Overnight Energy: Biden at bottom of green group's climate rankings | Ex-Interior chief Zinke won't rule out return to politics | Sierra Club to commit resources to help 100 candidates in 2020

Overnight Energy: Biden at bottom of green group's climate rankings | Ex-Interior chief Zinke won't rule out return to politics | Sierra Club to commit resources to help 100 candidates in 2020

BIDEN AT THE BOTTOM: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Juan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete MORE is trailing most of his Democratic presidential competitors in a newly released ranking of climate records.

Biden tied for last place with former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperKrystal Ball dismisses Rahm Emanuel's 'Medicare for All' criticism as a 'corporatist mantra' Trump says remark about Colorado border wall was made 'kiddingly' Colorado governor mocks Trump for saying he's building wall there MORE (D) and Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanStrategists say Warren 'Medicare for All' plan could appeal to centrists Trump mocks O'Rourke after Democrat drops out of race The Memo: What the leading 2020 Dems need to do MORE (D-Ohio) with a grade of D-minus, putting him behind other White House hopefuls such as Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal Women who inspired 'Hidden Figures' film will be honored with congressional gold medals MORE (Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Poll: Biden support hits record low of 26 percent The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump demands Bidens testify MORE (N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race MORE (Mass.).

The rankings, released by Greenpeace on Thursday, took into consideration factors such as statements, legislative records, published plans and responses to a survey. The report card looked at the 19 candidates who have so far qualified for the first Democratic primary debate in June.

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeO'Rourke ends presidential bid Sunrise Movement organizer: Sanders, Warren boast strongest climate change plans Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate MORE (D) took the top position with an A-minus. Inslee is running primarily on climate action as his presidential platform.

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Booker and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal MORE (I-Vt.) both earned grades of B-plus, putting them just behind Inslee to round out the top three spots.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate panel clears controversial Trump court pick Advocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths Harris proposes keeping schools open for 10 hours a day MORE (D-N.Y.), who came in fourth place, said in her survey response that she would champion transitioning the U.S. to 100 percent clean energy in 10 years by 2030. Her 10-year plan would include decarbonizing buildings, the industrial sector and the transportation industry. It's the first timeline commitment from Gillibrand, who has not released a comprehensive climate plan.

Grades were largely determined by a candidate's commitment to reject campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry, embrace the progressive climate action plan known as the Green New Deal, and timelines for seeking to transition the U.S. to a renewable electric grid.

Read more about the rankings here.

 

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WHAT ANIMAL WOULD ZINKE RIDE IN ON THIS TIME?: Former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics Overnight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule MORE is not ruling out a return to politics despite leaving the Trump administration marred by ethical issues.

"The president didn't want me to leave. I may or may not go back into the administration at a later time," Zinke told the Houston Chronicle. "I believe in the president's vision of making sure America is strong and not held hostage. The world is a lot safer when America is strong."

Zinke told the Chronicle he was open to returning to Washington after the 2020 elections.

The former Navy SEAL and Montana congressman announced he would leave his post at the Department of the Interior in December of last year, following a string of ethics investigations.

Zinke's behavior spurred more than a dozen investigations into his conduct in office, including probes into whether he improperly blocked an American Indian casino project after a competitor's lobbying and scrutiny over a land deal involving a foundation he led and a company backed by David Lesar, chairman of oilfield services company Halliburton.

Interior's Office of Inspector General also found that Zinke violated department policies by letting his wife travel in government vehicles, but the office cleared him of potential violations related to his official travel, including flying on a jet owned by an oil executive and using a private plane on a trip that included a political fundraiser.

Zinke was dismissive of the investigations.

"There's an allegation and the opposition demands an investigation with great fanfare," he said. "Washington has become a city that has a lot of anger, a lot of hatred, a lot of fake news and false allegations. The two sides are trying to destroy each other rather than work together."

 

'CLIMATE CHAMPIONS FROM CITY COUNCILS TO THE WHITE HOUSE': The Sierra Club on Thursday said it plans to have staff and volunteers back the efforts of 100 yet-to-be-selected campaigns across the country, making it the latest green group to commit significant resources to help elect candidates who vow to take action on climate change.

"2020 will be the climate election of our lifetimes, and the Sierra Club will be mounting our biggest effort ever," Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement. "The climate crisis is here and now, yet Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE and his enablers are endangering our health and our communities while abandoning the booming clean energy economy. That's why, along with our more than 3.5 million members and supporters, the Sierra Club will be engaging and mobilizing voters to elect climate champions from city councils to the White House."

Environmental groups are pushing to make sure climate change is a central focus of the 2020 elections. What started as an effort by environmentalists for a climate-centered debate has now become a rallying cry from some Democratic presidential campaigns and echoed by sitting senators.

The groups have also banded together to raise funds for the eventual 2020 Democratic nominee. Green groups launched the Beat Trump Presidential Climate Unity Fund in April, with the goal of raising $1 million to hand over to the future ticket leader.

Read more about the effort here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Oregon moving closer to temporary fracking ban, Bloomberg reports.

Florida senators back push for federal help with red tide, we report.

New Hampshire sues 3M, DuPont, six other companies over PFAS contamination, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

Raleigh goes underground to find stink-free solution to downtown trash carts, the News & Observer reports.

South Carolina passes bill to bar offshore drilling on its coast, WCBD reports.

Minnesota program will pay homeowners to transform lawns into bee gardens, we report.

 

ICYMI:

Stories from Thursday...

Sierra Club says it will commit resources to help 100 candidates next year

Biden at bottom of list in environmental group's climate rankings

Ex-Interior Secretary Zinke hasn't ruled out a return to politics: report

Minnesota program will pay homeowners to transform lawns into bee gardens

Florida senators back push for federal help with red tide