Overnight Energy: Murkowski says final tax bill will include Arctic refuge drilling | NOAA nominee advances | Watchdog criticizes Pentagon's climate prep

Overnight Energy: Murkowski says final tax bill will include Arctic refuge drilling | NOAA nominee advances | Watchdog criticizes Pentagon's climate prep
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ARCTIC DRILLING IN THE TAX BILL: A tax cut compromise reached Wednesday by GOP negotiators contains a plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump looms large over GOP donor retreat in Florida Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start MORE (R-Alaska) said.

At a tax bill conference committee meeting, Murkowski said the bill "contains the single most important step I believe we can take to strengthen our energy security and create new wealth."

"We fought long to authorize a program for energy development in Alaska's nonwilderness 1002 area," she said.

Murkowski said the terms of the bill would raise "more than $1 billion within 10 years and it will likely raise over $100 billion for the federal Treasury" over the long term.


"This is new wealth from responsible development and the investment it brings," she said. "It's time to open up the 1002 area and it's time to reform our broken tax code."

The Senate version of the tax cut bill included ANWR drilling, though the House bill didn't, making it one of the key areas to be worked out by the joint House-Senate negotiating committee.

Greens and Democrats have slammed the proposal, and analysts question the validity of the numbers ANWR drilling advocates have used to justify the plan.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), another tax bill negotiator, called the ANWR provision "a completely unrelated, unpopular provision that should not be forced through this Congress under these procedures."

"It's wildly optimistic that because of what happens in the refuge, somehow that is going to offset part of the huge deficit that is begin created by this legislation," he said at the conference committee hearing.

"We don't need the oil. We're exporting millions of barrels per day in this country and I hope there is consideration given to that."

Read more here.


Electric vehicle, wind tax credits stay in the bill: The tax bill deal announced Wednesday also restores several energy industry tax breaks that the House bill would have nixed.

Bloomberg reported that tax credits for electric vehicles and wind production will not be eliminated as part of the tax bill compromise.

The tax bill passed by the House would have ended the $7,500 credit for vehicles and another credit for wind power. But the Senate bill did not contain the energy provisions.


COMMITTEE APPROVES TRUMP NOAA PICK: The Senate Commerce Committee voted Wednesday to move forward with the nomination of Barry Myers to be head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The 14-13 vote, along party lines, puts Myers in a position for a vote in the full Senate.

Myers was until recently the CEO of AccuWeather Inc., which he founded with his brother.

The weather forecasting company provides products similar to some NOAA services such as the National Weather Service, leading to concerns among Democrats that Myers is unacceptably conflicted.

"While he is clearly knowledgeable about our national weather program, I remain concerned about conflicts of interest due to his family connections with AccuWeather, whether they can and will be avoided," Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonWhy does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? Trump hands Rubio coveted reelection endorsement in Florida Overnight Defense: Top House Armed Services Republican talks National Guard at Capitol, Afghanistan, more | Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan amid administration's review | Saudis propose Yemen ceasefire MORE (Fla.), the panel's top Democrat, said before the committee vote.

Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanCongress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured GOP lawmakers ask Biden administration for guidance on reopening cruise industry Alaska's other GOP senator says he'll back Murkowski for reelection MORE (R-Alaska), who chairs the subcommittee with authority over NOAA, pushed back at Nelson, pointing out that Myers agreed to abide by all applicable ethics and conflict-of-interest standards at his confirmation hearing last month.

Read more here.


PENTAGON NOT DOING ENOUGH TO PROTECT BASES FROM CLIMATE CHANGE, SAYS WATCHDOG: The Pentagon has taken few steps to prepare its overseas installations for climate change, a government watchdog said Wednesday.

"While the military services have begun to integrate climate change adaptation into installations' plans and project designs, this integration has been limited," the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released to the public on Wednesday. "For example, only about one-third of the plans that GAO reviewed addressed climate change adaptation."

During the Obama administration, the Pentagon issued directives for the military to adapt to climate change, which it labeled a national security threat.

In a response to the GAO report, the Pentagon said it continues to take steps to ensure infrastructure is "fully resilient" for a "wide range of scenarios" and pledged to be prepared "to address the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources and readiness."

"The department is currently reviewing guidance, including DoD Directive 4715.21, to focus on building resilience into our infrastructure," Lucian Niemeyer, assistant secretary of Defense for energy, installations and environment, wrote in a response included in the report, referring to an Obama administration Pentagon directive on climate change.

"As we assess these policy documents, we continue to work across the military department to incorporate resilience into planning and guidance."

Read more here.


ON TAP THURSDAY I: A House Natural Resources Committee panel will hold a hearing on a bill to establish a national park at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Read more about the bill here.



The American Meteorological Society is, for the first time, attributing a specific handful of weather events last year to human-induced climate change, Bloomberg reports.

Developers of a proposed copper-nickel mine in Minnesota have submitted financial details about how they will close the mine and treat water safely after the mine has played out, the Duluth News Tribune reports.  

The massive Thomas Fire in California is now 25 percent contained, the Los Angeles Times reports.



Check out Wednesday's stories ...

-Watchdog: Pentagon taking few steps to prepare overseas bases for climate change

-Final GOP tax bill would allow Arctic refuge drilling

-Senate panel clears Trump's nominee for NOAA

-Trump names pick for nuclear weapons head at Energy Department

-Watchdog: Trump officials improperly withheld funds for advanced energy office


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