Overnight Energy: Senators reach deal on Flint aid

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A FLINT DEAL IS HERE: Senate negotiators have reached a deal on an aid package for Flint, Mich.

The $250 million deal, which the Senate is expected to vote as soon as next week, would provide aid to Flint and other parts of the country with contaminated drinking water.

But it would not provide any help that is specific to Flint. Instead, it focuses on fixing drinking water contamination across the nation.

The measure seems likely to be approved by the Senate.

Seven Democrats and four Republicans are backing the deal, and the fast-track process suggests that GOP leaders are confident it has the votes to be approved.

The bulk of the package, $200 million, would go to expand and finance a pair of loan programs to help states and localities with drinking water infrastructure improvements.

Another $50 million would go toward health programs, including one meant for children suffering from lead poisoning and another to reduce toxins in homes.

"Using these existing, authorized programs is the fiscally responsible thing to do not only for Flint but also for the entire nation facing a water infrastructure crisis," said Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election A dozen senators call for crackdown on Chinese steel Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (R-Okla.)

Read more here.

A SECOND SCOTUS STAY FOR EPA? Twenty conservative states want the Supreme Court to block the Obama administration from enforcing an air pollution rule for power plants.

The group asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to temporarily block a rule on mercury and other toxic pollutants, appealing to the justices after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused.

The mercury rule is controversial and expensive, forcing some coal-fired power plants to shut down. The Supreme Court last year ruled the Obama administration should have completed a cost-benefit analysis before starting the regulatory process for the rule, but didn't overturn it. The circuit court said in December that EPA could continue to enforce it despite the Supreme Court's decision.

"Unless this court stays or enjoins further operation of the Mercury and Air Toxics rule, this court's recent decision in Michigan v. EPA will be thwarted," the states, led by Michigan, wrote in their Tuesday filing.

"A stay or injunction is appropriate because this court has already held that the finding on which the rule rests is unlawful and beyond EPA's statutory authority."

Earthjustice, a law firm that serves environmentalists, slammed the states' motion Tuesday.

"The states' move is premature and wrongheaded," James Pew, an attorney with the group, said in a statement.

"The Supreme Court chose not to stop the rule but, instead, to require EPA to explain it. The agency should be given a chance to comply with the Supreme Court's order."

Read more here.

NEW CLIMATE ADVISER AT SECURITY COUNCIL: President Obama has a new climate and energy adviser at the National Security Council.

The White House said it named John Morton to the post on Wednesday. Morton was previously the chief operating officer at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and did work with the World Bank.

He replaces Paul Bodnar, who is credited with working to form a consensus between the United States and China on climate change policy in the lead-up to the Paris climate conference last year.

SHELL CHIEF TO LEAVE: Marvin Odum, president of Royal Dutch Shell's United States operations, will leave the company next month after 34 years working there, Shell said Wednesday.

Odum's departure is triggering a reorganization in leadership, as well as a move to close the unconventional operation.

Shell head Ben van Beurden said Odum "leaves our important businesses in the Americas well positioned for the next phase of their development."

Odum had led the United States operations for seven years. Among his duties were overseeing the $7 billion effort to drill in the Arctic Ocean, which the company abandoned last year after concluding that the effort was not promising enough.

Bruce Culpepper will replace Odum as the new country head.

ON TAP THURSDAY I: A House transportation subcommittee will hold a hearing on the reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. PHMSA administrator Marie Therese Dominguez is scheduled to speak, as are industry officials.

ON TAP THURSDAY II: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will continue marking up 17 bills.

Rest of Thursday's agenda ...

Reps. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) and Pete Olson (R-Texas), the co-chairs of the Corrosion Prevention Caucus, will hold a briefing on the Flint water crisis and how to prevent it elsewhere.


The city council in St. Paul, Minn., is pushing a bill to symbolically divest its pension funds from fossil fuel companies, the Pioneer Press reports.

Murray Energy Corp. is idling a West Virginia coal mine for at least two weeks and slowing production at other mines amid a downturn in demand, the Associated Press reports.

Pennsylvania officials doubt natural gas companies will look to develop in-state forests even after a one-year moratorium on the practice is lifted, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.


Check out Wednesday's stories...

-Greens' vote scorecard slams 'relentless attacks' on environment in 2015
-First natural gas export shipment to depart
-Senate to vote on Flint aid package
-California lowers gas tax
-Senators spar with EPA over ethanol mandate
-Nevada joins states fighting Obama's climate rule
-States ask Supreme Court to block EPA air pollution rule

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