Overnight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members| Green groups want freeze on Keystone construction| Bernhardt sworn in as Secretary of Interior

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 RooneyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants House approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran 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 Environment.

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

"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 DeutchBipartisan group of lawmakers invites colleagues to tour DC's Holocaust museum GOP senator presses Instagram, Facebook over alleged bias in content recommendations Overnight Defense: Senate rejects effort to restrict Trump on Iran | Democrats at debate vow to shore up NATO | Senate confirms chief of Space Command 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."

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 CurbeloDemocratic lawmaker pushes back on Castro's call to repeal law making illegal border crossings a crime The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz 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 it here.

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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 TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE issued a new presidential pipeline permit for the Keystone XL pipeline to replace the 2017 permit currently held up in courts due to lacking 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 organizations who say they are likely to be impacted by the controversial pipeline’s construction, argue the move is transparent avoidance of 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 Sec. Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkePuerto Rican police fire tear gas at crowds protesting governor Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West 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.


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.

How Some Teachers In Alaska Are Tackling The Subject Of Climate Change, NPR explains.

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


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