Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — House Republican tries to force Green New Deal vote | 'Awkward' hearing to vet Interior nominee and watchdog | House panel approves bill to stop drilling in Arctic refuge

Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — House Republican tries to force Green New Deal vote | 'Awkward' hearing to vet Interior nominee and watchdog | House panel approves bill to stop drilling in Arctic refuge
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HOUSE REPUBLICAN PUSHES FOR GREEN NEW DEAL VOTE: GOP Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceGOP lawmakers, states back gunmaker in Sandy Hook appeal GOP lawmakers call for provisions barring DOD funds for border wall to be dropped House conservatives call for ethics probe into Joaquin Castro tweet MORE (Ga.) on Wednesday introduced a discharge petition aimed at circumventing Democratic leadership and forcing a vote on the progressive-backed Green New Deal.

Hice, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he is hoping to gain at least 20 Democratic signatures to reach the 218 needed to utilize the procedural tool.

"I'm not gonna put any Democrats on the spot right now, I've had some positive conversations but we'll see," Hice told The Hill. "There are 92 Democrats that have co-sponsored the Green New Deal so hopefully some of them will come on board and call for a vote."

The politics at play: The move is the latest ploy by the GOP to force Democrats to go on the record on a controversial issue -- a tactic that could place swing district members on the other side of the aisle in a difficult position.

Nearly 100 Democrats in the lower chamber have signed on as co-sponsors to the Green New Deal, a resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMarkey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan MORE (D-N.Y.) that aims to build a green energy-focused economy by transitioning the U.S. electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy.

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The climate plan came into the spotlight with the meteoric rise of Ocasio-Cortez as a growing progressive force. Nearly every 2020 Democratic White House hopeful has embraced the tenets of the resolution in some way.

The plan has also divided Democrats, however, with some taking issue with its broadness as well as concerns over costs to implement.

Dems push back: Ocasio-Cortez and other backers of the House resolution have not called for a floor vote and have instead said it's messaging focused and was never meant to be passed.

She has called Republican plans a political maneuver.

"This is very similar, this is a mirroring tactic to what [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] was doing in the Senate. To not hold a single hearing just shows that they aren't taking this problem seriously," Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill.

McConnell forced a vote on the resolution in March, a political move meant to highlight a divide among Democrats over the issue.

Despite spearheading the efforts on the proposal, Ocasio-Cortez encouraged Democrats in the upper chamber to vote present as a show of togetherness. Progressives blasted McConnell for engaging in political theater and argued the proposal warranted a hearing. It ultimately failed to advance in the Senate.

Now Republicans are attempting to force a similar tactic in the House.

We've got more here.

 

 

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

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HEARING WILL VET INTERIOR LAWYER... AND THE OFFICIAL TO INVESTIGATE HIM: A Senate panel will hold a confirmation hearing Thursday for two top posts at the Department of Interior: the agency's top lawyer and the inspector general who is likely to investigate him amid the legal and ethical issues facing Secretary David Bernhardt.

Both nominees -- Daniel Jorjani, already the Trump administration's top lawyer for the department, and Mark Lee Greenblatt, who works in the Commerce Department's inspector general's office -- are scheduled to appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where they will be seated next to each other at the witness table.

"It'll be as interesting or as awkward as the senators choose to make it," said Aaron Weiss, deputy director at The Center for Western Priorities, a public lands advocacy group. "Daniel Jorjani has been at David Bernhardt's side the entire time. So all the investigations into Bernhardt touch Jorjani some way."

"Part of the irony is that Jorjani will be up there testifying, sitting next to the guy whose job it will be to investigate Jorjani," he added.

In for a grilling: Jorjani will likely face a long line of questioning about his current role as principal deputy solicitor. With no solicitor confirmed during Trump's tenure, Jorjani has been the top lawyer for the department, advising both Bernhardt and former Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeInterior gains new watchdog The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks BLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument MORE on a number of legal and ethical issues.

He has also served as the chief public records officer for the department.

Anne Weismann, chief FOIA counsel for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said having a top department lawyer oversee records requests is highly unusual.

"Agencies typically strive to have a line of separation between political level people and the FOIA processing staff," she said, adding that doing otherwise can taint the process. "We're already talking about an agency that's taking affirmative steps to hide their actions from the public."

Interior's side: Faith Vander Voort, a spokeswoman for Interior, said the positions were combined "to demonstrate the Department's commitment to meeting the requirement that the American people have access to information regarding how the government conducts official business."

Read more on the hearing here.

 

HOUSE PANEL VOTES TO STOP OIL DRILLING IN ARCTIC REFUGE: A House panel approved a bill Wednesday that would block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), advancing a key Democratic priority.

The bill approved by Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee repeals a controversial provision included in President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE's 2017 tax law.

The provision opened up the sought-after Alaskan land to oil and gas drilling, prompting backlash from environmentalists who have long used protecting the area as a rallying cry.

"This bill reflects a simple proposition, and that is there are some places too wild, too important, too special to be spoiled by oil and gas development. The Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain is one of those special places," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanThe Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution Democrats bicker over strategy on impeachment Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year MORE (D-Calif.), said in a statement.

"In the face of climate change, let's not mess up one of the few good things that are still going."

What's next: The bill not heads to the House floor for a vote, though it is unclear if such a vote might take place.

If passed, the bill would face significant hurdles in the Republican-led Senate, which committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said snuck drilling provisions into the tax bill.

"We have to provide the American people with a choice, a bet to save ANWR. I don't know how [Republicans] are going to defend it. They did it in the middle of the night; they stuck it to a bill it didn't belong in. No hearings, nothing," Grijalva said. "They did it in a very sneaky way, underhanded way, so what we did today was out in the open, we had a good debate about it."

Read more on the measure here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

The House is expected to vote Thursday to pass the Climate Action Now Act. The bill is anticipated to be the first climate bill passed in the lower chamber in a decade. It would bind the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing examining the

nominations of Daniel Jorjani to be Interior Department solicitor, and Mark Greenblatt to be Interior Department inspector general.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

-Your gas stove is bad for you and the planet, The New York Times reports

-Gas that makes a mountain breathe fire is turning up around the world, The New York Times reports

-UK Parliament declares 'climate emergency', CNN reports

 

ICYMI:

Stories from Wednesday...

-Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingIowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats Ocasio-Cortez rips Steve King after he shares video drinking from toilet-fountain hybrid at border Steve King says he drank from toilet at detention center MORE: One 'good side' of climate change could be shrinking deserts

-'Awkward' hearing will vet Interior lawyer and the official slated to investigate him

-GOP rep moves to force Green New Deal vote

-House panel votes to stop oil drilling in Arctic refuge

-Maine becomes first state to ban sale of Styrofoam

-EPA says weed-killing chemical does not cause cancer, contradicting juries

-Scientists say world's largest ice shelf is melting 10 times faster than average