Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — Progressives push back on permitting in defense bill

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

A reported effort to get Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform deal into a defense spending bill is generating left-wing pushback.

Plus: North Carolina experiences power outages after an alleged attack, and a price cap on Russian oil takes effect.

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Rachel FrazinSubscribe here or in the box below.

Grijalva, Khanna say they’d vote against defense bill

At least two progressive Democrats on Monday said they would vote against a defense spending bill if it contains elements of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform push.

Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted that they would vote against the annual bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), if it contained what they described as “giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.”

“We can advance permitting for clean energy without taking a hatchet to environmental protections for frontline communities. This is not what @RepMcEachin would have wanted,” Grijalva said, invoking the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.).

“I will vote against the NDAA rule if we continue with this fossil fuel giveaway,” he added.

Meanwhile, Khanna expressed optimism that the legislation could be stopped.

“I will vote against the rule for NDAA consideration if it includes giveaways to the fossil fuel industry. If even 10 House progressives vote against it, it likely can’t pass,”  Khanna tweeted.  

A spokesperson confirmed that the lawmaker was referring to permitting reform in his tweet.  

  • Last year, Grijalva voted for the NDAA while Khanna voted against it.
  • Permitting reform refers to changes to the energy approval process. Manchin has been pushing for changes that would be expected to speed up approvals for both fossil and renewable energy infrastructure.

So…what’d I miss? The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were discussing the inclusion of the provisions with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

Read more about the latest comments here. 

SHOOTINGS CAUSE POWER OUTAGE IN NORTH CAROLINA, POLICE SAY 

Mass power outages in North Carolina over the weekend were caused by gunfire in a suspected criminal attack, authorities said Sunday.

  • Evidence at the scene suggests a firearm was used to disable the energy equipment, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said in a press conference with other local officials.
  • State Sen. Tom McInnis (R) called the incident “an intentional, willful and malicious act” and said the perpetrators will be punished “to the fullest extent of the law.”

Outages began Saturday evening and affected much of Moore County. Authorities are investigating the outages as a criminal act, and local law enforcement is working with the FBI to find the perpetrator or perpetrators.

Two substations run by Duke Energy, a Charlotte-based electric power and natural gas company, were damaged by the shootings, Fields said.

Authorities haven’t identified any motivations behind the incident, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the sheriff said it’s clear the incident was “targeted.”

With the outages anticipated to continue for a few days, the county has declared a state of emergency and a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, effective Sunday until the emergency is lifted.

Moore County law enforcement found signs of “intentional vandalism” in what Fields said appeared to be an unprecedented attack against the system.

Read more about the outages here, from The Hill’s Julia Mueller. 

Price cap on Russian oil takes effect

A price cap on Russian oil aimed at penalizing Moscow’s war on Ukraine went into effect on Monday.

  • The cap, which is being imposed by the United States and other countries and is intended to prevent Russia from selling oil at more than $60 per barrel.
  • It works by prohibiting access to services such as insurance and trade finance for shipping Russian oil if it’s sold above the price cap.

The Group of Seven (G-7) is imposing the cap on Russian oil that is transported by sea along with the European Union and Australia. According to a Treasury Department fact sheet, the G-7 controls about 90 percent of the market for relevant insurance.

When Russia first launched its offensive into Ukraine, several countries, including the U.S., announced that they would stop purchasing Russian oil. However, not every country made such a pledge, and many barrels were diverted to countries such as China and India.

Read more about the price cap here. 

EPA TAKES AIM AT PFAS REPORTING ‘LOOPHOLE’

The EPA said Monday it is proposing to close a prior “loophole” that allowed some companies to get out of reporting their releases of certain kinds of toxic chemicals.

  • The agency said it was proposing to end stipulations that let companies get out of disclosing how much PFAS — per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancers and other illnesses — they were dumping.
  • Under current regulations, implemented under the administration of former President Trump, companies did not have to disclose the presence of PFAS if they only made up a small concentration of an overall discharge.

The EPA said fewer companies than expected reported PFAS releases in 2021 and 2022, and noted that some of them cited this concentration threshold, which the agency is now proposing to remove.

“PFAS continue to pose an urgent threat to our country and communities deserve to know if they may be exposed because of the way these chemicals are being managed, recycled, or released,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

“By removing this reporting loophole, we’re advancing the work set out in the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and ensuring that companies report information for even small concentrations of PFAS,” he added.

Read more about the proposal here.  

Desalination offers partial solution to drought in Calif.

As water in the Western U.S. becomes an increasingly rare commodity, the driest states are grasping at solutions for an even drier future — investing heavily in technologies to maximize the conservation, and creation, of the region’s most precious resource.

  • With more than 1,000 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, California appears to have access to a wellspring that other arid states lack.
  • The technology to transform that unlimited sea supply into potable drinking water has existed for decades, through a process called desalination.
  • Yet while two new desalination plants have received approvals in the past couple months, California’s coast isn’t exactly teeming with such facilities.

Why the lack of facilities: The technology, which is both expensive and energy intensive, can leave behind a mammoth-sized footprint on both surrounding communities and marine life, even as it helps quench the thirst of a parched citizenry.

With little sign of reprieve for the region’s water woes, experts agree desalination will continue to play a critical, although partial, solution to a crisis that promises to last. 

  • “Our attitude on ocean desal is that it is a tool in the toolbox,” Garry Brown, founder and president of Orange County Coastkeeper, told The Hill in a phone interview this summer.
  • “But it’s a tool of last resort — after you have exhausted all your other options,” Brown continued. “Ocean desal, as we’ve learned it here, has the greatest environmental impacts, the greatest energy requirement and is by far the most expensive.”

How it works: Desalination is the process of removing excess salt from water, usually by means of a technology called reverse osmosis that separates water molecules from either seawater or salty brackish water found inland.

While the process generates potable drinking water, it also produces a high-concentration salt solution called brine that is usually discharged into a receiving body of water.

Arid nations such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have long relied on seawater desalination to make up considerable shares of their drinking water supplies despite its drawbacks.

“It’s almost romantic to think, ‘Let’s just stick a straw in the ocean and we don’t have to worry about water,’” Brown said. “But it’s far more.” 

Read more here, from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin

LOS ANGELES BANS DRILLING IN THE CITY 

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday unanimously approved a ban on oil and gas drilling within the city limits, finalizing steps toward a ban that were first made at the beginning of the year.

Council members approved 12-0 a resolution enacting an immediate ban on all new oil and drilling. The city will also decommission existing oil wells and operations within 20 years, according to a fact sheet.

Before the vote, City Council President Paul Krekorian called the city’s forthcoming ban a “watershed moment” for climate action. 

Read more here, from The Hill’s Brad Dress.  

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on overcrowding in national parks
  • The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing titled
    “Solving the Climate Crisis: Key Accomplishments, Additional Opportunities, and the Need for Continued Action” 

WHAT WE’RE READING

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.  

Tags Joe Manchin manchin Nancy Pelosi North Carolina permitting reform Raul Grijalva Raul Grijalva Ro Khanna Russian oil exports

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