Overnight Energy: Exxon plans $10B natural gas export terminal | Senate panel advances Wheeler's EPA nomination | Climate change back on the front burner in Congress

Overnight Energy: Exxon plans $10B natural gas export terminal | Senate panel advances Wheeler's EPA nomination | Climate change back on the front burner in Congress
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EXXON PLANS $10 BILLION NATURAL GAS EXPORT TERMINAL: Exxon Mobil Corp. made a final decision Tuesday with Qatar Petroleum to build a $10 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project on Texas's Gulf of Mexico coast.

Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryHouse Dems propose billions in extra funding for environmental programs that Trump sought to cut Overnight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules MORE joined representatives of Exxon and Qatar Petroleum, the country's state-owned oil company, to sign the deal Tuesday.

The project would greatly expand the existing Golden Pass LNG terminal which was opened in 2010 on the Sabine Pass to import gas. The expanded terminal would have the capacity to produce about 16 million tons of LNG per year, chilling gas to -260 degrees Fahrenheit to increase its density and load it onto tankers for shipping around the world.

Construction is due to take five years and employ about 9,000 construction workers.

"Golden Pass will provide an increased, reliable, long-term supply of liquefied natural gas to global gas markets, stimulate local growth and create thousands of jobs," Darren Woods, Exxon's CEO, said in a statement.

"The extensive experience of ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum provides the expertise, resources and financial strength needed to construct and operate an integrated liquefaction and export facility in the United States."

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar's minister of state for energy affairs, joined Woods to sign the deal.

"The development of the Golden Pass LNG export facility enhances the depth and flexibility of our global LNG supply portfolio, and reinforces the position of the U.S. as a key contributor to meeting the world's growing demand for LNG," he said in a statement.

More on the deal here.

 

Happy SOTU Tuesday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Check back at TheHill.com tonight for our live coverage of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls for Republicans to be 'united' on abortion Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution Facebook temporarily suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens MORE's State of the Union.

 

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SENATE PANEL ADVANCES WHEELER'S NOMINATION FOR EPA CHIEF: A Senate committee on Tuesday voted along party lines to advance President Trump's nomination of Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for a coal company and other energy interests, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-10 to approve Wheeler and send him to the full Senate for consideration at the panel's meeting.

All Republicans voted for Wheeler and all Democrats voted "no," including announced or potential 2020 candidates Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — Momentum builds for federal laws enshrining abortion rights | Missouri lawmakers approve bill banning abortions at 8 weeks | Warren unveils plan to protect abortion rights 2020 Dem Seth Moulton calls for expanding cannabis access for veterans Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights MORE (D-N.Y.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — Momentum builds for federal laws enshrining abortion rights | Missouri lawmakers approve bill banning abortions at 8 weeks | Warren unveils plan to protect abortion rights 2020 Dem Seth Moulton calls for expanding cannabis access for veterans Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Sanders unveils education plan that would ban for-profit charter schools Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democratic senators.

Wheeler has been the acting administrator at the EPA since July, when former administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOn The Money: New financial disclosures provide glimpse of Trump's wealth | Walmart, Macy's say tariffs will mean price hikes | Consumer agency says Education Department blocking student loan oversight Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses MORE stepped down under the pressure of numerous ethics and spending scandals. The Senate confirmed Wheeler in April 2018 to be deputy administrator

The GOP side: Republicans have cheered Wheeler's continuation of Pruitt's aggressive deregulatory agenda and said his seven months at the EPA's helm show he is capable of leading the agency on an official basis.

"Mr. Wheeler's done an outstanding job leading the Environmental Protection Agency these past six months," Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump boxed in on trade Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020 MORE (R-Wyo.), the committee's chairman, said before the vote.

The Dem side: To Democrats, Wheeler's continued leadership at the EPA means more danger and harm to public health, the environment and the climate.

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss MORE (Del.), the committee's top Democrat, pointed to a letter he wrote to Wheeler shortly after Wheeler took over in July, urging him to turn the agency around and learn lessons from Pruitt's agenda.

"It brings me no joy to say that he has not done what I'd hoped he would do in a number of important respects -- not all respects, but a number of important respects," Carper said.

