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Overnight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA

Overnight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA
© Stefani Reynolds

SENATE DEMS INTRODUCE GREEN NEW DEAL ALTERNATIVE: Senate Democrats introduced a joint resolution Thursday meant to unify the party around a common climate change plan as Republicans rip the party over the "Green New Deal."

The concise nine-line resolution introduced by Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says MORE (D-Del.), ranking member on the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee, commits Democrats to acknowledging climate change is happening, that it's human caused and that something must be done.

"Climate change is real, human activity during the last century is the dominant cause of the climate crisis; and the United States and Congress should take immediate action to address the challenge of climate change," the resolution reads in its entirety.

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All 47 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus signed on to co-sponsor the legislation.

"We have an obligation in the body of the House to do something about it," said Carper on the Senate floor Thursday.

The resolution is meant as an alternative to the Green New Deal resolution introduced in early February by Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyACLU sues DHS for records on purchased cell phone data to track immigrants DHS watchdog to probe agency's tracking of Americans' phone data without a warrant Manchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' MORE (D-Mass.). Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE (R-Ky.) fast-tracked the vote on the resolution two weeks ago in an effort to highlight a Democratic divide over the plan.  

While McConnell recently hinted at a pushed back timeline as far off as August, Democrats had planned to vote "present" on the plan to avoid appearing misaligned on their climate stance.

The latest proposal would circumvent that need.

While the new resolution doesn't offer any specific plans to decrease emissions and combat climate change, Democratic leaders championed it as a push in the right direction as Republicans failed to back or introduce any climate bills of their own.

"Until they in the majority put a plan on the floor as to what they would do with climate change, they don't have much standing," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Trump supporters could hand Senate control to Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.) told Politico Tuesday. He called McConnell's planned vote on the Green New Deal a "sham."

Read more here.

 

Happy Thursday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow me on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

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SIX REPUBLICANS NAMED TO NEW HOUSE CLIMATE PANEL: Six Republicans are joining the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis formed by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE in January.

GOP Reps. Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesNew Interior order undermines conservation bill Trump campaigned on, critics say OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden expected to issue swift reversals on climate | Senate proposes spending increase at environmental agencies | Court halts permits for contentious Mountain Valley Pipeline Trump administration submits list of conservation projects after the deadline MORE (La.), Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithGOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter tests positive for coronavirus Bustos tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (Va.), Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterBipartisan lawmakers call for overhauling medical supply chains The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day Overnight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy MORE (Ga.), Gary PalmerGary James PalmerMcCarthy woos Freedom Caucus with eye on Speakership Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future House GOP votes to keep leaders in place MORE (Ala.), Carol MillerCarol Devine MillerChamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night Partial disengagement based on democratic characteristics: A new era of US-China economic relations The Hill's Coronavirus Report: CDC predicts US death toll could reach 145,000 by July 11; Premier President Michael Alkire says more resiliency needed in health supply chain MORE (W.Va.) and Kelly Armstrong (N.D.) will be sitting on the committee, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse GOP uses procedural tool to protest proxy voting The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Tensions rise with Trump, Barr Watch live: McCarthy holds news briefing MORE (R-Calif) announced Thursday.

Graves will be the lead Republican on the committee, which is chaired by Democratic Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Progress toward managing rising seas US to exit Paris accord whether Trump or Biden wins MORE of Florida.

Graves, a moderate Republican, served for years Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, helping push through a multibillion-dollar coastal restoration and levee program following Hurricane Katrina, according to E&E News.

He also has said he believes in climate change and was backed by the Environmental Defense Fund in his 2014 congressional race.

However, according to The League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group, he scored a zero out of 100 on their recent voting scorecard released Wednesday. That meant he voted against their stance on environmental and public health matters in each of the 35 votes they recorded.

Other panel members received low numbers on the same scale with Griffith getting a 3, Carter 0 and Palmer a 0.

Griffith and Carter also currently serve on the House's Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the Environmental Protection Agency. Miller and Armstrong hail from states with big fossil fuel ties.

Read more here.

 

SENATE CONFIRMS WHEELER TO HEAD EPA: The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 52-47 mostly party-line vote.

