Overnight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members | Greens want freeze on Keystone construction | Bernhardt sworn in as Interior chief

Overnight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members | Greens want freeze on Keystone construction | Bernhardt sworn in as Interior chief
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ARE YOU GREEN ENOUGH? Leaders of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus are considering adding criteria to ensure new recruits are green enough to join, according to Bloomberg Environment.

Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyOvernight Energy: House moves to block Trump drilling | House GOP rolls out proposal to counter offshore drilling ban | calls mount for NOAA probe House approves two bills to block Trump drilling This week: Congress returns for first time since mass shootings MORE (R-Fla.) said he wants the caucus to consider including "commitment levels," though he's not sure how to measure a potential new member's dedication to the environment.

"We're going to try and call a caucus meeting, have a big discussion about the idea of commitment and if so how would it be defined," the group's co-chairman told Bloomberg.

The criteria could reportedly range from an acknowledgment of how humans affect global warming to a review of financial ties to the energy industry.

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"The idea of a 'commitment criteria' has been discussed, but nothing has been settled yet," Jason Atterman, a spokesman for Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchGun epidemic is personal for lawmakers touched by violence House panel advances anti-gun violence legislation Gun debate to shape 2020 races MORE (D-Fla.), a co-founder of the caucus, told The Hill. "Reps. Deutch and Rooney are continuing to meet on the caucus and determine the best way forward to ensure it is an effective caucus."

How the caucus breaks down: The Republican side of the caucus is lagging in numbers. The group was established in 2016 by Deutch and now-former Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloPelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's Morning Report - Congress returns: What to expect Wave of GOP retirements threatens 2020 comeback MORE (R-Fla.) with 45 members from each party, but the 2018 midterm elections proved particularly damaging for caucus Republicans.

Twenty-seven GOP members retired or were voted out, compared to just eight Democrats.

Read more on talk of a litmus test here.

 

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

Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com and Rebecca Beitsch, rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @rebeccabeitsch and @thehill.

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GREEN GROUPS WANT FREEZE ON KEYSTONE CONSTRUCTION: Environmental groups are asking a federal court to uphold a freeze on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite a new Trump administration permit that seeks to circumvent the order.

In a motion filed Wednesday with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Northern Plains Resource Council and Fort Belknap Indian Community asked the court to reject requests by the Trump administration to dismiss the case.

Last month, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE issued a new presidential pipeline permit for the Keystone XL pipeline to replace the 2017 permit currently held up in courts due to an insufficient environmental review. The administration argued the old permit would therefore be moot. Earlier this month, the federal government and TransCanada, the company behind the proposed project, filed requests to have the case dismissed.

"The Court should not allow this gamesmanship. This case is not moot simply because there is a new permit for the same pipeline. There is no dispute that the law requires environmental review for this project, yet State and Defendant U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (collectively "Federal Defendants") have not remedied the violations found by the district court," the groups said in their brief.

The landowner groups who say they are likely to be impacted by the controversial pipeline's construction, argue the move is an attempt to circumvent the court. And would prime TransCanada to start construction of the pipeline immediately.

"The goal of this action was plain: to divest this Court of jurisdiction over the pending

appeal and circumvent the district court's orders invalidating the project's

environmental review documents and enjoining construction," the groups wrote in their brief.

Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes called the Trump administration's move "shameless."

"We're urging the court to protect the American people by ensuring that construction on this dirty tar sands pipeline does not begin without a thorough accounting of the risks it would pose to our climate and communities."

The White House did not return a request for comment.

 

BERNHARDT IN: Sworn in just yesterday, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is catching heat for the lack of pomp and circumstance surrounding the event--mainly that it took place out of sight of the public.

Bernhardt was joined by his family as well as a few department employees, an Interior spokeswoman said, but the Western Values Project, a public lands advocacy group, drew comparisons between the closed-door ceremony and a lack of transparency from Bernhardt, citing investigations into potential ethics violations.

While Bernhardt's swearing in might be described as low key, it's a sharp contrast to former Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeThe Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks BLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument New policy at Interior's in-house watchdog clamps down on interactions with press MORE's public event, which aired on C-SPAN.

Then again, the typical way to kick off your new job as a cabinet secretary probably falls somewhere in between a private swear in and riding a horse to your first day of work.

 

STATE WATCH: This week has seen a number of states pass increasingly ambitious green energy goals.

-Washington will require 100 percent clean energy by 2045, joining Hawaii and California and others in a commitment to run entirely on clean energy.

-Nevada may get there as well: the state legislature passed a bill to require 50 percent renewables by 2030 and to be 100 percent carbon free by 2050.

-New Mexico has already passed a law requiring utilities get all energy from renewable and carbon-free resources by 2045. But this week the state's largest utility said it expects to reach that goal by 2040.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION: The return of Iran sanctions will work against Trump's oil objectives, writes William M. Arnold, a professor of energy management at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Manchin considering a run for governor, MetroNews reports.

The UK has already had more wildfires in 2019 than any year on record, New Scientist reports.

NPR explains how some teachers in Alaska are tackling the subject of climate change.

Thousands of private wells have unsafe levels of bacteria, nitrates, a new study says.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Stories from Wednesday...

California cities have highest levels of air pollution in US: study

Ford investing $500 million in electric vehicle startup

Oregon governor names big game hunter to board that oversees grey wolf management

Thousands sign petition to bring back McDonald's plastic straws after paper ones 'collapse' in drinks

Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members

Oklahoma governor signs law banning bans on plastic bags