Overnight Energy: Inslee says DNC won't hold climate debate | Democrats fear Trump opening door to mining in Grand Canyon | Interior pick gets surprising support from greens | Ocasio-Cortez says effective climate plan needs $10T

Overnight Energy: Inslee says DNC won't hold climate debate | Democrats fear Trump opening door to mining in Grand Canyon | Interior pick gets surprising support from greens | Ocasio-Cortez says effective climate plan needs $10T
© Getty Images

BREAKING - DNC TELLS INSLEE IT WON'T HOST CLIMATE DEBATE: Presidential hopeful Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeBloomberg, Steyer focus on climate change in effort to stand out Our government and public institutions must protect us against the unvaccinated Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE (D-Wash.) said Wednesday that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has rebuffed his calls for a primary debate focused on climate change.

"Today, my team received a call from the Democratic National Committee letting us know that they will not host a climate debate. Further, they explained that if we participated in anyone else's climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates," Inslee said in a statement.

"This is deeply disappointing. The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time," Inslee continued. "Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party."


The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Why it's important: Climate change has emerged as an important concern for Democratic voters and several 2020 candidates have unveiled sweeping plans to address the issue. Inslee has made addressing climate change a centerpiece of his campaign.

More on the decision here.


Happy Wednesday! And welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. We'll be picking up the newsletter again on Tuesday.

Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com and Rebecca Beitsch, rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @rebeccabeitsch and @thehill.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.


MINING IN THE GRAND CANYON?: Democratic lawmakers are challenging a new Trump administration report they say is a precursor – along with other White House moves -- to opening the Grand Canyon to uranium mining.

Speaking at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing Wednesday, lawmakers challenged the plan, arguing the U.S. did not need to mine for its own uranium – and definitely not at the Grand Canyon.

Why Dems, greens are worried: A Commerce Department report, titled "Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals," released last Tuesday, lays out methods to ensure the federal government is mining what it considers "critical minerals" for national security purposes. In May, the Interior Department added uranium to that list, an action that put many environmentalist and land conservations on edge.

"Even if we agreed with this premise that uranium mining was a national security issue – and I do not agree with that premise – it is important to note that the Grand Canyon region only holds .29 percent of known U.S uranium reserves. That's less than three tenths of one percent of known U.S. uranium reserves," said Rep. Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalIt is time for companies and governments to holistically tackle single-use plastics Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements Both sides of the aisle call for local, state, federal cooperation on homelessness MORE (D-Calif.) at the legislative hearing.

Rep. Debra Haaland (D-N.M.), chair of the Natural Resources subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, said the report appears to jumpstart plans that would expose "tribal communities and Arizonans to the dangerous impacts of uranium mining."

The background: The U.S. currently relies completely on imports to supply its demand for 14 critical minerals, including uranium. President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE in 2017 directed federal agencies through an executive order to determine how to reduce the likelihood of critical mineral supply disruptions, a point echoed in the latest report.

"The United States is heavily dependent on foreign sources of critical minerals and on foreign supply chains resulting in the potential for strategic vulnerabilities to both our economy and military," it reads.

Why the Grand Canyon? Many uranium reserves lie near the Grand Canyon. The national park has been mined for the mineral in the past, but critics say the action caused irreversible environmental damage and threatened the groundwater there.

"Currently over half of our uranium supplies come from our strongest allies, we're talking about Australia and Canada, while the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that we already have access to enough uranium to meet our military needs until 2060," Lowenthal said, arguing the administration was making a weak case for the need of new mining.

Despite a 20-year federal moratorium on the mining of uranium in the U.S. instituted in 2012 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar under the Obama administration, lawmakers and others are seeing the Trump administration's latest move as an assault on the ban. They believe the new rule puts the existing safeguard on the chopping block.

Last June, following backlash from one environmental group, an Interior spokesperson under then-Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeEurope deepens energy dependence on Russia Overnight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks Interior disbands advisory board that floated privatization at national parks MORE tweeted, "The Secretary has no intention to revisit uranium mining in and around the canyon and has made exactly zero moves to suggest otherwise."

Read more here.


A TRUMP PICK GREENS ACTUALLY LIKE: President Trump's most recent Interior Department nominee is garnering support from an unexpected group: environmentalists.

Robert Wallace, nominated to help oversee the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service (NPS), is bucking the trend of opposition from green groups, even though he ticks several boxes that would otherwise draw a strong rebuke from environmentalists: He's a Trump appointee, earns thousands of dollars from stock in the oil industry and spent nearly two decades as a lobbyist for General Electric Energy.

Wallace currently works as president of the Upper Green River Conservancy and as a partner at the investment firm i2Capital.

The Wyoming native testified this week before the two Senate committees that oversee Interior.

In addition to words of praise from Republicans and some Democrats, several environmental groups said they plan to endorse Wallace, citing his background and their experience working with him. His work on protecting habitat for the sage-grouse also seems to have won over a number of green groups.

The National Park Conservation Association (NPCA), Ducks Unlimited and the National Wildlife Refuge Association all have or will endorse Wallace. Other groups are staying silent instead of opposing his nomination.

"In NPCA's experience, Wallace understands the many diverse opinions surrounding national parks and has shown his commitment to inclusive community-based dialogue and solutions," the association wrote in a letter to senators.

In confirmed, Wallace would be the first assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks since 2011.

Read more here.


AOC WANTS $10 TRILLION FOR CLIMATE PLANS: Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden lines up high-profile surrogates to campaign in Iowa New economic confidence polls show why Bernie won't win the White House Ocasio-Cortez rips 'public charge' decision: 'The American Dream isn't a private club with a cover charge' MORE (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that any plan to sufficiently address the climate crisis will need to cost at least $10 trillion.

