Overnight Energy: Big win for EPA air pollution rule

SCOTUS WON'T BLOCK AIR POLLUTION RULE: The Supreme Court will let a contentious Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule stay in place, in a big win for the Obama administration.

Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday declined a request from 20 states to put the mercury and air toxics rule for power plants on hold, following last year's ruling that the regulation violated the law.

The win contrasts with last month, when a 5-4 split of the court put a hold on the EPA's carbon dioxide limits for power plants, a separate regulation.

The EPA is working to fix the rule with a cost-benefit analysis in order to patch up what the Supreme Court said was wrong with it.

Michigan and other conservative states said the rule should be on hold while the EPA works on the fix, but Roberts disagreed.

The EPA was very glad to see Roberts' decision.

"These practical and achievable standards cut harmful pollution from power plants, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing heart and asthma attacks," said EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison.

Read more here.

FLINT GETS POLITICAL: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich talked with Rep. Dan Kildee this week to talk about possible solutions to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., the Michigan Democrat said Thursday.

The conversation, which Kildee discussed on Thursday, comes ahead of a GOP presidential debate in Detroit Thursday night, a Flint debate for Democrats on Sunday and the Michigan primaries next Tuesday. The circumstances raise the possibility Flint becomes an issue on the presidential campaign trail for at least a few days.

"[Kasich] just wanted to have a better understanding of what I thought the solution needed to look like, and I encouraged him to speak up and be helpful," Kildee said Thursday.

A few presidential candidates -- primarily Democrats Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton faces new challenges on ObamaCare House Republican group raised more than M in October Chaffetz says he'll vote for Trump MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersClinton: AT&T deal 'raises questions and concerns' A Berniecrat's Argument Against Jill Stein and For Hillary Clinton Trump and millennials: He might do better than we think MORE -- have looked to highlight the Flint water crisis in the course of their campaigns. The two will doubtlessly discuss it during their debate in the city this weekend.

Kildee said he hopes Republicans do the same when they meet in Detroit on Thursday night.

"It would send quite a message if the Republicans are in Michigan debating a few days before their primary and Flint doesn't play some role in the debate, so we'll see," he said.

Read more here.

SENATE MOVES PIPELINE SAFETY BILL: The Senate on Thursday approved a bill overhauling federal pipeline rules and reauthorizing the main agency overseeing pipeline safety.

The legislation, from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through 2019 and takes new steps to cut down on spills and other problems with the American pipeline network.

The bill would direct the agency to prioritize its current regulatory agenda over new rulemaking. Lawmakers have criticized PHMSA's inability to write many of the rules lawmakers mandated in a 2011 bill.

"For families, consumers, workers, and businesses across our nation, the safety and security of our extensive pipeline network must remain a top priority," Sen. Deb FischerDeb FischerGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election No. 3 GOP senator: I'll still vote for Trump GOP Senate candidate reverses on Trump in debate MORE (R-Neb.), a bill sponsor, said in a statement Thursday.

"The bill we passed today will enhance the safety of these pipelines through stronger congressional oversight and necessary improvements to PHMSA."

House lawmakers have looked to write their own PHMSA bill. Two committees held hearings on the matter in the last two weeks, and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a discussion draft of a bill on Tuesday.

Read more here.

WANTED: A TWEETER FOR A WATER UTILITY: The employee responsible for DC Water's Twitter account is leaving, and it looks like a water drop just can't do the job. Learn more here.

ON TAP FRIDAY: Current and former State Department officials will speak at an Atlantic Council event on "sustainable energy security."


Minnesota environmental regulators have signed off on a new precious metals mine in the state, a significant step in the permitting process for the mine, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (Copper-nickel mining is a significant political issue in the state, as one of your humble correspondents covered extensively in a past life.)

An electric utility thinks bird poop caused the shutdown of its Indian Point nuclear plant in New York, the Journal News reports.

Locals are fighting a plan to build the first coal-fired power plant in Kenya, the Guardian reports.


Check out Thursday's stories...
-Senate approves pipeline safety bill
-EPA largely prefers Senate's chemical safety bill
-Feds to expand Medicaid coverage in Flint
-GOP senators holding up Flint aid deal
-Group asks lawmakers to push for updated fire safety regulations
-Feds refer Exxon climate claims to FBI
-Kasich calls Michigan Democrat to discuss Flint crisis
-Chief justice rejects plea to block air pollution rule
-Oregon lawmakers approve far-reaching climate change bill

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