Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions

Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions
© Greg Nash

ZINKE BANS MINING NEAR YELLOWSTONE FOR 20 YEARS: Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill MORE acted Monday to ban mining in a 30,000-acre spot near Yellowstone National Park, saying it's not an appropriate spot for mineral extraction.

The area in the southwestern part of Zinke's home state of Montana is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and its mineral rights are managed by Interior's Bureau of Land Management.

Zinke's order, announced in Montana, bans all mineral extraction, including drilling and gold and silver mining, except for any preexisting claims, for 20 years, the maximum allowable by law. It extends a previous two-year ban, set to expire next month, that former Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA MORE put in place to study a longer-term ban.


Despite an all-out push by the Trump administration to increase domestic fossil fuel production, including undoing some land protections elsewhere in the country, Zinke said such activities are not appropriate in the Paradise Valley area.

"Access to public lands and water has allowed the Paradise Valley to build a world-class hunting, fishing, tourism and recreation economy. Whether it's enjoying the natural hot springs, fly fishing the Yellowstone, or hiking up Emigrant Peak, there's no shortage of ways to enjoy this beautiful region," he said in a statement.

"I fully support multiple use of public lands, but multiple use is about balance and knowing that not all areas are right for all uses. There are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it is not. Paradise Valley is one of the areas it's not."

Greens cheer: Zinke got rare accolades from environmental groups for his mining ban decision.

"This incredible victory for our first national park reminds us all that Yellowstone is more precious and valuable than gold," Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement, adding that the action shows officials "were informed and backed by sound science and robust public engagement led by U.S Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management staff."

But with a caveat: Some environmental groups see the Yellowstone decision as evidence that Zinke cares more about protecting the environment in his native Montana than elsewhere.

"The record suggest that Secretary Zinke will cast favor on his home state of Montana, even as he attempts to drill and mine sensitive public lands in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Wyoming and other places across the country," said Drew McConville, senior managing director of the Wilderness Society.

"Of course mining at the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park is a horrible idea, but so is mining near Minnesota's Boundary Waters and Utah's Bears Ears National Monument," he said.

"While Zinke rushes to open up places like Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and the Boundary Waters to copper, uranium, and coal mining, only Montana's natural treasures get the protection they deserve. It's now clear Ryan Zinke will only do the right thing when his political future is on the line," said Aaron Weiss, spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities.

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.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.


UN REPORT BRINGS DIRE CLIMATE WARNINGS: A new report from a United Nations panel warns that the world might be on a path toward catastrophic climate change if greenhouse gas emissions aren't cut dramatically by 2030.

The report, released late Sunday by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the world needs to decrease emissions by 45 percent by 2030, or else the atmosphere could hit 1.5 degrees of warming by then.

At that level of warming -- as measured as the Earth's average temperature compared with pre-industrial levels -- up to 90 percent of tropical coral reefs could die, Arctic warming could cause multiple feet of sea level rise and yields of key crops would drop.

World leaders would need to take "unprecedented" actions in order to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, a level that scientists believe would avoid many of the worst effects of climate change.

The report concluded that avoiding 1.5 degrees of warming (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) would not be impossible, but would likely involve actions like actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

"Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C implies limiting emissions on an unprecedented scale. It means deep emission reductions in all sectors, the use of a wide range of technologies, behavior changes and a significant increase of investment in low-carbon options," Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and a leading author of the report, said at an Incheon, South Korea, event unveiling the report.

"Rapid progress is already being made in some areas, not only renewable energy. But this progress needs to be picked up in other areas, such as transport or land management," he continued.

Read more.


AUSTRALIA WON'T CONTRIBUTE TO CLIMATE FUND: Australia's new prime minister says the country will no longer contribute to a global fund that assists developing countries with climate change adaptation and that Australia is not bound to any previous emissions-cutting promises.

Asked if his country would be held to the target established under the landmark Paris climate agreement to reduce emissions between 26 and 28 percent from 2005 levels, Scott Morrison told Australian radio station 2GB Radio on Sunday, "No, we won't ... we're not held to any of them at all."

"Nor are we bound to go and tip money into that big climate fund," he added, referring to the Green Climate Fund. "We're not going to do that either. I'm not going to spend money on global climate conferences and all that nonsense."

Australia gave $200 million to the fund between 2015 and 2018.

Read more.



President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE is expected to announce a policy to allow sales of E15 -- gasoline with 15 percent ethanol -- year-round, lifting the current restrictions on summer sales.

The policy would be a major boon to Iowa and other corn- and soy-heavy states, just weeks before the midterm election, as farmers are suffering from Trump's trade policies.

The move is expected to bring with it new restrictions on trading the Renewable Identification Number credits that fuel refiners use to comply with the federal ethanol mandate.



Several workers were injured in a Monday morning explosion and fire at an oil refinery in New Brunswick, Canada, CBC News reports.

General Electric Co. is planning to sell about $1 billion of energy assets to a private equity firm, CNN Business reports.

Authorities from France and Italy have started cleaning up after a fuel spill in the Mediterranean Sea caused by two ships colliding, the Associated Press reports.



Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

- Australia prime minister won't commit more money to global climate fund

- Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone

- Americans win Nobel Economic Prize for work on climate and tech innovation

- UN report predicts catastrophic consequences if greenhouse gas emissions not reduced by 2030

- Trump to announce lifting of ethanol restrictions on Tuesday: report