"I think we really need to get to $10 trillion to have a shot," the progressive firebrand said in response to a question from The Hill in the Capitol.

"I know it's a ton," she added. "I don't think anyone wants to spend that amount of money, it's not a fun number to say, I'm not excited to say we need to spend $10 trillion on climate, but ... it's just the fact of the scenario."

Ocasio-Cortez, who helped popularize a set of principles known as the Green New Deal, said that of all the climate plans from the Democratic presidential candidates, she was most supportive of proposals from Gov. Jay Inslee (Wash.), which surpassed $5 trillion, and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden on whether Sanders can unify party as nominee: 'It depends' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — HHS has no plans to declare emergency over coronavirus | GOP senator calls for travel ban to stop outbreak | Warren releases plan to contain infectious diseases Biden lines up high-profile surrogates to campaign in Iowa MORE (Mass.), who included a $2 trillion green manufacturing element.

She was also encouraged that 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe BidenJoe BidenPerry delegation talking points stressed pushing Ukraine to deal with 'corruption' GOP senator airs anti-Biden ad in Iowa amid impeachment trial Biden photobombs live national news broadcast at one of his rallies MORE had put out a $5 trillion climate plan, though she criticized the former vice president's proposal for having less-ambitious goals and timelines than others.

All the plans in question could go further, however, she added.

"I think the entire field of climate plans still needs to be pushed," she said. "I think it just needs to be pushed in terms of the scientific scale, that is scientifically supported in what we need to solve this problem."

Ocasio-Cortez, whose backing would be a prize for 2020 Democrats seeking the progressive vote, acknowledged that her climate plan price tag would be derided as unrealistic, but argued that it was in line with the scale of the threat.

Read more here.


WHEELER'S LATEST MEDIA CRITICISM: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy: Critics question data behind new Trump water rule | Groups seek more time to comment on Trump environmental rollback | EPA under scrutiny over backlog of toxic waste cleanups Critics question data used in rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections Overnight Energy: Trump issues rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections | Pelosi slams new rule as 'an outrageous assault' | Trump water policy exposes sharp divides MORE is accusing two media outlets of "colluding" with a top environmental group following a tweet criticizing his earlier remarks.

Speaking to a panel of scientists and industry representatives Wednesday, Wheeler went off script to "caution" the experts to be wary of what they read in the media.

"I did a speech on Monday at the National Press Club. Things that I said -- well, actually I didn't even say it. A reporter for Yahoo News put out a tweet with a made-up quote attributed to me," Wheeler told the audience.

Wheeler was referencing a tweet by Alexander Nazaryan, a national correspondent for Yahoo News, who was in attendance at the Monday meeting.

Wheeler's speech earlier in the week chastised reporters for failing to report on the "positive" aspects of EPA's environmental regulation achievements. The administrator made the comments before being pelted with questions about recent regulatory rollbacks done under President Trump having to do with methane, carbon and car emissions.

The Yahoo News reporter tweeted: "'The media does a disservice to the American public' by reporting on global warming, says EPA head Andrew Wheeler. Wants more positive coverage."

The tweet was later retweeted and commented on by two New York Times employees as well as the Sierra Club. Wheeler and the EPA have said the tweet insinuates incorrectly that his comments were about climate change.

"The quote was then later retweeted by two reporters by The New York Times. That tweet was then used by a fundraising mechanism by the Sierra Club, which makes me wonder if those reporters were colluding with the Sierra Club for fundraising purposes," Wheeler said.

The Sierra Club promptly hit back at Wheeler's comment on Wednesday.

"A former coal lobbyist working for Trump and regularly meeting with and doing the bidding of fossil fuel executives fits the very definition of collusion. Meeting with auto execs before rolling back fuel economy standards or taking direction from your former coal exec boss before rolling back the Clean Power Plan is collusion," Sierra Club Resist Campaign Director Maura Cowley said in a statement to The Hill.

"When lives are at stake, our country cannot afford to have an EPA administrator in cahoots with corporate polluters who makes baseless accusations to cover up that reality."

Wheeler's comments came a day after the EPA's press department sent an email blast to reporters challenging the accuracy of Nazaryan's tweet. The blunt email sent Tuesday, labeled "media fact check," alleged that "Yahoo News decided to deliberately spread false information on twitter by misreporting Administrator Wheeler's comments."

"Not once in his speech, did Administrator Wheeler call on ignoring global warming," the EPA email read. "This false tweet was aggregated by reporters from the New York Times who failed to fact check the tweet for its veracity, but rather used the inaccurate information to advance on their own narrative."

Read more here.



The Science Advisory Board has its second day of meetings to discuss PFAS chemicals and the Waters of the United States rule.



A strong bipartisan vote for wind power in Connecticut, CT Mirror reports.

Coffee won't need cancer warning in California after all, Bloomberg reports.

$700 million in oil spill money slated for Louisiana roadwork, The Times-Picayune reports.



Stories from Wednesday...

Dem lawmakers blast Trump for opening door to mining in Grand Canyon

EPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste

Trump's latest Interior pick wins unexpected support from environmentalists

Ocasio-Cortez: $10 trillion needed for effective climate plan

EPA head accuses reporters, green group of 'colluding' on press coverage

UN: Over 2M Somalis at risk of starvation after months-long drought

Carnival Cruise line ordered to pay $20M for environmental violations

Trump dismisses Prince Charles's climate concerns, says weather changes 'both ways'

2020 hopeful Jay Inslee unveils plan to boost US role in climate future