Overnight Energy: Justices reject new challenge to air pollution rule

THIRD TIME ISN'T A CHARM: The Supreme Court refused Monday to take up the third attempt by a group of conservative states to get a contentious air pollution rule from President Obama overturned.

Michigan and its allies asked the court to properly enforce its ruling from nearly a year ago that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) mercury and air toxics standards rule violates the Clean Air Act.

That ruling shot the regulation down to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which declined to overturn the rule. Later, the Supreme Court refused to issue a temporary judicial stay of it.


The decision not to take the latest case is a major victory for the Obama administration and environmental groups defending the $9.6 billion rule.

"Today, millions of American families and children can breathe easier knowing that these life-saving limits on toxic pollution are intact," Vicki Patton, general counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement.

The EPA said it is "pleased" with the decision.

"These practical and achievable standards cut harmful pollution from power plants, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing heart and asthma attacks," EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said in a statement.

Andrea Bitely, spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, said the court should have taken the case, given its ruling last year that the EPA did not act properly.

"The EPA blatantly refused to follow that ruling, requiring us to return to the [Supreme Court]," she said. "We are very disappointed in the post-[Justice Antonin] Scalia Court's decision this year to not enforce Michigan's victory."

Read more here.


PIPELINE BILL PASSES SENATE: The Senate on Monday unanimously passed a bill to reauthorize the federal pipeline safety oversight board, sending the measure to President Obama for his signature. 

The bill extends the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). It also makes a handful of changes to PHMSA safety policies, including an effort to provide more insight into the regulatory process and providing the Department of Transportation with more power in the case of pipeline emergencies. 

It also directs PHMSA to finalize regulations Congress directed it to write in its 2011 reauthorization measure. 

The bill was a bipartisan product in both the Senate and the House, which approved it unanimously last week. 

Read more here.

CHAMBER WANTS AN ENERGY BILL CONFERENCE: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working to convince members of the Senate to join an energy reform bill conference committee with the House.

In a letter sent to senators on Monday, the Chamber said an energy reform bill is "crucial" to "maximize and prolong the benefits the recent energy renaissance is producing."

Getting a reform measure means forming a conference committee with the House to smooth out differences between the two bills. The House voted to move to a conference committee in May; The Senate has yet to take up a similar measure.

"The Chamber urges the Senate to move to formal conference and begin work resolving differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions of S. 2012 so that Congress can expeditiously approve legislation to improve energy efficiency, energy infrastructure, overall American energy policy and energy policy involving tribal lands," wrote R. Bruce Josten, the Chamber's executive vice president of government affairs.

The Chamber says it will score a Senate vote on going to conference, the first time in at least a decade the business group has considered a conference committee procedural vote important enough to include in its legislative scorecard.

Read more here.

FORMER REP TO HEAD UTILITY GROUP: Former Rep. Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonTrump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot Trump's budget targets affordable, reliable power MORE (D-Utah) will replace Jo Ann Emerson as the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the trade group announced on Monday.

Matheson, who joined top K Street firm Squire Patton Boggs after retiring from Congress last year, begins in the role next month. He is the sixth CEO of the group.

"Jim will bring to the position a broad knowledge of the issues facing rural America and will be an inspirational leader for America's Electric Cooperatives," NRECA President Mel Coleman said in a statement.


Emerson, a former Republican congresswoman from Missouri, resigned from her House seat in January 2013 to take the helm of the organization. Last year, she suffered a brain hemorrhage while on vacation in Italy, and NRECA cited a "severe illness" as her reason for stepping down.

Read more here.

ON TAP TUESDAY I: A Senate Appropriations Committee panel will introduce and mark up its 2017 Interior and EPA spending bill.

ON TAP TUESDAY II: The Senate Finance Committee will meet to discuss federal energy tax policy. The Chamber of Commerce's Karen Harbert, President of the group's Institute For 21st Century Energy, will testify.

Rest of Tuesday's agenda ...

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on pipeline safety. Industry experts will testify.

The House Natural Resources Committee will mark up 19 bills. A list of bills on the agenda is here.



The Washington Post Magazine profiled a Virginia woman fighting against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Amid nuclear's swoon in Japan, coal is set to replace gas as the country's largest electricity generator, Bloomberg reports.

An environmental group is suing Duke Energy to force it to remove coal ash from a massive storage facility in North Carolina near the border with Virginia, the Charlotte Observer reports.


Check out stories from Monday and this weekend...

-Senate sends pipeline safety bill to Obama
-Investigation clears Flint mayor in donations probe
-Former Rep. Matheson to take reins of energy group
-Coal giant paying Obama's law professor $75k per month
-Chamber pushes Senate on energy bill
-Supreme Court rejects new challenge to Obama air pollution rule
-Will climate unify Clinton, Sanders fans against Trump?
-Week ahead: Lawmakers turn focus to EPA spending

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill