Overnight Energy: States sue Trump for reducing fuel efficiency penalties | July was hottest month ever recorded | Conservationists knock Trump sage grouse plan

Overnight Energy: States sue Trump for reducing fuel efficiency penalties | July was hottest month ever recorded | Conservationists knock Trump sage grouse plan
© Getty Images

CALIFORNIA V. TRUMP PART INFINITY: Thirteen states filed suit against the Trump administration Friday, arguing it was breaking the law by cutting penalties for automakers that do not meet Obama-era fuel efficiency standards.

The suit, led by California's and New York's attorneys general, goes after a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) rule that lowers penalties for manufacturers from $14 to $5.50 for every tenth of a mile per gallon (mpg) they fall below fuel efficiency standards. 

"This rule is just another misguided and reckless attempt by the Trump Administration to roll back the clock on our clean air standards," New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said in a statement. "Without strong penalties for violating these fuel efficiency standards consumers, our economy, and our environment all remain in danger. As we've done in the past, we will continue to fight this battle against the Trump Administration's efforts to ignore the realities of climate change."


The suit is the latest step in a long saga between California and the Trump administration over fuel efficiency standards.

The Trump administration proposed freezing the Obama-era fuel standards. But that proposal has drawn condemnation from both states and the auto industry.

The standards from the Obama administration would have required automakers to produce cars and light trucks that reach an average of 51 mpg by 2026. The deal was designed to create one national fuel economy standard after decades of allowing California and other states to adopt their own more aggressive standards.

California has been on a mission to protect its right to more aggressive fuel standards ever since the Trump administration proposed weakening them. After stalled negotiations between the state and federal entities, California announced last week that they had sidelined the administration and entered into an agreement with four automakers to establish new fuel economy standards similar to what was agreed to under Obama.

This suit follows another from California dealing with penalties.

Read more about the suit here.


OH, IT'S FRIDAY! And welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. A programming note: Starting next week, we'll be publishing our recaps once a week during the August recess. Keep an eye out for Overnight Energy on Wednesdays.

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.


IF YOU THOUGHT JULY FELT LIKE THE HOTTEST MONTH EVER, WELL... IT WAS: July 2019 was the hottest month on record, according to provisional data from the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). 

The C3S provisional data from July 1 to 29 indicated that temperatures were "on a par with, and possibly marginally higher" than the previous high of July 2016. 

July 2019 will be about 2.16 degrees (1.2 Celsius) more than preindustrial levels, the provisional data showed. 

The data is not final, and C3S will release its final data on Monday. 

In July, Greenland's ice sheet reportedly lost 197 billion tons of ice despite an expected average of between 60 billion and 70 billion tons. 

"We have always lived through hot summers. But this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfather's summer," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres when he announced the data, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

He added that this means 2015 through 2019 is on track to be the hottest five-year period recorded.

"If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And, indeed, the iceberg is also rapidly melting," Guterres said. "Preventing irreversible climate disruption is the race of our lives, and for our lives. It is a race that we can and must win."

June 2019 was also the hottest June on record.


SAGE GROUSE IN THE HOUSE: Conservationists criticized the Trump administration Friday for rolling back protections for the sage grouse, saying industry was prioritized over the wellbeing of the threatened bird.

The new plan from the U.S. Forest Service would ease protections for the sage grouse on 5.2 million acres of land scattered across the West that also serve as sought-after grazing pasture for ranchers.

"From our wildlands to our precious habitat and threatened iconic species, nature is bearing the brunt of the Trump administration's reckless governance," the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement. "This move by the Forest Service unravels carefully crafted safeguards to promote extractive industries' interests. It runs roughshod over sensible policy, science, and the natural resources we all, collectively, own."

A release from the Department of Agriculture described the new standards as "common sense, locally-driven strategies" that update the 2015 plan for the species.

"Stakeholders have since raised concerns that the 2015 plans would impact economic growth and did not align with conservation plans laid out by the states," the Forest Service said in a release. "The 2019 plans have been adapted to take into account site-specific conditions to ensure ranchers, permittees, and industry can adapt to their local conditions rather than be forced to conform to a one-size-fits-all, national approach."

Environmentalists have long rallied to save this distinctive-looking bird, the males of which puff out yellow-green sacs in their chest in order to attract the opposite sex, with their pointy tail feathers spread behind them like peacock plumage. Their habitat in the West often collides with interests from the oil and gas industry, as well as farmers and ranchers.



-To counteract Trump on climate, states set clean energy targets, Stateline reports.

-GOP Florida governor enlists new officer to prepare state for rising sea level, we report.

-On first day of new 10-cent tax, some Connecticut shoppers say they're giving up plastic bags, the Hartford Courant reports.

-Lawsuit filed to stop Washington state from killing wolves, the Associated Press reports.


ICYMI: Stories from Friday...

-States sue Trump administration for reduced penalties on fuel efficiency

-Conservationists say Trump sage grouse plan promotes industry over threatened bird

-GOP Florida governor enlists new officer to prepare state for rising sea level

-July was earth's hottest month ever recorded

-Greenland lost 11 billion tons of surface ice in one day