Overnight Energy: EPA to make formal decision on regulating drinking water contaminant | Utility to close coal plant despite Trump plea | Greens say climate is high on 2020 voters’ minds

EPA TO DECIDE ON PFAS THIS YEAR: The Trump administration on Thursday said it will issue a draft regulation placing a limit on a cancer-causing chemical frequently found in drinking water by the end of the year, but provided no details on the level of protection it would seek.

The new steps to eventually regulate the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as “PFAS" or "PFOA" are being announced by Environmental Protection Agency head Andrew Wheeler in Pennsylvania.

He called it the “most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical of concern ever undertaken by EPA.”

ADVERTISEMENT
“For the first time in Agency history, we utilized all of our program offices to construct an all-encompassing plan to help states and local communities address PFAS and protect our nation’s drinking water,” Wheeler said in a statement. “We are moving forward with several important actions, including the maximum contaminant level process, that will help affected communities better monitor, detect, and address PFAS.”

The United States currently sets a health advisory for water for PFAS of 70 parts per trillion in water, a number many experts say does not accurately represent its hazards.

EPA data collection found that 1.3 percent of all public water systems had detections of PFAS at or above the nation’s health advisory level, according to officials.

David Ross, the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, said the EPA will propose a regulatory determination by the end of the year.

That draft suggestion will jumpstart a months- to years-long public comment period that could push the formalization of any PFAS standard far down the line.

The EPA last year, under former administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election EPA pushes forward plan to increase ethanol mix in gasoline Trump: The solitary executive MORE, began its process of determining next steps to regulate PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act with a national summit at EPA headquarters.

Read more.

Happy Thursday! 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.

TVA TO SHUT COAL PLANT DESPITE TRUMP TWEET: The Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) board voted to shut down a Kentucky coal-fired power plant Thursday, days after President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE publicly called on them to keep it open.

The board of the federally owned utility voted 6-1 to close the remaining coal-fired generating unit of the Paradise Fossil Plant by 2020, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

Trump had tweeted Monday that coal “is an important part of our electricity generation mix” and TVA “should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants.”

The western Kentucky plant’s top coal supplier is a mine owned by a subsidiary Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest privately held coal mining company. That company’s leader is Bob Murray, an outspoken Trump donor and supporter.

The plant will close by 2020 under the board’s plan, which aligns with what TVA staff had recommended.

“Their decision was made after extensive reviews and public comments and will ensure continued reliable power at the lowest cost feasible. We will work with impacted employees and communities,” TVA tweeted after the vote.

Read more.

GREENS’ POLL FINDS CLIMATE A TOP ISSUE: Climate change is an important issue for Democrats in early voting primary states and one that liberal candidates in the 2020 presidential election will need to embrace in order to win, according to a new poll released by various groups Thursday.

A poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters, Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Environmental Defense Action Fund (EDF Action) found that addressing the climate change crisis was narrowly the second-most important issue to early state Democratic voters, with 46 percent saying it was a top priority for them. That’s compared to 47 percent who said universal healthcare was their top issue.

The next top priority for voters was raising wages and incomes for working families, at 37 percent.

The poll looked specifically at likely Democratic voters in California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, all early primary election or caucus states.

“One of the most important takeaways is that the climate crisis has risen to the upper tier of issues to Democratic primary voters. Only universal healthcare coverage exists in the same tier. It’s an issue that is very important and therefore motivating,” said Jill Normington, a partner at Normington Petts, which helped conduct the poll.

The poll also found that 83 percent of voters polled were more likely to support a candidate if he or she supported the Green New Deal or the premise of getting the U.S. to run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

BP foresees a future in which natural gas and renewables dominate the energy space, CNBC reports.

New research has found that oil and natural gas companies perform better when executives’ pay is not tied to production, Bloomberg reports.

Inspections by Connecticut’s environmental regulator have dropped amid budget cuts, CTPost reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Thursday:

- Dems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants

- HUD acknowledges recent shutdown slowed pace of recovery aid to Puerto Rico

- EPA chief knocks Green New Deal: 'Not really ready for prime time'

- Utility votes to shut coal plant Trump tried to save

- EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year