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Overnight Energy: House Democrats offer rival to Green New Deal | Zinke clients include industries he regulated | Oil companies dealt blow in Rhode Island climate lawsuit

Overnight Energy: House Democrats offer rival to Green New Deal | Zinke clients include industries he regulated | Oil companies dealt blow in Rhode Island climate lawsuit
© Greg Nash

THE NEW GREEN NEW DEAL?: House Democrats announced plans Tuesday to craft a new climate proposal to rival the Green New Deal by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

"All of this demands leadership at the federal level," said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats urge Amazon to investigate, recall 'defective' products Asbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight Pharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, at a press conference. "This is an ambitious goal, I don't want to suggest that it isn't, and there are a lot of different ways of dealing with it."

Democrats say they will develop a plan by the end of the year to reach that goal and will hold a number of hearings and meetings with business leaders and environmentalists.

Divisions on display: The competing plan highlights the rift with the party's more progressive wing, which has rallied around the Green New Deal and its goal of a carbon-free economy by 2030.

Pallone and other Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee said their plan would be more concrete than the Green New Deal.

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"We can do any kind of whimsical thing but we have to do this in a way that includes conversations with stakeholders, their buy-in and their involvement in a consensus bill," said Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoOvernight Energy: Trump officials finalize plan to open up protected areas of Tongass to logging | Feds say offshore testing for oil can proceed despite drilling moratorium | Dems question EPA's postponement of inequality training Democrats question EPA postponement of environmental inequality training Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race MORE (D-N.Y.), who helped the committee settle on the 2050 timeline and will lead many of the hearings that will inform an eventual bill.

2050 or 2030: The lawmakers characterized 2050 as a point of no return, after which the country will be unable to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change. Progressives contend the country needs to reduce emissions by 2030 in order to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats play defense, GOP goes on attack after Biden oil comments | Energy Dept. exempts quick dishwashers from existing efficiency standards | Ocasio-Cortez says having Green New Deal would have helped handle COVID-19 pandemic Ocasio-Cortez says Biden vote can be 'tactical' effort to support marginalized communities MORE (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the Green New Deal, has criticized plans from other Democrats that did not strive to meet the earlier timeline.

"Personally, I think we need to have more aggressive timelines than that to be honest," she told The Hill in April of presidential hopeful Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeCalls grow for Democrats to ramp up spending in Texas Texas Dems highlight health care in fight to flip state House Union leader vows 'infrequent' minority voters will help deliver Biden victory MORE's climate plan, which strives for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

"I think that the science and the IPCC [report] shows exactly what we need, and our legislation needs to be in line with that," she added, referring to the climate assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Read the story on the Green New Deal rival here.

 

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

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DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith Zinke5 major ways that Interior slashed protections for wildlife  Trump extends Florida offshore drilling pause, expands it to Georgia, South Carolina Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention MORE is now working for some of the same oil and mining companies he regulated while at the helm of the Department of Interior, according to Bloomberg. 

Documents reviewed by the news service show Zinke is working as a consultant for pipeline supplier Cressman Tubular Products Corp. and Oasis Petroleum Inc., which had previously donated to the former Montana congressman's campaign. Zinke also joined the board of a small gold mining company in April, where he is slated to receive $90,000 in consulting fees.

Zinke resigned from the Trump administration in December of last year amid a swirl of ethics investigations. 

Zinke's side: He has dismissed accusations of corruption and conflict of interest, telling Bloomberg that probes into his actions as secretary are "BS."

"There's an allegation and the opposition demands an investigation with great fanfare," he said in May. "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."

Zinke is also working to promote U.S. natural gas overseas as well as working as an adviser for Turnberry Solutions, a lobbying firm.

"I promote energy," he told Bloomberg. "It is better to produce energy in this country with reasonable regulation then watch it get produced overseas with none."

Federal law blocks government officials from lobbying for a year after they leave their post, and an executive order from President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE bars such actions for five years after leaving federal service.

Read more on Zinke here.

 

RHODE ISLAND OR BUST: A federal judge ruled against multiple oil and gas companies Monday, deciding that Rhode Island's novel climate liability case can be tried in the state.

The ruling will allow Rhode Island prosecutors to proceed in bringing charges against 21 oil and gas producers including Chevron, Shell and BP as the state tries to get the companies to help pay for damages caused by climate change.

In his ruling, Judge William Smith of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, a George W. Bush appointee, remanded the case to state court.

"This is, needless to say, an important suit for both sides. The question presently before the Court is where in our federal system it will be decided," the judge wrote.

"Because there is no federal jurisdiction under the various statutes and doctrines adverted to by Defendants, the Court grants the state's motion to remand."

In his ruling Monday, the judge made clear his understanding of the links to climate change in the prosecution's case, saying, "Climate change is expensive, and the State wants help paying for it."

The judge also noted that the companies "have extracted, advertised, and sold a substantial percentage of the fossil fuels burned globally since the 1960s."

"This activity has released an immense amount of greenhouse gas into the Earth's atmosphere, changing its climate and leading to all kinds of displacement, death (extinctions, even), and destruction," the opinion also read. "What is more, Defendants understood the consequences of their activity decades ago, when transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy would have saved a world of trouble."

Background: Rhode Island first filed its lawsuit against fossil fuel companies in July 2018, becoming the first U.S. state to try to place fault on the fossil fuel industry for anticipated climate change-driven damages expected in the state.

Two other similar suits brought by California and the city of Baltimore have also since been sent back to state court for prosecution, despite oil and gas companies' attempts to fight in federal court.

Read the story here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

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. The hearing will be the first by the committee focusing on crafting its climate action plan.

Also on Wednesday, the House Budget Committee 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 making companies accountable for PFAS contamination.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Ohio governor signs bill to bail out nuclear plants, slash renewable energy, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Wisconsin asking 125 municipal wastewater plants to test for contaminants known as 'forever' chemicals, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Washington state is expanding its inmate wildfire crews, King5 news reports.

 

ICYMI

Stories from Tuesday...

-House Democrats announce climate plan to rival Green New Deal with 2050 goal

-Hundreds of bus stops in Netherlands transformed into bee stops to improve biodiversity and air quality

-Zinke's client list includes industries he regulated at Interior: report

-Study finds climate change may be responsible for rise of deadly drug-resistant fungus

-Judge rules against oil companies to keep climate liability case in Rhode Island