Overnight Energy: Senate confirms one Trump Interior pick | Vote on second controversial nominee awaits | Mayors commit to buying electric vehicles | Second Democratic debate largely avoids climate change

Overnight Energy: Senate confirms one Trump Interior pick | Vote on second controversial nominee awaits | Mayors commit to buying electric vehicles | Second Democratic debate largely avoids climate change

ONE TRUMP NOM IS IN, THE OTHER WAITS: The Senate late Thursday night approved a Trump Interior Department nominee that has proven popular with Democrats and Republicans.

Rob Wallace is the first assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks since 2011, a position that oversees both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

Wallace stood out in his confirmation process after a long line of controversial picks to a department that has faced numerous ethics controversies since President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE took office. 

"Rob has the right experience and real commitment to serve in this important role," Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTo stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US GOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-Wyo.) said of the Wyoming native. "He will do an outstanding job. He has worked to conserve wildlife and protect our national parks in both Wyoming and Washington."

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

Some environmental groups raised questions about Wallace's nearly two decades as a lobbyist for General Electric Energy and income from stock in the oil industry, but many conservation groups offered letters in support of his nomination. 

The Senate also confirmed Aimee Jorjani to a post on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Like Wallace, Jorjani received words of praise from Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee

Her husband, Daniel Jorjani, has also been nominated to a position at Interior reviewed by that committee, but he does not enjoy bipartisan support.

Daniel Jorjani, currently the top lawyer for Interior, has been nominated to fill the vacant role as solicitor for the department.  

But he has been criticized by Democrats for his role in Interior's controversial public records review process and responses to questions about it they said lacked candor.

"The solicitor must uphold the law above all else about, above party politics and ideology. That was not the sense I got" about Jorjani, said Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Fallout from Kavanaugh confirmation felt in Washington one year later MORE (D-W.Va.), the committee's ranking Democrat.

Read more on the Interior nominations here.

 

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IT'S ELECTRIC (BOOGIE WOOGIE WOOGIE): Mayors from across the country are committing to buying more than 2,100 electric vehicles -- including school buses -- by 2020 to fill out local government fleets.

The pledge was made by 127 cities across 38 states who have banded together to form a purchasing bloc, known as the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative, in order to get better pricing on the vehicles.

"The clean transportation revolution is not a distant vision for the far-off future -- it's a reality hitting the streets of Los Angeles and cities around the world," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), who founded the group in 2018, said in a release. "By pooling our purchasing power, Climate Mayors are sending a powerful message to the global car market: if you build electric vehicles, we will buy them."

The collaborative estimates that by replacing aging vehicles with electric ones, the cities will collectively cut gas consumption by 1 million gallons a year.

The collaborative is especially interested in buying electric school buses and transit buses to replace current gas-guzzlers. School buses get around 6 mpg while transit buses get a little over 3 mpg, according to the Department of Energy. 

The mayors say that switching to more electric vehicles will help them "cut emissions and fight climate change from the bottom-up."

Read more on the effort here.

 

DEBATES DODGE CLIMATE (AGAIN): The second night of Democratic presidential primary debates largely steered clear of climate change, drawing pushback from some green groups that had hoped to see the issue take center stage.

The topic saw roughly seven minutes of airtime during the two-hour debate.

The length of time devoted to the debates angered climate activists who have for months been calling for a debate devoted entirely to the issue.

"Another debate, another climate section the length of a bathroom break," tweeted the Sunrise Movement, a youth advocate-driven group focused on climate issues. 

"By not discussing climate nearly enough, this debate allowed candidates to hide behind vague promises of climate action," Friends of the Earth tweeted after the debate.

Sunrise Movement and other environmental groups like the Sierra Club, along with candidates such as Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeCNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate 2020 Presidential Candidates Warren environmental justice plan focuses third of climate investment on disadvantaged communities MORE, have called repeatedly for a debate devoted solely to climate change. 

But the Democratic National Committee has rejected those calls, with chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE saying, "It's just not practical."

Inslee, a long shot presidential hopeful who appeared in the first round of debates on Wednesday, renewed his call for a climate-focused debate following Thursday's round.

"Fifteen minutes in four hours of debate is not enough time for candidates to put forward the bold plans needed to defeat climate change," he said in a statement.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio New study: Full-scale 'Medicare for All' costs trillion over 10 years MORE, Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Warren leads in speaking time during debate MORE (D-Calif) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio New study: Full-scale 'Medicare for All' costs trillion over 10 years MORE (I-Vt.) were asked to weigh in on their climate plans. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio New study: Full-scale 'Medicare for All' costs trillion over 10 years MORE, former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperGardner dodges questions about Trump's call for Biden probe 2020 Presidential Candidates Krystal Ball: Yang campaign a 'triumph of substance over the theatre' MORE, and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Hunter Biden speaks out amid Ukraine controversy 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the October showdown 2020 Presidential Candidates MORE also offered their proposals surrounding the issue.

Harris, who referred to climate change as a crisis and reiterated her support for the Green New Deal, attacked President Trump for his lack of leadership on the issue.

"The fact that we have a President of the United States who embraces science fiction over science fact will be to our collective peril," she said.

Biden broke down some of the expenses of his $5 trillion climate plan, saying he would insist on installing 500,000 charging stations across the U.S. so that the nation could reach "a full electric vehicle future" by 2030. He added that he wants to invest $400 million in green energy research.

Hickenlooper stressed his past work with the oil and gas industry to reduce methane emissions, but cautioned against demonizing businesses.

Read more on last night's debate.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

-Towns across globe hit record setting highs, The Washington Post reports

-Paris bans up to 60 percent of its cars as heatwave worsens pollution, Reuters reports

-Venezuelans charged in US over energy contract bribes, Bloomberg reports.

 

ICYMI:

Stories from Friday...

Senate confirms one Trump Interior pick, but vote on controversial nominee awaits

Mayors across country commit to buying electric vehicles

Trump administration unveils new details about July Fourth fireworks, flyover

Palm Beach bans plastic bags and polystyrene containers

Second Democratic debate largely steers clear of climate change