Overnight Energy: Green New Deal vote set to test Dem unity | Renewables on track to phase out coal, study finds | EPA chief reportedly recuses himself from mine review

GREEN NEW DEAL VOTE TO TEST DEMS: Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (N.Y.) this week will face his biggest test keeping White House hopefuls aligned with the rest of the Democratic caucus when Republicans force a vote on the Green New Deal.

Schumer wants all Democrats to vote "present" on the motion to proceed to the ambitious, and divisive, climate change measure championed by firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezGreta Thunberg scolds Congress on climate action: 'I know you are trying but just not hard enough' Ocasio-Cortez endorses challenger to Democrat Lipinski in Illinois race The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? MORE (D-N.Y.), despite the fact that several presidential candidates in the chamber have already endorsed her proposal.

Schumer's challenge: The Senate's companion resolution, sponsored by Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGreta Thunberg scolds Congress on climate action: 'I know you are trying but just not hard enough' Obama meets with Greta Thunberg: 'One of our planet's greatest advocates' Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-Mass.), is co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE (I-Vt.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' At debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions MORE (D-N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Biden leads in new national poll, Warren close behind in second place MORE (D-Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Katie Pavlich: The Democrats' desperate do-overs MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerMark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Katie Pavlich: The Democrats' desperate do-overs Biden leads in new national poll, Warren close behind in second place MORE (D-N.J.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharMark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Democrats press for action on election security Antitrust enforcers in turf war over Big Tech MORE (D-Minn.), who are all running for president.

McConnell's play: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Democrats press for action on election security Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (R-Ky.) scheduled the vote in hopes of driving a wedge between 2020 Democrats, who are trying to appeal to the party's liberal base, and more centrist Democrats who face competitive reelection campaigns next year.

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McConnell says the Green New Deal has all the components for "a good old-fashioned, state-planned economy," and that it is "garden variety 20th century socialism."

Dem response: Democrats argue McConnell is setting up a "sham vote" and note that liberal advocacy groups like the Sunrise Movement and Credo Action that back the Green New Deal have given senators a pass to vote "present." They also say polling shows majorities of Americans think climate change is a serious problem that requires action.

The Green New Deal, however, is a sensitive topic within Democratic circles and has failed to garner sponsorship from even ardent environmentalists like Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to 'pack' Supreme Court Senate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility MORE (D-R.I.).

Whitehouse says the Green New Deal "doesn't have substance yet" and describes it as "aspirational."

He said he likes the aspiration but hasn't co-sponsored the resolution.

"I'm a legislator and I like bills," he said.

What's in the deal: The proposal says the federal government must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create millions of high-wage jobs by investing in sustainable infrastructure.

It sets a 10-year schedule to meet 100 percent of the nation's power demand through renewable, zero-emission energy sources and upgrade all buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

Will there be any Dem defectors?: At least one Democrat is preparing to break ranks. Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Senate Democrats to hold the floor to protest inaction on gun violence MORE of West Virginia, a major coal-producing state, said he plans to vote against the measure.

"They can do what they want to do. I'm not a present-type guy," he told The Hill last month.

Read more here.

 

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And in preparation for this week's Green New Deal vote...

 

MANUFACTURERS CALL FOR VOTE AGAINST GREEN NEW DEAL: The National Association of Manufacturers on Tuesday will send a letter to all senators urging them to vote against the Green New Deal resolution.

In the letter shared early with The Hill, the trade association representing small and large manufacturers across the U.S. calls the plan "unrealistic."

"S.J. Res. 8 would require the federal government to decarbonize the manufacturing,

transportation and electric power sectors in an unrealistic 10-year time frame," the letter reads.

The group concedes that an investment in energy efficiency, grid modernization and reduced carbon emissions is necessary, but warns the 2030 timeline set out by the progressive plan is too drastic.

 

SOLAR, WIND ON TRACK TO PHASE OUT COAL AS CHEAPER ENERGY ALTERNATIVE: Solar and wind power are on track to overtake coal as cost-effective energy sources, according to a new study released Monday.

The report from Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan think tank, indicates that economics alone may play the biggest role in driving U.S. consumer energy use towards renewable sources.

The analysis, called "The Coal Cost Crossover," found that existing coal options are increasingly more expensive than cleaner alternatives. As it stands, local wind and solar could replace nearly 74 percent of the U.S. coal fleet today and still save customers money, the report found.

And those numbers are expected to get even better for consumers. By 2025, it's expected that 86 percent of coal plants could be replaced by solar and wind energy for cheaper costs.

The findings show that the two renewable energy sources are joining natural gas as energy alternatives that pose big economic threats to struggling coal.

Coal industry's struggles: Coal, a natural resource linked to some of the worst greenhouse gas pollution, has increasingly struggled in recent years as natural gas production grew cheaper. A number of coal fired plants shuttered across the U.S. in 2018 with retirements expected to continue in 2019 as plants become too expensive to maintain.

"Due to the rapid recent cost decline of wind and solar, the combined fuel, maintenance, and other going-forward costs of coal-fired power from many existing coal plants is now more expensive than the all-in costs of new wind or solar projects. This cost crossover raises substantial questions for regulators and utilities as to why these coal plants should keep running instead of new renewable power plants," the report read.

Trump's promise: President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE has repeatedly vowed to bring jobs back to the coal industry, saying that the energy source was key to America's energy independence. During his first State of the Union address, Trump praised "beautiful, clean coal."

More on the study here.

 

EPA CHIEF REPORTEDLY RECUSES HIMSELF FROM MINE REVIEW: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler is reportedly recusing himself from agency reviews of a proposed mine whose developer his former law firm represented.

In 2017, Wheeler's then-firm Faegre Baker Daniels arranged a meeting between then-EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks MORE and Pebble LP, the developer of the proposed gold and copper mine near Alaska's Bristol Bay, according to Bloomberg.

Soon after the meeting, Pruitt proposed withdrawing mining regulations that would have hindered the project in securing necessary Clean Water Act permits.

Wheeler never provided services to a client on the mine, but said the recusal would be effective for the length of his tenure as EPA chief, reportedly delegating all issues involving the Pebble Mine to EPA general counsel Matthew Leopold.

Wheeler has recused himself from other matters involving ex-clients.

More here on the decision.

 

ON TAP: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to bring a vote on the controversial Green New Deal early this week, but it is not yet known whether that vote will happen Tuesday or Wednesday. 

In anticipation of the vote this week, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sponsor of the Senate Green New Deal resolution, will hold a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday "for bold climate action in Congress and to blast Republicans for blocking real action on climate change." 

On Tuesday, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing titled: "The Need to Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain."

In budget news:

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the Department of Interior's budget.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the Department of Energy's budget. Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryGas prices could rise 15 to 30 cents following Saudi attack Trump envoy presses Saudi Arabia to allow nuclear inspections Perry confident energy market 'will rebound positively' after Saudi oil attack MORE will testify.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Shell switches over 700,000 customers to renewable electricity, CNBC reports

Puerto Rico passes bill to run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, Fast Company reports

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and the weekend...

-NASA finds one of Earth's fastest-shrinking glaciers is growing again

-EPA chief recuses himself from mine review his ex-law firm repped: report

-Solar, wind on track to phase out coal as cheaper energy alternatives: analysis

-Green New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate

-Romney helps GOP look for new path on climate change

-Trump approves Iowa disaster declaration

-Oil execs boasted of 'unprecedented access' to Trump officials: report