Overnight Energy — Sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board — Oil lease sale in Alaska nets $1.5M | House climate panel likely won't pass bills | EPA hires new head of Chesapeake office

INTERIOR BRINGS IN $1.5M FROM ALASKA OIL AND GAS LEASE SALE: A highly criticized oil and gas lease sale in Alaska netted just over $1.5 million in revenue as of Wednesday.

The lease of 174,000 acres of federal land generated through a total of 16 bids generated over a million dollars more this year than last year's offering in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska.

Fossil fuel giants ConocoPhillips Emerald House and Nordaq Energy were the three companies to make bids on the 16 tracts of land.


The sale went on as planned Wednesday despite attempts earlier in the week by environmentalists to stop the auctioning. A federal judge in Alaska on Monday dismissed two lawsuits brought by environmentalist groups that argued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did not adequately conduct an environmental review before it held prior oil lease sales in 2016 and 2017, Alaska Public Media reported.

One of the suits also argued that the government failed to consider how oil production stemming from the 23-million acre reserve could negatively impact climate change.

Alaska's sale is one of many state leases that went on the auction block this week including New Mexico, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Mississippi.   

The sales come a month after the U.S. Geologic Survey released a report that found that a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. came from public land. Environmentalists are arguing that the federal government must consider the climate impacts of oil and gas production when opening up land for drilling.

Read more on the sale here.




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CLIMATE PANEL UNLIKELY TO HAVE LEGISLATIVE POWER: A growing number of House Democrats are backing the idea to create a special committee to fight climate change next year, but it likely won't have the authority to pass any bills.

Incoming House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (D-Calif.) told lawmakers Wednesday that the panel, championed by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Ethics Committee orders Tlaib to refund campaign ,800 for salary payments Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants MORE (D-N.Y.), won't have any legislative jurisdiction.

In the meeting, meant to assuage concerns of incoming committee chairmen that the new climate panel might encroach on their authority, Pelosi promised that the select committee wouldn't have the authority to pass its own bills, according to Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who attended the meeting.

Grijalva is in line to chair the Natural Resources Committee.

"It's something I'm comfortable with. It's not a threat to anybody. And I think it galvanizes attention on the issue of climate change, and it's a good thing," Grijalva told reporters about the plan for a special committee.

Grijalva has long backed the te formation of the committee with the caveat that it be restricted of bill-passing power.

Read more.


NEW CHIEF FOR EPA CHESAPEAKE PROGRAM: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has hired a Pennsylvania environmental official to lead the program dedicated to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay's pollution.

Dana Aunkst, deputy secretary for water programs at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, will take over later this month as director of the Chesapeake Bay Program, the agency said in a statement.


The program works with six states and Washington, D.C., on a number of efforts related to the iconic bay and its watershed, like its major "pollution diet" and a pollution enforcement strategy.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to build upon the accomplishments to date by EPA and its partners," Aunkst said.

"I look forward to working collaboratively with our stakeholders in protecting our nation's largest estuary and the local waterways throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed."

Read more.



Congress has important unfinished business.


More than 60,000 American workers are relying on Congress to renew and extend the biodiesel tax incentive.

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This year's California wildfires have caused $9 billion in insurance claims, and more are expected, the East Bay Times reports.

Washington, D.C.'s rising population is leading to a booming rat infestation, the Associated Press reports.


The Chemical Safety Board blamed the ineffectiveness of a key safeguard for a Wisconsin refinery blast, Reuters reports.



Check out Wednesday's stories...

- House climate change panel won't likely pass bills

- Alaska oil and gas lease sale nets $1.5 million

- House narrowly advances farm bill amid fight over Yemen war vote

- EPA names Pennsylvania official to lead Chesapeake Bay cleanup