Overnight Energy: Mueller report reveals Russian efforts to sow division over coal jobs | NYC passes sweeping climate bill likened to 'Green New Deal' | EPA official says agency may ban asbestos | Energy Dept. denies Perry planning exit

Overnight Energy: Mueller report reveals Russian efforts to sow division over coal jobs | NYC passes sweeping climate bill likened to 'Green New Deal' | EPA official says agency may ban asbestos | Energy Dept. denies Perry planning exit

MUELLER REPORT REVEALS RUSSIAN EFFORTS TO TARGET US COAL JOBS: Russian social media accounts focused on U.S. divisions over coal jobs as part of an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election, according to the newly released report from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE.

The report cites a series of pro-Trump rallies organized by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian organization charged with interfering in the U.S. election, including one in Pennsylvania with a poster featuring a coal miner reading "bring back our jobs."

"How many PA workers lost their jobs due to Obama's disruptive policies?" the poster read. "Help Mr. Trump fix it."

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The rallies were hosted in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in October 2016.

Several portions of Mueller's report that reference the rallies are redacted, citing "harm to ongoing matter" if the information were publicly released.

Coal was not the only energy topic targeted in an attempt to sway voters toward President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE. A report in March 2018 by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee concluded that about 4 percent of IRA tweets and posts were about energy and environmental issues in an attempt to disrupt U.S. energy markets.

Those posts focused on pipelines, fossil fuels, fracking and climate change.

Read more here.

 

Happy Thursday. Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

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Washington today was dominated by the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. Check out TheHill.com for the latest. Luckily, there's plenty of energy news as well.

 

NYC PASSES SWEEPING CLIMATE BILL LIKENED TO 'GREEN NEW DEAL': New York City approved a sweeping climate legislation package Thursday that is being compared to the Green New Deal.

In a 45-2 vote, the city legislature passed the Climate Mobilization Act, which aims to enact the largest carbon reduction measures of any city globally.

What the bill aims to do: At the heart of the package is a bill that would require New York's largest residential and commercial buildings to reduce carbon emissions 40 percent by 2040 and 80 percent by 2050. In comparison, the Green New Deal resolution introduced in Congress aims to get the U.S. electric grid running on 100 percent green energy by 2030.

The big focus: The NYC bill's requirements focus on buildings over 25,000 square feet, which represent just 2 percent of New York's real estate yet account for about half of emissions from all buildings in the city. Overall, 70 percent of emissions in the city come from buildings.

Buildings that would be bound to the new emissions regulations include One World Trade Center and Trump Tower.

A report by the environmentalist group, Climate Works for all Coalition, ranked the Trump Tower as the fourth biggest energy user amongst all buildings in New York City.

Other measures included in the comprehensive climate package include requirements for certain structures to build green roofs or be equipped with solar panels, measures to ease the construction of wind projects, and a requirement for the city to study how to shut down its 24 utility-scale power plants to be replaced with renewable energy sources and storage.

Supporters eye job gains: The bill's backers say it would produce 40,000 new jobs, of which nearly 25,000 would be in construction.

"I am proud to be a co-sponsor ... as it sets ambitious, comprehensive standards on New York City's worst polluters, old buildings. By modernizing buildings to raise efficiency standards we will dramatically cut pollution long term," said Council Member Ben Kallos, in a statement.

More on NYC's Green New Deal here.

 

ENERGY DEPT. DENIES Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Another VPOTUS tries for POTUS: What does history tell us? MORE IS PLANNING EXIT: The Department of Energy on Wednesday night denied a report that Rick Perry is planning to leave his position as secretary of the agency.

"There is no truth that Perry is departing the Administration any time soon," Department of Energy press secretary Shaylyn Hynes said in a tweet. "He is happy where he is serving President Trump and leading the Department of Energy."

The statement from Hynes came shortly after Bloomberg News reported that Perry was planning his exit from the Trump administration. Bloomberg News, citing two people familiar with the plans, said that the former Texas governor was finalizing the terms and timing of his departure.

The outlet noted that Perry's departure was not imminent, and that he was preparing the agency's deputy secretary, Dan Brouillette, for the transition.

Perry has served as the head of the DOE since being confirmed in March 2017.

He said earlier this month that he had no interest in replacing Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump Citizenship and Immigration Services head out at agency Congressional Hispanic Caucus demands answers on death of migrant children Trump expected to tap Cuccinelli for new immigration post MORE as Homeland Security secretary following her resignation.

More on Perry here.

 

EPA OFFICIAL SAYS AGENCY MAY BAN ASBESTOS: An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official said the agency may ban asbestos near the end of the year.

Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said the agency will complete its risk assessment of asbestos within the three years set out by Congress by the end of 2019.  

"If there is any unreasonable risk, the EPA will regulate, and our regulation could take the form of a ban," Dunn told The Hill.

While asbestos is not widely used in the U.S., some products that contain asbestos are imported into the U.S. for the manufacture other products, including chlorine, some automotive parts, and in the oil drilling process.

But the dangers of asbestos have long been documented: the carcinogen causes illnesses like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Why now?: Dunn's comments come on the heels of releasing a controversial rule Thursday that limited the use of asbestos but stopped short of the ban that many environmental and health groups have called for.

Critics characterized the new rule as a middling effort that didn't do enough to bar a substance almost universally regarded as dangerous.

Dunn's response: Dunn said critics are getting ahead of themselves -- EPA can only ban asbestos after a thorough risk review.

More on the controversy here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

-California dispute threatens plan to protect Colorado River, the Associated Press reports.

-South Carolina Senate votes against oil drilling as fight against Trump plan heats up, The State reports.

-Montana Legislature passes Public Access to Lands Act, from the Billings Gazette.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Stories from Thursday...

-EPA official says agency may ban asbestos

-NYC passes sweeping climate bill likened to 'Green New Deal'

-Ben & Jerry's backs Green New Deal: 'We have to act now'

-Mueller report reveals Russian efforts to target US coal jobs

-Ralph Lauren launches polo shirt made entirely from recycled plastic bottles

-Energy Department denies report that Rick Perry is planning to leave administration