Overnight Energy: Oregon governor threatens executive action on climate after GOP walkout | US coal company files for bankruptcy | Greens sue EPA over pollution rules tied to animal waste | Last month was hottest June on record

Overnight Energy: Oregon governor threatens executive action on climate after GOP walkout | US coal company files for bankruptcy | Greens sue EPA over pollution rules tied to animal waste | Last month was hottest June on record
© Getty

OREGON GOV DOUBLES DOWN ON CLIMATE BILL: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said that she is prepared to use her executive powers to cut carbon emissions after a landmark climate bill was killed in the state legislature following a walkout staged by Republican lawmakers.

"Let me be very, very clear: I am not backing down," Brown told reporters while discussing House Bill 2020 at a press conference on Monday, just days after the sweeping climate bill, which sought to cap greenhouse gas emissions in the state, was killed. 

"Working on legislation is my preferred approach; collaborating across the aisle and around the state," she said, according to The Willamette Week. "However, given the uncertainty that now permeates Oregon's political system, I am also directing my staff and agencies to explore alternative paths in case these collaborative approaches do not lead to successful legislation.

ADVERTISEMENT

"This includes the use of my executive powers and direction of state agencies," she added.

Republican lawmakers in the Oregon Senate returned to the chamber on Saturday following their nine-day walkout in opposition to the bill.

Though the bill had already passed the Oregon House and Brown had indicated support for the measure, a number of Republicans fled the state capitol in efforts to deny their Senate colleagues a quorum to vote on the major climate bill.

Once it was revealed that Democrats, who hold the majority in the state Senate, were unable to gather the necessary votes in their chamber to send the statewide carbon cap bill to Brown's desk for signature, Republicans returned to vote on a motion to send the proposal to committee. The 17-10 vote effectively killed the measure for the legislative session.

Republican state senators cited concerns that the bill would harm "energy intensive, trade-exposed" businesses in local rural communities as reason for their opposition to the legislation.

Read more on the fight in Oregon here.

 

HAPPY TUESDAY! And welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. 

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.

 

JUNE PACKS THE HEAT: June 2019 was the hottest June on record, according to new global data released by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) on Tuesday.

The global-average temperature was about 0.1°C (0.18°F) higher than the previous record for that month, in 2016.

Scientists at C3S, working on behalf of the European Union, attributed last month's high to a strong El Niño event.

The spike was particularly pronounced in Europe, where average temperatures were more than 2°C (3.6°F) above normal, driven by a mass of hot air coming from the Sahara Desert.

Researchers said that while it is difficult to directly attribute the heat spike to climate change, "such extreme weather events are expected to become more common as the planet continues to warm under increasing greenhouse gas concentrations."

"Although this was exceptional, we are likely to see more of these events in the future due to climate change," Jean-Noël Thépaut, head of C3S, said in a statement.

Researchers combined satellite data with historic temperature charts to make their determination.

More on the June heat record here.

 

COAL TAKES ANOTHER HIT: A major U.S. coal company filed for bankruptcy Monday, putting more than 1,000 jobs across three states at risk.

West Virginia-based Revelation Energy LLC and its affiliate Blackjewel LLC filed for bankruptcy, making it the second major coal company to declare bankruptcy in as many weeks, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

The bankruptcy impacts the employees who are working at coal mines located in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. Hundreds of workers at two coal mines in Wyoming were also reportedly impacted by the bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy and risk of ensuing job losses underscore the dwindling number of jobs in the industry since 2012 as a result of a sharp decline in coal production.

Workers at mines near Cumberland, Ky., were reportedly told Monday not to come to the mines for their evening shifts and that the shutdown could last at least two weeks.

"It's devastating for the community," Charles Raleigh, mayor of Cumberland, told the Herald Leader. "It's a sad situation. I hate it for the miners."

Jeff Hoops, owner of Revelation Energy and its affiliate Blackjewel, in an affidavit filed in court, attributed the bankruptcy to the state of the coal market nationally.

"The entire industry either has gone through, or is currently going through, a period of financial distress and reorganization," he wrote, according to the Herald Leader.

He also cited increased competition from natural gas and renewable energy. 

Read the full story here.

 

THAT REALLY STINKS: A coalition of green groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) late Monday over a rule that lifts requirements for major farms to report the pollution they emit through animal waste.

The rule, released in June, spurred criticism from environmental groups who say nearby communities would no longer have access to information about harmful gases being released into the air.

"Trump's EPA wants meat factories to keep their toxic air emissions secret, despite a clear statutory mandate to disclose, once again promoting the interest of some of the worst polluters at the expense of public health," said Carrie Apfel, a staff attorney for Earthjustice, the group leading the suit. "What EPA is doing is illegal, and an affront to rural families that have every right to know what's in the air they breathe."

Earthjustice and other groups backing the lawsuit contend that large farms previously subjected to the rules emit enough harmful pollutants that nearby residents need to be informed in order to be able to respond to possible health problems appropriately. 

Apfel said at the time of the rule's release that people with chronic health problems are seeking medical care from doctors who are asking what they might be exposed to -- information they currently can only get from such reports. 

Animal waste is collected and stored in open pits, often called lagoons, across many industrial farms in the U.S. As the manure decomposes, it emits ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which have been linked to respiratory issues and other health problems.

Read more about the lawsuit here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

It would be cheaper to buy coastal homes than to keep fighting nature, The Charlotte Observer reports.

Oil prices fall as reaction to OPEC cut is muted, The Wall Street Journal reports

 

ICYMI:

Stories from Tuesday...

-Oregon governor prepared to use executive powers to pass climate legislation after GOP walkout

-Last month was hottest June on record

-Major US coal company files for bankruptcy, putting over 1,000 jobs at risk

-Senate Democrat: Interior secretary ignored questions about funding for Trump's July 4 celebration

-Two Wyoming coal mines close, idling 700 workers

-Green groups sue EPA for exempting farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste