OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden proposes billions for electric vehicles, building retrofitting| EPA chief to replace Trump appointees on science advisory panels | Kerry to travel to UAE, India to discuss climate change
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Today we’re looking at the environment and energy provisions of the White House’s infrastructure package, EPA head Michael Regan’s overhaul of EPA advisory boards, and John Kerry’s latest overtures on international climate cooperation
EV DOES IT: Biden infrastructure plan includes billions for electric vehicles, building retrofitting
President Biden‘s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal unveiled Wednesday includes a suite of measures to fight climate change, including billions to transition to electric vehicles (EVs), retrofit buildings, replace lead pipes and modernize the nation’s electrical grid.
The infrastructure package includes numerous proposals that were rolled out as part of Biden’s climate plan during his 2020 campaign, including $174 billion to “win the [electric vehicle] market,” and billions to boost cities’ defenses to extreme weather caused by climate change.
The White House framed the package as a way to “unify and mobilize the country to meet the great challenges of our time: the climate crisis and the ambitions of an autocratic China,” a push back against a nation that has made headway in the green market.
What else is in the package?: The bill provides funding to boost the country’s production of electric vehicles and transition to this form of transportation. Biden has already called for the federal government to boost its procurement of electric vehicles, but the package pushes efforts that would help make EV ownership more viable for the average consumer.
The infrastructure package includes incentives with a goal of 500,000 EV chargers by this decade’s end and electrifying no fewer than 20 percent of the nation’s school bus fleet. The plan also sets a goal of replacing 50,000 diesel transit vehicles with electric.
QUOTH THE REGAN, NEVERMORE: EPA chief to replace Trump appointees on science advisory panels
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announced Wednesday that the EPA will reconstitute two advisory panels that saw numerous members removed during the Trump administration, dismissing 40 Trump appointees in the process.
The EPA’s Science Advisory Board and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) will be reconfigured in a way that undoes what Regan characterized as undue political and industry influence under former agency chiefs Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler.
“Scientific integrity is one of EPA’s foundational values – and as Administrator, I am committed to ensuring that every decision we make meets rigorous scientific standards,” Regan said in a statement Wednesday.
“Resetting these two scientific advisory committees will ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight to support our work to protect human health and the environment. Today we return to a time-tested, fair, and transparent process for soliciting membership to these critically important advisory bodies.”
What other steps will the EPA take?: Regan cited a number of Trump administration moves that he said the agency will undo. These include an October 2017 internal directive that barred the recipients of EPA research grants from concurrently serving on advisory panels.
He said the EPA also will roll back the previous elimination of “key air pollution review panels that have augmented the CASAC for decades.”
Wheeler disbanded the CASAC’s Particulate Matter Review Panel in October 2018. The following year, the scientists who served on the committee announced they would reconvene without government backing.
KERRY ON: Kerry to travel to UAE, India to discuss climate change
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry will visit the United Arab Emirates and India this week as part of a White House effort to strengthen climate commitments from other major emitters.
The trip, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, was confirmed by the State Department Wednesday afternoon. The former secretary of State will join a summit Sunday in Abu Dhabi with regional representatives.
India is the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the U.S. Washington-Beijing relations are particularly fraught after an acrimonious summit between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese diplomats.
Why the UAE and India?: Kerry previously praised India for its steps to transition to renewable energy at the World Sustainable Development Summit earlier this year, calling the nation a “red-hot investment opportunity.”
“We believe India can be one of the most critical transitional countries in this entire endeavour,” Kerry said. “I am confident that just as we have worked very closely on any number of issues in these last years, our two nations – the world’s two biggest democracies – have a great deal to gain from joining hands in our global leadership and confronting the climate crisis to meet this moment.”
The UAE, meanwhile, is a frequent stop for diplomats en route to India, and has been the focus of much of Kerry’s early international entreaties, the Journal reported. Kerry said in January that he was in touch with his Emirati counterpart on issues specific to the Middle East.
WHAT WE’RE READING:
BlackRock taps Obama official to lead sustainability team, E&E News reports
North Carolina moves to preempt local bans on natural gas hookups, Energy News Network reports
Virginia DEQ: Chemicals released into environment on decrease, The Augusta Free Press reports
Greta Thunberg: European Union Green Deal chief not doing enough, Politico reports
ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday
Lawmakers call on Biden to put $10 billion toward coastal restoration
Watchdog: EPA does not always follow internal rulemaking process
EPA chief to replace Trump appointees on science advisory panels
Biden infrastructure plan includes billions for electric vehicles, building retrofitting
More than 100 climate groups press Kerry on Wall Street’s role in global warming
Kerry to travel to UAE, India to discuss climate change
IN OTHER BUZZ… Bay-bee you can drive my car