Overnight Energy: Senate passes Harvey aid deal | EPA’s Clean Power Plan decision coming this fall | Senate panel approves funds for UN climate agency

Overnight Energy: Senate passes Harvey aid deal | EPA’s Clean Power Plan decision coming this fall | Senate panel approves funds for UN climate agency
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SENATE PASSES HARVEY AID, DEBT LIMIT DEAL: The Senate on Thursday approved a spending package that provides $15.25 billion for initial recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

Lawmakers attached several other provisions to the legislation, including must-pass items to fund the government and lift the limit on federal borrowing through mid-December. Those measures -- as well as the new spending for Harvey relief -- led 17 Republicans to oppose the bill, which passed with 80 votes in favor.

The House is expected to pass the bill, sending it to President Trump, before the end of the week.

GOP Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Texas attorney general hits links with Trump before CPAC appearance MORE (Texas), whose state was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, supported the measure but stressed, "I would have much preferred a clean Harvey relief bill."


The deal has stoked widespread opposition in the GOP, particularly among conservatives. Though Republicans support helping communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey, many are loath to raise the debt ceiling or fund the government without spending or entitlement reforms.

Trump administration officials touted the agreement as a move to help clear the decks and make room for tax reform, another key GOP agenda item that has been on hold.

GOP leaders had pointed to government funding, the debt ceiling and help for Harvey victims as their top three priorities for September. The deal cleared by Senate also includes a short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire at the end of September.

Read more here.


CLEAN POWER PLAN DECISION COMING THIS FALL: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects to finalize its review of the Obama administration's climate rule for power plants this fall.

The agency has submitted its Clean Power Plan proposal to the Office of Management and Budget's regulations office for review, officials said Thursday in a court filing. Once it returns to the EPA, the agency said in its filing, "the administrator will sign the proposed rule and EPA will send it to the Office of the Federal Register" for a public comment period.

"At this time, EPA expects that the administrator will sign the proposed rule in the fall of 2017," the filing said.

President Trump in March ordered the EPA to review and consider repealing the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which sets carbon reduction targets for states to apply to their energy sectors. The EPA is widely expected to formally order the rule off the books at the end of its review.

Read more here.


SENATE PANEL VOTES TO FUND UN CLIMATE AGENCY: The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to continue United States funding for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The 16-14 vote approved an amendment from Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyProgressives fume over Senate setbacks Ex-Capitol Police chief did not get FBI report warning of violence on Jan. 6 Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line MORE (D-Ore.) to direct $10 million -- the same as previous years -- to the UN climate agency. The underlying bill to fund State Department operations for fiscal 2018 would have defunded the agency.

Merkley said at the committee meeting Thursday to vote on the bill that the amendment "fits in with Secretary [Rex] Tillerson's desire that we both continue to monitor the changes in the world's climate and that we keep a seat at the table."

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill What exactly are uber-woke educators teaching our kids? MORE (D-Calif.) also spoke in support of the amendment.

"This is important," she said. "You know, the world's at risk."

The House's version of the State funding bill does not fund the U.N. climate agency, so the two chambers will have to negotiate the final outcome.

All of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Democrats voted for the Merkley amendment except Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinProgressives fume over Senate setbacks Politics, not racism or sexism, explain opposition to Biden Cabinet nominees House Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike MORE (W.Va.). They were joined by Republican Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (Tenn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins urges Biden to revisit order on US-Canada border limits Media circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden Why the 'Never-Trumpers' flopped MORE (Maine).

Read more here.


PROTESTERS DISRUPT FERC NOMINEES' HEARING: Three protesters tried to disrupt a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday on two nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and two nominees for the Interior Department.

Each of the protesters was promptly removed from the hearing room by Capitol Police.

The protesters yelled phrases like "FERC promotes eminent domain" and "Find your conscience, FERC is destroying our atmosphere."

The hearing was on Trump's nominations of Republican Kevin McIntyre to be FERC's chairman and Democrat Richard Glick to be a commissioner. Also on the slate were Joseph Balash for Interior's assistant secretary for land and minerals and Ryan Nelson to be Interior's solicitor.

Beyond Extreme Energy, an outspoken FERC protest group, took credit for the protesters, identifying them as Andrew Hinz, Ted Glick and Clarke Herbert.

The meeting was mostly cordial and senators did not raise any major objections to the nominees.

Questions for the FERC candidates focused heavily on whether the agency should take action to promote "baseload" power sources like coal and nuclear. Some Republicans want FERC to incentivize those plants, and Democrats do not.

Both nominees pledged to take a good look at that and other reliability issues, but said it is not appropriate for FERC to push certain power sources over others.

"FERC is not an entity whose role includes choosing fuels for generation of electricity. FERC's role, rather, is to ensure the markets for the electricity generated by those facilities proceed in accordance with law," McIntyre told Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoBiden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary MORE (R-Wyo.) in response to his concerns about coal plant retirements.

"The commission doesn't have the authority, nor should it, prop up failing technologies or technologies that aren't economically competitive," said Richard Glick.


ON TAP FRIDAY: The Atlantic Council will host an event on science exchanges with Iran.



Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is donating $4 million to a project to study deep ocean temperatures, the Seattle Times reports.

Employment in Minnesota's clean energy sector grew 5.3 percent this year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

The New York Times profiles Harvey and Irma Schluter, a Washington couple married for 75 years watching their namesake storms threaten the U.S.



Check Thursday's stories...

-Senate panel votes to fund UN climate agency

-Power plant rule repeal announcement likely this fall: EPA

-Senate approves Trump's debt deal with Democrats, including Harvey aid

-Greens sue Trump officials over delayed auto efficiency penalties

-Interior secretary's wife tapped to lead GOP challenge to Montana senator


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