Overnight Energy: Oil lobby 'encouraged' by proposed NAFTA overhaul | Sierra Club hits Trump Supreme Court nominee | Dem AGs seek longer comment period on car emissions rule

Overnight Energy: Oil lobby 'encouraged' by proposed NAFTA overhaul | Sierra Club hits Trump Supreme Court nominee | Dem AGs seek longer comment period on car emissions rule
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BIG OIL ENCOURAGED BY TRUMP'S NAFTA PLAN: One of the leading oil lobbyists said it is "encouraged" by news that the Trump administration has reached an agreement with Mexico to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said Monday that the industry relies on open trade and modernized relationship with Mexico.

"We are encouraged that negotiators have reached a preliminary agreement to modernize our trade relationships," said API President and CEO Mike Sommers in a statement. "America's natural gas and oil industry depends on trade to continue to grow U.S. jobs and our economy, and deliver for consumers."

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Mexico in 2017 was the leading importer of American oil and petroleum products, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE said Monday the U.S. has reached an agreement with Mexico amid contentious talks on revamping NAFTA

"It's a big day for trade. It's a big day for our country," the president told reporters in the Oval Office, who were summoned to watch Trump speak by phone with outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The president said he plans to "terminate" the existing NAFTA agreement, which currently includes Canada.

Read more here.

Why it matters: While the negotiations have largely focused on crafting a deal on auto trade between the two countries, bilateral talks between the U.S. and Mexico have been bogged down by a split opinion between Mexican administrations over energy policy. Some Mexican officials have long been skeptical of foreign oil companies entering their oil industry.

According to reports, a representative for Mexico's incoming president over the weekend told reporters that the two countries had resolved any concerns that the deal might restrict how the next Mexico government could treat foreign oil companies who invest in Mexico.

 

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SIERRA CLUB HITS KAVANAUGH IN WEB AD: The Sierra Club is targeting President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by comparing him to other controversial people hired or nominated by Trump.

An advertisement the environmental group is pushing on the web starting Monday quotes Trump's numerous declarations that he wants to hire the "best people," juxtaposing Kavanaugh with Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges; former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDem warns Trump: 'Obstruction of justice' to fire Rosenstein Ex-White House official revises statement to Mueller after Flynn guilty plea: report Former White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report MORE, who was convicted of tax fraud charges; dismissed officials like former adviser Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanSales of political books up 25 percent in 2018: report Woodward book breaks 93-year publishing record Stormy Daniels announces new tell-all book: 'Full Disclosure' MORE and others.

"Unlike Trump's other bad hires, this one can't be fired," the ad text says while Trump speaks. "If Kavanaugh is confirmed, he's in for life."

The video doesn't focus on environmental matters, though it does warn that Kavanaugh on the bench would be "a loss for women's rights and environmental safeguards."

"Given Brett Kavanaugh's extreme track record on presidential power and immunity, public health, women's rights, and commonsense environmental safeguards, it's no question that the Senate must reject Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court," Courtney Hight, director of the Sierra Club's Democracy Program, said in a statement.

Read more.

 

DEMS SEEK LONGER COMMENT PERIOD ON CAR EMISSIONS ROLLBACK: Eighteen Democratic attorneys general are asking the Trump administration to extend the public comment period on its proposal to roll back car emissions and efficiency standards.

The AGs, led by California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraIndustry wins big in methane rules rollback Overnight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Some states back plaintiff suing DHS over Haitians' protected status MORE (D), want the current 60-day comment period for the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule to be doubled. That would put the comment deadline on Dec. 21.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the proposal in the Federal Register last week, which kicked off the comment period.

The rule, announced earlier this month, would freeze standards in 2021, canceling out the plans to make them more stringent for the next five years.

"A 120-day comment period would be consistent with past practice for matters of similar importance and complexity, including EPA's 2014 proposal to adopt the Clean Power Plan and its 2017 proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan," the AGs wrote Monday to the agencies.

"Given the complexity and novelty of the legal and technical issues presented by the Agencies' proposal, the voluminous amount of materials accompanying the joint proposed rule which commenters must review, and the profound potential impacts of the proposal on human health and the environment, a 60-day comment period is wholly inadequate."

A similar coalition of AGs has already pledged to sue the agencies if the finalize the proposal as written.

 

NJ GOV VETOES PLASTIC BAG FEE: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) vetoed a bill Monday that would have put a five-cent fee on purchases of plastic grocery bags.

Murphy said in his veto statement that he supported the goal of reducing plastic pollution that is blamed on single-use bags from grocery stores, restaurants and elsewhere, but he could not support the bill as written.

He criticized, among other aspects, the fact that only certain businesses would be targeted.

"Instituting a five-cent fee on single-use bags that only applies to certain retailers does not go far enough to address the problems created by overreliance on plastic bags and other single-use carryout bags," he said in the statement to lawmakers.

"In order to make a real difference, a single-use bag program must be devised and applied more broadly and consistently in a manner that would avoid loopholes that undermine the ultimate purpose of the program."

Read more.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY:

The Senate Commerce Committee's subpanel on oceans, atmosphere and fisheries will hold a hearing on harmful algae blooms.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Utah officials are formally exploring building a coal export terminal in Mexico's Baja California after West Coast states worked to block their previous plans, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

California lawmakers are proposing to let PG&E and other utilities issue bonds to pay for their costs when the utilities are responsible for causing wildfires, the Sacramento Bee reports.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn't want the European Union to set stricter new emissions standards, Reuters reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and the weekend...

-Big oil calls proposed NAFTA agreement with Mexico encouraging

-NJ governor vetoes plastic bag fee

-Five recent events stoking climate change fears

-NASA releases thousands of hours of Apollo 11 mission audio