Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — SEC pushes back climate risk rule comment deadline

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

A financial regulator allows more time for public comment on a climate risk proposal, California reaches for the sky on offshore wind and the Interior Department funds nearly 50 water infrastructure projects. 

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here. 

SEC extends deadline for public comments

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) extended how long the public will have to weigh in on a proposal that would require companies to reveal their vulnerabilities and contributions to climate change.  

What would it require? In a Monday press release, the SEC said that people will now have until June 17 to comment on the proposal, which would require publicly traded companies to tell investors how climate-related risks like severe weather and efforts to limit their fossil fuel use may impact their business.  

It would also require publicly traded companies to disclose their own contributions to climate change, by making them reveal information about how much their activities directly add to climate-warming emissions. If it is deemed “material” to investors, companies would also have to disclose emissions they indirectly cause, such as those that come from using their products. 

For many industries such as fossil fuel companies and automakers, emissions from the use of their products may make up a greater share of their climate contributions than their operations.  

SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement that it would extend the proposal’s comment period due to “significant interest” from investors and others.  

“Commenters with diverse views have noted that they would benefit from additional time,” he said. “I’m pleased that the public will have additional time to provide thoughtful feedback.” 

Not everybody’s happy: The long-awaited March climate proposal has been hit with criticism from both sides of the aisle.  

Republicans have argued that the rule is overly broad and goes against the agency’s mission to “protect investors; maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitate capital formation.” 

Meanwhile, progressives have said that the requirements surrounding indirect emissions are not comprehensive enough and contain loopholes that could let companies off the hook.  

Read more from Rachel. 

California reveals offshore wind targets 

California’s energy regulator has unveiled an ambitious set of offshore wind targets as part of a broader statewide push to make electricity 100 percent renewable by 2045. 

Approximately 3 gigawatts of offshore wind should be powering the state’s grid by 2030 — enough to power about 3 million average homes in the state, the California Energy Commission determined. 

An additional 7-12 gigawatts should be available by 2045 — boosting the state’s total offshore wind capacity to about 10-15 gigawatts by that time, according to a draft report published Friday

They’ve got their work cut out for them: The report also acknowledged that California has upwards of 21.8 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity, with the potential for greater technological developments to boost production over the next few decades. 

“These preliminary megawatt planning goals are established at levels that can contribute significantly to achieving California’s climate goals,” the report stated. 

Local and national environment groups applauded the targets, calling them critical to eventually powering the state solely through renewable energy sources. 

“The powerful winds off the Pacific coast are one of California’s largest untapped sources of renewable energy,” Laura Deehan, state director of Environment California Research and Policy Center, said in a statement

The announced targets mean “that now we are really sailing towards a brighter, 100 percent renewable future,” she added. 

Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin. 

Interior unveils funding for water infrastructure 

The Biden administration will allocate funding to improve water infrastructure in 46 projects across 11 states, the Interior Department announced Monday.  

The funding will comprise $240.4 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and will incorporate projects such as canal lining repairs and upgrades and replacements to water pipelines.

The 46 selected projects, according to the department, include:

  • Canal repair projects in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming
  • Pipeline repairs in Utah
  • Dam spillway repairs in Nebraska

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making a historic investment in drought resilience and water infrastructure,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “As western communities face growing challenges accessing water in the wake of record drought, these investments in our aging water infrastructure will safeguard community water supplies and revitalize water delivery systems.” 

“The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with states and local water districts receiving municipal water and irrigation water from federally-owned projects, is responsible for much of the water infrastructure in the West,” added Acting Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner David Palumbo.

“These water systems work because of this federal to non-federal partnership, and this funding will help to complete necessary extraordinary maintenance keeping projects viable and partnerships strong.”  

The infrastructure law puts a total of about $10 billion toward water infrastructure and drought resilience measures. 

Read more from Zack here.

G7 NATIONS TO BAN RUSSIAN OIL

President Biden held a call with other Group of Seven (G-7) leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday during which the new measures were likely to be a topic of discussion. 

The G-7 leaders are committing “to phasing out or banning the import of Russian oil,” according to the White House fact sheet, which did not include a timeline on that commitment.  

The U.S. has already banned imports of Russian oil and natural gas, but European nations are far more reliant on Russian energy exports. Biden announced the ban with a warning that it could lead to an additional spike in gas prices.  

The announcement comes a day before Russia’s Victory Day, on which some have speculated Russian President Vladimir Putin could try to declare some symbolic victory against Ukraine despite heavy losses and challenges on the Russian side. 

“We commit to phase out our dependency on Russian energy, including by phasing out or banning the import of Russian oil. We will ensure that we do so in a timely and orderly fashion,” leaders of the G7 nations said in a joint statement Monday. “We will work together and with our partners to ensure stable and sustainable global energy supplies and affordable prices for consumers.” 

The announcement also comes days after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a proposed ban on Russian oil imports to the EU as part of its latest sanctions package.

“Let’s be clear: it will not be easy, because some member-states are strongly dependent on Russian oil,” she said Friday. “But we simply have to do it, so today we will propose to ban all Russian oil from Europe.” 

Read more from The Hill’s Brett Samuels. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • AP analysis finds growing number of poor, high-hazard dams (The Associated Press
  • Hydrogen Is Every U.S. Gas Utility’s Favorite Future Savior (Bloomberg
  • A drought so bad it exposed a long-ago homicide. Getting the water back will be harder than ever (Los Angeles Times
  • EU plans one-year renewable energy permits for faster green shift (Reuters

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: Doggone it. 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.  

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