Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: House passes 2018 spending bill | EPA to review coal ash rule | NYC to set tougher emissions standards

Greg Nash

HOUSE PASSES BILL FUNDING INTERIOR, EPA : The House voted Thursday to pass a $1.2 trillion government-wide spending bill for fiscal 2018.

The vote wrapped up the appropriations process, including recent days filled with amendment votes on the spending provisions for the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies.

The bill passed 211-198, mostly along party lines. It was the first time in years that the House passed a full appropriations package before the Oct. 1 deadline, but lawmakers will still have to negotiate with the Senate and President Trump before passing a final 2018 bill.

“This is a big day,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said, touting the House’s use of regular order to pass the 12 bills.

“This is the first time the House has done that since 2009,” he said.

For the Interior and EPA portion, the bill included cuts to numerous major programs and policy riders aimed at overturning or preventing regulations.

One such provision would block the EPA from enforcing the Obama administration’s methane rule for oil and natural gas drilling, which the Trump administration is working to roll back. The House voted on that provision Wednesday.

It also voted for an amendment to block the federal government from using the social cost of carbon, an accounting mechanism for regulations that Trump has already scuttled.

Read more here.


EPA TO REVISIT COAL ASH RULE: The EPA is reviewing another Obama-era coal waste rule for power plants.

The agency said Thursday it would reassess parts of a 2015 rule that set new standards for coal ash disposal sites and boosted inspection and monitoring operations to make sure the sites don’t leak or spill.

That rule was the first-ever national standard for coal ash disposal, and it came after a series of high-profile spills and leaks.

But President Trump’s EPA said it would reconsider sections of the rule after utilities petitioned the agency to do so.

The Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, an industry organization, and power plant operator AES Puerto Rico asked the EPA to review sections of the rule, including its ground water compliance and on-site storage provisions.

The EPA said it’s not committing to rewrite the rule, but that it “determined that it was appropriate, and in the public’s interest to reconsider specific provisions” of it.

“It is important that we give the existing rule a hard look and consider improvements that may help states tailor their permit programs to the needs of their states, in a way that provides greater regulatory certainty, while also ensuring that human health and the environment remain protected,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

Read more here.


TRUMP DISMISSES CLIMATE CHANGE’S IMPACT ON HURRICANES: The president on Thursday dismissed the impact of climate change on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the two major storms to make landfall in the United States in the last month.

“We’ve had bigger storms,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One, following a trip to Florida to assess the impact of Irma.

Trump later ignored a question about his views on climate change, according to reporters traveling with him.

The president’s trip to Florida was the third he’s taken to survey damage from Harvey and Irma, both of which were unusual it their strength and severity.

Harvey dropped record rainfall in Texas and Louisiana; Irma packed record-setting winds for a good part of its lifetime.

Scientists have suggested climate change exacerbated the storms, though none has said it caused them.

Read more here.


NYC TO SET TOUGH NEW EMISSIONS STANDARDS FOR BUILDINGS: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced tough new restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings in the city.

The pollution standards would require owners of large buildings to take steps to meet new fossil fuel caps, including upgrading boilers, water heaters, roofs and windows, and accelerating replacement or refinancing plans for their buildings.

The targets aim to help the city cut its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent by 2035.

“Time is not on our side,” de Blasio said in a statement.

“New York will continue to step up and make critical changes to help protect our city and prevent the worst effects of climate change. We must shed our buildings’ reliance on fossil fuels here and now.”

De Blasio’s office said the city council would enact legislation to put the new restrictions in place.  

Read more here.


TOMORROW IN THE HILL: As the EPA works to formally repeal the Clean Power Plan, what’s next?

Administration officials are working on plans to propose a replacement carbon rule for power plants that would be more industry-friendly and less aggressive.

Read more tomorrow in The Hill.



A key EPA lab in Houston that’s been important for the agency’s Hurricane Harvey work might close in 2020, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The National Hurricane Center says two more storm systems in the Atlantic Ocean show signs of tropical storm development, the Sun Sentinel reports.

Former conservative Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is calling for an end to all energy subsidies there, including on coal, the Guardian reports.



Check Thursday’s stories…

-EPA to reconsider Obama-era coal ash disposal rule

-Trump on climate change and hurricanes: ‘We’ve had bigger storms’

-New York City aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions from buildings

-House passes $1.2T government funding package for 2018

-Dems threaten to delay EPA nominee’s confirmation

-Miami mayor rips Pruitt climate change criticism in light of Irma


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 Paul Ryan Scott Pruitt

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