Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics

Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics
© Greg Nash

HAS A FOREVER CHEMICAL FIX BEEN NIXED? The Senate is prepared to walk away from provisions of a defense policy bill that would compel the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate a cancer-linked chemical that is leaching into the water supply, Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection MORE (R-Okla.) told reporters Tuesday.

Both the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) include provisions dealing with a class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS. The substance is used in firefighting foam and has contaminated the water near at least 425 military installations. 

But the chemical, which is widely used in a number of nonstick products, is hardly just a military problem. One study found that 99 percent of those tested had PFAS traces in their blood, and it's been deemed a "forever chemical" due to its persistence in both the body and the environment. It's been found in nearly every state in the country.

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Both the House and Senate versions push the EPA to set a drinking water standard for PFAS -- the agency currently only has a 70 parts per trillion level they recommend municipalities meet. But the House version goes even further, requiring PFAS to be designated a hazardous substance under the Superfund law, enabling funds to clean up contamination.

But as the conference committee on the legislation drags on, it appears less likely that PFAS provisions outside the scope of the military may be included at all. 

Inhofe said the broad provisions are veering outside the scope of what would typically be included in a defense policy bill -- legislation that is already entangled in a fight over whether to give funding to President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE's border wall.

"Look we made a deal months ago that when we're in somebody else's jurisdiction, and they change their mind or are opposed to it, then...we're just going to let them go ahead and try to do it through their committees," he said. 

That would likely be a big disappointment to many on the House side. 

Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal Democrats set to hold out for big police reform More than 100 Democrats press Trump to extend jobless benefits MORE (D-Mich.) sent a letter alongside 68 other House members that said they would not support the bill if it "fails to significantly address ongoing and legacy contamination from PFAS chemicals."

Read more about the PFAS battle here

 

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MCCARTHY IN: A former Obama administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief has been named president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The NRDC announced Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyFormer EPA chiefs endorse Biden, criticize agency direction under Trump OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Energy Department proposes showerhead standards rollback after Trump complaints | Interior memo scaling back bird protections is 'contrary to law,' court rules | Former EPA chiefs call for agency 'reset' Former EPA chiefs call for agency 'reset' MORE as their new leader over Twitter. She is set to start in January at the beginning of the organization's 50-year anniversary, according to the group's press release.

"NRDC for 50 years has been fighting for us, for our health, for our environment, for our resources," McCarthy said in a video posted on Twitter. "We are at the lead of the climate fight, and we are going to take it, and we are going to fight, and we are going to win."

McCarthy has been highly critical of the agency she once ran now that it's under Trump administration leadership. In June, she joined other Republican and Democratic former EPA heads who appeared before a House committee complaining the agency has abandoned its mission.

"It's time for them to step up and do their jobs," she said at the hearing, referring to the agency's political leadership. "Just do your jobs. Right now this administration is trying to systemically undo health protections by running roughshod over the law."

McCarthy is joining one of the most aggressive organizations in battling repeated rollbacks to Obama-era policy. 

NRDC has taken the Trump administration to court 96 times based off its cuts to environmental regulations, and the council won 54 of the 59 finished cases, according to its release.

Read more about the NRDC here

 

MO NOMINATIONS, MO ETHICS PROBLEMS: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee reviewed two nominees Tuesday for major roles in overseeing the nation's energy portfolio, both of whom have been criticized for ethical issues related to the companies they would help regulate. 

President Trump has nominated James Danly to serve as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Katharine MacGregor to serve as deputy secretary for the Department of the Interior. 

Both nominees earned praise from the committee's chairwoman, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDurbin: Democrats can 'slow' Supreme Court confirmation 'perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at most' Senate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Supreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink MORE (R-Alaska) and ranking member Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSunday Shows: Trump's court pick dominates Manchin opposes adding justices to the court Trump taps Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court, setting up confirmation sprint MORE (D-W.Va.).

But in a hearing interrupted twice by protesters, Democratic lawmakers zeroed in on a recent report that oil and gas companies boasted about relying on MacGregor anytime they ran into trouble with the Interior Department.

The political director of the Independent Petroleum Association of America once said a meeting that "We'll call Kate," became the default solution to any problems they encountered with Interior, according to reporting Monday from Reveal. 

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt once served as the lawyer for that same association.

MacGregor came to Interior under former Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump extends Florida offshore drilling pause, expands it to Georgia, South Carolina Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet MORE after also spending a decade working on the Hill, including time as a Republican staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHawley warns Schumer to steer clear of Catholic-based criticisms of Barrett Senate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Two Judiciary Democrats say they will not meet with Trump's Supreme Court pick MORE (D-Hawaii) noted that she was not surprised by MacGregor's nomination, as Interior is "full of political appointees like you that are close to the fossil fuel industry." 

Read more about the hearing here

 

PARIS FALLOUT DAY DEUX: President Trump announced via the State Department Monday he is formally withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord.

Germany called it "regrettable," but not unexpected...Germany on Tuesday said President Trump's decision to formally pull out of the landmark Paris climate agreement was "regrettable," but not unexpected.

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze noted that the U.S. said two years ago that it would remove itself from the global climate change pact signed by every other country in the world, adding that "luckily it has remained alone in doing so," The Associated Press reports.

Schulze also said the "domino effect" that some worried would take place after Trump's announcement didn't happen.

"The rest of the world stands together on climate protection," she said, adding that even Russia has recently joined the agreement, according to the AP.

Read more here

 

But he got at least one kudos... Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power Graham vows GOP will accept election results after Trump comments Liz Cheney promises peaceful transfer of power: 'Fundamental to the survival of our Republic' MORE (R-Wyo.), a member of House leadership, on Tuesday expressed support for President Trump's decision the day before to begin the yearlong process of withdrawing the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate agreement.

The accord, Cheney tweeted, "was based on flawed science and would have cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs, including many in Wyoming's critical energy industry."

The Wyoming lawmaker added in a statement: "Under the agreement, the United States would have been subject to new and unattainable requirements while other signatories with terrible environmental track records would be allowed to continue to operate without consequences."

Cheney is a vocal defender of Trump, but she has notably broken with him on a number of issues recently, including his decision to move U.S. troops out of northern Syria and attacks on a witness in the House impeachment inquiry.

Read more here

 

Of course there is growing sentiment the world needs to act on climate change... Eleven thousand scientists from across the globe wrote a letter Tuesday warning that "untold human suffering" will happen if the governments of the world don't act immediately to combat climate change.

The letter, which was published in BioScience Tuesday, says that "climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected."

"Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we have continued to conduct business as usual and have failed to address this crisis," Oregon State University ecology professor William Ripple, one of the main authors of the letter, told The Independent.

Read more here

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

On Wednesday, the same committee will hold a hearing on a number of bills while the Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on legislation that tweaks the Clean Air Act.

Over at the Supreme Court, the justices will hear County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, which could have big implications for the Clean Water Act.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Connecticut task force recommends statewide testing of public water systems after hazardous PFAS spill, the Hartford Courant reports.

Flint water, recovery still key issue in mayoral race, the Associated Press reports.

More than 1,000 Google employees signed a letter demanding the company reduce its carbon emissions, Vox reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday...

2020 presidential candidates slam Trump over withdrawal from Paris climate deal

Germany: Trump decision to pull out of Paris climate deal 'regrettable'

11K scientists from around the world unite to declare global climate emergency

Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group

Liz Cheney applauds Trump for pulling out of Paris climate agreement

Jane Fonda on getting arrested: 'We have to up the ante' in climate activism

Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics

Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' from major defense policy bill