OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds
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Today’s a big personnel day, as we’re looking at Brenda Mallory’s confirmation and some more nominations announced by the White House. We’re also talking about the latest totals on U.S. emissions and a further pause on a Trump drilling rule.
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FROM COUNSEL TO COUNCIL: Senate confirms Biden’s pick to lead White House environmental council
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Brenda Mallory to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which advises the president on issues such as environmental justice and conserving oceans, lands and wildlife.
The upper chamber approved Mallory’s nomination in a 53-45 vote, with three Republicans voting with Democrats to back her: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Rob Portman (Ohio).
Mallory, who served as the council’s general counsel under the Obama administration, will be the first Black leader of the CEQ.
So what does CEQ actually do? The council is in charge of implementing a bedrock environmental law called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The implementation of NEPA, which requires environmental analyses ahead of projects such as pipelines, highways and drilling on public lands, was rolled back under the Trump administration.
Mallory may seek to reverse changes made by the prior administration, which included reducing the amount of time environmental reviews take.
NAMING LOTS OF NOMS: Biden picks Obama alum for No. 2 spot at Interior, names other nominees
President Biden has selected Tommy Beaudreau for the No. 2 role at the Interior Department after nixing a previous pick amid reported opposition from swing-vote senators.
Among enviros, he got some mixed reviews: Jennifer Rokala, the executive director at the Center for Western Priorities, praised Beaudreau, saying in a statement that his “extensive experience at the Interior Department makes him exceedingly qualified to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Interior.”
However, Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, accused Beaudreau of being “cozy with the biggest polluters on the planet and will undermine the president’s efforts to rein in fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters.”
OK but who else?
- At Interior, Biden is nominating Shannon Estenoz for the position of assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, Winnie Stachelberg for the assistant secretary for policy, management and budget and Tanya Trujillo for assistant secretary for water and science.
- At EPA, Biden nominated Radhika Fox to be assistant administrator for water, Michael Freedhoff to be assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution protection and Faisal Amin to be chief financial officer.
- At Energy, he nominated Jill Hruby, as under secretary for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
And one bonus: President Biden is expected to pick Tracy Stone-Manning, a senior adviser at the National Wildlife Federation, as director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a person familiar with the selection confirmed to The Hill. Politico previously reported that Stone-Manning would be selected for the top BLM role, citing two sources. A White House spokesperson declined to comment.
THE NUMBERS ARE IN: US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019, EPA says
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 1.7 percent in 2019 compared with 2018, according to a new report released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday.
The report, issued annually by the agency, said that the decrease was “largely driven” by decreased carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion.
This decrease was the result of both a 1 percent drop in total energy use and a shift away from coal and toward natural gas and renewables in the electricity sector.
The 1.7 percent decrease in emissions also represented a 13 percent decrease compared with 2005 levels, the report said.
PAY, PAL: Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds
The Biden administration is adding an additional delay to a rule that is expected to lessen the amount companies that drill on public lands and in public waters pay in fees to the federal government.
The rule, which was finalized in January and previously delayed until this Friday, will now be halted until Nov. 1, according to a department spokesperson.
During the delay period, the department’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue will weigh whether to revise or withdraw the prior rule, and possibly propose a new one in its place.
“In its final days, the previous administration sought to shortchange American taxpayers for the resources that oil and gas companies extract from public lands,” an Interior spokesperson said in a statement.
The rule changed the way that royalties companies pay to the government for drilling on federal property is calculated and was expected to decrease how much the government collects by $28.9 million each year.
QUOTE OF NOTE: Carper says infrastructure should be funded through user pay
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Wednesday he supports making people pay to use transportation infrastructure even as the White House eyes raising corporate taxes to pay for its own infrastructure package.
“I think things that are worth having are worth paying for,” said the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman during The Hill’s Sustainability Imperative event.
“For years, we have taken a user-pay approach. If you use roads, highways, bridges, you have to help pay for that. I think that’s sound policy and one that we should continue,” he said.
ON TAP TOMORROW:
- The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing on the role of the Department of Energy and energy innovation in American economic competitiveness
- The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the cost of inaction on climate change
- The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on increasing risks of climate change and NOAA’s role in providing climate services
- The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change will hold a hearing on the CLEAN Future Act and environmental justice
- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on practical steps toward a carbon-free maritime industry
- The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing on “Making the Case for Climate Action”
WHAT WE’RE READING:
A poultry plant, years of groundwater contamination and, finally, a court settlement, The Washington Post reports
House Republican leadership details three-day climate event to counter Biden’s Earth Day summit, The Washington Examiner reports
Here’s What A Civilian Climate Corps Could Look Like, HuffPost reports
ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday…
Senate confirms Biden’s pick to lead White House environmental council
US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019, EPA says
Biden set to pick conservation advocate for top land management role
Biden picks Obama alum for No. 2 spot at Interior
Texas power provider asks residents, businesses to conserve electricity
US reentry to Paris agreement adds momentum to cities’ sustainability efforts
Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds
SOMETHING BOTH OFFBEAT AND OFF BEAT: Folks in CO are bidding on marijuana-themed license plates