OVERNIGHT ENERGY: The search for White House climate plans

ON TAP WEDNESDAY: White House climate and energy aide Heather Zichal will discuss President Obama’s agenda at a morning forum titled: “The Politics of Climate Change.”

Obama’s navigation of those dicey politics is the focus of intense scrutiny amid signs that the president will unveil long-awaited second-term climate plans as soon as next month.

Wednesday’s event at The Newseum is hosted by The New Republic magazine and American University, and will include several other speakers. Click here for more information.

“The event will include a series of speeches, interviews, and panel discussions that focus on whether the events of the last year — instances of extreme weather and record atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide — will pave the way for more substantial domestic climate change policy,” an advisory states.

Obama has vowed new executive-level actions if Congress doesn’t act on major climate legislation, and that’s extremely unlikely to happen.

Climate advocates are hoping for a far-reaching plan that includes carbon emissions rules for existing power plants — a topic the White House has shied away from discussing to date.

Lawmakers both supporting and opposing tougher steps to battle global warming are also wondering about the shape of the White House agenda. Will Democrats learn more soon?

According to a report in E&ENews PM Tuesday, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response MORE (D-Calif.) said that next week White House officials are expected to brief the ad-hoc Senate climate caucus that she helps lead.


Moniz tours nuclear facility

Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizOvernight Energy: Pruitt defends first-class travel | Watchdog says contractor charged Energy Department for spas, lobbying | Experts see eased EPA enforcement under Trump Obama energy secretary named to utility giant’s board Give Trump new nukes and we are that much closer to war MORE on Wednesday will visit a nuclear reservation in Washington state that’s brought concerns about what to do with the nation’s nuclear waste.

Reports that waste tanks were leaking at the Hanford nuclear reservation ignited fresh concern from Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTrump struggles to get new IRS team in place CIA declassifies memo on nominee's handling of interrogation tapes Dem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers MORE (D-Ore.) and other senators that Congress must move on nuclear waste legislation.

Wyden, who is working on a bipartisan nuclear waste bill with three other senators, pressed Moniz to make a stop at Hanford during the confirmation process for the new Energy Department chief.

Moniz’s appearance comes as rumors are circulating that the Senate quartet working on nuclear waste legislation are preparing to release their bill.

The senators, who recently met with Moniz to discuss the legislation, will gather again Thursday to work on the bill.

“We’re still working it,” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (R-Alaska), the Senate Energy Committee’s top Republican and one of the four senators involved in the effort, told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday.

World Bank to launch new climate report

On Wednesday the World Bank will unveil a report titled “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience.”

World Bank Group President President Jim Yong Kim is doing a livestreamed interview with Reuters. Click here for more.


Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Tuesday ...

— Biofuels group beefs up DC office with new regulatory staffer
— Federal court rules against hunters importing polar bear trophies
— Sen. Alexander: Dems won't go 'nuclear' because Reid fears Yucca vote
— Dems blast GOP for slashing renewable energy spending
— Republican slams pro-Obama group for listing ‘climate deniers’
— Army Corps deals blow to green groups on coal exports
— States, green groups delay lawsuit amid Obama climate rumors


State AGs to EPA: Don’t reach settlement on carbon rules

Attorneys general from conservative states are pressing the Environmental Protection Agency not to reach a new legal settlement that locks the agency into issuing power plant carbon emissions standards.

A letter to the EPA from 21 state AGs pushes back against threats to sue the agency by green groups and a coalition of roughly a dozen other states, who are weighing new litigation to force action on the standards (click here for more on that).

The Tuesday letter rebuts the green groups and liberal-state AGs who say the EPA has a “non-discretionary” duty to move ahead with the climate rules.

“We ... request that EPA refrain from allowing petitioners to unduly influence the policymaking process via settlement negotiations,” states the letter from 21 state attorneys general including Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas, Alabama and others.

“However, if EPA feels compelled to engage in such negotiations, we request notice and an opportunity to be involved in the resolution of the notices,” adds the letter, which also comes from AGs in Ohio and Michigan, which are major manufacturing states.

Green groups and liberal states including Massachusetts, New York, New Mexico and Oregon say the EPA must complete delayed rules setting standards for new power plants, and launch the process to create standards for existing plants.

Record-breaking 'dead zone' possible for Gulf

The Gulf of Mexico might have a record-setting “dead zone” this summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Tuesday.

Dead zones refer to when there is little or no oxygen in the water, making it difficult to support aquatic life. Those conditions arise as a result of nutrient pollution from agriculture and other human activities, reducing oxygen levels for marine life in deep waters.

The projected dead zone of between 7,286 and 8,561 square miles would be among the 10 largest recorded, with the high estimate setting a new record.

NOAA attributed the prediction to Midwest floods that pushed agricultural runoff into the Mississippi River and to the Gulf.

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