Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Jerry Brown testifies on emissions fight | Brown presses climate action: ‘Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important’ | Dems look to protect Grand Canyon from drilling

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Jerry Brown: ‘Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important’: Jerry Brown, the former Democratic governor of California, didn’t mince words Tuesday when he criticized the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back the state’s tailpipe emission standards.

Speaking in front of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment, Brown argued recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that would remove California’s right from setting heightened vehicle emissions standards are equal to climate denial.

“Despite what deniers are saying, the seas are rising, ice caps melting, diseases spreading and fires burning,” said Brown, who specifically referred to three of California’s ongoing wildfires.

{mosads}”This is not just another legislative game here. This is life-and-death stuff. And climate change is related to the fires in California. California is burning while the deniers make a joke out of the standards that could protect us all.”

The setting: Brown addressed the committee a month after the Trump administration announced it would be revoking California’s Clean Air Act waiver that allowed the state to establish its own air pollution standards. The administration argues the waiver hindered the federal government from establishing unified air pollution standards, a key issue for the auto industry. 

The administration is expected to announce soon that it’s rolling back Obama-era standards for tailpipe emissions, something California is adamantly against.

Democratic lawmakers on the committee called the two-part emissions rule irresponsible.

These rollbacks for fuel efficiency requirements are quite simply brazen and irresponsible,” subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) said. “The Trump administration is gambling with people’s lives here.”

Brown in particular pointed fingers at a number of automakers, who on Monday sided with the Trump administration in a lawsuit California brought against the EPA.

“In the lawsuit you have [General Motors] against us, but we have 22 states on our side,” Brown said of the states that signed with California on the September suit challenging the Trump rule. 

“Our standards that you don’t like, Republicans, it covers 42 percent of America. We’ve seen this move before.”

Read more on the hearing here.


A minor hiccup before it all began: Republicans and Democrats clashed earlier during the Oversight and Reform subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, after GOP lawmakers argued the proceeding conflicted with ongoing impeachment depositions and moved to dismiss.

“We have to be in a deposition on this unfair, partisan impeachment process you are running,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said.

In his opening statement, ranking member James Comer (R-Ky.) criticized Democrats for scheduling hearings during the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

“The majority is creating a difficult scheduling conflict for members of this subcommittee. On one hand, we have today’s hearing, on the other we have a deposition related to the majority’s impeachment of the president,” he said.

“I believe the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry needs our members’ attention, and I hope going forward we can agree to avoid this type of scheduling conflict.” 

The call to adjourn was the second time Republicans had used such a tactic to end a hearing due to low attendance. Republicans in February successfully prematurely concluded a Natural Resources Committee hearing on climate change after only two Democrats were in attendance. Democratic lawmakers at the time called the move a stunt.

The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment hearing to discuss the Trump administration’s changes to federal car emissions standards occurred simultaneously with an impeachment deposition of White House official Alexander Vindman. Not all House lawmakers are eligible to sit in the secure room where the impeachment depositions are taking place. 

At the time of Gosar’s request for a roll call vote, only four Democrats were attending the hearing. Democrats delayed the vote by nearly 25 minutes. 

Read more on the move here.


Happy Tuesday! 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.

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DON’T MINE THE GAP: Democrats are preparing to counter any White House efforts to allow mining near the Grand Canyon, with Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) leading the charge to pass legislation aimed at warding off what he called “an imminent threat” to the country’s most iconic national park.

House passage of Grijalva’s bill, slated for a Wednesday floor vote, sets a permanent moratorium on new mining claims on approximately 1 million acres north and south of Grand Canyon National Park, essentially creating a safety zone around the park. The Natural Resources Committee chairman said the measure also reflects the reality of climate change.

“Fundamentally … this is what we need to be doing to deal with climate change in our public lands — to begin to reduce the extraction and promote the conservation side of it,” Grijalva said.

The legislation, Grijalva said, is designed to guard against forthcoming recommendations from a White House Uranium Mining Group, consisting largely of industry leaders. As early as next month, the group could recommend mining uranium near the Grand Canyon.

Grijalva said he previously thought a two-decade moratorium on mining near the national park, implemented in 2012, would be enough to ward off efforts to extract uranium and other minerals in nearby federal land. But now he isn’t taking any risks.

“Before the working group, the motivation for this was: We’ve wanted to do this for a long time, even during [the Obama administration]. But then the motivation became: They’re going to lift the moratorium,” Grijalva said during a sitdown interview with The Hill on Oct. 18.

“We’ve always felt that we could wait these people out and then get back to it when we had an administration to work with. But then it was verified for us when we saw the working group. And then I said, ‘Yeah, it’s pretty real.'”

Read more here.



The House will vote tomorrow on passage of the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act and Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019, both major land protection bills.

The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will hold a hearing looking into efforts by the oil industry to suppress evidence of links to climate change.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will look into the proposed controversial Pebble Mine project and the potential impacts.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change will hold a hearing on “building a 100 percent clean economy.”

The Senate Energy and Public Works committee will consider the nomination of Sean O’Donnell to be the new EPA inspector general.

The Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a hearing on innovation in water security.



Getty fire investigation focuses on power lines near where destructive blaze began, The Los Angeles Times reports

Natural-gas producers promise restraint, The Wall Street Journal reports

Oil extends losses on expected inventory rise, CNBC reports


ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday…

-Democrats push to end confidentiality for oil companies that don’t add ethanol

-Jerry Brown: ‘Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important’

-Ted Danson urges lawmakers to take action against single-use plastics

-Trump donor’s coal company files for bankruptcy

-Republicans move to end car emissions hearing early due to impeachment proceedings

-Democrats aim to protect Grand Canyon from ‘imminent’ drilling threat

Tags California Ethanol fires Grand Canyon Harley Rouda James Comer Paul Gosar RFS

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