Overnight Energy: Dems challenge Trump UN nominee on climate change | Senators seek probe into head of EPA air office | UN report warns 1 million species threatened by extinction

Overnight Energy: Dems challenge Trump UN nominee on climate change | Senators seek probe into head of EPA air office | UN report warns 1 million species threatened by extinction
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DEMS SAY KEEP HER IN CANADA: Three Senate Democrats on Friday called on Kelly Craft, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE's nominee to serve as United Nations ambassador, to commit to prioritizing U.S. interests on climate change over her financial interests.

In the letter, Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks Markey releases infrastructure suggestions that align with Green New Deal goals GOP senator announces bill to block companies from tracking online activity MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs MORE (D-Ore.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss MORE (D-R.I.) submitted a series of questions to Kelly Craft, who currently serves as the U.S. ambassador to Canada and was formally nominated for the U.N. ambassador position last week.

The senators, in the letter, note Craft's ties to the energy industry through more than $60 million in fossil fuel investments, as well as her husband Joe Craft, CEO of coal producer Alliance Resource Partners.

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"As our U.N. Ambassador, you would be responsible for representing the United States at the United Nations on matters affecting international cooperation and action to address the climate crisis," the senators wrote.

"[W]e need assurances that, in connection with U.N. activities related to climate change, you will put our nation's interests ahead of your personal financial interests," they wrote.

Specifically, the letter asks whether Craft acknowledges climate change exists and is caused by human activity, whether she agrees with Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and whether U.S. adherence to international climate agreements would impact her financial interests.

Read more here.

 

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ANOTHER CONFLICT OF INTEREST?: Two Democratic senators are calling for another probe into the head of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) air office after comments from an old lobbying client were incorporated verbatim in an EPA memo.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss MORE (Del.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I) have requested an investigation of EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum and his deputy chief David Harlow, both former lobbyists for Hunton Andrews Kurth.

Both men signed a pledge to recuse themselves from dealing with former clients, but Whitehouse and Carper think those pledges may have been violated.

Clients at Hunton included the Air Permitting Forum, a coalition based at the firm that may include former clients of Wehrum and Harlow. Though the men have recused themselves from clients, they do not appear to have recused themselves from dealing with the forum.

"These groups are just another avenue for industry to surreptitiously exert its influence over EPA," the senators wrote in a release. "Clearly there is a systemic issue at the EPA Office of Air and Radiation. There appears to be no end to the sham associations housed at Bill Wehrum and David Harlow's former law firm that now have a direct line to power."

The senators point to a 2017 EPA memo that was issued just months after then-Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOn The Money: New financial disclosures provide glimpse of Trump's wealth | Walmart, Macy's say tariffs will mean price hikes | Consumer agency says Education Department blocking student loan oversight Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses MORE called for input on what EPA regulations should be repealed.

The Air Permitting Forum responded to that call, arguing that companies should only be held responsible for pollution for which they are the predominant cause.

Identical text was used just a few months later in a memo that reversed the EPA's position in litigation against DTE Energy Company, one of Harlow's clients while employed at Hunton.

Read more here.

 

WE'RE THE WORST: As many as 1 million species of plants and animals face extinction, with human activity contributing to the threats to nature, according to a United Nations report released Monday.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released its first comprehensive report on biodiversity, which found species loss is rapidly increasing, but that it is not too late to make meaningful changes to address the problem.

"The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide," said Robert Watson, a British chemist who chaired the U.N. panel.

"The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global," Watson added.

He said it would require "transformative change" to conserve and restore natural habitats, including shifting economic patterns, social habits and other factors.

The report cited five specific ways humans are contributing to habitat loss and threatening some species with extinction. It notes that humans are developing forests, overfishing in the oceans, polluting land and water, contributing to climate change with the use of fossil fuels and allowing invasive species to threaten native plants and animals.

Read more on the dire report here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt will be back before Congress as House appropriators dig into the budget for the Department of Interior.  

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Virginia governor signs budget that restricts carbon-reduction efforts, we report.

New North Dakota tax incentive aims to attract petrochemical industry, the Bismarck Tribune reports.

New Jersey governor signs law protecting public beach access, we report.

A report found that PFAS water contamination is widespread across the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report.

 

ICYMI:

Stories from Monday and over the weekend...

Climate change emerges as leading issue for 2020 Dems

Ocasio-Cortez to headline Green New Deal rally in Washington, DC

Pompeo 'can't rank' climate change on list of national security threats

UN: 1 million species threatened with extinction by humans

Va. governor signs budget that restricts carbon-reduction efforts

Senate Dems challenge Trump's UN nominee on climate change

Dem senators call for probe into EPA officials over memo language