Overnight Energy: Senate panel backs $500M for global climate fund

SENATORS APPROVE $500M FOR CLIMATE FUND: The Senate Appropriations Committee reversed course on Wednesday, approving a $500 million allocation for an international climate change adaptation program during a spending bill markup.

The committee adopted a bipartisan amendment that both removed language from a State Department funding bill blocking spending on the Green Climate Fund, and then providing it with $500 million in 2017.

The move is an about-face for the Senate, where Republicans last year fought hard against the program, which provides funding for poor nations that need help adapting to climate change. Then, just yesterday, the Appropriations Committee unveiled a $52.08 billion spending bill that strictly prohibited funding for the program.


Though several Republicans appeared to oppose the funding amendment on Wednesday, the committee nevertheless adopted it on a voice vote.

"We know we can't take on this challenge by ourselves, so it's part of the partnership in global leadership to address this significant -- this global issue," Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyDemocrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Manchin, Sinema join GOP to sink filibuster change for voting bill MORE (D-Ore.), a sponsor of the amendment, said.

"This is a real effort in bipartisan cooperation to present this amendment before the committee."

Read more here.

OBAMA, CANADA, MEXICO OUTLINE CONTINENTAL ENERGY PLAN: Leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico on Wednesday added details to their new clean energy effort, a push to generate 50 percent of their total electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

The White House released a fact sheet about the effort, outlining how the countries will work together on cross-border energy transmission lines, renewable energy research and energy efficiency improvements.

Mexico will also join a U.S. and Canadian push to reduce methane emissions by at least 40 percent by 2025.

Leaders hailed the agreement on Wednesday.

"We're making sure that North America remains a leader in the fight against climate change," President Obama said Wednesday after meeting with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts in Ottawa, Canada.

"This is what can happen when countries come together in pursuit of a common goal, when we have a big idea and the political will to make it happen," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

"Today's climate agreement stands as proof that cooperation pays off and that working together always beats going it alone."

Read more here.

HIGH LEAD LEVELS IN HOUSE BUILDING'S WATER: The Cannon House Office Building in Washington had its drinking water turned off late Tuesday due to high levels of lead.

William Weidemeyer, superintendent for the House office buildings, broke the news to staffers working in the building Tuesday evening.

"This week, the AOC [Architect of the Capitol] received results within the Cannon House Office Building that indicate lead levels in drinking water sources are slightly above the [Environmental Protection Agency] standard," he wrote.

The EPA standard is 15 parts per billion, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that no lead is safe for human consumption.

Cannon is the oldest congressional office building, having been built in 1908. It's undergoing a renovation.

The news comes amid growing national attention toward lead in drinking water, spurred mostly by the Flint, Mich., water crisis.

Read more here.

What they're saying ...

Clean water advocates on Wednesday noted the irony of lead problems with the House's water and Congress's inability to so far move an aid package for Flint.


"Congress has so far failed to act on Flint aid and now some Members of Congress have had their own water shut off due to high lead levels in their Washington offices," said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who represents Flint in the House and has an office in Cannon.

"It is long past time that Congress get serious about this health threat. Helping Flint families ought to be as much of a priority as ensuring safe water on Capitol Hill."

The Natural Resources Defense Council issued a statement saying the lead warning might "spark an urgency to deal with the issue that has otherwise been lacking. Everyone deserves clean water: Congressional offices shouldn't get preferential treatment over the households of Flint. We hope both sorry situations will be addressed soon."

A Sierra Club spokeswoman, meanwhile, quoted Alanis Morissette, writing in an email: "Isn't it ironic, don't you think? A little too ironic."

ON TAP THURSDAY: Travis Kavulla, the president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, will speak at a Natural Gas Roundtable luncheon.


Gas taxes in Washington and Maryland will increase on Friday, and New Jersey is close to approving a hike of its own, USA Today reports.


A group of scientists is working to record natural sound at national parks around the country, NPR reports.

The New York Post has the scare headline: "Climate change could eventually kill thousands a year in NYC alone" (The article cites a Columbia University study projecting temperature-related deaths in the city in about seven decades.)


Check out Wednesday's stories:

-Senate Republicans push for Flint aid bill
-Senators seek state revenue sharing for offshore drilling
-Senate panel approves $500M for international climate fund
-US, Canada, Mexico detail continent-wide clean energy plan
-House office building's water contaminated with lead
-Coal's clout in Congress to take a hit

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