What’s ahead for Washington this week: Big Oil in the spotlight

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, June 6 – Tuesday will decide another battle between party purity and party loyalty, this time pitting Senate Ag Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) against Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the Democratic primary runoff. If Lincoln loses her bid to run for a third Senate term, the result would reinforce the growing expectation that the next Congress will be even more partisan, with less toleration for moderates, than the present one.

Combine that expectation of an even more divided Congress with the grim picture of worsening economic and environmental disaster flowing from the BP blowout and it’s no wonder that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is pushing hard to bring a climate & energy bill to the Senate floor this summer – rather than wait to try to pass a climate bill in a more divided Congress next year. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is moving in the same direction. On Wednesday, he’ll introduce what he calls “a practical energy and climate change bill” aimed at “saving people money on their energy bills, reducing foreign oil dependency, improving industrial competitiveness, diversifying energy choices, and better using domestic fossil fuel resources.”

Lugar won’t be alone in addressing energy issues this week. Energy Secretary Steven Chu will address the National Press Club Thursday to call for accelerating innovation to help meet U.S. energy and climate goals.

Meanwhile this week’s congressional hearings include lots more investigation into all the issues churned up by the BP blowout – along with farm bill, antitrust, and U.S/China relations hearings:

Tuesday, June 8

  • Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “The Risky Business of Big Oil: Have Recent Court Decisions and Liability Caps Encouraged Irresponsible Corporate Behavior?”

Wednesday, June 9

  • House Agriculture Conservation, Credit, Energy, & Research Subcommittee hearing on implementation of the 2008 Farm Bill energy title
  • Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on “Oversight of the Enforcement of the Antitrust Laws,” with Justice Department Assistant AG for the Antitrust Division Christine Varney and Federal Trade Commission Chair Jonathan Leibowitz
  • Senate Energy Committee’s fourth hearing on the BP oil spill, with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, with a focus on Interior’s May 27 report, “Increased Safety Measures for Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf”
  • Senate Environment & Public Works Committee hearing on S.3305, The Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010, to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to increase the liability of the party responsible for an offshore spill to the total of all removal costs plus $10 billion (currently, $75 million) for each incident, effective as of April 15, 2010
  • House Science & Technology Committee hearing on “Deluge of Oil Highlights Research and Technology Needs for Effective Cleanup of Oil Spills”
  • House Budget Committee hearing on the State of the Economy: View from the Federal Reserve, with Fed Chair Ben Bernanke
  • House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on “Promoting the Development of Antibiotics and Ensuring Judicious Use in Humans”
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Budget Request for the Federal Communications Commission with FCC Chair Julius Genachowski

Thursday, June 10

  • Senate Finance Committee hearing on The U.S./China Economic Relationship: A New Approach for A New China
  • Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing “Deep Impact: Assessing the Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on States, Localities and the Private Sector”

USDA’s Economic Research Service & National Agricultural Statistics Service reports:

  • Monday June 7, Crop Progress
  • Tuesday, June 8, Weather-Crop Summary
  • Wednesday June 9, Broiler Hatchery
  • Thursday June 10, Crop Production, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data, Season-Average Price Forecasts
  • Friday, June 11, Dairy Products Prices, Peanut Prices, Potato Stocks, Livestock and Meat Trade Data, Oil Crops Outlook, Rice Outlook, Cotton and Wool Outlook, U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update

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