Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Zinke defends Trump’s Interior budget proposal

Greg Nash

THE BIGGEST HEARING OF THE DAY: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the Trump administration’s budget request for his department in the face of bipartisan criticisms on Thursday.

During a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, both Republicans and Democrats said they have concerns with Trump’s $10.6 billion budget request, which is $1.6 billion, or 13 percent, lower than current levels.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), the chairman of the subcommittee, said he was upset about cuts to earthquake early notification systems. Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) raised objections to National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife spending measures.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he was “flabbergasted” by a Trump administration proposal to end funding for a workforce redevelopment pilot program for coal country.

{mosads}Democrats said they deeply oppose cuts to climate science and adaptation accounts, as well as several policy proposals in the budget, including potential drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“The budget is unacceptable, and I expect colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reject it,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.

Zinke, though, insisted the numbers are a “starting point,” and put it in the context of Trump’s overall budget, which aims to balance within a decade (due in no small part to aggressive economic growth projections).

“This is what a balanced budget looks like,” he said. “Not all of these decisions we will agree on, but this is what a balanced budget looks like.”

Read more here.


TRUMP HAILS MINE OPENING: President Trump appeared in a pre-recorded video Thursday at the opening ceremony for a coal mine in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Trump, who mentioned the mine last week in a speech announcing his withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement, declined the invitation to appear in person at Corsa Coal Corporation’s Acosta Mine in Somerset County.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be speaking with you on this great, great day. The miners of Pennsylvania are mining coal again,” Trump said in the video shown at the event with miners, executives and dignitaries, according to the Tribune-Review.

“Washington may be 180 miles down the road, but I want you to know each and every day, I’m fighting for you and all the forgotten men and women of America,” he said

The mine will produce approximately 400,000 tons of coal annually for about 15 years and employ between 70 and 100 people. The coal is metallurgical, meant to be burned for production of steel and other metals.

To Trump, the Acosta mine shows that his energy policies — mainly rolling back former President Barack Obama’s environmental rules — are helping bring coal back in a big way. He had promised this on the campaign trail, and won areas in Pennsylvania’s coal country by wide margins over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But Corsa, which started work on the mine last August, before the election, and was planning it for years, is responding to a recent uptick in the demand for metallurgical coal.

Demand for thermal coal for electricity generation is trending downward. Coal-fired power plants are continuing to close due to competition from cheap natural gas and environmental rules, and utilities are not planning to open many new plants.

Read more here.


THE HOUSE HAS A ‘SUPER POLLUTANTS’ BILL: A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill aiming to reduce pollutants with an outsized impact on climate change.

The new bill, from Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and others, would establish a task force to determine how to reduce pollutants like methane, black coal and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), all of which have climate change impacts significantly higher than the more plentiful carbon dioxide.

The measure comes as the Trump administration moves to block regulations established by President Obama to reduce that pollution. Trump has gutted Obama’s methane reduction action plan and regulators are rolling back the methane leaks rules for the oil and gas sector.

But Peters called the so-called “super pollutants” a form of “low hanging fruit” for climate change action.

The bill would “help make the U.S. federal government a leader in reducing these pollutants and keeping our air and water clean,” he said in a statement.

Read more here.  



For the first time, solar, wind and nuclear are providing more electricity than coal and gas in the U.K., the Independent reports.

Federal scientists have reduced the odds for an El Nino this year, raising the risk for an aggressive Atlantic hurricane season, Bloomberg reports.

Canadian officials established a marine protection area off Nova Scotia on Thursday to mark World Oceans Day, the Canadian Press reports.



Check out Thursday’s stories… 

-Trump celebrates coal mine opening in Pennsylvania

-Lawmakers push bill to target ‘super pollutants’

-Lawmakers take aim at Trump’s Interior budget

-Business leaders push back against Trump’s energy research cuts

-Trump may restrict length of environmental reviews under infrastructure plan


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

Tags Barack Obama Hillary Clinton Rodney Frelinghuysen

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