Energy & Environment — Manchin puts permitting reform on backburner
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) removed his embattled permitting reform bill from the stopgap funding bill. Meanwhile, Hurricane Ian threatens the Tampa Bay area and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has sprung a leak.
Manchin permitting reform cut from spending bill
A stopgap government funding bill will not include permitting reform that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) had pushed for, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday.
Manchin moments earlier had released a statement asking that language to change the approval process for energy infrastructure be removed from the funding bill as its passage appeared doomed amid bipartisan opposition.
Schumer in a floor speech blamed Republicans for its failure:
“Senate Republicans have made clear they will block legislation to fund the government if it includes bipartisan permitting reform, because they’ve chosen to obstruct instead of work in a bipartisan way to achieve something they’ve long claimed they want to do,” Schumer said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
“Because American families should not be subjected to a Republican-manufactured government shutdown, Senator Manchin has requested, and I have agreed, to move forward and pass the recently-filed Continuing Resolution legislation without the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022,” he said.
Manchin in his own statement did not explicitly blame either party, saying “It is unfortunate that members of the United States Senate are allowing politics to put the energy security of our nation at risk.”
The spending bill is now likely to move through the Senate and House this week.
What happens next with Schumer’s promise to Manchin is much less clear.
Lawmakers may try to add it to a different piece of legislation later this year, but this month’s stalemate shows that won’t be easy.
A POLICY CHANGE, FOR ANYONE STILL KEEPING SCORE
The West Virginia Democrat’s original proposal would have codified Trump-era rules that gave states a one-year time limit to block or approve projects that run through their waters.
It also would have put into law a Trump-era provision that clarified that water quality concerns must be the sole reason for blocking a project.
These changes, which the Trump administration instituted after several instances of blue states blocking fossil fuel projects, did not appear in the text of a stopgap funding measure that was released this week by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
That measure, known as the continuing resolution, does contain other provisions that Manchin proposed, including shortening timelines for environmental reviews and completing a controversial West Virginia pipeline.
It is not clear why the measure restricting states’ authority to block projects like pipelines was removed.
Spokespeople for Manchin, the Appropriations Committee and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
Hurricane Ian poses threat to Tampa Bay
Hurricane Ian would pose particular risks to the city of Tampa and the Tampa Bay area if it lands there due to the Gulf Coast’s geography, rising sea levels and lagging resilience planning.
The storm made landfall on the west coast of Cuba in the early hours of Tuesday morning shortly after becoming a major hurricane, then entered the Gulf of Mexico.
- The bulk of Florida’s west coast, including the Tampa Bay area, is currently under a storm surge warning, and several counties have issued mandatory or voluntary evacuations.
- Pinellas County, home to nearly 1 million people, ordered everyone living in particularly vulnerable low-lying areas to evacuate Monday evening.
The region has not seen a major hurricane in a century. That 1921 storm, a Category 3, killed at least eight people.
The big picture: Since then, a 2013 World Bank study named Tampa the seventh most vulnerable coastal city to damages from flooding and the fourth most vulnerable U.S. city.
Two years later, a report from catastrophe modelers Karen Clark and Co. deemed Tampa the single most vulnerable city to storm surge flooding in the country, projecting damages to residential, commercial and industrial properties from a hypothetical 100-year hurricane to be about $175 billion.
The 2015 report notes that about 50 percent of the city’s population lives in low-lying areas, with ground elevations of under 10 feet.
The wider Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area has a population of about 3 million, and much of the region is linked by causeways and bridges that are particularly susceptible to flooding, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections.
Role of geography: The city is located along the Gulf of Mexico, and has an unusually far-reaching continental shelf.
“The waters are kind of shallow for hundreds of miles going into the Gulf, which really worsens the storm surge possibilities and impacts as this wall of wind and water [is] moving toward land,” said Aris Papadopoulos, the founder and chair of the Resilience Action Fund and distinguished expert of resilience at Florida International University.
The shallow waters and the “U” shape of the Gulf coast can create an effect that intensifies the storm as it nears the shore.
And, of course, climate change: The Tampa Bay region has seen major sea level rises over the decade due to climate change, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), compounding the vulnerability to major storms.
NOAA measurements of St. Petersburg-sea levels found they have risen about 2.97 millimeters a year since 1947, equivalent to just under a foot per 100 years.
The pace appears to have quickened since around 1990. A 2019 analysis by the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel projected that based on these trends, the level is set to rise 1 to 2.5 feet by 2050 and between 2 to 8.5 feet by the end of the century.
THE WRONG SORT OF STREAMING
A gas leak from Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline drained into the Baltic Sea, Danish authorities said Monday, adding that a drop in pressure was detected and advising that ships should not come within 5 nautical miles of the island of Bornholm.
Outside that zone, the Danish Energy Agency wrote in a statement that there were no security risks posed and that the incident “is not expected to have consequences for the security of Danish gas supply.”
“The preliminary assessment indicates that a leak has occurred from one of the two Nord Stream 2 pipelines in the Danish area Southeast of Dueodde at Bornholm,” the agency wrote.
The Nord Stream company in charge of the pipeline confirmed a leak occurred in a brief statement published on Monday.
The pipeline, which was intended to double the volume of gas coming from Russia directly to Germany, has been at the center of an escalating energy crisis since Russia invaded Ukraine, sending gas prices soaring worldwide.
ON TAP TOMORROW
- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is slated to hold a previously postponed vote on nominees including Joseph Goffman, who would lead the EPA’s Air and Radiation office, as well as nominees for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board.
- The EPW committee will also hold a hearing on reauthorizing a program called Brownfields aimed at contamination cleanup.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- As wildfires grow, militaries are torn between combat, climate change (The Washington Post)
- U.S. seeks allies as split emerges over global plastics pollution treaty (Reuters)
- How China Targets the Global Fish Supply (The New York Times)
- Newsom vetoes bill aimed at preventing light pollution (The Los Angeles Times)
- The fastest-growing cities face some of the biggest climate risks (Axios)
🌽 Lighter click: Snack time
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.