Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits
Overnight Energy: Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands | Dem rolls out climate plan meant to appeal to GOP | LA County bans weed killer Roundup
INTERIOR MOVES TO PROTECT ACCESS TO PUBLIC LANDS: Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Thursday ordered that federal land managers consider public access when selling or trading public land.
"This order will help ensure that the Bureau of Land Management [BLM] considers public access to public lands," Bernhardt said in a statement.
"It requires that before the BLM exchanges or disposes of any land, they must first consider what impact the disposal or exchange of land will have on public access. The Trump Administration will continue to prioritize access so that people can hunt, fish, camp, and recreate on our public lands," he said.
The order will address concerns that some federal and state land is inaccessible without crossing privately owned territory, according to the Associated Press.
The move was praised by some conservationists.
"In some places, there are small parcels of BLM land that serve as the only means of nearby access to hunting and fishing or as the only access points to adjoining public lands managed by other agencies," Whit Fosburgh, head of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said Thursday.
"The Secretarial Order will ensure that key parcels are valued for this recreational access and help keep these lands in the public's hands."
Bernhardt's order comes a week before he is set to have his confirmation in front of the Senate to assume the permanent position.
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DEM LAWMAKER ROLLS OUT CENTRIST CLIMATE PLAN: A top Democratic lawmaker Thursday unveiled a new policy outline for future climate change legislation meant to appeal to the GOP.
Speaking to a crowd at the Climate Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) laid out a nine-point plan for drafting future meaningful climate bills, saying, "This issue cannot wait for politics."
The broad plan, which Tonko called "doable," is meant to attract bipartisan interest and will include a carbon pricing plan.
Tonko said the points laid out are not meant to be specific, but to provide a framework as legislators work to come to a consensus on how to best tackle the looming threat of global warming.
"Nothing is off the table. Let a thousand climate and clean energy plans bloom," Tonko told the crowd, welcoming multiple ideas.
The pillars of his framework include setting targets for greenhouse gas neutrality by mid-century, ensuring clean energy industries continue to emerge in the U.S. and investing in energy efficiency research and development.
Tonko, who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce climate change subcommittee, has long called for action on climate change but has questioned the legitimacy of bold bills like the Green New Deal, which some have likened to a quick fix. His plan is likely to be compared to the ambitious policies laid out in the Green New Deal.
With his outline, Tonko said he wanted to build "a consensus for comprehensive climate action."
"There needs to be a longer, deliberate debate and discussion about putting a price on carbon because carbon pollution today is free, and there is a cost to society of that on public health, public safety and national security," Tonko told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
A resulting climate bill would ultimately include a longer-term plan of establishing a price on carbon emissions, though Tonko did not specify whether it would be through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system.
And some extras...
Speaking to The Hill later Thursday Tonko called the framework "an effort to build momentum."
When will it happen?: Tonko said lawmakers will set a "reasonable time frame."
What will the legislation likely look like?: The lawmaker said they are looking at a "three pronged approach" of "short term, medium term and long term opportunities." Those would include energy efficiency, grid modernization and hardening of existing infrastructure and lastly presenting a "green portion" of infrastructure.
LA COUNTY BANS ROUNDUP WEED KILLER: Los Angeles County this week issued a moratorium on the use of Monsanto's Roundup weed killer, citing the need for more research into its active ingredient, an NBC News affiliate reported.
The move by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday came the same day that a federal jury in San Francisco delivered a verdict in favor of Edward Hardeman, who said his cancer was caused by exposure to Roundup.
More than 50 U.S. cities and counties have banned the chemical, the most commonly used herbicide in the world.
Across the country, Bayer AG, which bought Monsanto last year, faces more than 11,000 similar lawsuits alleging that glyphosate causes cancer.
The World Health Organization in 2015 classified glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen." The Environmental Protection Agency says the weed killer has low toxicity for humans and is not likely to cause cancer.
Environmental groups praised Los Angeles's decision.
"Kicking Bayer-Monsanto and its cancer-causing weedkiller off L.A. County property was absolutely the right call," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "We know glyphosate causes cancer in people and shouldn't be sprayed anywhere - period. We don't know how many Angelenos have been exposed to this dangerous chemical through its use by the county, but we can keep others from being exposed."
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
Solar and wind firms call the 'Green New Deal' too extreme, Reuters reports.
$35 million floating wind project off coast of Ireland gets green light, CNBC reports.
Missouri Public Service Commission approves controversial multi-state wind-energy transmission line, KCUR radio reports.
lN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out stories from Thursday...
-25 states could see severe flooding in coming weeks, scientists say
-LA County bans Monsanto weed killer citing health concerns
-Acting Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands
-Melting glaciers are exposing bodies of dead explorers on Mount Everest
-Top Dem lawmaker rolls out climate plan to appeal to GOP
-Sanders campaign vows to offset all carbon emissions from travel