Overnight Energy: Supreme Court declines to stop kids' climate lawsuit | EPA chief looks to distinguish himself from Pruitt in agency memo | Officials release review for new Keystone XL route

Overnight Energy: Supreme Court declines to stop kids' climate lawsuit | EPA chief looks to distinguish himself from Pruitt in agency memo | Officials release review for new Keystone XL route

SUPREME COURT WON'T STOP KIDS' CLIMATE SUIT: The Trump administration took another loss in its battle against a major climate change lawsuit filed by young people.

The Supreme Court declined Monday to step in and stop the discovery process -- for obtaining evidence and depositions -- in the case, which is known in lower courts as Juliana v. United States.

But the high court had some criticisms for the case, in which 21 children and young adults are trying to compel the federal government to do more to fight global warming.

"The breadth of respondents' claims is striking, however, and the justiciability of those claims presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion," the justices wrote in the Monday notice, asking the federal District Court for the District of Oregon, where the case is pending, to consider those facts.

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The Justice Department turned to the Supreme Court earlier this month to halt discovery after both the Oregon court and the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit turned down their pleas to stop the case's progression.

Administration attorneys sent their Supreme Court petition last month to retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. He referred it to the full nine-justice court for a vote.

Monday's order did not say how the justices voted, but a five-justice majority is necessary for the kind of stay the administration wanted.

Background on the case: The case was filed in 2015 by 21 child and young adult plaintiffs, represented by climate activist and scientist James Hansen. They argue that the federal government, led at the time of filing by then-President Obama, needs to take stronger action against global warming.

Federal officials have tried at numerous steps to stop the case or the discovery process.

Why it matters: This case is unique and novel in a number of ways. At the very core of the lawsuit is the idea that young people can, through the courts, force climate action that they couldn't get through Congress, the executive branch or elsewhere.

The Trump administration's plea to the high court was also unprecedented, however, so Monday's decision wasn't entirely unexpected.

Read more.

 

Happy Monday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

 

NEW EPA HEAD DISTINGUISHES HIMSELF FROM PRUITT IN AGENCY MEMO: The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday sent a staff-wide memo laying out steps the agency is taking to increase transparency, a move that's seen as an effort to differentiate himself from his predecessor.

Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote in a memo, obtained by The Hill, that the EPA is reaffirming "a commitment to transparency" by making his appointment calendar easily available online and ensuring the agency is available to the press. He said the media "performs a vital role in informing the public about the EPA's actions."

"We exist to serve the public," Wheeler wrote. "As such, the public should trust our work. We are committed to earning and maintaining the public's trust through transparency and accountability in our actions and civility and fairness in our public participation processes."

Since becoming acting administrator at the EPA, Wheeler has sought to distinguish himself from former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE by being a more approachable leader to both the press and policy staff. Portions of the memo mark a departure from the official policy of the EPA under Pruitt, who did not make his calendar public and frequently handpicked interviews and interactions with journalists.

Wheeler's memo provides guidance to employees regarding how to talk to reporters and how to reference ongoing litigation.

Read more here.

 

NEW REVIEW OUT FOR KEYSTONE XL: The Trump administration on Monday released a new environmental review for a portion of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, predicting some "moderate" impacts from its construction and operation.

In its 300-page draft report, the State Department found that some of the biggest impacts from the project's new route in Nebraska include injuries to wetlands and vegetation, but says much of the impact would be temporary.

Monday's release is just the latest development in a years-long, contentious fight over the Keystone pipeline.

The report was required because of the Nebraska Public Service Commission's vote in November 2017 to allow TransCanada Corp. to build the controversial pipeline only on an alternative route, not the one that it had preferred and that the Trump administration had initially approved earlier that year.

The State Department decided in response that it would prepare a new Environmental Assessment for the Nebraska route.

Read more.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

An investigation into New York City officials' violations of federal lead paint rules now involves the city's Health Department, The New York Times reports.

Oil prices closed above $70 per barrel Monday for the first time in almost three weeks, Marketwatch reports.

A protester opposed to the Mariner East 2 pipeline project was arrested in Pennsylvania last week for allegedly violating a court order not to interfere with construction, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

John Noel, director of the national oil and gas program at Clean Water Action, argues that oil companies have a false interest in carbon capture projects.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and over the weekend...

-Guy Fieri feeds victims displaced by California wildfires

-FEMA personnel chief under investigation for widespread sexual harassment

-Supreme Court denies Trump request to halt youth climate lawsuit

-Trump administration predicts 'moderate' impacts from new Keystone XL route

-EPA chief looks to distinguish himself from Pruitt in agency-wide memo

-New York governor urges Interior to support state's offshore wind plan

-Michigan declares emergency over city's water contamination

-Top UK travel group to stop selling SeaWorld tickets over animal welfare concerns