Energy & Environment — What’s next for permitting reform?
Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform push isn’t dead yet — although it faces some challenges ahead. Meanwhile, President Biden warned of Hurricane Ian’s deadly impacts and New York is joining California’s push for a gas car ban.
This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Manchin’s permit proposal faces uncertain future
Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) push to speed up the pace of energy infrastructure approvals faces an uncertain future after the proposal couldn’t garner enough support when attached to a must-pass government-funding bill.
- Democrats on Tuesday pulled the package out of the stopgap measure amid opposition from both conservatives and progressives.
- They’re expected to try to move Manchin’s measure again, but hurdles remain as the package will continue to have detractors on both the left and the right.
Tying permitting reform to the government funding measure was expected to improve the chances that Manchin’s bill would get across the finish line. The idea was that opponents in the Democratic Party would not want to vote against funding the government.
But Republicans didn’t play ball. They said Manchin’s bill didn’t go far enough on permitting reform, and they did not want to vote to help him get a political victory he could hail back home.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that he, Manchin and others “will continue to have conversations about the best way to ensure responsible permitting reform is passed before the end of the year.”
Manchin a day after the measure was pulled indicated that he’d like to work with his West Virginia colleague Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) on compromise legislation.
“I think we both have an interest in doing something, and both Senator Schumer and Senator McConnell both showed great interest,” Manchin said Wednesday, referring to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle want to keep talking…
- “We’ve got to let the dust settle and then we have to keep negotiating,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
- Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said he wanted to see more people at the table and more “teeth” for the timelines compared to Manchin’s proposal. “You’ve got to have more involvement than just Joe and Chuck,” he said, referring to Manchin and Schumer.
- Any effort to get permitting reform across the finish line moving forward will likely require a delicate balance: shifting it rightward enough to garner Republican support, but not so far to the right that it loses Democrats worried about climate change and pollution.
A vehicle is also an issue.
- It’s conceivable that the legislation could be approved as a stand-alone measure, but given time constraints it is more likely to pass if it is attached to another must-pass piece of legislation.
- The National Defense Authorization Act and an omnibus government funding measure are two possibilities, though some are already saying the defense bill should only include measures specific to national defense.
Biden: Ian could be deadliest storm in Florida history
President Biden on Thursday warned Hurricane Ian could prove to be the deadliest storm in Florida’s history as it punished swaths of the state with flooding rains and damaging winds.
“This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. The numbers are still unclear, but we’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life,” Biden said during a visit to Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters for a briefing on the hurricane response.
“We’re continuing to see deadly rainfall, catastrophic storm surges, roads and homes flooded,” Biden added. “We’re seeing millions of people without power and thousands hunkered down in schools and community centers.”
Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, lashing the western coast of the state in particular. But the size of the storm meant that other parts of the state also faced flooding and power outages.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in a briefing on Thursday morning said more than
1 million Floridians were without power. DeSantis told reporters that Lee and Charlotte counties were knocked off the power grid and would require rebuilt infrastructure.
“The amount of water that’s been rising … is basically a 500-year flood event,” DeSantis said.
STUDY: METHANE EMISSIONS MAY BE HIGHER THAN BELIEVED
Global emissions of methane from existing gas infrastructure may be up to five times higher than had been believed, a new study has found.
Existing measures to burn off the powerful greenhouse gas — which is dozens of times more potent than carbon dioxide — allow far more to slip by than had been believed, according to the paper published on Thursday in Science.
At times or in areas where there isn’t sufficient pipeline or storage for the quantities of natural gas being produced — sometimes as a byproduct of more lucrative oil — drilling operators “flare,” or burn off, the methane.
It had long been believed that flaring converts all the methane into water vapor and relatively inert carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that, while it still heats the climate, is far less potent over a short period of time.
But this is an “overly optimistic view” of flaring, which leaves far more methane behind than had been believed, according to a companion essay in Science.
In fact, studies of three major natural gas basins — the Eagle Ford and Permian in Texas, and the Bakken of North Dakota — found that only 91 percent of the methane is consumed. That’s in part because flares are often malfunctioning or simply unlit — allowing raw methane to vent into the atmosphere.
If these flares operated properly at even 98 percent efficiency, they would cut emissions enough to be the equivalent of removing nearly 3 million cars from the road, the Science team found.
New York to ban gas car sales in 2035
All new vehicles purchased in New York will need to be zero-emission models beginning in 2035, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced on Thursday.
“We’re really putting our foot down on the accelerator and revving up our efforts to make sure we have this transition — not someday in the future, but on a specific date, a specific year — by the year 2035,” Hochul said at a press conference in White Plains, N.Y.
After careening into the Chester-Maple Parking Lot in a white Chevy Bolt, Hochul announced a series of new electric vehicle (EV) initiatives for the state, beginning with the zero-emission requirement for 2035. To reach this target, she said that
35 percent of new cars will need to be zero-emission by 2026 and 68 percent by 2030.
All new school buses purchased will have to be zero-emission by 2027, with the entire fleet meeting these standards by 2035, according to the governor.
- “We actually have benchmarks to achieve, to show we’re on the path to get there,” Hochul said, stressing that the changes would not occur suddenly.
- New York is following in the footsteps of California in mandating zero-emissions vehicles by the year 2035.
- “We had to wait for California to take a step because there’s some federal requirements that California had to go first — that’s the only time we’re letting them go first,” the governor said.
Hochul was referring to California’s vote last month to ban the sale of gas-powered cars beginning in 2035.
LAWMAKERS CALL FOR REMOVAL OF WORLD BANK CHIEF OVER CLIMATE
Twenty-seven House Democrats have joined a growing chorus of voices calling for the resignation of World Bank chief David Malpass after he made comments that critics say smacked of climate denial.
In a letter sent Thursday to President Biden, Reps. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.) and 25 other Democrats said Malpass’s recent comments were both “troubling” and “unacceptable” and that the World Bank should have a “leader who listens to the science and is a global leader in combating climate change.”
“We urge you to advocate for the removal or forced resignation of David Malpass as World Bank Group President. The facts are clear that we are in a climate crisis and there’s no alternative but to take bold action,” the lawmakers wrote.
At an event during U.N. high-level week in New York, Malpass was asked whether he agreed with the scientific consensus that the “manmade burning of fossil fuels is rapidly and dangerously warming the planet.”
- “I don’t even know. I’m not a scientist,” Malpass said in response.
- His remarks prompted an outcry from environmentalists including Al Gore, who called Malpass a “climate denier.”
The World Bank chief later tried to restate his position in a subsequent interview with CNN International, saying he believed that greenhouse gas emissions are coming from man-made sources that include fossil fuels.
“It is unacceptable for David Malpass, as President for this leading international development institution to be so brazenly ignorant toward the impacts of the climate crisis,” the lawmakers wrote to President Biden.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Carmakers nearly as carbon-heavy per euro as oil firms – NGO (Reuters)
- Power outages pass a half-million in Tampa Bay area from Hurricane Ian (Tampa Bay Times)
- New NOAA building owners want to make it a home, Indigenous people are fighting to stop it (KSBW)
- EPA tells Colorado’s governor there’s no getting out of selling reformulated gas to fight ozone (The Colorado Sun)
- US imposes oil sanctions against Chinese companies accused of aiding Iran
- Biden says political disagreements with DeSantis ‘irrelevant,’ plans to visit Florida
- US appoints biodiversity envoy to tackle species issues abroad
- DeSantis says Ian was ‘basically a 500-year flood event’
- NATO warns of ‘united and determined response’ amid pipeline damage investigation
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.