Overnight Energy: Perry questions role of carbon dioxide in climate change

Overnight Energy: Perry questions role of carbon dioxide in climate change
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PERRY QUESTIONS CARBON'S ROLE IN CLIMATE: Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he doesn't believe carbon dioxide is the "primary control knob" behind climate change on Monday, a position at odds with the conclusions of most climate scientists.

Asked by CNBC on Monday if he believes carbon dioxide is "the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate," Perry said no, and that "most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment we live in."

"This shouldn't be a debate about is the climate changing, is man having an affect on it? Yeah, we are," Perry said. "The question should be, just how much and what are the policy changes that we need to make to affect that?"

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Perry's position goes against the scientific evidence presented by most federal, international and private sector researchers, who have concluded that increasing greenhouse gas emissions, driven primarily by human activity, have directly contributed to higher temperatures around the globe.

Perry becomes the second of President Trump's energy and environmental officials to go on CNBC's "Squawk Box" to dispute well-established climate science. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said on the same show in March that he "does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor" to climate change.  

Read more here.

 

JUSTICES WON'T HEAR CHEVRON CASE: The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear arguments in a long-running legal dispute between Ecuador and oil giant Chevron.

An American lawyer representing Ecuadoran citizens in the contest had appealed a federal lower court's August decision that blocked the $8.6 billion fine assessed against Chevron by an Ecuadoran court.

The Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in August ruled that Ecuador's lawyer Steven Donziger engaged in "bribery, coercion and fraud" in the case. The Supreme Court on Monday formally declined to hear an appeal of that decision.

The legal fight stems from Chevron's 2001 purchase of a subsidiary, Texaco, which operated in Ecuador. Residents accused Texaco of environmental damage stemming from oil exploration in the Amazon rainforest in the 1990s, and a court in the country fined Chevron $8.6 billion in damages in 2011.

Amazon then sued Donziger and convinced a federal judge in 2014 to block Ecuador from collecting the fine. The appeals court affirmed that decision, and with the Supreme Court passing on hearing arguments, the company said its concerns have been "finally and conclusively affirmed by the legal system of the United States."

Read more here.

 

SCUTTLEBUTT OVER DEPUTY EPA CHIEF: Jeff Holmstead, who served as a top EPA official under President George W. Bush, is emerging as the top candidate to be the agency's deputy administrator, Axios reported Monday.

Holmstead is a partner at the law and lobbying firm Bracewell. Other potential contenders for the post have been ruled out, Axios said, citing two sources.

Trump has allegedly met with the former leader of the EPA's air pollution office under Bush and likes him, although no final decision has been made.

Holmstead would be relatively moderate for Trump's EPA. He has been in Washington for years and has lobbied on behalf of Arch Coal Inc., Duke Energy Corp., Southern Co., the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council and others before de-registering as a lobbyist in December.

He has stated that the Obama administration's 2009 finding that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health and welfare -- the lynchpin for climate change regulation by the EPA -- should not be reconsidered, a position that conservatives oppose.

Andrew Wheeler, a lobbyist for various energy and fossil fuel interests at Faegre Baker Daniels, was previously reported to be Trump's top choice for deputy administrator at the EPA.

But Axios reports that Wheeler is no longer the leading contender.

Read more here.

 

FEMA AND NUKE NOMINEES TO GET SENATE VOTES THIS WEEK: The Senate is due to vote on two top Trump administration officials this week.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Brock Long's nomination to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Tuesday morning. That vote -- originally scheduled for Monday night -- was delayed, ironically, due to bad weather in Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate healthcare bill appears headed for failure Talk of Trump pardons reverberates on Sunday shows Trump backers eye GOP primary challenges for Flake, Heller MORE (R-Ky.) has also filed for cloture on Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki's renomination to that position, meaning she will get a vote this week.

Svinicki passed through a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee vote last week by voice vote. Her current term is due to expire June 30, so senators have expedited her confirmation process.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY I: A busy week of budget hearings starts on Tuesday.

Perry is due to testify on President Trump's Energy Department 2018 budget request before the House appropriations committee.

On the other side of the Capitol, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will testify on the budget request for his department.

Both secretaries will testify twice more on the budget this week. Read more on their schedules -- and the week ahead -- here.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY II: Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials are scheduled to testify at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on watersheds and landscapes.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

Wisconsin lawmakers say they're worried Gov. Scott Walker's (R) budget is punishing state scientists who did research on climate change, the State Journal reports.

A new tropical storm has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and another one could soon follow, the Washington Post reports. The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning for Louisiana.  

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. is buying Rice Energy Inc., which EQT says will make it the country's largest natural gas producer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Monday's stories ...   

-Senators ask Mnuchin, Tillerson to probe possible Russian takeover of Citgo
-Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron, Ecuador case
-Rick Perry: Carbon dioxide is not 'primary' driver of climate change
-Ex-Bush official expected to be deputy EPA head
-Week ahead: Interior, Energy chiefs to defend Trump budget

 

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill