Overnight Energy & Environment

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 Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (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.

{mosads}”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 Trump’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 Huffman (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 Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John Hoeven (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 Hagel and Former Secretary of State John Kerry. 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 Rouda (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 Castor (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

Officials, automakers aim to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US: report

Dems want documents on Bernhardt’s lobbying work

Genetically modified crops a hurdle in US-China trade talks: report

Study: Most carbon dioxide in atmosphere in 3 million years

Iowa Republican on Trump claim: If windmill noise caused cancer I’d have ‘church bell cancer’

Tags Angus King carbon capture Christopher Coons Chuck Hagel Cory Gardner David Bernhardt Donald Trump Electric Cars Harley Rouda Interior Department Jared Huffman Joe Manchin John Barrasso John Hoeven John Kerry Jon Tester Kathy Castor Kevin Cramer Lisa Murkowski Michael Bennet Sheldon Whitehouse Steve Daines Tammy Duckworth Tim Kaine

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