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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation | Senate confirms EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' | Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation | Senate confirms EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' | Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research
© Greg Nash

IT IS WEDNESDAY, MY DUDES.  Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day’s energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rachel Frazin at rfrazin@thehill.com. Follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin. Reach Zack Budryk at zbudryk@thehill.com or follow him on Twitter: @BudrykZack. Signup for our newsletter and others HERE

Today we’re looking at the Senate’s vote to repeal the Trump administration’s rule on methane emissions, EPA Administrator Michael ReganMichael ReganEPA to reconsider Trump decision not to tighten soot air quality standards GM asks for flexibility in meeting emissions target EPA to revise Trump rollback to water pollution protections MORE’s testimony on the Biden administration’s budget request, and research on the disproportionate racial impact of fine particulate matter.

METHANE ON THE BRAIN: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation

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The Senate voted Wednesday to undo a Trump administration rule that rescinded methane emissions limits and made it harder to regulate releases of the greenhouse gas from the oil and gas sector.

In the 52-42 vote, three Republicans voted with Democrats to get rid of the rule: Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals What the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain MORE (Ohio), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamProgressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema GOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Lindsey Graham: Dismissal of Wuhan lab leak theory cost Trump 2020 election MORE (S.C.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Collins says infrastructure bill won't have gas tax increase or undo 2017 tax reform bill What the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship MORE (Maine).

The methane rule is the first Trump-era rule that Democrats are taking on using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a tool that lets them eliminate regulations completed in the prior 60 legislative days with a simple majority vote.

“The fact that we are using our first CRA on the methane rule shows how important it is and shows the difference in having a Democratic majority when it comes to climate change,” Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerIt's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records Democrats demand Barr, Sessions testify on Apple data subpoenas MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a press conference ahead of the vote.

What did the rule do?: The rule in question got rid of methane emission standards for the oil and gas sector altogether, and also got rid of limits for substances known as volatile organic compounds from oil and gas transmission and storage.

When it promoted the rule under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that it would increase methane emissions by 400,000 short tons over the next decade.

The rule’s opponents argued that on top of that, it’s particularly pernicious because it would make it harder to regulate methane by requiring the EPA to prove that the releases from each type of emitter that it regulates contribute significantly to climate change.

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Read more about the vote here:

BY REQUEST: EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead'

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan appeared at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Wednesday, answering questions about the status of investigations into Trump-era moves at the agency and the Biden administration’s carbon emissions targets.

In a hearing on the EPA’s budget request for fiscal 2022, Regan said the administration’s discretionary funding request of $11.2 billion “recognizes the profound urgency and existential threat of the climate crisis” and “reflects the understanding that a healthy environment and a healthy economy are not mutually exclusive, they actually go hand in hand.”

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby - Biden floats infrastructure, tax concessions to GOP Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (R-Okla.) questioned Regan on the White House’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions by half in the next nine years as the country's nationally-determined contribution under the Paris Climate Agreement. Inhofe noted that China, the world’s largest emitter, did not commit to similar reductions and has said its emissions peak is still to come.

Regan responded that emissions reduction goals were not simply a sacrifice but “an opportunity to lead in technological advancements and create jobs, [and] the market is trending directionally in this way.”

Next steps on probes into political interference: Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseMcConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats On The Money: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal, warn of time crunch Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (D-R.I.) asked Regan about the findings of Office of Inspector General (IG) probes into potential political interference into scientific processes under the Trump administration.

“I think we’re taking a careful look at what the IG reports reveal to us, which are alarming,” Regan replied, adding, “We’re following the advice of our science and doing a complete review of many of the regulations that were put forward in the previous administration and doing a full accounting.”

Read more about the hearing here:

THE POINT IS SOOT: Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research

Fine particulate matter, the nation’s most common air pollutant, disproportionately harms Black, Asian and Latino Americans, according to research published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday.

Researchers found that Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans are exposed to more fine particulate matter generated by industry, diesel trucks, light-duty vehicles and construction work, while white Americans face a higher than average level of exposure from coal-fired power plants and agriculture.

Overall, Black Americans are exposed to 21 percent more of such pollution than the national average, compared to 18 percent for Asian Americans and 11 percent for Hispanics, while white Americans are exposed at a rate of 8 percent below the national average.

The trend continues at state and city level: The study found this disparity also applies in 45 of the 48 states analyzed. In individual cities researchers studied, 73 percent of exposure comes from sources that disproportionately affect people of color. The only exception on a city level was for California cities with large Asian American populations, according to the study.

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“In the (population-weighted) average urban area outside California, 67% of Asian exposure is caused by source types that disproportionately expose Asians, compared with 56% when including California,” the study states.

Read more about the study here:

 

ON TAP TOMORROW: 

  • The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to examine the nomination of Tommy P. Beaudreau as  Deputy Secretary of the Interior
  • The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2022 budget

WHAT WE’RE READING: 

DDT dump site off L.A. coast much bigger than scientists expected, The Los Angeles Times reports

Speed at which world’s glaciers are melting has doubled in 20 years, The Guardian reports

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Deborah Swackhamer, science adviser fired by Trump EPA, dies at 66, E&E News reports

Emails Show Oil Lobby Mobilized Democratic Governors’ Opposition To Biden Energy Order, HuffPost reports

ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday (and Tuesday night)…

Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation

Six House Democrats ask Garland to review case of lawyer placed under house arrest over Chevron suit

Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research

Lawyer says pipeline's future is at stake in Supreme Court land dispute

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Tesla accused of violating environmental regulations in US and Germany

Graham to vote with Democrats to reverse Trump methane rule

EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead'

OFF-BEAT AND OFFBEAT: Congrats to Prancer