Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks

WAIT, THERE'S ANOTHER CLIMATE FORUM?: Five of the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls have not confirmed their participation in an MSNBC climate forum slated for this week.

Front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar have not committed to being part of the two-day climate forum to be held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., a university official confirmed to The Hill.

The candidates' decisions to skip the event would be a departure from the attendance of all of the ten highest polling hopefuls at CNN's 7-hour climate town hall that was held earlier this month. 

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be the highest-profile Democratic presidential contenders appearing at the MSNBC event. All three candidates have released individual climate policies.

Other candidates who will be speaking at the Thursday and Friday all-day events include Democratic candidates who did not make it onto CNN's stage, such as author Marianne Williamson, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and businessman Tom Steyer as well as former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R), who is challenging President Trump in the Republican primary.

Democratic hopefuls Andrew Yang and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will also attend.

Friday's portion of the climate forum will coincide with another forum being held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that is focused on LGBTQ issues. 

A representative for Warren's campaign referenced the Iowa forum as the reason why the candidate, who has been consistently polling in second or third place, will be skipping the climate event.

"She will be holding a town hall and participating in the LGBTQ+ presidential forum. She will also have a specific stop to talk about how we take on climate change," the spokesperson said.

Representatives for the four other campaigns not attending the MSNBC event did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Candidates committed to attend the LGBTQ forum include Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Harris, Klobuchar, Warren and Williamson.

Read more about the candidates skipping.


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OH NOAA YOU DIDN'T: An advocacy group sued the Trump administration Monday to force the release of public documents they believe will shed light on politicization of science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Democracy Forward filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the administration to release requested public documents related to the removal of Tim Gallaudet from his position as acting administrator of NOAA in February.

The group has raised concerns over Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's decision to remove Gallaudet from the acting post earlier this year. Gallaudet last December told a science conference that President Trump had never asked to be briefed on climate-related matters by the agency.

NOAA is the nation's leading science agency.

Democracy Forward first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the documents in May.

"The Trump administration's attacks on scientists speaking the truth are dangerous. We're suing to expose improper attempts to politicize NOAA because the public needs to be able to count on science agencies to do their jobs without political interference," Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes as Trump administration officials and Ross in particular face heavy criticism for recently appearing to politicize the science of hurricanes at NOAA. According to reports by The New York Times, Ross played a key part in drafting an unsigned letter sent to all NOAA staff early last week that chastised the agency's rebuttal of claims made by Trump that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to Alabama.

Read more about the lawsuit.


WHAT TRUMP TWEET?: The Alabama National Weather Service employee who tweeted that the state had little to worry about from Hurricane Dorian was not aware of President Trump's claim that the state would be hit, the person's coworkers told The New York Times on Sunday.

Trump faced widespread backlash earlier this month after stating that Alabama would likely be hit "harder than anticipated" and then refusing to back down from that claim.

At the time, the National Weather Service's (NWS) forecast guidance showed only a very small risk to the state from tropical storm-force winds.

The NWS's Birmingham, Ala., division corrected the president on Sept. 1 without naming him.

According to coworkers who spoke to the Times, the employee who sent the tweet was reacting to a flurry of calls from the public and was not aware of Trump's remarks. 

That contradiction set off a weeklong clash between the president and government weather experts.

Trump reportedly pressured the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees the NWS, to reverse the local forecaster's prediction.

NOAA officials released an unsigned statement affirming Trump's claims and admonishing the Birmingham division for speaking "in absolute terms."

Meteorologists and former officials criticized the statement, which was reportedly being probed by the agency's inspector general. 

Employees of the NWS's Birmingham division defended the tweet in interviews with the Times.

Read the story here.


ICYMI... TRUMP ALLOWS USE OF EMERGENCY OIL RESERVE AFTER SAUDI ATTACKS: President Trump on Sunday announced he had authorized the use of the U.S.'s emergency oil reserve in response to a series of drone attacks in Saudi Arabia that have disrupted the Gulf country's crude output.

"Based on the attack on Saudi Arabia, which may have an impact on oil prices, I have authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if needed, in a to-be-determined amount sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied," Trump said in a series of tweets.

Established in the 1970s in response to the Arab oil embargo, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the world's largest crude oil stash. Located along parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, it has been used a handful of times times since its conception

More here.


And more on the attacks from today...

Trump said Monday that he wants to avoid war with Iran, a day after warning that the United States was "locked and loaded" in response to attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday also briefed Trump about the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran.



The Energy and Natural Resources committee will meet to discuss the mined minerals needed to run clean energy technologies.



Singapore offers help to tackle illegal Indonesia forest fires, the Financial Times reports

US intelligence shows Saudi oil attack was launched from Iran, MSNBC reports


ICYMI: Stories from Monday and overt the weekend...

-Group sues Trump administration for info related to 'attempts to politicize NOAA'

-Five top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum

-Alabama weather service employee who sent tweet wasn't aware of Trump's Dorian post: report

-Trump authorizes use of emergency oil reserve after Saudi attacks

-Most in new poll say climate change needs to be addressed now

-5 things to know about the heat 'blobs' threatening oceans