Overnight Energy: Key moments from Democrats' 7-hour climate forum | Watchdog finds Interior broke the law over use of park fees during shutdown | House Dems to push for offshore drilling ban

Overnight Energy: Key moments from Democrats' 7-hour climate forum | Watchdog finds Interior broke the law over use of park fees during shutdown | House Dems to push for offshore drilling ban
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MISS THE 7-HOUR (!) CLIMATE FORUM? HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS: 2020 Democratic presidential contenders took part in a marathon climate forum on CNN on Wednesday. Here are some of the key moments.

 

Biden defends ties to former fossil fuel executive

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 had to play defense during CNN's climate town hall Wednesday. He started his portion of the night answering a question about news that he would attend a fundraiser hosted by a former fossil fuel executive.

An audience member asked Biden about the scheduled fundraiser for Thursday with Andrew Goldman, a co-founder of Houston-based natural gas producer Western LNG. The meeting was first reported Wednesday by CNBC.

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Biden has signed the No Fossil Fuel Pledge, an agreement that his campaign would not accept donations from the fossil fuel industry or its executives.

"He's not a fossil fuel executive," Biden said, adding that he supports suing the fossil fuel industry over its contributions to climate change.

CNN's Anderson Cooper later clarified that Goldman no longer had any day-to-day functions with the company.

More on Biden's remarks here.

 

Sanders says he'd reverse Trump decision rolling back lightbulb standards: 'Duh': 

Democratic presidential contender Sen. 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.) said he would move swiftly to reverse a decision from the Trump administration Tuesday that eliminated Obama-era efficiency standards for lightbulbs.

Asked by Anderson Cooper at the CNN climate town hall whether he would reverse the decision, Sanders responded with a long drawn out "Duh." 

Read more.

 

Buttigieg blames Trump and congressional 'enablers' for inaction on climate change:

Democratic presidential hopeful 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 on Wednesday blamed 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 and "enablers" in Congress for the nation's inaction on climate change.

"It's not just him. It's all of the enablers in the congressional GOP," Buttigieg said at CNN's climate town hall.

"I mean, Congress right now it's like a room full of doctors arguing about what to do over a cancer patient. And half of them are arguing over whether medication or surgery is the best approach. And the other half is saying cancer doesn't exist," he said.

More on Buttigieg from the forum here.

 

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

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INTERIOR IN HOT WATER: A top government watchdog says the Trump administration violated the law when it used funds taken from park entrance fees to keep national parks open during this year's partial government shutdown.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded in its investigation released Thursday that the Interior Department and National Park Service (NPS) violated the AntiDeficiency Act and the purpose statute by using congressional funds to pay government workers to clean park bathrooms and maintain sites when part of the federal government was shuttered during the record-long shutdown.

"Interior disregarded not only the laws themselves but also the congressional prerogatives that underlie them. Instead of carrying out the law, Interior improperly imposed its own will," Thomas Armstrong, GAO general counsel, wrote in his 16-page legal opinion.

The opinion followed requests by various House and Senate lawmakers to look into the Trump administration's January decision to use the park recreational fees, also known as FLREA funds, to keep highly trafficked national parks open despite the shutdown. 

The unprecedented decision authorized the use of up to $250 million in funds to keep parks running, according to internal documents obtained by The Hill. 

In his letter, Armstrong blasted the Interior Department for its violation of the law and its failure to respond to GAO requests for an explanation, the agency's legal view of the matter and other information. The details were due by June 7.

Read more here.

 

CONGRESS'S CLIMATE GAME PLAN: Democrats have listed putting an end to offshore drilling as a top priority once Congress returns next week.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases MORE (D-Md.) said the chamber would consider blocking offshore drilling in almost all waters surrounding the U.S. when Congress reconvenes next week after the August recess.

"The House will take up three bills that will block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. These bills will help protect our environment and the economies of coastal communities that rely on tourism, outdoor recreation, and fishing," Hoyer wrote in a letter.  

The House already voted to block offshore drilling in those areas for a year by including those measures in the Department of the Interior budget. 

Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Death toll rises to 23 in Bahamas, as stories of survival emerge, The New York Times reports.

Oil rises 0.1 percent to $56.30 as US inventories decline, CNBC reports.

California single-use plastic ban comes down to the wire, the Los Angeles Times reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday...

-White House adviser gives Trump cover on Alabama hurricane claim

-Dems to push for offshore drilling ban when Congress reconvenes

-Former BLM leadership opposes 'ill-advised move' of the agency

-Federal watchdog: Trump admin broke law by pulling from park entrance fees during shutdown

-British Columbia residents, visitors raise $3 million to save swath of wilderness from development

-Sanders under fire for remarks on population control