Overnight Energy: Bipartisan Senate group seeks more funding for carbon capture technology | Dems want documents on Interior pick's lobbying work | Officials push to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US

BIPARTISAN GROUPS WANT 'HIGHEST POSSIBLE' FUNDING FOR CARBON CAPTURE: A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for funding at the "highest possible levels" for carbon capture technology development.

The 12 lawmakers, including four Republicans, urged Senate appropriators to provide the Department of Energy with maximum funding for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

"As the world transitions towards a carbon constrained economy, investment in CCUS technology will spur economic development and ensure energy security while protecting the environment from carbon dioxide emissions and maintaining global leadership role in research and development," the lawmakers wrote Thursday in letter to the top senators on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

Who is on board: The letter was signed by Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoIf Democrats want gun control, they must first concede defeat Conway: Republican concerns about gun reform 'all reconcilable' Five proposals Congress is eyeing after mass shootings MORE (R-Wyo.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Democratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Colo.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Biden faces scrutiny for his age from other Democrats Democrats press FBI for details on Kavanaugh investigation MORE (D-Del.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerCastro, Steyer join pledge opposing the Keystone XL pipeline EPA proposes rolling back states' authority over pipeline projects GOP senator held up Trump aide's confirmation to get info on border wall contracts MORE (R-N.D.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesThe 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal 5 takeaways from combative Democratic debate GOP senator introduces resolution to formally condemn socialism MORE (R-Mont.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthOvernight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador Senate committee advances nomination of general accused of sexual assault Overnight Defense: General accused of sexual assault to get confirmation hearing | Senate to vote Monday on overriding Saudi arms deal veto | Next Joint Chiefs chair confirmed | Graham tries to ease Turkey tensions MORE (D-Ill.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerHickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit MORE (R-Colo.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup MORE (D-Va.), Angus KingAngus Stanley KingBipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year New intel chief inherits host of challenges Senators ask for committee vote on 'red flag' bills after shootings MORE (I-Maine), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinAn ode to Joe Manchin's patriotism on his birthday Trump awards Medal of Freedom to NBA legend Bob Cousy Overnight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate MORE (D-W.Va.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE (D-Mont.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies Democrats give cold shoulder to Warren wealth tax MORE (D-R.I.).

Their case: The senators argued that investment in creating viable options to capture carbon emissions released into the atmosphere could spur U.S. job growth.

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"According to the International Energy Agency and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), CCUS is a critical component of the portfolio of energy technologies needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide," the senators wrote. "As the U.S. develops CCUS technologies, we will benefit not only from cleaner power here at home, but from new markets for U.S. technologies abroad, including innovations towards direct air capture."

The numbers: The two federal programs that include carbon capture research received $101 million and $98 million in funding, respectively, for fiscal year 2019. President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE's budget request for 2020 calls for combining the two programs into one, funded at $69 million.

Read more here.

 

DEMS WANT BERNHARDT'S FORMER CLIENT TO TURN OVER DOCUMENTS:

House Democrats on Friday asked for a probe into Interior secretary nominee David Bernhardt's relationship with one of his former clients on the heels of a New York Times report that said he continued lobbying after saying he had stopped.

In a letter sent to leaders of Westlands Water District, a major agribusiness group in California, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanDemocrats see window closing for impeachment Appetite for Democratic term limits fizzling out The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller testimony gives Trump a boost as Dems ponder next steps MORE (D-Calif.) requested all documents associated with Bernhardt and his work for the former client, including his work to weaken Endangered Species Act protections.

"Serious questions have been raised regarding the potential conflicts between his work as a top official at the Department of the Interior (DOI) and his previous work as a lobbyist and lawyer," for Westlands Water District, the two wrote in the letter, noting numerous complaints about Bernhardt filed with various offices.

"It is essential that the Congress and the American people have a full and complete record of the relationship between Mr. Bernhardt and Westlands so these questions can be answered, and potential conflicts of interest can be addressed."

