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 BarrassoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump nominates controversial, longtime acting head of BLM as director | Ernst sinks vote on Trump EPA nominee | Massive dust storm from Africa hits Texas, Louisiana Ernst sinks vote on Trump EPA nominee Cruz urges Trump to support Israeli annexation MORE (R-Wyo.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHouse Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE (D-Colo.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsHillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Democrats, voting rights groups pressure Senate to approve mail-in voting resources To safeguard our elections, Democrats and Republicans must work together MORE (D-Del.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP skeptical of polling on Trump Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law Cruz urges Trump to support Israeli annexation MORE (R-N.D.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesPolitical establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme Lincoln Project releases new pro-Biden ad in swing states The Hill's Campaign Report: Progressives feel momentum after primary night MORE (R-Mont.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDuckworth to block military confirmations until Esper proves Vindman will be promoted Liberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties MORE (D-Ill.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks Hickenlooper beats back progressive challenge in Colorado primary MORE (R-Colo.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators aim to limit Trump's ability to remove troops from Germany Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats MORE (D-Va.), Angus KingAngus KingMcConnell on filibuster talk: Democrats want to 'vandalize' Senate rules Manchin draws line against repealing legislative filibuster Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats MORE (I-Maine), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget McConnell on filibuster talk: Democrats want to 'vandalize' Senate rules MORE (D-W.Va.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBipartisan Senate group offers bill to strengthen watchdog law after Trump firings Senate confirms Trump's watchdog for coronavirus funds Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight MORE (D-Mont.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list Key Democrat accuses Labor head of 'misleading' testimony on jobless benefits 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 Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' 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 HuffmanHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Overnight Energy: Biden campaign says he would revoke Keystone XL permit | EPA emails reveal talks between Trump officials, chemical group before 2017 settlement | Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings 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 MurkowskiSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators push to limit transfer of military-grade equipment to police MORE (R-Alaska) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock House Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump Overnight Energy: Trump rollback of Obama mileage standards faces court challenges | Court strikes down EPA suspension of Obama greenhouse gas rule | Trump floats cutting domestic oil production 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 HagelHundreds of West Point alumni call out Esper over military's role in protests Can he really do that? Yes, he probably can — because Congress let him GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE and Former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryWesley Clark says Trump not serving in Vietnam 'might have been for the best' in light of Russian bounty reports Juan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden The Memo: Trump's 2020 path gets steeper 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 RoudaGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary 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 CastorOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 | Commerce Department led 'flawed process' on Sharpiegate, watchdog finds | EPA to end policy suspending pollution monitoring by end of summer House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 House Dems to offer up road map to solve the climate crisis 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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