Overnight Energy: Senate advances Trump energy pick | Manchin votes 'no' in surprise | Carbon emissions on track for record | EPA targets another Obama coal rule

FERC NOMINEE MOVES TOWARD CONFIRMATION: The Senate voted Wednesday to advance President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE's nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) despite Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinNo one wins with pro-abortion litmus test Senate confirms Brouillette to replace Perry as Energy secretary Political purity tests are for losers MORE's (D-W.Va.) surprise vote against him.

Lawmakers voted 50 to 49 to limit debate on Bernard McNamee's nomination to be a FERC commissioner. All Republicans voted "yes," and all Democrats voted "no," while Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisNC rep explores Tillis primary challenge Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Tillis challenger dropping GOP primary bid in North Carolina MORE (R-N.C.) wasn't present.

The Senate plans to vote Thursday on McNamee's final confirmation to the five-person body.


McNamee has faced strong opposition from Democrats, environmentalists and others. He formerly worked at the Energy Department under Trump, helping to advance controversial policies like the administration's attempts to bail out the coal and nuclear power industries -- a version of which FERC unanimously rejected earlier this year.

Manchin voted for McNamee in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week, the only Democrat to do so.

But he flipped Wednesday, voting "no" on the procedural vote. He explained in a statement that only after the committee vote did he see a video of McNamee speaking at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event in February in which he harshly criticized renewable energy, cheered fossil fuels and threw doubt on climate change science.

McNamee worked for the Texas conservative think tank at the time.

"After viewing video footage, which I had not previously seen, where Bernard McNamee outright denies the impact that humans are having on our climate, I can no longer support his nomination to be a FERC commissioner," he said in the statement. "Climate change is real, humans have made a significant impact, and we have the responsibility and capability to address it urgently."

Read more.



Happy Wednesday! 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.


CARBON EMISSIONS ON TRACK FOR RECORD HIGH: Worldwide carbon emissions this year are expected to hit a record high, according to a scientific study released Wednesday.

Carbon, a major greenhouse gas contributor, is projected to increase in the atmosphere by more than 2 percent in 2018 following nearly three years of no growth, a study by the Global Carbon Project found.

The increase in emissions are largely tied to the output of the fossil fuel industry, which has increased every decade since the 1960s.

The burning of coal, oil and gas were the top contributors to carbon emissions last year, the study found. With coal contributing 40 percent of the climate change linked emissions globally.

China was the largest contributor to emissions last year at 27 percent, with the U.S. following it at 15 percent and the 28 countries within the European Union at 10 percent, according to the report.

The findings follow closely behind a federal report that in late November sounded the alarm on the growing impact of climate change. The report, the first of its kind released under the Trump administration, found that climate change is expected to interrupt the way people live day-to-day as it ravages infrastructure, impacts human health, poses challenges to the global economy and threatens the world's energy supply.  

Read more.


EPA EYES ANOTHER COAL RULE ROLLBACK: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to formally propose rolling back an Obama administration climate change rule for coal-fired power plants.

The rule at issue, written in 2015, would have put strict new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants.


Emissions from such plants would have to be at a similar level to what plants would achieve with carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that is not generally commercially used.

The Trump administration this week will propose to significantly weaken the rule while keeping some form of it in place, in part as an effort to make new coal plants easier to build, two people familiar with the plans said.

Axios was first to report the regulatory plan.

The rollback is not likely to spur many new coal-fired power plants. Coal has been in a multiyear decline, due not just to regulations, but also competition from natural gas and renewables.

Read more.




The Senate is due to take a final vote on confirming McNamee to FERC.



New Mexico Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamHere are 16 places celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day for the first time this year New Mexico releases plan to provide free college to all state residents: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE (D) has named her transition team for environment, energy and water policy, New Mexico Political Report reports.

Marathon Petroleum is in "exploratory" talks with Exxon Mobil and Plains All American Pipeline about launching a new Permian Basin pipeline project, the Houston Chronicle reports.

OPEC oil production grew in November, but Iran's fell, MarketWatch reports.




All eyes are on Russia and Saudi Arabia going into the next OPEC meeting, says Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.



Check out Wednesday's stories ...

- Senate advances Trump energy pick after Manchin flips

- Carbon emissions to hit record high in 2018: study

- Microplastics were found in the guts of all sea turtle species in new study

- EPA staffers were upset when Pruitt wanted to host a public debate on climate change: report

- EPA to move to roll back another Obama coal rule

- Chanel bans use of fur and exotic animal skins