Overnight Energy: Harris goes after DOJ antitrust probe of automakers over emissions | Trump on energy-efficient light bulbs: 'I always look orange' | Climate change only briefly discussed in third presidential debate

Overnight Energy: Harris goes after DOJ antitrust probe of automakers over emissions | Trump on energy-efficient light bulbs: 'I always look orange' | Climate change only briefly discussed in third presidential debate
© Getty Images

FORMER STATE AG VS CURRENT AG: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTwo former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden Strippers, 'Hustlers' and the Democratic debates 2020 Dems honor Emily Clyburn MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) inspector general Friday requesting he probe the basis for the department's antitrust investigation into four automakers working with California to reduce car emissions.

“In an expression of hostility towards California’s regulatory authority, the Trump administration has launched a multi-pronged assault on California’s framework with the four automakers,” Harris, who is also running for president, wrote to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Harris added that she has “serious questions about whether federal law enforcement is being used to coerce the four automakers to abandon their efforts to make cleaner, less-polluting vehicles” and asked Horowitz to “investigate the purported grounds for the Justice Department’s investigation of the four automakers.” 

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Harris’s letter.

The DOJ announced earlier this month that it was opening an antitrust investigation into Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen after the four automakers reached a deal with California to adopt more stringent emissions standards than those proposed by the Trump administration.

While President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE has moved to roll back Obama-era emissions standards, California and a host of other states vowed they would enforce stricter limits.

The automakers agreed to regulations that were still looser than those under former President Obama but tighter than the ones proposed by the Trump administration.

Makan Delrahim, the DOJ antitrust chief, said in a letter to the four automakers last month that their agreement with California “may violate federal antitrust laws,” according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

Lawyers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation added last week in a letter to California Air Resource Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols that the board’s efforts in connection with the agreement “appear to be unlawful and invalid.” 

Read more about the letter 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.

SURE, THAT’S WHY: President Trump knocked light bulb efficiency standards on Thursday during a House Republican retreat, telling attendees that energy-efficient lights make him look "orange."

In a speech to Republican House members reported by NBC News, the president quipped that light bulbs that the Obama administration "forced" Americans to use were "no good."

"People said, 'What's with the light bulb?' And I said 'Here's the story,' and I looked at it. ... The bulb that we're being forced to use, number one, to me most importantly, the light's no good. I always look orange," Trump said, to laughter.

"And so do you, the light is the worst," Trump added.

His remarks come after the administration finalized the reversal of the Obama administration's efficiency standards on light bulbs last week and days after he made similar comments at a North Carolina rally.

"I'm not a vain person. ... But I look better under an incandescent light than these crazy lights that are beaming down," Trump said at a rally in Fayetteville.

The rule from the Trump administration will eliminate the energy efficiency standards for half the bulbs on the market, which critics say will hasten the effects of climate change by increasing U.S. energy usage.

“This rule does not prevent consumers from buying the lamps they desire, including efficient options,” the Department of Energy wrote last week. “The market is successfully transitioning to LEDs regardless of government regulation. Consumers are clearly taking advantage of the energy savings provided by LEDs.”

Read it here.

GREENS UNSATISFIED BY 7 PERCENT: Environmentalists who are pushing for a climate debate were once again disappointed by the amount of time devoted to climate change during last night’s debate, pointing to a Media Matters study that said just 7 percent of the debate was devoted to the topic.

During the debate, few candidates offered up details beyond their existing climate proposals, but Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDemocrats will not beat Trump without moderate policy ideas Harris revamps campaign presence in Iowa Sanders, Yang to miss CNN's town hall on LGBTQ issues MORE (D-Minn.) outlined how she would tackle the climate crisis during her first week in office.

Like many other candidates, Klobuchar said she would rejoin the Paris Climate Accord on Day 1. But Klobuchar went on to list her plans for the rest of the week, listing policies from former President Obama she would reinstate.

Those policies included Obama’s power plant emissions rule, the Clean Power Plan (CPP), on Day 2, and reinstating his emission standards on Day 3, pushing cars to become more fuel efficient.

President Trump has rolled back the CPP and is in the process of creating weaker fuel efficiency standards.

“You can do all that without Congress, which is good,” Klobuchar said.

On days four through six, Klobuchar said she would kick off work with Congress, local leaders, and the business community to craft legislation to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“And on day seven, you're supposed to rest, but I won’t,” she said.

Though climate change hasn’t been featured prominently during the debates, CNN recently devoted a seven-hour town hall to the subject. Another two-day event next week at Georgetown will give candidates a chance to showcase their environmental bonafides. 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

Things pick up on Wednesday, when the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hosts activist Greta Thunberg for a hearing titled “Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis.”

Meanwhile, House Energy and Commerce will hold its first hearing as part of its effort to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing that morning on water policy under the Trump administration. 

Wednesday afternoon the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will look at ways to clean up the transportation sector.

In the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on water infrastructure.

On Thursday, EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy: Trump officials formally revoke California emissions waiver | EPA's Wheeler dodges questions about targeting San Francisco over homelessness | 2020 Dems duke it out at second climate forum EPA head dodges questions about environmental action against San Francisco Yang floats nominating Inslee as 'climate czar' MORE will appear before the Science, Space and Technology Committee to discuss science and technology at the EPA.

House Appropriations will hold a hearing on how marine debris impacts ocean ecosystems.

Thursday is also a busy day for the House Natural Resources Committee, where various subcommittees will review a number of bills.   

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-Florida governor says he’s confident Trump will protect Florida from offshore oil drilling, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

-Canada Tries a Forceful Message for Flood Victims: Live Someplace Else, The New York Times reports.

-California has gone months with no new fracking permits. But dozens of illegal oil spills are flowing, the Desert Sun reports.