Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Park Service closing Joshua Tree after shutdown damage | Dems deliver trash from parks to White House | Dems offer bills to block offshore drilling | Oil lobby worries about Trump trade fight

JOSHUA TREE TO TEMPORARILY CLOSE AFTER SHUTDOWN DAMAGE: California’s Joshua Tree National Park will completely shutter Thursday so that officials can address damage wrought during the ongoing government shutdown.

The 790,636-acre park between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree in southern California has felt the effects of the government shutdown that started Dec. 22, which left the park unattended because workers could not work.

{mosads}The park is experiencing overflowing trash cans, clogged toilets and destruction of habitat. While the shutdown furloughed park rangers and suspended basic amenities such as trash collection and road clearing, the Trump administration opted to leave gates open so that the public could continue to visit.

The National Park Service (NPS) announced in a press release Tuesday that the park will temporarily close beginning Thursday in order to “to allow park staff to address sanitation, safety, and resource protection issues in the park that have arisen during the lapse in appropriations.”

Officials say the park will be reopened “in the coming days.”

Government employees will pay for the maintenance needs by pulling from funds collected through park entrance fees. While maintenance workers will be paid through those coffers, other essential NPS staff–such as law enforcement officers–will still not be paid, due to the shutdown.

Read more on the closure here.


More on the national parks…


DEMS DELIVER TRASH FROM PARKS TO WHITE HOUSE: Two Democratic representatives from the Bay Area on Tuesday delivered to the White House trash they picked up from national parks as they urged President Trump to end the partial government shutdown.

California Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman carried bins labeled “Trump Trash” to the front gates of the White House. They collected the garbage last week from parks at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is managed by the National Park Service, one of the government agencies whose current funding has been allowed to lapse.

In front of the White House on Tuesday, Speier said that the government shutdown has left the country “with a real problem on our hands.”

“Mr. Trump, here’s your trash,” she said. “We did the work of some of your employees at the National Park Service, who by the way, in our area, have a hard time making it because it’s such a high-cost area. … We have a real problem on our hands.”

More on their protest here.


The shutdown’s effects show signs of growing, read more on what else is being affected.


And in other California news…


CAMP FIRE WORLD’S COSTLIEST 2018 DISASTER: California’s Camp Fire was the world’s costliest disaster last year, according to an insurance company’s report published Tuesday.

German reinsurance firm Munich RE said the Northern California fire resulted in damages of $16.5 billion.

More than 80 people were killed and thousands of buildings were destroyed during the November fire that ravaged Butte County, making it the deadliest wildfire in state history.

“Our data shows that the losses from wildfires in California have risen dramatically in recent years,” Ernst Rauch, Munich Re’s head of climate and geosciences, said in a statement. “At the same time, we have experienced a significant increase in hot, dry summers, which has been a major factor in the formation of wildfires. Many scientists see a link between these developments and advancing climate change.”

Overall, the United States accounted for 60 percent of insured value lost during 2018.

Hurricane Michael, which also affected Cuba, cost $16 billion and Hurricane Florence caused $14 billion in damages, primarily in the Carolinas.

Approximately 50 percent of the losses by natural catastrophes were insured, significantly higher than the average 28 percent insured.

Read more here.


Happy Tuesday! The government shutdown clock is at 18 days. Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.


DEMS INTRODUCE BILLS TO BLOCK FUTURE OFFSHORE DRILLING: A group of House Democrats introduced a suite of eight bills Tuesday aimed at blocking President Trump’s proposal to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling around the country.

Taken together, the bills would ban or put a 10-year moratorium on offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The bills came as the Interior Department is expected soon to move forward on its plan released in January 2018 to open the offshore areas of the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and Gulf coasts to offshore oil and natural gas drilling. That plan has met stiff opposition from political leaders and coastal communities that neighbor nearly all of the areas.

“Today’s bills are about a cleaner, more sustainable future for our country,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement.

“We can create clean energy jobs and protect our coastlines at the same time with the right policy choices,” he said. “The American people don’t want oil rigs on every beach up and down our coasts, and our economy doesn’t need them. Doubling down on offshore drilling would be a huge mistake, and we’re proud to work together to make sure we take a better course.”

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the energy and mineral resources subcommittee in the Natural Resources panel, is sponsoring bills that target drilling off California, the entire Pacific coast, the Arctic coast and the Atlantic coast.

Read more on the bills here.


Others join offshore drilling fight…


SOUTH CAROLINA JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST TRUMP OFFSHORE DRILLING PLAN: South Carolina’s attorney general became the first Republican to join a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plan Monday.

Alan Wilson (R) joined nine other states seeking to block seismic testing and potential exploratory drilling off the East Coast.

“Once again the federal government seeks to intrude upon the sovereignty of the state of South Carolina,” Wilson said. “Such action puts our State’s economy, tourism and beautiful natural resources at risk. We are bringing suit to protect the State’s economy and the rule of law.

“We understand the need to have a long-term, reliable energy supply. However, any comprehensive energy strategy must comply with the rule of law. While oil and gas exploration could bring in billions of dollars, doing it without adequate study and precautions could end up costing billions of dollars and cause irreversible damage to our economy and coast.”

According to the states and environmental groups filing the suit in South Carolina’s district court, seismic testing for oil could harm marine life and in turn tourism.

South Carolina joins Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia in the lawsuit.

More on the legal challenge here.


EPA STAFFERS TO GET HALF A PAYCHECK: EPA head Andrew Wheeler announced to staff Tuesday that employees will be getting half for a normal pay period. The reason for the payout during the current shutdown stems from the fact that EPA was able to stay open a week longer than most other agencies due to remaining funds.

“Understandably, many staff were concerned about the complete lack of another paycheck,” Wheeler wrote.


OIL LOBBY WORRIES ABOUT TRADE WAR: The nation’s main oil lobbying group is growing increasingly concerned about the impacts to the industry from President Trump’s ongoing trade war.

Mike Sommers, the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) president, said U.S. tariffs on steel and China’s tariffs on liquefied natural gas (LNG) are among the top concerns of oil and gas companies.

“We want this dispute to end quickly,” Sommers told reporters Tuesday in advance of his “State of American Energy” speech, an annual event the oil industry group hosts in an attempt to set the energy policy agenda for the year.

“We of course want to ensure that U.S. intellectual property is protected,” Sommer said, nodding to one of Trump’s main justifications for tariffs on China. “But at the same time, we have to do it in a way that doesn’t affect American economic leadership, that is really driven by American energy leadership.”

More on the oil industry’s concerns here.



More than a dozen were arrested in British Columbia as Canadians sparred with officials over allowing workers access to the controversial TransCanada pipeline, the Vancouver Sun reports.

{mossecondads}Billionaire philanthropist and climate change policy advocate Tom Steyer will announce future political plans in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports.



Check out stories from Tuesday…

-Dems introduce bills to block offshore drilling

-Oil lobby frets over trade war

-Joshua Tree will temporarily close to address shutdown damage

-South Carolina joins lawsuit against Trump offshore drilling plan

-California’s Camp Fire was world’s costliest disaster in 2018

-US carbon emissions spiked in 2018, research group estimates

-George, the last of a Hawaiian land snail species, has died

-Shutdown’s impact shows signs of growing

-Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax

Tags Alan Lowenthal California Donald Trump Drilling EPA gas Interior Jackie Speier Jared Huffman Joshua Tree NPS oil Parks paychecks Ryan Costello Shutdown trash Waste

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video