"In fact, in many instances, Mr. Wheeler has gone further than his predecessor in his rejection of important measures that are supported by a broad list of environmentalists and industry," he continued, pointing specifically to Wheeler's proposals to rescind the justification for the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule for coal-fired power plants and to freeze auto fuel efficiency standards in 2021 and cancel the planned increases in stringency for the following years.

Other nominees: The Environment and Public Works Committee also advanced the nomination of Peter Wright, Trump's nominee to be the EPA's assistant administrator for land and emergency management, which includes the Superfund cleanup program. That vote was also 11-10, along party lines.

Read more on Wheeler and Weight here.

 

In other congressional news....

 

LANDS PACKAGE CLEARS FIRST HURDLE: The Land and Water Conservation Fund and other lands measures cleared the first hurdle toward passage Tuesday with a 99-1 vote to end debate.

 

NEW STUDIES PAINT DIRE CONSEQUENCES FROM CLIMATE CHANGE:

-Climate change will alter ocean colors by 2100: Climate change could begin to affect the color of the oceans by the end of the century, if not sooner, according to a new study.

The change is expected to make the oceans bluer and greener, though the shift in color will be imperceptible to the human eye, according to a study published Monday in Nature Communications.

Scientists found that climate change's effects on ocean temperatures will have an effect on the concentration of phytoplankton, small marine organisms that are critical to the cycling of carbon and sensitive to changes in the ocean's temperature. Light reflected off the organisms gives the ocean's surface its colorful patterns.

According to the study, climate change will help spur phytoplankton growth in some parts of the ocean, while diminishing their presence elsewhere.

The changes will affect more than half of the world's oceans by the end of the year 2100, the study found, though scientists said the change will only be visible via satellite and other technologies.

Read more here.

-Himalayas could lose third of its glaciers by 2100: The Himalayan range could lose at least a third of its glaciers by the century's end even if most of the world's climate change targets are reached, according to a report released on Monday.

If those targets aren't reached, the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment found that the region could lose even more, up to two-thirds of its glaciers by 2100 due to rising temperatures in the region.

The report also assessed that the region could suffer a temperature increase by up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit if leading climate change targets aren't met.

"This is a climate crisis you have not heard of," Philippus Wester, one of the study's lead authors, told The New York Times on Monday.

"Impacts on people in the region, already one of the world's most fragile and hazard-prone mountain regions, will range from worsened air pollution to an increase in extreme weather events," he continued.

In October, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a report that the world needs to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 or else the atmosphere could reach 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040.

The panel said in the report that the world would have to transform its economy at a scale that has "no documented historic precedent" to avoid further damage.

More on the study here.

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY:

Two House congressional committees will hold simultaneous hearings on climate change Wednesday. Both the House Natural Resource and Energy and Commerce committees will lead their first hearings of the 116th Congress with the issue of global warming.

For the Natural Resources Committee it will be the first time in nine years since a hearing on the topic has been held. The hearing will focus on the effect climate change has on communities. The event will feature Govs. Roy Cooper of North Carolina (D) and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (R), as well as academics and advocates. Later in the month, every Natural Resources subcommittee is scheduled to also hold their first hearing on the issue of climate.

The House Energy and Commerce committee's hearing, hosted by the subcommittee on environment and climate change, is labeled "Time for action" and will explore the environmental and economic repercussions from human-induced climate change. Leaders say it's the first time the panel has broached the issue in six years.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will also hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss spending during the government shutdown. The title of the hearing is "The Power of the Purse: A Review of Agency Spending Restrictions During a Shutdown."

Click here for more on how climate change is back on the front burner in Congress after 8 years of Republican rule.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

-Honduran prosecutors to charge another individual in activist's murder, The Seattle Times reports.

-Maryland senator proposes panel to create solar blueprint, CBS Baltimore reports.

-A hole opens up under Antarctic glacier -- big enough to fit two-thirds of Manhattan, NBC News reports.



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Tuesday...

-Exxon plans $10 billion Texas natural gas export terminal

-Senate panel advances Wheeler's nomination to be EPA chief

-Study: Climate change will alter ocean colors by 2100

-Report: Himalayans could lose third of its glaciers by 2100

-Climate change on front burner after 8 years of GOP rule

-Magnetic north pole is moving faster than scientists predicted

-Ocasio-Cortez starts to fill in details of 'Green New Deal'