Every Democrat voted against Wheeler, while Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him GOP blocks effort to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks MORE (Maine) was the only Republican to vote against him.

Collins in a statement Wednesday said she would not vote for Wheeler, a former energy lobbyist, because of his track record backing policies that weaken rules protecting air pollution and lowering car emissions.

"While Mr. Wheeler is certainly qualified for this position, I have too many concerns with the actions he has taken during his tenure as Acting Administrator to be able to support his promotion," said Collins, who had backed confirming Wheeler last year to be EPA's deputy administrator.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSmall businesses don't need another stimulus — they need customers Congress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms MORE (W.Va.), the only Democrat who voted to confirm Wheeler as EPA deputy administrator, voted against him on Thursday. He cited Wheeler's failure to make progress on clean drinking water standards, among other issues.

"When I voted to confirm Mr. Wheeler to be Deputy Administrator of the EPA, I did so because I thought the President deserved to have his team in place. I also believed that I could work with Mr. Wheeler," Manchin said in a statement.

"Today, I voted against him to be the permanent Administrator of the EPA because as Acting Administrator, he hasn't demonstrated a desire or a will to make any meaningful progress on clean drinking water standards and has rolled back clean air standards that are directly impacting West Virginians, both concerns that I have raised with him."

Wheeler has led the EPA in an active capacity since former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA's scientific integrity in question over science rule Major unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE resigned on the heels of ethics controversies in July. He will be the agency's second leader under President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE. Trump nominated Wheeler to take over the role of EPA administrator in early January.

Responding to his confirmation, Wheeler tweeted Thursday that he was "humbled."

"It is truly humbling to serve the American public as EPA Administrator. I want to thank President Trump for nominating me and Leader McConnell and [Senate Natural Resources Committee] Chairman [John] Barrasso for navigating my confirmation through the Senate," Wheeler wrote.

"I am deeply honored, and I look forward to continuing the President's agenda and the work of the Agency alongside all my EPA colleagues."

At his confirmation hearing, Wheeler doubled down on the EPA's efforts under Trump to streamline environmental regulations, which in many instances meant dramatically re-writing, challenging and shrinking agency rules put in place under former President Obama.

Wheeler in his opening remarks highlighted 13 major deregulatory actions he had overseen in his six months heading the EPA on an acting basis, including proposals to roll back environmental regulations for power plants and vehicle emissions and protections for small waterways. He said it saved Americans "roughly $1.8 billion in regulatory costs."

Democrats blasted Wheeler for continuing the Trump administration's deregulatory agenda, which included a dramatic drop in enforcement against polluters.

But several lawmakers credited Wheeler for a shift in tone from Pruitt.

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthOvernight Defense: Trump orders troop drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq | Key Republicans call Trump plan a 'mistake' Top Democrat calls Trump's Afghan drawdown 'the right policy decision' as others warn of 'mistake' Overnight Defense: Another Defense official resigns | Pentagon chief says military 'remains strong' despite purge | Top contender for Biden DOD secretary would be historic pick MORE (D-Ill.) thanked Wheeler for his accessibility.

"It's been a nice change to your predecessor," she said.

Read more here.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Former EPA head Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyEPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump replaces head of energy regulatory commission | Biden climate agenda would slam into Senate GOP roadblocks | Emails show Park Police reliance on pepper balls, outside police forces during Lafayette protests MORE argues that the Trump administration's dismantling of a mercury pollution ban exemplifies their embrace of the coal industry.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Colorado state legislators propose "most sweeping oil and gas reforms" in state history, the Denver Post reports

The massive glacier that formed the Great Lakes is disappearing, the Chicago Tribune reports

The world Is losing fish to eat as oceans warm, The New York Times reports

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Thursday...

-Six Republicans named to new House climate panel

-Senate Democrats introduce 'Green New Deal' alternative

-Gorka: Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal is socialism 'Stalin dreamt about'

-GOP lawmaker says 'climate hoax believers' deny impact of photosynthesis

-Senate confirms Wheeler to lead EPA

-New Jersey woman sentenced to jail for helping crying bear cub escape trap

-Hundreds of green groups, local leaders ask Pelosi to champion climate goals

-Dems wrestle over how to vote on 'Green New Deal'