Democratic News

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, the Subcommittee on Energy will delve into the management and operations of the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) and National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA).  Congress created these organizations in the 1990s and to develop programs that provide research and development, enhance consumer and employee safety and training and provide consumer education about propane and heating oil.  A recent GAO audit raises questions about both of these entities and their programs.  Witnesses will include Mark Gaffigan, director, Natural Resources and Environment, Government Accountability Office; John Huber, president, National Oilheat Research Alliance; and Roy Willis, president and chief executive, Propane Education & Research Council.  (Dirksen 366 at 10:00 a.m.)
On Wednesday, Sept. 29, the Subcommittee on National Parks and the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests will jointly consider 12 bills: S. 3261, to establish the Buffalo Bayou National Heritage Area in Texas; S. 3283, to designate Mt. Andrea Lawrence in California; S. 3291, to establish Coltsville National Historical Park in Connecticut; S. 3524/H.R. 4438, to authorize the Interior Secretary to enter into a cooperative agreement for a park headquarters at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas, to expand the boundary of the park and to study potential land acquisitions; S. 3565, to convey certain Bureau of Land Management land in Mohave County, Ariz., to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission; S. 3612, to expand the boundary of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont; S. 3616, to withdraw certain BLM land in New Mexico; S. 3744, to establish Pinnacles National Park in California as a unit of the National Park System; S. 3778/H.R. 4773, to authorize the Interior Secretary to lease certain lands within Fort Pulaski National Monument in Georgia; S. 3820, to authorize the Interior Secretary to issue permits for a microhydro project in non-wilderness areas within Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, and to acquire land for the park; S. 3822, to adjust the boundary of the Carson National Forest in New Mexico; and H.R. 1858, to correct the boundary and convey certain lands involving Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado.  Witnesses to be posted on the committee’s website.  (Dirksen 366, 2:30 p.m.)
On Thursday, Sept. 30, the Subcommittee on Energy will examine the role of strategic minerals in clean energy technologies and other applications, plus legislation on this issue, including S. 3521, the Rare Earths Supply Technology and Resources Transformation Act of 2010.  Rare earth minerals are widely used not only in many of today’s high-tech products such as wind turbines, hybrid vehicles, cell phones, computers, TVs and energy efficient lighting, but also in sophisticated U.S. military equipment.  Witnesses will include David Sandalow, assistant secretary for Policy and International Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy; Dr. Roderick Eggert, professor and director of the Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines, Golden; Preston Rufe, environmental manager, Formation Capital Corp., Salmon, ID; and JD Sitton, president and chief executive, Infinia, Kennewick, WA.  (Dirksen 366, 10:00 a.m.)
Bonuses …
-- Concerns are mounting re: U.S. competitiveness and clean/green technologies.  Lately, headlines about China’s crash program for clean energy (with numbers that boggle the mind) have raised fears that the U.S. could fall behind our global competitors in clean/green energy innovation unless Congresses passes energy legislation.  In a recent issue of POLITICO, Chairman Bingaman tackles the topic in “The Global Clean Energy Revolution Will Not Wait.”

-- Another Senate Energy Committee interest -- and the subject of our Thursday hearing – received international media attention this week with stories about an alleged dispute between China and Japan over exports of a critical category of minerals called “rare earths.”  Views on this quarrel won’t be scarce on Thursday.   


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