Overnight Energy: House panel approves park funding, offshore drilling bills | Green group putting $60M into races | Perry applauds Russia boosting oil production

Overnight Energy: House panel approves park funding, offshore drilling bills | Green group putting $60M into races | Perry applauds Russia boosting oil production
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PARK FUNDING, OFFSHORE DRILLING BILLS ADVANCE: The House Natural Resources Committee advanced a trio of bills Thursday on park funding and offshore drilling revenue.

First came the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, which passed by voice vote. It would take half of the federal government's income from energy production on federal lands and offshore that isn't dedicated to go somewhere else and put it in a fund to pay for maintenance for the National Park Service (NPS) and other agencies.


Why it's notable: The measure represents a rare agreement between the GOP, which is cautious about spending new taxpayer money on federal land, and Democrats, who have long advocated for new reliable, long-term funding to plug the nearly $12 billion NPS maintenance backlog.

"We have advocated and we have developed these properties in the past," Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopSenators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school Bureau of Land Management to move headquarters from DC to Colorado Overnight Energy: Democrats to vote on 2020 climate debate | Green groups sue to stop Keystone XL construction | States sue EPA for tougher rules on asbestos MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said before the panel's vote.


"We have a moral responsibility to ensure that we maintain them and that we maintain what we have before we add to that burden. And that's what this bill attempts to do."

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) also applauded the bill.

"We've heard repeatedly in this committee that the National Park system has nearly a $12 billion maintenance backlog. We've been talking about it for years and talking about dedicated funding specifically for this problem. This bill provides it," he said.


Rejected measures: The committee rejected numerous proposed amendments, including 20 from Rep. Garrett Graves (R-La.). He and Rep. Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonWhite House officials defend budget deal amid conservative backlash This week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill Budget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend MORE (R-La.) feared that the new public lands fund would remove money that would otherwise go to coastal states from offshore drilling.

"This bill threatens to draw from an already overburdened fund. And it's a fund that, in my state of Louisiana, is crucial to hurricane preparedness and flood-risk mitigation and coastal restoration," said Johnson.

Read more.


Next up: Offshore revenue sharing for states: The Natural Resources panel then moved on to Graves's bill to let states get 50 percent of the revenue from drilling off their coasts in a subset of wells, up for the current 37.5 percent.

Graves framed the issue as one of shoring up states' coasts. All of the money Louisiana gets from offshore drilling goes to coastal resilience, and Graves said his bill would mandate a quarter of the money go for that purpose for all four states.

"We've got to stop the stupidity of spending billions of dollars after disasters instead of millions before," Graves said.

The meeting grew heated when Grijalva wanted the money to go to all coastal states for resilience, not just the Gulf of Mexico ones.

Graves accused Grijalva and other Democrats of hypocrisy, since they didn't vote for earlier measures he had proposed to repurpose money that states get for onshore drilling.

"Why did you not speak in support of my amendment that would take Mineral Leasing Act funds that your state receives, and would provide it to all of these states," he asked. "This amendment is offensive."


Last but not least: The panel also passed by voice vote a bipartisan deal between Bishop and Grijalva to permanently extend the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Bishop has long pushed back against efforts to reauthorize the fund without big changes. He got at least some of what he wanted: at least 40 percent of the fund must go to state programs and 3 percent to opening land to hunters and recreation, among other provisions.

"I have always been, actually, in favor of the Land and Water Conservation Fund's purpose and goals," Bishop said.

"I was opposed to the way it was abused in the past, and I want that reformed, which is the specific reason that we did this."

Read more.


What's next: Bishop said the three bills are likely to advance to the House floor as a single legislative package. But he has no commitment from leadership on the timing, he said.


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

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GREEN GROUP PLEDGES $60M FOR MIDTERMS: A leading environmental political organization is pledging upwards of $60 million in the 2018 midterm elections to help candidates aligned with environmental issues.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) said it plans to direct its multi-million dollar spend -- the largest investment it has made for any election -- toward helping candidates in various races through direct donations, fundraising and advertisements.

The group will spend more than $25 million on Senate and House advertisements, $25 million on state elections, $10 million in fundraising campaigns for federal and state candidates, and $1 million towards a communications program, according to a memo released by the organization Thursday.

The move follows the Trump administration's moves to roll back a number of environmental regulations aimed at safeguarding the environment, prompting backlash from many Democrats and environmental activists.

"This fall we will build on this wave and energize, persuade and mobilize millions of voters to reject an agenda that is designed by and benefits corporate polluters -- and instead, elect candidates who will stand up for clean lakes and rivers, clear blue skies and saving our public lands," the group said in a statement.

Read more.


PERRY TO RUSSIA: Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryAmazon taps Trump ally to lobby amid Pentagon cloud-computing contract fight How to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy Senior Trump administration official to leave post next week MORE on Thursday applauded Russia for its moves to boost oil production ahead of the reimposition of U.S. tariffs against Iran.

Perry was in Moscow to meet with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak to discuss world oil markets. The Trump administration is concerned that reimposing tariffs on Iran in November, stemming from President TrumpDonald John Trump5 things to know about Boris Johnson Conservatives erupt in outrage against budget deal Trump says Omar will help him win Minnesota MORE's decision to scrap the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, could cause a spike in oil prices since Iran's output would be diminished.

"The Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia], the members of OPEC that are opting their production to be able to make sure that the citizenry of the world does not see a spike in oil price ... are to be admired and appreciated, and Russia is one of them," Perry told reporters on Thursday after the meeting with Novak, according to Reuters.

The former Texas governor also used the meeting to reiterate the Trump administration's objections to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a planned natural gas project to connect Russia and Germany.

Read more.



Duke Energy has started to shut down its Brunswick nuclear power plant in North Carolina in preparation for Hurricane Florence, the News & Observer reports.

Republican Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida public schools will be required to provide mental health education for students To win over Midwesterners, Democrats should rethink school choice stance DeSantis wants statue of civil rights activist to replace Confederate figure on Capitol Hill MORE took to a boat in the Everglades to detail his environmental platform, the Miami Herald reports.

Oil prices fell 2.5 percent Thursday on economic fears, Reuters reports.



Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, argues that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to roll back methane standards for oil and gas is dangerous to workers.

Richard Revesz of New York University School of Law says Trump chose coal over the American people with his replacement for the Clean Power Plan.



Check out Thursday's stories ...

- Perry welcomes efforts by Russia, OPEC to boost oil production

- Starbucks announces plan to create 10,000 'greener' stores by 2025

- Puerto Rico governor: It 'is a fact' that 2,975 residents died from Hurricane Maria

- Committee votes to let states receive more money from offshore drilling

- Environmental group pledges $60M to help green candidates

- House panel approves bill to boost park funding

- New York City to invest $4 billion of pensions funds in climate-change projects: report

- Push to change wildlife act sparks lobbying blitz