Overnight Energy: GOP senators push bill to move most federal agencies out of DC | DOJ sues California to stifle cap-and-trade program with Quebec | Cutting wild horse population to cost BLM $5 billion

Overnight Energy: GOP senators push bill to move most federal agencies out of DC | DOJ sues California to stifle cap-and-trade program with Quebec | Cutting wild horse population to cost BLM $5 billion
© Greg Nash

FOREVER FIELD TRIP: Two Senate Republicans have introduced a bill calling for moving most federal agencies outside of the nation's capital.

The bill follows controversial efforts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to move major portions of its staffers to Missouri and Colorado, respectively.

The bill, sponsored by GOP Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenate Republicans air complaints to Trump administration on trade deal Hillicon Valley: Pentagon pushes back on Amazon lawsuit | Lawmakers dismiss Chinese threat to US tech companies | YouTube unveils new anti-harassment policy | Agencies get annual IT grades Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE (Mo.) and Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Lawsuits pose new challenge for TikTok TikTok's leader to meet with lawmakers next week MORE (Tenn.), would move a major federal agency to each of their states.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Every year Americans' hard-earned tax dollars fund federal agencies that are mainly located in the D.C. bubble. That's a big part of the problem with Washington: they're too removed from the rest of America," Hawley said in a statement. 

The release calls Hawley "an outspoken supporter" of the USDA decision to move two of its research agencies to Kansas City, Mo. But that move has proved difficult for the two agencies, with the Economic Research Service forced to delay or quash research after losing nearly 80 percent of its staff as employees fled rather than relocate. 

Under the bill, 10 agencies would be required to move 90 percent of their staff to economically depressed areas in states already set out by the bill.

USDA would finish its move to Missouri, while the Department of Education would move to Blackburn's Tennessee.

The bill would also move the Department of Commerce to Pennsylvania, the Department of Energy to Kentucky, Health and Human Services to Indiana, the Department of Housing and Urban Development to Ohio, the Department of the Interior to New Mexico, the Department of Labor to West Virginia, the Department of Transportation to Michigan and the Department of Veterans Affairs to South Carolina. 

Read more here.

 

Happy Wednesday! 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.

 

TOO MUCH HORSING AROUND: The Trump administration is estimating that it will cost nearly $5 billion over the next 15 years to shrink the country's population of wild horses and burros by more than two-thirds to a number officials say is sustainable for the herd.

On a call with reporters Wednesday, acting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director William Pendley warned that the growing number of wild horses and burros on federal land, largely out West, has become "an increasingly difficult situation."

"It's not good for the horses and burros to have these kinds of populations. It's detrimental to their health and the health of other wildlife and plant species we maintain. It's simply not sustainable," Pendley said.

The agency estimates there are 88,000 horses and burros on public lands, mostly in Nevada. Pendley said experts say that number must be decreased to 27,000 to be sustainable for both the animals and the lands on which they graze. Getting there is going to take capital and time, he said. 

"Our experts tell us the safe number of wild horses and burros on federal lands is 27,000. We have 88,000 out there now. It requires the removal of, quite frankly, the rest," Pendley said. 

"It's a financial issue, it's a budgetary issue and it's a time issue," he added.

Pendley said of the costs that "there's no end in sight."

The federal government's management of wild horses and burros has been the subject of criticism from public lands and animal rights activists. Critics have pushed back on a number of strategies the government utilizes to keep the herd population down, especially the practice of spaying wild mares.

Pendley said the administration will continue to utilize the spaying practice and is looking to veterinarians and scientists to help devise other methods of fertility control. The agency also utilizes adoption and private corral leasing as a way to manage herd size.

Read more here.

 

TRUMP ADMIN CHALLENGES CALIFORNIA AGAIN: The Department of Justice (DOJ) is trying to put an end to a California program that caps carbon emissions from the transportation sector, arguing the state exceeded its authority by crafting the program alongside Canada.

The program, underway since 2013, aims to improve California's air quality, allowing companies to trade credits with others in the province of Quebec.

"The state of California has veered outside of its proper constitutional lane to enter into an international emissions agreement. The power to enter into such agreements is reserved to the federal government, which must be able to speak with one voice in the area of U.S. foreign policy," DOJ said in a release. "California's unlawful cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec undermines the president's ability to negotiate competitive agreements with other nations, as the President sees fit."

California said it would continue to operate the cap and trade program while fighting the suit.

"This latest attack by the Trump administration is yet another baseless attempt to undermine California's efforts to protect public health and fight climate change. The cap and trade program is an integral part of California's action on climate and we will vigorously defend it in court. Nothing in this complaint changes the current operation of the cap and trade program: we will continue to implement it, including scheduled auctions and compliance requirements," California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols said in a statement.

The government of Quebec likewise said they hoped California would remain in the program.

"The Government of Quebec is committed to the fight against climate change, just like the State of California. We believe that the carbon market is an efficient way to put a price on carbon and that this system is preferable to a direct tax," said Guillaume Simard-Leduc, a spokesperson for the premier of Quebec.

"We obviously wish for them to remain a partner in the carbon-emissions cap-and-trade program and we are in contact with the state government on this matter."

Environmental groups were quick to defend the legality of the state's emissions program.

"The administration is yet again not only tearing down critical health protections and safeguards, but is going after others who seek to uphold or extend them," the Environmental Defense Fund wrote in a statement. 

Read more on the lawsuit here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-Exxon misled investors over climate change, court told, The Wall Street Journal reports

-Fire danger again threatens power to 800,000 across California, NBC News reports

-Air pollution is getting worse, and data shows more people are dying, The Washington Post reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday...

-Hawley, Blackburn push bill to move most federal agencies out of DC

-Shrinking wild horse and burro populations to cost $5 billion: BLM

-DOJ sues California to stifle cap-and-trade program with Quebec

-New study: US air pollution rose from 2016-2018, resulting in premature deaths

-London says new emission standards have dropped air pollution by a third

-New bipartisan Senate climate caucus aims to take 'politics' out of the topic