The New York Times on Thursday published a story that said a 2017 invoice showed Bernhardt continued to lobby for Westlands Water District for several months after filing paperwork saying he had ended his lobbying activities.

As a lobbyist for the group, Bernhardt spent years fighting to weaken endangered species protections for the delta smelt, a small fish competing for water alongside California's agriculture industry.

The Interior Department's Office of Inspector General is now reviewing allegations that Bernhardt violated his ethics pledge by continuing to work for the client, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, though the office has not committed to a probe.

The Trump nominee looks likely to be headed toward confirmation. On Thursday he won approval from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in a 14-6 vote.

But Democrats have continued to raise other issues connected with Bernhardt's work on endangered species.

Read more here.

 

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A PUSH FOR MORE U.S. DEVELOPMENT OF ELECTRIC CAR BATTERIES: Government officials will be meeting with automakers and lithium mining companies in May to discuss ways to increase U.S. production of batteries for electric vehicles, Reuters reported Friday.

China remains the dominant force in the supply chain for electric vehicles, producing nearly two-thirds of the world's lithium batteries. The U.S. produces just 5 percent, leaving American auto manufacturers increasingly reliant on imports.

U.S. imports of lithium have nearly doubled since 2014, and government officials are now looking for ways to fast-track battery production.  

Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE (R-Alaska) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal Senators introduce bill to prevent border agency from selling personal data MORE (R-N.D.), both members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and officials from the departments of State, Energy, and the Interior as well as the U.S. Geological Survey have been invited to attend the meetings.

Murkowski, the chair of the committee, plans to introduce legislation to ease the permitting process for lithium mining, further government studies of U.S. mineral supplies, and encourage mineral recycling, according to Reuters.

"We need to find ways to more efficiently develop our nation's domestic critical mineral supply because these resources are vital to both our national security and our economy," Hoeven said in a statement to Reuters.

The one-day meeting will include workshops focused on financing and permitting obstacles and one-on-one afternoon meetings between regulators and industry executives, Reuters reported.

Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

--Yankees are the first sports group to sign onto the Paris climate agreement, Gizmodo reports.

-Grand Canyon fatal fall is third visitor death in eight days, The Washington Post reports.

-Shell sued in the Netherlands for insufficient action on climate change, CNBC reports.  

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

The House will start next week by discussing worsening climate change and how it impacts national security. A hearing before the full House Oversight and Reform Committee Tuesday will include testimony from Former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces Five takeaways from Pentagon chief's first major trip Esper given horse in Mongolia as US looks for new inroads against China MORE and Former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryKentucky basketball coach praises Obama after golf round: 'He is a really serious golfer' The enemy of my enemy is my friend — an alliance that may save the Middle East Democratic governors fizzle in presidential race MORE. Both served under former President Obama.

That same day, the Oversight committee's newly created subcommittee on the  environment will hold its first hearing on climate change, entitled: "The History of a Consensus and the Causes of Inaction."

Headed by freshman Democrat Rep. Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaSecond Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment Democrats call for Senate to return to vote on gun reform after two deadly mass shootings The House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort MORE (D-Calif.) the hearing will be the first of three hearings on climate, discussing the past, present and future risks and causes of global warming.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will also Tuesday meet to consider and mark up H.R. 9, a House climate bill introduced by Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorPelosi, Schumer invite US women's soccer team to Capitol Democrats grill Trump officials over fuel standard rollback Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment MORE (D-Fla.) which aims to bind the U.S. to the tenants of the international Paris climate agreement.

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Tuesday will hold a legislative hearing on "Health and Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Removal Mining." The meeting will also consider H.R. 2050, a bill that would place a moratorium on granting permits for mountaintop coal mining until health studies are conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Over in the Senate next week, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine pipeline safety.

Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee will hold its own hearing on climate change, this time to discuss opportunities for energy "innovation," a term largely favored by the GOP.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Stories from Friday...

Bipartisan senators want 'highest possible' funding for carbon capture technology

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