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Overnight Energy: Automakers group sides with Trump in emissions lawsuit | Latest on California wildfires | Walden won't seek reelection | Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security

Overnight Energy: Automakers group sides with Trump in emissions lawsuit | Latest on California wildfires | Walden won't seek reelection | Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security
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AUTOS SIDE WITH TRUMP: A coalition of automakers representing top foreign and American car companies is backing the Trump administration in an ongoing lawsuit with California over fuel economy standards.

The Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation, a group backed by General Motors, Toyota North America and several leading foreign car manufacturers filed the motion to intervene on behalf of the Trump administration Monday, arguing that doing so supports a call for one national emissions standard.

"Since 2010, America has had a unified fuel economy in greenhouse gas emission and programs on improved fuel efficiency. Recent federal and California rule makings have threatened to end this balanced approach creating uncertainty for consumers. Facing this problem, we had an obligation to intervene," said John Bozzella, president and CEO of Global Automakers and a spokesperson for the coalition, on a call with reporters.

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The filing supports the Trump administration in a lawsuit brought by California and 22 other states in September, challenging the federal government's authority to revoke a pollution waiver that allowed the state to set more stringent tailpipe emissions standards than established federally. California argues it has the right under the Clean Air Act.

The automotive coalition argued that while it supports California and the other states' desire for emissions standards to increase "year over year," it supported the Trump administration in a desire to keep one national emissions standard -- which it argued California was moving to end.

"Historically the industry has taken the position that federal government is the sole purview of fuel economy," said Bozzella of Global Automakers, which lobbies for companies including Nissan, Hyundai and Kia.

"In 2010 we agreed, all the parties, federal agencies, the state of California, we agreed on one national program. California stepped away from that national program. There were no negotiations between California and the federal government that resolved that split," Bozzella said, placing the onus on the western state.

Read more here.

 

Happy Monday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. 

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WALDEN OUT: Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Energy issues rule allowing companies to develop own efficiency tests for products | GOP lawmakers push back on Federal Reserve's climate risk efforts Bipartisan fix for 'surprise' medical bills hits roadblock MORE (Ore.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced Monday he will not run for another term in Congress, making him the latest GOP lawmaker to head for the doors as 2020 approaches.

"I will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life," Walden said in a statement.

The announcement adds to the challenges facing House Republicans as they try to win back the majority next year. Walden is the 20th Republican to say he will forgo reelection to the House in 2020, compared with just seven Democrats.

Walden is also the fifth Republican in a top committee post to announce retirement plans this year. He joins Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (Texas) from the Armed Services Committee, Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler Bruce Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee MORE (Utah) on the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayThompson named top Republican on Agriculture Bottom line House Republican introduces amendment to include farm aid in stopgap funding bill MORE (Texas) from the Agriculture Committee and Rep. Kenny MarchantKenny Ewell MarchantRepublican Van Duyne wins race for Texas House seat Cook Political Report shifts 8 more House races toward Democrats Democrats seek wave to bolster House majority MORE (Texas) on the Ethics Committee.

Unlike other ranking members, Walden was eligible for another two-year term as the top Republican on his committee.

Walden, 62, was first elected to the House in 1998 after serving in the Oregon House of Representatives and Oregon Senate. He also previously owned and operated multiple radio stations.

The Oregon Republican easily won his reelection in 2018. The district is expected to stay in GOP hands.

Read more about Walden here

 

LET'S GO TO THE MALL: The National Park Service (NPS) is withdrawing a proposal that would have charged protestors for the security costs associated with demonstrating on the National Mall.

The controversial proposal spurred 140,000 public comments, with many concerned it would impede First Amendment rights.

Securing a permit to use the National Mall already requires groups to cover the costs of providing toilets, on-site medical tents and other amenities.

"There are already a lot of preexisting fees that organizers get asked to pay. Add in something like a security fee, and there's just no way most people or organizations would be able to afford it," Samantha Miller, an organizer with DC Action Lab, a company that helps organize protests, told The Washington Post. 

The park service did not give a reason for withdrawing the proposal, but it did explain the rationale for introducing it.

Read more here.

 

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES:

Over the weekend: California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomHarris receives standing ovation in first Senate appearance as VP Feehery: To move past Trump, Republicans have to think local The Hill's Morning Report - An inauguration like no other MORE (D) on Sunday declared a statewide emergency amid widespread fires in combination with high winds in the state.

"I have declared a statewide emergency. We're deploying every resource available as we continue to respond to these fires and unprecedented high-winds," Newsom tweeted. "If you live in an affected area, please stay safe, alert, and heed all warnings from local officials."

