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 TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist 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 MarkeyHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Senators press FTC over 'woefully inadequate' Facebook settlement Head of miners union calls Green New Deal's main goal 'almost impossible' MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrat releasing book on Trump admin's treatment of migrants at border Sunday shows - Amash, immigration dominate Merkley on delaying endorsement: 'We have a different set of cards this time' MORE (D-Ore.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip 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 CarperFighting the opioid epidemic: Congress can't just pass laws, but must also push to enforce them Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules when appointing industry leaders to science boards 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 PruittOvernight 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 Democrats, scientists slam Trump administration actions on scientific boards Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits 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