Overnight Energy: Trump hits Venezuela's state-owned oil company with new sanctions | EPA boasts of 2018 accomplishments | Ocasio-Cortez presses tech giants on climate

Overnight Energy: Trump hits Venezuela's state-owned oil company with new sanctions | EPA boasts of 2018 accomplishments | Ocasio-Cortez presses tech giants on climate
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SANCTIONS TARGET VENEZUELA'S STATE OIL COMPANY: The Trump administration on Monday announced new sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company, ramping up pressure on President Nicolás Maduro to give up power.

National security adviser John Bolton told reporters at the White House that the sanctions on Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) will target $7 billion in assets and could result in $11 billion in lost sales over the next year.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline Lawmakers strike spending deal to avert shutdown MORE described the state-owned company as a vehicle for "embezzlement and corruption," and argued the sanctions would further pressure Maduro to cede power.


"The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela's tragic decline," Mnuchin said. "We will continue to use ... our diplomatic and economic tools to support interim President [Juan] Guaidó, the national assembly and the Venezuelan people's efforts to restore their democracy."

Mnuchin said he does not expect Americans to see an impact on gas prices, and that U.S. refineries will see only "modest impacts" from the sanctions.

The move comes less than a week after Trump recognized Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan National Assembly, as the country's interim president.

Read more on the new sanctions here.


Welcome to Monday! We had been keeping a government shutdown clock here, but as of Friday, the shutdown is over. So, to the federal workers who returned to work today for the first time in five weeks: welcome back!

This is Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

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EPA TOUTS 2018 WORK: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is promoting its deregulatory agenda while also highlighting a measured drop in greenhouse gas emissions as part of its list of 2018 achievements.

Accomplishments highlighted in the agency's annual year in review, released Monday on the first workday back after the end of the partial government shutdown, include accomplishments that have been highly criticized by environmentalists as well as contradicted claims.

The review highlights regulatory reform, a reduction in air pollution, deletion of Superfund sites and sizable grant funding numbers as some of the major accomplishments it achieved in a year where leadership was split between former EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses EPA didn't conduct required analyses of truck engine rule: internal watchdog Is Big Oil feeling the heat? MORE and current acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

"Over the past year, the Trump Administration has continued to deliver on its promises to the American public. Not only are the economic prospects of Americans brighter and improving by the day, but so are environmental and public health conditions. Under President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE, America is on a path to a stronger, safer, and cleaner future," Wheeler said in a statement.

Items the EPA highlighted as accomplishments include a number of policy points the Trump administration has long advocated.

The numbers: The document counted 13 deregulatory actions that were finalized in 2018 and a total of 33 major deregulations done under Trump that EPA says saved Americans nearly $2 billion. Actions mentioned included the replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and proposed changes to the national vehicle emissions standard.

Read more on the EPA's review here.


OCASIO-CORTEZ SCRUTINIZES TECH COMPANIES OVER CLIMATE: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez to hold campaign rallies in Los Angeles, Las Vegas Overwhelming majority say social media companies have too much influence: poll MORE (D-N.Y.) and Chellie PingreeRochelle (Chellie) PingreeDemocrats spend big to put Senate in play Overnight Energy: EPA chief touts benefits of deregulation for environment | Trump officials weaken fish protections Interior chief once lobbied against | USDA watchdog to probe handling of climate reports USDA's internal watchdog to probe allegedly buried climate change reports MORE (D-Maine) are pressing Google, Facebook and Microsoft over their sponsorship of a conference that included climate change skeptics.

Ocasio-Cortez and Pingree in a letter to the tech firms' CEOs accused the giants of compromising their records on sustainability with their "implicit support" of LibertyCon, a conference that took place earlier this month in Washington, D.C.

Mother Jones first reported that the libertarian event included a session titled "Let's Talk About Not Talking: Should There Be 'No Debate' that Industrial Carbon Dioxide is Causing Climate Catastrophe?" The group behind the session, CO2 Coalition, opposes mandatory reductions in CO2 emissions.

CO2 Coalition at the conference handed out pamphlets casting doubt on climate science, Mother Jones reported. The group co-sponsored the event alongside Google, Facebook and Microsoft.  

"We are writing to you today in light of the important role that your companies play as we prepare to take comprehensive action on climate change," Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez, who are championing the issue of climate change as a priority in the 116th Congress, wrote in the letter addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergOverwhelming majority say social media companies have too much influence: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Facebook tells Trump administration it will not create messaging 'backdoor' for law enforcement MORE.

Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez wrote they were "deeply disappointed" to see the companies were "high-level sponsors" of the conference.

Read more.



A group of PG&E Corp. investors sent the company a $4 billion plan to avoid bankruptcy, Bloomberg reports.

An Ontario court rejected the provincial government's attempt to stop a lawsuit challenging its cancellation of a cap-and-trade program, iPolitics reports.

Monday is the 50th anniversary of the start of the Santa Barbara oil spill, and NPR looked at what it means today.



Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

- House Dems scrutinize Trump EPA air pollution policies

- US announces new sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company

- Ocasio-Cortez presses top tech firms over conference that included climate-change skeptics

- Trump has attacked science 80 times, group says

- Former Joshua Tree supervisor warns of 'irreparable' damage to park from shutdown

- Germany to shutter all 84 coal-fired plants to fight climate change

- 16-year-old who sparked climate change protests across Europe delivers striking message to global elites

UN cautions climate change could impact national security