Energy & Environment — Senators form Colorado River caucus
A group of senators is joining together to form a caucus devoted to working out issues related to the Colorado River. Meanwhile, BP is scaling back its 2030 climate goal, while the EU is considering a ban on “forever chemicals.”
This is Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk.
Bipartisan lawmakers join over Western water issues
As Colorado River basin states struggle to come to an agreement over proposed cutbacks to water consumption, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is pushing to evaluate the issue.
An informal group launched by Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) has now expanded to include senators representing the seven Colorado River basin states: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.
Details about the caucus were first reported by CNN on Tuesday but later confirmed to The Hill by a spokesperson for Hickenlooper.
The Colorado senator expressed support for a partnership between the Senate and the states, telling CNN that “there might be additional resources that are needed to really solve this.”
While talks have just begun, some senators are looking at how they might harness additional financing for water users who could soon face significant reductions.
Another key goal of the new Senate caucus involves helping alleviate tensions between California and the other Colorado River states.
Read more here, from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin.
BP cuts back 2030 climate target
Oil giant BP is scaling back its plans to cut emissions by reducing its oil and gas production by 2030, the company said Tuesday.
In announcing 2022 profit of nearly $27.7 billion, the company said it would now try to reduce the emissions from its products by 20 to 30 percent by 2030.
That’s less ambitious than a goal set by the company in 2020 to slash the emissions of its products by 35 to 40 percent by the end of the decade.
The company also said it plans to grow its oil and gas production for at least a few more years — to 2025. Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, including oil and gas as well as coal, are the main drivers of climate change.
BP still says it plans to reach net-zero emissions from its products by 2050.
Asked about the move to scale back the 2030 goal, a BP spokesperson pointed to the fact that the company is also increasing its investment in biofuel, renewable energy, hydrogen energy and electric vehicle charging.
Read more about the target here.
EU EYES PFAS BAN
The European Union is proposing a ban on the use of a group of common toxic chemicals known as PFAS.
Types of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been linked to a range of illnesses including kidney and testicular cancer, as well as thyroid and immune system problems.
They are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they can linger in the human body and the environment. They are used in a variety of waterproof and nonstick products including pans, raincoats and cosmetics.
The EU’s proposal would take effect 18 months after its passage, but would take longer for some products. There would also be an unlimited time exception for some “exceptional cases.”
Despite the exceptions, the EU’s proposal goes beyond actions taken by the U.S., which doesn’t have federal limits on the products. The state of Maine has approved a ban on PFAS products that will take effect in 2030.
Read more about the EU proposal here.
Climate change contributing to spread of ‘superbugs’
Climate change is heightening the risk posed by antibiotic-resistant viruses, according to research published Tuesday by the United Nations Environment Program.
The report found so-called superbugs have been exacerbated by climate change due to increased bacterial growth caused by warmer temperatures and pollutants that have increased the spread of antibiotic-resistance genes.
The analysis notes that overuse of antimicrobials and pollutants can spread resistance, while contact with resistant microorganisms can create resistance in bacteria already present in air, water and soil. Pollution associated with wastewater, particularly from hospitals, is a major factor, as well as runoff from pharmaceutical production and agriculture, according to the report.
The risk is particularly great for historically polluted waterways, which are more likely to provide shelter for microorganisms that foster antibiotic resistance. A combination of increased pollution and decreased resources for pollutant management has made the problem worse in combination with resistance in health care and agriculture settings.
Read more about the research here.
ON TAP TONIGHT
President Biden will deliver his State of the Union Address.
ON TAP TOMORROW
- The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing titled “Unleashing America’s Energy and Mineral Potential”
- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on impacts of the Waters of the United States rule
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Heat pumps are defying Maine’s winters and oil industry pushback (The Washington Post)
- Biden administration acknowledges it can force Bitcoin mines to disclose pollution (The Verge)
- An ‘inland tsunami’: 15 million people are at risk from catastrophic glacial lake outbursts, researchers find (CNN)
- The U.N. Secretary-General’s Searing Message for the Fossil-Fuel Industry (The New Yorker)
- Cold Snap Pushed New England to Burn More Diesel for Power (The Wall Street Journal)
- California oil drilling restrictions make ballot initiative after lobbying
- Newsom calls for federal probe into soaring natural gas prices
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.
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