Overnight Energy — Presented by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance — Judge upholds Obama's marine monument | GOP lawmakers worried states using water rule to block fossil fuels | Lawmakers press Trump ahead of ethanol decision

Overnight Energy — Presented by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance — Judge upholds Obama's marine monument | GOP lawmakers worried states using water rule to block fossil fuels | Lawmakers press Trump ahead of ethanol decision
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JUDGE CLEARS OBAMA'S ATLANTIC NATIONAL MONUMENT: A federal court Friday upheld the massive national monument former President Obama created off the coast of New England in the Atlantic Ocean.

In a blow to commercial fishing and other industries who felt the protections for the monument significantly impeded their business, Judge James Boasberg ruled that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument complied with the law.

The case, Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association v. Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOvernight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks Group sues Trump administration for info related to 'attempts to politicize NOAA' NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet MORE, centered on arguments that the 1906 Antiquities Act does not allow presidents to protect bodies of water, that the government doesn't have sufficient control of water many miles offshore and that the nearly 5,000-square-mile monument was too large.

"In all, plaintiffs offer no factual allegations explaining why the entire monument, including not just the seamounts and canyons but also their ecosystems, is too large," wrote Boasberg, a district court judge for the District of Columbia who was nominated to the bench by Obama.

He said that the court, legislative and administrative history of the Antiquities Act, the law that grants presidents the power to create monuments, makes it clear that waterways can be protected.

"The Antiquities Act reaches lands both dry and wet," he declared.

Obama created the monument in 2016 to protect unique ecosystems in a series of undersea canyons and seamounts on and near the continental shelf, about 130 miles from Massachusetts's Cape Cod.

A boost from Trump: While President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE has been highly critical of some of Obama's national monuments -- particular Bears Ears in Utah -- his administration defended the monument in court, telling Boasberg in April that the Atlantic Ocean monument was within Obama's authority.

It's not settled: Jonathan Wood, an attorney with the libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation who represented the lobstermen's group, said he would appeal the case to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

"For a full century after the Antiquities Act was enacted in 1906, presidents respected its limit to 'land owned or controlled by the Federal Government' by not designating national monuments on the ocean beyond the nation's territorial sea," he said. "Today's decision ignored that century of practice and all but eliminated any limits on the president's monument-designation authority."

Read more.

 

 

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GOP SENATORS SAY STATES USING WATER LAW TO BLOCK FOSSIL FUELS: A group of Republican senators are highlighting concerns that a provision under a key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water rule makes it too easy to block fossil fuel projects.

In a Thursday letter lead by Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoGOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge Lobbying World MORE (Wyo.), the five Republicans asked EPA chief Andrew Wheeler to send new guidance regarding a statute in the Clean Water Act, which they fear has been used in the past to restrict the development of natural gas pipelines.

"In the last few years, a troubling trend directed at fossil energy projects has arisen. A select number of states have hijacked Section 401 to delay or block the development of natural gas pipelines and a coal export terminal. While the focus of these abuses today is fossil energy, the approach could be used to target any type of project that is disfavored politically," GOP Sens. Barrasso, Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeIs the Senate ready to protect American interests in space? Republicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall Gun debate to shape 2020 races MORE (Okla.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThis week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure America is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction MORE (W.Va.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziLiz Cheney and Rand Paul extend war of words The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown Pressure rises on Cheney to make decision MORE (Wyo.), and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesConservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal 5 takeaways from combative Democratic debate MORE (Mont.) wrote in the letter.

Section 401 mandates that any industry that is applying for a federal permit to allow them to put discharges into a water system must also obtain a certification from the state in which the discharge is coming from to ensure they are complying with water quality standards. The rule can affect chemical plants, power plants or other fossil fuel drilling activities that could lead to pollution of a water source.

The lawmakers said the current statute is being used to "fight" fossil fuel projects rather than project water quality. They did not offer examples of projects that might have been unfairly struck down under the provision.

Read more.

 

SENATORS SPLIT OVER TRUMP'S EXPECTED E15 DECISION:  Trump is expected to announce over a trip to Iowa next week that he will allow year-round sales of an ethanol blend previously restricted, and a number of lawmakers are speaking up over the move.

Two Democratic House members Friday and a bipartisan group of 20 Senators Thursday each separately sent dueling letters to Trump the policy.

Reps. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDCCC names new head after mass staff departure The Hill's Morning Report - Trump ousts Bolton; GOP exhales after win in NC Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment MORE (D-Ill.) and Dave LoebsackDavid (Dave) Wayne LoebsackHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 The House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions MORE (D-Iowa.) their letter to Trump encouraged him to change the standards, writing that: "Allowing the year-round sale of E15 represents a significant step towards strengthening America's Heartland."

On the other hand, the group of senators, which included Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? Prospects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (D-W.VA.), wrote Trump to ask him to not change the standards. Many of the senators represent fossil fuel heavy states.

"We are concerned that doing so would do nothing to address the policies impacting refinery jobs, could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher ethanol blended gasoline, and risk worsening air quality," their letter reads.

Trump is expected to allow the year-round sales of gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol, known as E15. The move is championed by corn growers as it would likely expand the market of ethanol but opposed by representatives of the oil and gas industry. Previously, the higher mix of ethanol in fuels was banned under the Obama administration during the summer months as studies showed ethanol when burned during warmer temperatures greatly contributed to smog. The change would essentially waive E15 from national vapor-pressure requirements, which currently block the sale of the fuel between June 1 to Sept. 15 in many areas dealing with smog issues.

 

COAL ASH DIDN'T POLLUTE NC RIVER ABOVE LIMITS, STATE SAYS: North Carolina officials didn't find any evidence that potential coal ash in the Cape Fear River led to unacceptable water pollution levels.

The state's Department of Environmental Quality released test results late Thursday from near Duke Energy's shuttered Sutton coal-fired power plant, showing that nearly all metal levels met state standards.

Duke had earlier acknowledged that last month's Hurricane Florence caused some coal ash from the plant to get into the river. Coal ash is a waste product from burning coal and contains harmful heavy metals like arsenic and cadmium.

The official testing results match Duke's claims that the ash spills didn't compromise water quality.

"Test results show all metals below state water quality standards with the exception of dissolved copper," the state agency said. Copper levels frequently rise after flooding, and the state doesn't believe it to be harmful.

Read more.

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

Trump is reportedly planning a trip to Iowa next week to announce he's ordering the EPA to allow gasoline with 15 percent ethanol to be sold year-round, a longtime priority of the ethanol industry and the corn-heavy state.

Bloomberg reports the election-season announcement could come with some other actions meant to appease the oil or refiner industry, such as limits on trading ethanol compliance credits.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the Endangered Species Act Wednesday. The specific topic will be state wildlife conservation efforts, with a focus on the Yellowstone grizzly bear and the Delmarva fox squirrel.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the panel, is pushing draft legislation to change the ESA, which would in part increase the power that states have in deciding how to recover the species. The hearing is a bid to boost arguments from Barrasso and other Republicans that states need more say in ESA decisions.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is planning a Thursday hearing on how the electric utility industry can restore electric service after a blackout.

 

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

A drilling company is facing a new court delay in its attempt to start fracking in the United Kingdom for the first time in more than seven years, the Independent reports.

Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 2.4 million hybrid cars due to a potential stalling issue with its hybrid system, USA Today reports.

New research says a dramatic increase in wind power could increase the climate's temperature, the Associated Press reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Friday's stories ...

-Coal ash didn't pollute NC river above state standards, officials say

-GOP senators ask EPA to block states that have 'hijacked' rule to stop fossil fuel production

-Court upholds Obama's Atlantic Ocean national monument