Overnight Energy: Schumer demands climate measures in infrastructure bill | OPEC, Russia to cut oil output | EPA looks to ease Obama water rule

SCHUMER DEMANDS CLIMATE POLICIES IN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Schumer declines to say whether Trump executive orders are legal: They don't 'do the job' Schumer: Idea that 0 unemployment benefit keeps workers away from jobs 'belittles the American people' MORE (D-N.Y.) warned President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE on Friday that any future infrastructure bill he wants to see in the new year "must" transition the U.S. toward renewable energy use.

In the letter, Schumer referred to the administration's own national climate report released in late November as reasons why swift action to stop climate change must be implemented.

"It is crucial that we immediately enact legislation to combat climate change and create millions of jobs. Therefore, any clean infrastructure package considered in 2019 must include policies and funding to transition to a clean energy economy and mitigate risks that the United States is already facing due to climate change," the top Senate Democrat wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

Schumer's request comes amid speculation lawmakers could turn to an infrastructure bill early next year. Trump has been calling for a comprehensive infrastructure package since the start of his presidency, but has been unable to accomplish that goal. In the past, he's called for $1.5 trillion in new spending on infrastructure.

Infrastructure is one area where Senate Democrats are hoping they can weave in important measures to thwart climate change, such as improvements to the electrical grid system, shifting incentives toward renewable energy use and creation of more car charging stations.

Schumer pushed many of the measures as a way to boost the economy, writing that they can create "millions" of jobs.

Read more.

 

TGIF! 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.

 

OPEC, RUSSIA TO CUT OIL OUTPUT: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Friday teamed up with Russia to cut oil production in a bid to boost prices.

The group and Russia tentatively agreed at a meeting in Vienna to slash 1.2 million barrels per day of production, with 800,000 coming from OPEC and 400,000 from Russia and its allies, Reuters reported, citing sources in the countries that are part of the deal.

Oil trading prices surged as much as 5 percent to $63.32 per barrel after the news. Negotiators went back into a meeting later Friday to hash out details of the deal.

The cut came despite repeated pleas from President Trump over recent months for OPEC and Russia to keep production high and prices low.

"Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!" Trump tweeted Wednesday, ahead of the Vienna meeting.

Read more.

 

EPA TO PROPOSE EASING WATER RULE: The Trump administration is poised to ease an Obama-era water rule, shrinking the number of waterways that are protected from industry pollutants.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose changing the definition of "Waters of the U.S." to erase federal protections on some waters. The change would cover wetlands not connected to larger waterways or riverbeds that only flow after rainfall, according to an EPA outline obtained by E&E News.

The Trump administration has long sought to weaken the burdens placed on industry under the Waters of the U.S. rule, known as WOTUS and established under former President Obama in 2015. The rule defines which bodies of water are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act was first established in the 1970s to give the federal government authority to regulate pollution discharges into waterways.

In June 2017, the EPA first announced steps to uphold President Trump's campaign promise to repeal and replace the 2015 regulation. Trump took aim at the rule during his presidential campaign, calling WOTUS "one of the worst examples of federal regulation."

The proposal said federal officials would go back to enforcing a guidance document from 2008 when deciding whether a waterway is subject to federal oversight for pollution control purposes.

Court fight: In February of this year, the EPA under then-Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA looks to other statutes to expand scope of coming 'secret science' rule EPA ordered to reconsider New York efforts to tame downwind pollution OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups | Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects| Russian mining giant reports another fuel spill in Arctic MORE suspended the WOTUS rule from implementation for two years, promising to rewrite it to "reduce confusion and provide certainty to America's farmers and ranchers."

But in August that decision was put on a hold by a judge in 26 states.

The federal judge for the District Court of South Carolina ruled with environmentalists that the administration failed to seek public comment on the substance of the rule or the implications of delaying the regulation by two years.

However, injunctions from district courts in North Dakota and Georgia kept the rule from being re-implemented in 24 states.

Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Dozens of activists occupied Ireland's environment agency Friday to push for more aggressive climate action, the Irish Times reports.

Exports of solar panels from China shot up in the third quarter, Bloomberg reports.

Virginia regulators rejected Dominion Energy's annually filed long-term plan for electricity in the state, the first time such a plan has been turned down, the Virginia Mercury reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Friday's stories ...

-EPA to propose easing Obama water rule

-Schumer to Trump: Future infrastructure bill must combat climate change

-OPEC, Russia agree to cut oil output