The declaration comes as 30,000 acres in Sonoma County thus far have been burned by the Kincade Fire, leading to the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people. In the southern part of the state, the Tick Fire has similarly prompted tens of thousands of evacuations, Newsom said in a statement.

Read more here

 

The fire may have been spurred by the utility: A California utility reportedly told state regulators Monday its power lines may have caused two wildfires spreading in San Francisco Bay Area, according to The Associated Press. 

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) told the California Public Utilities Commission that a worker who responded to a fire around 4:45 p.m. on Sunday was told that firefighters believed a power and a communication line may have been the cause, according to AP. 

A worker went to another fire around an hour after and saw a fallen pole and transformer, according to AP.

The fires described in the PG&E reports match the ones that destroyed a tennis club and forced residents in Lafayette, a town about 22 miles east of San Francisco, to evacuate, according to AP. 

Contra Costa Fire Department told the worker they were looking at the transformer as a potential ignition source, AP reports, citing what a company official wrote. 

PG&E has cut power to about 2.35 million people across 38 counties. 

Read more here

 

This is a climate change reality: Former California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is warning that the wildfires ravaging his state could be "only the beginning" without drastic action on climate change.

"I said it was the new normal a few years ago,'' Brown told Politico. "This is serious ... but this is only the beginning. This is only a taste of the horror and the terror that will occur in decades.''

"And it will occur in various spots: in America, in Africa, in Canada,'' Brown added. "It's unpredictable, other than the fact that it will get worse in present trajectory. Washington, under [President] Trump, is doing very little -- and even the Congress has been unable to mobilize under Washington.''

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTexas man charged for alleged role in Capitol riots, online death threats to Ocasio-Cortez DC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Tensions running high after gun incident near House floor MORE (D-N.Y.) likewise pointed to the catastrophic California wildfires as evidence of the drastic effects of climate change.

"This is what climate change looks like," the liberal firebrand said in a tweet.

"The GOP like to mock scientific warnings about climate change as exaggeration. But just look around: it's already starting," she added, linking to footage of wildfires in Vallejo, Calif. "We have 10 years to cut carbon emissions in half. If we don't, scenes like this can get much worse."

Click here to read more on Brown and AOC's comments.

 

AN ASBESTOS FIGHT IN THE OPINION PAGES: EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerBiden 'freeze' of Trump rules could halt environmental rollbacks 15 states sue EPA over decision not to tighten pollution standard for smog 13 states sue EPA over rule allowing some polluters to follow weaker emissions standards MORE is defending the agency's latest actions on asbestos. 

"Before our rule, asbestos products that were no longer on the market could come back without any agency review, without any agency restrictions and without any opportunity for the agency to prohibit that use. Our rule closed this dangerous loophole," Wheeler wrote in a letter to The New York Times.

Wheeler's letter was in response to an op-ed from former EPA heads Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyBiden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation Biden to rejoin Paris agreement, revoke Keystone XL permit  Biden to sign flurry of executive actions in first hours of presidency MORE, a Democrat, and William Reilly, a Republican, questioning why EPA did not instead just outright ban the substance that kills 40,000 Americans a year.

"We thought we had relieved America of a death-dealing substance, asbestos, but it keeps finding its way into lungs with the aid of an accomplice. This time asbestos' friend is the Environmental Protection Agency," the two wrote.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW: 

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee will presumably be tearing into Trump's plan to roll back fuel economy standards in a hearing they're calling "Trump's Wrong Turn on Clean Cars." 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard and Trump's backfiring efforts to win over Iowa corn farmers.

Later that day, House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife will hold a hearing on plastic pollution. 

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Small U.S. oil and gas companies get cold shoulder from large banks, Reuters reports.

Climate bill that caused Oregon Capitol walkout could return, Bloomberg Environment reports.

New Jersey targets pollution in poorer areas with 6 lawsuits, the Associated Press reports.

Trump's new Tongass rule doesn't mean more logging, E&E News reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Monday and the weekend...

Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security costs

California utility says its power lines may have caused 2 wildfires

Schwarzenegger evacuates due to California wildfire

Oregon GOP Rep. Greg Walden won't seek reelection

IKEA banning disposable plastic products in Israel

Ex-California governor: Wildfires 'only a taste of the horror' of climate change

Ocasio-Cortez points to California fires: 'This is what climate change looks like'

California governor declares statewide emergency over fires

Northern California fire forces thousands to evacuate, power cut to millions

Lawmakers express concern to DOJ over training involving 'stabbing, burning and shooting' animals