Overnight Energy: Trump officials defend fossil fuels, nuclear at UN climate summit | Dems commit to Paris goals | Ex-EPA lawyers slam 'sue and settle' policy

Overnight Energy: Trump officials defend fossil fuels, nuclear at UN climate summit | Dems commit to Paris goals | Ex-EPA lawyers slam 'sue and settle' policy
© Greg Nash

TRUMP TEAM DEFENDS ENERGY PLAN: A group of industry experts and Trump administration officials defended the White House's fossil fuel-heavy energy plan at a United Nations climate conference on Monday.

The group told attendees at the Bonn, Germany, conference that nuclear power and fossil fuel technologies designed to capture carbon emissions are essential to the global energy sector, even as it pushes to tackle climate change.

Their message seems out-of-step with the underlying goals of the COP23 conference, which is focused on preventing climate change and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions, especially from the energy sector. But Trump's team said their goal -- to expect fossil fuel power and nuclear energy -- can live alongside those of the Paris deal.


"This panel is only controversial if we choose to bury our head in the sand and choose to ignore the realities of the global energy system," George David Banks, President Trump's special assistant for international energy and the environment, said at the COP23 climate event.

"The significant cuts in emissions envisioned by the framework and by the Paris agreement require advanced technologies, including [carbon capture and sequestration] ... The math otherwise does not work, no matter how much we want it to."


Protesters use Lee Greenwood against Trump panel: The United States's panel discussion -- the Trump administration's only official event of the 11-day climate conference -- was a tense one, with questions from the audience ranging from fossil fuel financing to a Trump tweet alleging climate change is a Chinese hoax. Before the event, Democrats and environmentalists sought to undermine the panel's contentions, highlighting the growth of renewable energy and the need to move away from fossil fuels if the Paris goals are to be achieved.

Banks sat alongside fossil fuel and nuclear industry officials -- as well as a former Obama administration State Department diplomat -- for the U.S.'s presentation. At one point, a large group of protesters interrupted the event for about five minutes, singing a rendition of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," rewritten with anti-coal lyrics.

Amos Hochstein, an Obama administration energy diplomat who currently works for a natural gas firm, at one point admonished protesters to listen to the U.S.'s position.

"If you really care about clean air, if you really care about climate change, then we have to stop siloing ourselves into communities where we're only talking to ourselves," he said.

"We are only going to be able to move forward if we actually have this kind of conversation together."

Read more about the event here, and the protest here.


US MAYORS, GOVERNORS SAY THEY'RE STILL IN ON PARIS: A coalition of U.S. cities, states, companies and universities said on Saturday that they still plan on meeting the commitments of the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump's announcement earlier this year that the U.S. would withdraw from the deal.

"It is important for the world to know, the American government may have pulled out of the Paris agreement, but the American people are committed to its goals, and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us," former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the UN climate conference this weekend.

The group, called America's Pledge, said that many states, cities and private entities in the U.S. would continue to pursue efforts to reduce carbon emissions, including promoting renewable sources of energy.

The group consists of 20 U.S. states and more than 50 major cities.

But in a report released by America's Pledge, the group acknowledged that any effort to meet the Paris accord's carbon-reduction commitments by 2025 would require some level of federal action.

"[W]e cannot underscore strongly enough the critical nature of federal engagement to achieve the deep decarbonization goals the U.S. must undertake after 2025," the report reads.

Read more here.


REPORT FINDS EMISSIONS ON THE RISE: Global carbon dioxide emissions are on track to rise slightly this year after three years of staying flat, new research shows.

The annual report released Monday by the Global Carbon Project provides fuel to environmentalists arguing that the slowdown in emissions growth was more of a fluke than the start of a pattern.

The group, which helped organize three research groups in concert to come to the conclusions, attributed the carbon growth -- likely to be 2 percent year-over-year -- to increasing emissions in China and developing nations from burning fossil fuels, aligning with economic growth.

"The slowdown in emissions growth from 2014 to 2016 was always a delicate balance, and the likely 2 percent increase in 2017 clearly demonstrates that we can't take the recent slowdown for granted," Robbie Andrew, a co-author of the study and a senior researcher at Norway's CICERO Center for International Climate Research, said in a statement.

It also serves as fodder for supporters of the 2015 Paris Agreement, who say it shows that countries need to stick to their pledges and continue to ratchet up their commitments.

Read more here.


EX-EPA LAWYERS SLAM PRUITT ON SUE-AND-SETTLE: Dozens of former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attorneys are assailing the Trump administration's policy meant to curb legal settlements with environmental groups.

The 57 attorneys, who all served in nonpolitical career roles, accused EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog says agency failed to properly monitor asbestos at schools| Watchdog won’t investigate former Superfund head’s qualifications| Florence causes toxic coal ash spill in North Carolina White House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report Trump’s EPA chooses coal over the American people MORE of deliberately misrepresenting legal settlement practices and the work of attorneys both at the EPA and the Justice Department.

"Your recent pronouncements make unfounded and unsupported accusations about EPA's longstanding and non-partisan approach to defending the agency's actions in lawsuits that Congress empowered members of the public to bring when the agency allegedly fails to follow the law," they wrote in their open letter released Monday.

"Your misrepresentations do the public a great disservice by sowing confusion about the important role the public plays in ensuring that EPA complies with and enforces public health and environmental protection laws. Your directive compounds that disservice by attempting to give regulated parties a special and powerful seat at the table with no corresponding role for other members of the public," they said.

Read more here.


Join The Hill on Tuesday, November 14, for Digitalizing Infrastructure: Building a Smart Future featuring Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThis week: Democrats pledge ‘sparks’ in Kavanaugh hearing Congress faces September scramble on spending California passes bill to ban controversial drift net fishing MORE (R-W.Va.) and Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands). Topics of conversation will include the integration of smart technology into new and existing infrastructure, changing investment strategies, and regulatory challenges. RSVP here.


ON TAP TUESDAY I: Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, Ricardo Ramos, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, and officials from a federal oversight board will testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about Hurricane Maria recovery efforts. U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp will also testify on hurricane recovery efforts.


ON TAP TUESDAY II: Rosselló and Mapp are also scheduled to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee on "The need for transparent financial accountability in territories' disaster recovery efforts."


Rest of Tuesday's agenda ...

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the 2017 hurricane season.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will meet to consider four bills.



Paul Bland, the executive director of Public Justice, contends Republicans are waging a "dirty attack on rural America's clean water."

The Next 100 Coalition's Audrey Peterman writes in opposition to the Interior Department's proposal to raise entry fees for some parks.



Coal sales in Ohio fell 28 percent in 2016, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

The Norfolk, Va., city council is due to decide on granting easements for a natural gas pipeline that would run under the city's drinking water reservoir, the Virginian-Pilot reports.

General Electric Co. plans to sell of its majority stake in oilfield services company Baker Hughes only months after taking it, Reuters reports.



Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

-Nebraska to decide on Keystone XL pipeline next week

-Former EPA attorneys slam 'sue-and-settle' policy

-Trump officials defend fossil fuels, nuclear power at UN climate conference

-Protesters break out in song during WH climate event in Germany

-Carbon emissions on track to rise this year

-Week ahead: Senate panel to consider Arctic drilling bill

-Schwarzenegger: 'It's time that we wake up' to threat of pollution

-20 states, 50 cities sign pledge to abide by Paris agreement even if US withdraws

-Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreProtecting democracy requires action from all of us Poll: Democrat Bredesen leads GOP's Blackburn by 5 points in Tennessee Senate race Dems gain momentum 50 days before midterms MORE: A new president in 2020 could keep US in Paris agreement


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