OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Steyer says no to California Senate run

BUT WAIT: The billionaire climate activist isn't ruling out a bid for public office entirely. 

Steyer said on Thursday that he would not run for Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Boxer Becerra formally nominated for Calif. attorney general 10 freshmen to watch in the new Congress Top 15 Democratic presidential candidates in 2020 MORE's (D-Calif.) Senate seat when she retires in 2016, but the governor's chair in the Golden State could be a possibility. 

"It is now no longer a question of if, or when - but what office," said a source close to Steyer. 

Steyer decided to pass on the Senate bid because he felt he could have a greater impact on advancing climate change policies by working from the outside to help California become an example for the rest of the country.

Read more on his decision here

PIPELINE POLITICS: The Senate is hammering out votes on amendments to legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline on Thursday.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiSchumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal 9 GOP senators Trump must watch out for Trump could alter Supreme Court for decades to come MORE's (R-Alaska) amendment on a per-barrel tax that would go to the oil spill liability trust fund to help with cleanup passed.

The Senate killed dueling amendments offered by Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDem senator says Lewis's comments on Trump were 'uncalled for' Sunday shows preview: Trump allies appear after John Lewis criticism Live coverage: The Senate's 'vote-a-rama' MORE (D-W.Va.), and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders, Dems defend ObamaCare at Michigan rally Sanders: Not a 'bad thing' if Comey resigns Sanders: Trump should tweet support for Medicare, Social Security MORE (I-Vt.) on climate change. 

Sanders cried foul on the motion to table the amendments, saying the Senate was voting to "reject science."

Republicans argued that the Sanders amendment was similar to one the Senate passed on Wednesday, which stated "climate change is real and not a hoax."

Climate votes recap... On Wednesday, the Senate voted climate change was real in a 98-1 vote but shot down the notion that humans contribute to it. 

One of the measures offered by Sen. John HoevenJohn HoevenFive regulations that could come in Obama's final days ND senator calls for remaining Dakota Access protesters to leave Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules MORE (R-N.D.) said humans contribute to global warming, and came one vote shy of the 60 needed for passage. Hoeven helped it fail by voting against his own bill.

On Thursday, Hoeven told reporters his reasoning: "I was concerned if we attached it it might hurt final passage of the bill.  Overall for our caucus it was easier and better as far as not affecting final passage of the bill to not have it attached."

Hoeven said he was simply trying to block an amendment from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), which said humans "significantly" contribute to climate change, wording a majority of Republicans wouldn't get behind. 

"I put up an amendment I was comfortable with, but we had to modify it right as we were going to the floor and our members really hadn't had time to see it and I really hadn't had time to figure out exactly where they were at," Hoeven explained.

Still, Hoeven stressed that just because he didn't vote for his amendment didn't mean he was against the wording.

"I have said all along that the climate is changing and people have an impact on it," he said. 

RILED UP EMOTIONS: The Keystone debate in the Senate appears far from over. Senators continued the fiery rhetoric on Thursday and Republicans touted the return to regular order. 

"It should probably take the federal government less time to approve an important infrastructure project – what the President himself has called a just 'single oil pipeline' – than it takes to build an NFL championship team," Murkowski said.

"We're now on our 16th amendment roll call vote to the #Keystone bill. MORE than all such votes last year combined," Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellJuan Williams: Race, Obama and Trump Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal Right renews push for term limits as Trump takes power MORE (R-Ky.), said on Twitter. 

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidRyan says Trump, GOP 'in complete sync' on ObamaCare Congress has a mandate to repeal ObamaCare Keith Ellison picks ex-DNC Latino as press secretary MORE's (D-Nev.) spokesman Adam Jentleson shot back: "So what, about 15% of the 127 amendment filed so far? We've got a ways to go, huh?"

Democrats have continued to pressure McConnell to stay true to his word that he would not block any amendments and give senators an opportunity to attach measures to the Keystone bill. 

McConnell has threatened late night sessions and Friday votes to get to final passage of the bill quickly. 

ON TAP FRIDAY I: The Woodrow Wilson Center and the Society of Environmental Journalists will host a forum previewing the year ahead in energy and environment policy. It will feature as speakers nine journalists covering energy and the environment.

ON TAP FRIDAY II: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will host a an event on the outlook for global oil and the Middle East. Four experts on the Middle East will speak. 

LNG EXPORTS: Next week the House will vote on a bill to expedite liquefied natural gas exports and the Senate will hold a hearing. 


New Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) pulled back regulations on phosphorus designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay a day after he was inaugurated, DelmarvaNow reports

India is asking oil refiners to cut back on importing oil from Iran shortly before President Obama’s visit, Reuters reports

California is reaching the middle of its rainy season, and hopes are low that the drought will end, Bloomberg News reports


Check out Thursday's stories... 

- Obama to nominate deputy chief at EPA

- House to take up border security and human trafficking bills next week

- Energy offers $55M for efficient vehicle technology

- Steyer passes on California Senate run

- Iraqi PM: Lower oil prices could impede ISIS fight

- GOP to seek changes to EPA coal ash rule

- Iowa wants ethanol front and center in 2016 race

- Gax tax push on fumes, House chairman says

- Romney says climate change is real

- Border bills would roll back environmental laws

- GOP leader warns of Friday Keystone notes

- State polls show lack of support for gas tax hikes

- Amazon to build win farm in Indiana

- Cleanup starts on massive saltwater spill in ND oil patch


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