environment of lifting the ban, and would only support a measure if it’s accompanied by concessions. These could include renewable […]

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Oil Industry Gaining in Push for Repeal of U.S. Ban on Petroleum Exports

Photo Jack Gerard, left, the president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, with Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, after a Crude Oil Export forum in September. Credit Zach Gibson/The New York Times After watching the price of oil and the size of their profits plunge, a dozen top executives from some of the nation’s largest oil exploration companies flew to Washington late last winter on an urgent mission: push Congress and the White House to allow unlimited exports of American crude oil. Now, their long-shot lobbying effort to repeal the 40-year-old export ban has gathered considerable momentum. Approval by the House is expected in the coming weeks and two Senate committees have already endorsed the idea. The White House and Senate Democrats may still move to block it, but the fact that the legislation is even moving ahead in an era of extreme gridlock affirms […]

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Crude export ban bill sponsors expect movement soon in Senate, House

Sponsors of US Senate and House bills to repeal the 40-year-old ban on exports of US-produced crude oil expect their measures to move ahead soon. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), said the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee planned to mark up her bill, S. 1372 , on Oct. 1. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), meanwhile, said his measure, HR 702 , could reach the House floor the following week. Congress could complete work on a final bill and send it to the White House by yearend, both federal lawmakers told a Sept. 30 Trans-Atlantic Energy Security Forum hosted by LNG Allies. “Stay tuned. I think this issue is moving,” Heitkamp said. She noted that she remains the main Democratic cosponsor and a strong supporter of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alas.) bill, S. 2011 , which also aims to repeal the crude export ban. But Heitkamp […]

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