Overnight Energy: Warren unveils $1T environmental justice plan | Trump officials eliminate board on smart grids | Proposed Trump rule aims to ease restrictions on mineral mining

Overnight Energy: Warren unveils $1T environmental justice plan | Trump officials eliminate board on smart grids | Proposed Trump rule aims to ease restrictions on mineral mining
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A PLAN FOR GREEN JUSTICE: An environmental justice plan released by Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Warren, Yang fight over automation divides experts Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE promises to invest one-third of her climate-focused spending on low-income communities at the frontlines of environmental hazards.

The plan posted to Medium on Wednesday estimates that the investment would funnel at least $1 trillion into those communities over the next decade.

"Our crisis of environmental injustice is the result of decades of discrimination and environmental racism compounding in communities that have been overlooked for too long," the Massachusetts senator wrote in the post.

"It is the result of multiple choices that put corporate profits before people, while our government looked the other way. It is unacceptable, and it must change."

In the policy, Warren remarks on the unequal environmental burdens placed on communities of color and low-income families, many whom still suffer from past racist policies such as redlining. Studies have shown, for example, that black families are more likely to live in areas with high air pollution than white families.

The details: If elected president, Warren lays out how she'd take climate action by shepherding a "just transition" to renewable energy use, as laid out in the Green New Deal climate resolution, which Warren co-sponsored in the Senate.

Warren said she would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to better map environmental impacts on at-risk communities and adjust power plant permitting rules to better consider the impact of pollution. She would also mandate all federal agencies to consider climate impacts when issuing permits and submitting rules.

"Climate action needs to be mainstreamed in everything the federal government does. But we also need a standard that requires the government to do more than merely 'assess' the environmental impact of proposed projects -- we need to mitigate negative environmental impacts entirely," Warren wrote.

Read more on Warren's plan here

 

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BYE-BYE, SMART GRID PANEL: An advisory committee that provided input on bettering smart grids in the U.S. is the latest casualty of President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE's executive order to cut federal advisory boards by a third.

The Smart Grid Advisory Committee that operated under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was terminated Sept. 30, the end of this fiscal year, the Commerce Department confirmed to The Hill.

The advisory board's main focus was to provide input on gaps in electric system growth and smart technology implementation. Smart grids are electrical grids that incorporate digital components such as real-time energy meters and smart appliances.

The panel, which was established nearly a decade ago under former President Obama, is the third advisory board confirmed to have been terminated for fiscal 2020, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee and the Interior Department's Invasive Species Advisory Committee.

Neither the White House nor any government agency has released a comprehensive list of committees cut under Trump's order, which mandated that all agencies "terminate at least one-third of its current committees." The due date for cuts was Sept. 30.

The 11 advisers on the Smart Grid Advisory Committee were first alerted by an official from NIST at the end of September that the committee's charter would not be renewed but were offered no explanation. 

"It was a very straight forward call," said Paul Centolella, chairman of the advisory committee and president of Paul Centolella & Associates.

Centolella said members were made aware of the likelihood that the panel might get the ax during the June meeting, which ended up being the advisory board's last.

"We were told that considering the number of advisory committees, there were not a lot of choices in the department. So that was a factor," he said. "This is a decision that obviously came from high up in the administration for the agencies."

A Commerce Department spokesperson confirmed the agency's termination, saying it was the only advisory board ended at NIST, which falls under Commerce.

A spokesperson for NIST would not provide details on what other committees at Commerce were ended under the executive order.

Read more on the decision here

 

EASING ROYALTIES ON MINING: The Trump administration is proposing a rule to make it easier for mineral mining companies to lower their royalty rates and cut fees.

The rule submitted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Wednesday aims to "streamline" the regulations placed on nonenergy U.S. mineral development and make those companies more competitive.

The proposal argues that "existing regulatory requirements are overly restrictive, inflexible, and burdensome" and that the Interior secretary has the power to reduce ongoing royalty rates, rental fees and minimum production requirements to promote development.

"The Trump administration is dedicated to enhancing the exploration and development of federal solid mineral resources in an environmentally conscious manner," Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement. "By eliminating burdensome regulations, the U.S. will have a stronger foothold to compete globally in non-energy, solid, leasable commodities markets and increase job opportunities at home instead of abroad."

Recommendations to simplify the process for obtaining royalty rate reductions were first made in February 2018 by Interior's Royalty Policy Committee, a controversial advisory board made up largely of fossil fuel industry representatives established under former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Future of controversial international hunting council up in the air Overnight Energy: Advisory panel pushes park service to privatize campgrounds | Dems urge Perry to keep lightbulb efficiency rules | Marshall Islands declares national climate crisis MORE. The charter of the committee was to advise on ways to eliminate obstacles to drilling and mining, including for minerals, faced by companies.

The committee, which was quietly terminated earlier this year, recommended at the time that Interior "revise, clarify and simplify process for granting varying royalty rate for declining or particularly costly fields." 

Environmental groups in 2017 had asked a federal judge in Montana to disband the advisory board and strike down its recommendations.

An Interior spokesperson denied that the latest proposal was pulled from the committee's recommendations.

Wednesday's draft proposal follows a concerted effort by the Trump administration to jump-start the mining of what are known as "critical minerals," or elements considered key to national security.

More on the proposed rule here

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Nearly 800,000 Californians will lose power as PG&E cuts power to avoid wildfires, CNN reports.

Climate readiness plan: Just (let the rivers) go with the flow, Stateline reports.

State parks fee would be required for vehicle registration under Michigan House bills, MLive reports.

Minnesota shuts down oil, manufacturing groups' attempt to derail Xcel EV pilot, Utility Drive reports. 

 

ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday...

Proposed Trump rule aims to ease restrictions on mineral mining companies

Warren environmental justice plan focuses third of climate investment on disadvantaged communities

Trump officials eliminate board that advised on smart grid innovation

Report: Top Interior official has denied climate change, blamed migrants for disease