Overnight Energy: Historic heat wave is double whammy for climate change | Trump sees 'bigger problems' than plastic straws | House Science chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers

Overnight Energy: Historic heat wave is double whammy for climate change | Trump sees 'bigger problems' than plastic straws | House Science chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers
© Getty Images

GRIDS FEEL THE HEAT: Nearly two thirds of the United States is expected to be hit by a massive heat wave over the weekend, and energy companies are bracing for maxed-out grids and potential blackouts. But with the warming temps, an increase in the use of fossil fuels to energize cooling units is also anticipated, and therefore a rise in carbon emissions.

From Texas to the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New York and New England regions, many states are facing historic temperatures and heat advisories with numbers expecting to reach into the 100s in some places. Some weather experts are estimating that more than 85 percent of the Lower 48 states will have experienced high temperatures of at least 90 degrees between Friday and Tuesday. Almost 50 percent of those states will experience temperatures higher than 95 degrees.

Those increasing temps will likely result in increased air conditioning usage, a phenomenon power companies are keeping an eye on to make sure energy demand doesn't exceed availability.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cities, utilities brace for demand: New York's Independent System Operator (NYISO) said it's expecting peak energy loads between Friday, and Sunday in excess of 30,000 megawatts (MW).

"The NYISO's grid operators are ready to handle the expected demand," said Wes Yeomans, Vice President of Operations for NYISO, in a statement. 

"We are coordinating with local transmission operators to suspend planned maintenance work through the event and are in regular contact with generation owners to ensure we meet the reliability needs of the grid."

Energy concerns in New York are high after the city faced an hours-long blackout last weekend, caused by a transformer fire.

New York's Con Edison is prepared for "scattered outages" across Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, the company told USA Today on Tuesday.

In Washington, D.C. which is expected to see temperatures as high as 101 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday, grid operators are also feeling the stress.

Why it matters: And the rising temperatures will also ultimately lead to more fossil fuel use, as U.S. electric grids remain largely powered by non-renewable energy sources of coal and gas. 

"There's this ugly climate feedback loop that is powered by fossil fuels. The more and more we burn, the more extreme heat and cold events will get," said Kiran Bhatraju, CEO of Arcadia Power, a nationwide digital utility that focuses on getting cheaper renewable energy sources for its customers.

Read the full story here.

 

TGIF! 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.

 

SCIENCE DEMS ACCUSE EPA OF STONEWALLING: Rep. Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump applauds two-year budget deal with 0 billion spending hike Overnight Energy: Historic heat wave is double whammy for climate change | Trump sees 'bigger problems' than plastic straws | House Science chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers Science committee chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers to lawmakers MORE (D-Texas), the chairwoman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said she is "deeply troubled" by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) lack of cooperation with lawmakers in a letter sent Thursday to EPA chief Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Overnight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Trump admin erases key environmental enforcement tool MORE.

Johnson said the EPA's failure to provide requested information to her committee represented an "obstruction of Congress," and she threatened "compulsory measures" if it does not provide previously requested information by July and August deadlines.

"Over the past five months, EPA has stonewalled this Committee -- preventing a coequal branch of government from conducting constitutionally-mandated oversight," Johnson wrote.

"I am deeply troubled by this lack of cooperation with our efforts to evaluate a program so vital to ensuring the health and safety of the American people, and this behavior fits into a disturbing pattern of obstruction and disrespect of Congressional authority."

The heart of the fight: The EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), is the program at the center of the agency's fight with the Science Committee.  

Lawmakers have put the chemical safety program under a microscope following reports that the agency suppressed a 2017 report outlining the health risks associated with formaldehyde. The program within the EPA is responsible for conducting many chemical risk assessment reports. These reports often underpin federal health protections.

The agency's response: The EPA in a statement said the letter included a number of "inaccurate statements and mischaracterizations." It also said it had made efforts to send officials to the committee to answer its questions.

"The Committee's letter includes a number of inaccurate statements and mischaracterizations, including that of the Agency's interaction with the Committee and Committee staff," the statement from EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said.

"The Agency previously worked with the Committee to provide our top career science official within the Office of Research and Development to testify on the IRIS program." 

Read more on the fight here.

 

SUCK IT UP: President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE on Friday questioned the push by a number of municipalities to ban plastic straws, suggesting that there are "bigger problems" such as wrappers and plates made of the same material.

Trump was asked as he departed the White House for New Jersey whether he is in favor of banning plastic straws. The question came as his campaign began selling plastic straws in response to growing bans on the items among local governments and businesses for environmental reasons.

"I do think we have bigger problems than plastic straws," he said. "You have a little straw, but what about the plates, the wrappers and everything else that are much bigger and they're made of the same material?"

"Everybody focuses on the straws," he added. "There's a lot of other things to focus, but it's an interesting question."

Back story: Local municipalities have banned single-use plastic straws in an effort to curb waste and keep the items from harming the environment. The movement has steadily spread over the past few years, and sports teams and other organizations have also stopped using the products.

Read the full tory

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK: On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change will discuss a route to decarbonization and loosening the reliance on that economic sector. 

Also on Wednesday, the Committee on the Budget will be looking into the costs associated with climate change

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform Wednesday will hold a hearing before its  environment subcommittee on corporate accountability for PFAS contamination.

On Thursday, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing on ways to expand renewable energy generation on public lands. 

That same day, the full Natural Resources Committee will look into what some view as a lack of scientific integrity at the Department of Interior. Former Interior scientist turned whistleblower Joel Clement will speak. William Werkheiser, science advisor to the deputy Interior secretary was also invited but has not confirmed his attendance.

The Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on Thursday will hold a hearing examining the private sector's views on the costs associated with climate change.

Across Capitol Hill, in the Senate on Tuesday the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe will have a briefing on pipeline politics in Europe. That same day the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather will look into America's waterfronts and their economic and environmental challenges.

On Thursday, the Energy and Natural Resources committee will hold a meeting on energy innovation, economic growth and competitiveness.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

-After 800,000-gallon spill, Chevron site is still leaking oil, the Los Angeles Times reports

-A raging wildfire is burning nearly 7,000 acres near Arizona's Prescott National Forest, CNN reports

 

ICYMI

Stories from Friday...

Historic heat wave is double whammy for climate change

Trump: 'We have bigger problems than plastic straws'

Science committee chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers to lawmakers

13,000 without power after Wisconsin explosion