FEATURED:

Overnight Energy: EPA asks justices not to take up case on Obama rule | Wheeler says new coal plan will 'level the playing field' | Pentagon warns against proposal on science transparency

Overnight Energy: EPA asks justices not to take up case on Obama rule | Wheeler says new coal plan will 'level the playing field' | Pentagon warns against proposal on science transparency

EPA TELLS SCOTUS NOT TO TAKE UP CASE OVER OBAMA RULE: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn't want the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a court ruling that overturned the agency's limits on certain Earth-warming chemicals used in air conditioners.

Trump administration attorneys told the high court in a Tuesday brief that the EPA is no longer pursuing the type of regulation that the lower appeals court overturned, so the appeal by companies wishing to reinstate the rule is unnecessary.

ADVERTISEMENT

The case concerns a 2015 rule under which the Obama administration sought to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The chemicals have been used in recent years to replace ozone-depleting chemicals, but HFCs are potent greenhouse gases, so the EPA sought to stop their use as well.

The Trump administration defended the HFC restrictions before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but lost. Now EPA officials are exploring other ways to regulate HFCs.

"Given EPA's current position, the question presented is of limited prospective importance," the Trump administration told the court. "Granting review to consider an interpretation of EPA's authority that EPA itself no longer supports would serve little or no purpose."

"This court's review therefore is unwarranted," attorneys said.

Read more.

 

Why it matters: While the administration's view on the case isn't the final say on whether the justices will hear it, it is an important factor.

But the brief also reinforces the EPA's previous statement that it hasn't closed the door entirely on regulating HFCs, and it is still actively exploring the matter.

 

Meanwhile: Lawmakers in both parties are pushing Trump to submit to the Senate for ratification the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The agreement to phase down HFC use would, if ratified, give the EPA more legal tools to regulate the substances.

 

Happy Tuesday! 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.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

EPA CHIEF: NEW COAL PLAN WILL 'LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD': Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday said that the administration's newly proposed alternative to the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) will "level the playing field" for coal plants in an era where renewable fuels and liquid natural gas are growing in prominence.

Speaking at an Ohio Chamber of Commerce event, Wheeler praised Trump's new plan, called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, for the flexibility it gives to states to regulate their own coal-fired power plants.

"This will provide more flexibility to states -- Obama's plan was more social engineering. We're returning to the core basics of the Clean Air Act by working more cooperatively with states," Wheeler said at the event.

That cooperation includes allowing coal plants the ability to stay operating past the point that they likely would retire under the Obama administration's plan. The new plan eases regulations for coal plants to meet certain environmental air standards determined under the CPP by instead allowing states to determine their own standards for carbon pollution controls.

Wheeler said the new plan would slow the closing of coal plants across the country.

"We're allowing states to set reduction targets for each plant, so it's not going to require the wholesale closure of fire plants of every type. What it's really going to do is level the playing field," Wheeler said.

About 40 percent of U.S. coal-fired power plants have closed or have plans to shutter, according to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Read more here.

 

PENTAGON WARNS AGAINST EPA 'SECRET SCIENCE' RULE: The Pentagon is criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to boost "transparency" standards for the science it uses in decision making.

Patricia Underwood in the Department of Defense's office of energy, installations and environment told the EPA last week that the proposal could unnecessarily exclude sound science from the agency's use.

"While we agree that public access to information is very important, we do not believe that failure of the agency to obtain a publication's underlying data from an author external to the agency should negate its use," she wrote.

"It is improbable that EPA will be able to obtain underlying data from all authors, this should not impede the use of otherwise high-quality studies."

Underwood's comments were first reported by Greenwire Tuesday.

They were in response to a landmark proposal, first pushed by former EPA head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittMcConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant EPA puts science ‘transparency’ rule on back burner Tucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him MORE, to restrict the agency's use of scientific findings and studies in regulations, enforcement and elsewhere, unless all of the underlying data can be made available to the public.

Health advocates, environmental groups and some scientists have criticized the proposal as a veiled attempt to handicap the EPA's regulatory authority by prohibiting the use of major scientific findings in fields like epidemiology.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY:

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a field hearing in Roosevelt, Utah, on the connections between energy and education.

 

THE HILL EVENT:

Join us Thursday, September 6 for "Partnerships & Progress: Driving Climate Solutions," featuring Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickGroup begins 'Nuns on the Bus' tour to protest Trump tax law ahead of midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Historic vote on Kavanaugh to come amid protests, anger Dems announce third-quarter fundraising bonanza MORE (R-Pa.) and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Democrats won’t let Kavanaugh debate die Senate poised to confirm Kavanaugh after bitter fight MORE (D-R.I.). Editor in Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with the headliners to discuss how the public and private sectors can balance environmental progress with healthy economic growth. RSVP Here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

An Alabama store mixed the pesticide glyphosate into popcorn that it gave out for free recently, AL.com reports.

Facebook Inc. plans to run its operations entirely on renewable energy by 2020, The Verge reports.

Colorado regulators approved a plan by Xcel Energy to boost its use of renewables and slash coal, the Denver Post reports.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Lukas Ross of Friends of the Earth Action says the Democratic National Committee's flip-flop on fossil fuel donations will cost the party.

Amy Myers Jaffe says recent Trump administration actions rolling back environmental rules will not help the economy, the country or jobs.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Tuesday's stories...

-Puerto Rico officially updates Hurricane Maria death toll to 2,975

-Pentagon warns against EPA's science proposal

-EPA head: New coal plant plan will 'level the playing field'

-Hurricane Maria caused estimated 2,975 deaths in Puerto Rico: study

-Interior staffer who oversaw push to shrink national monuments to work for BP: report

-EPA asks Supreme Court not to take up case on planet-warming chemicals

-French environment minister unexpectedly resigns during live radio interview