Overnight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule

Overnight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule
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A HALT ON DRILLING: The Trump administration has suspended the production of oil and gas on 130 plots in Utah following a legal challenge by environmentalists.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) quietly issued suspensions of operation and production on all 130 plots due to the ongoing litigation, which alleges that officials did not consider greenhouse gas emissions when granting the oil lease sales, on Sept. 27.

"The BLM has concluded that it is necessary to suspend the referenced leases and complete further environmental analysis," the 130 individual notices read.

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The decision came after environmental groups legally challenged several lease sales, alleging that the agency failed to satisfy federal environmental laws by not considering the effects of climate change on federal land prior to leasing them for fossil fuel exploration.

In March, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of one such argument by environmentalists, finding that the environmental considerations behind Obama-era lease sales in Wyoming were inadequate. The temporary halt on roughly 300,000 acres was the first time the Trump administration's energy agenda had been blocked for not considering climate change.

Read more here.

 

CALIFORNIA LIGHTS UP: A California board voted to enact tougher energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs, pushing back against a rollback from the Trump administration.

A new rule from the Department of Energy (DOE) eliminates energy efficiency standards for half the bulbs on the market, a move critics say will make the U.S. a dumping ground for energy-sucking, cost-ineffective bulbs.

The vote from the California Energy Commission essentially bars sales of incandescent and halogen bulbs by adopting stronger energy efficiency standards. The state banned the sale of such pear-shaped bulbs in 2018, but the rule will now extend to all other shapes of bulbs -- a wide collection used in chandeliers, recessed lighting and other lamps that DOE just rolled back.

Multiple state and environment and consumer groups have already sued over the DOE rule, citing a portion of law that bars "backsliding" on energy efficiency standards.  

Big picture: But the California decision represents another instance of the state pushing ahead with greener policies than the Trump administration, using the size of its population to push companies to make more environmentally friendly products.

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.

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NO SECRET OF DEMS' DISDAIN FOR SCIENCE RULE: Democrats tore into an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan Wednesday that would bar the agency from relying on scientific studies that don't release their underlying data -- a controversial proposal resurfacing this week with reports that the agency may expand the reach of the rule.

The proposal -- which the agency said will not be finalized until next year -- was pushed by former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses EPA didn't conduct required analyses of truck engine rule: internal watchdog Is Big Oil feeling the heat? MORE as an attempt to battle "secret science." But it has proven to be one of the EPA's most widely panned measures, garnering more than 600,000 comments, many of which argue the effort won't promote transparency but will instead undercut the agency's ability to rely on the best available science.

Many of the nation's top medical, science and public health groups were among those who have opposed the rule.

"These efforts pay cheap lip service to improving scientific integrity and transparency, but their true purpose is to undermine the decades of sound science on which EPA relies to protect our air, water and the health and safety of the American people," Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoDemocrats unveil first bill toward goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 House committee advances sweeping legislation to battle 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule MORE (D-N.Y.) said at the House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing, noting that Congress has repeatedly chosen not to forward similar proposals when they were introduced by lawmakers in years past.

"Any form of this rule essentially guarantees that political agendas are given more weight than science in EPA rule-making."

EPA sent a longtime career employee, Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, who heads the Office of Research and Development, to take questions from lawmakers.   

She told Tonko that EPA is still considering the comments, and while many supported the concept of transparency, "where they differed were in the way in which we approached that." 

But while Orme-Zavaleta answered questions inside, the agency was busy defending the proposal on Twitter.

"Science transparency does not weaken science, quite the contrary. By requiring transparency, scientists will be required to publish hypothesis and experimental data for other scientists to review and discuss, requiring the science to withstand skepticism and peer review," the agency wrote.

Read more here.

 

CARBON TAXES ARE HAVING A MOMENT: A bipartisan group backed by a number of environmental and fossil fuel companies is launching a six-figure digital ad campaign Wednesday aimed directly at Washington's movers and shakers.

The 30-second online video titled "The Bipartisan Climate Solution" aims to sell a carbon tax as a win-win solution for Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

The campaign, pushed by Americans for Carbon Dividends, the political arm of the Climate Leadership Council, is being launched at a moment when lawmakers are feeling pressure from constituents to address climate change.

The group is hoping to seize on growing support for action on climate change to convince lawmakers that a carbon tax on power plants and fossil fuel emitters is a solution.

"This is significant because it's taking a message that is very timely, which is that there is a compelling, bipartisan solution that does the job and is available. We feel it meets one of the key unmet needs as a bipartisan climate solution," said Ted Halstead, chairman and CEO for both advocacy groups.

While one bipartisan bill has already been introduced in the House to establish a carbon price, the group is pushing their own plan. It would implement a $40-per-ton fee on carbon emissions that would rise over time. Under the plan, revenue would be collected by the government and redistributed back to citizens in the form of a dividend.

A May poll paid for by the council found that 66 percent of those polled supported the carbon dividends plan. That includes 80 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans.

Major energy groups including ConocoPhillips and Exxon have supported the dividends plan. The proposal is backed by big businesses and former GOP policymakers like James Baker and George Shultz, who each served as secretary of State under a Republican administration.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP THURSDAY:

Academics, scientists and industry representatives will attend a day-long summit at the White House on Thursday to discuss "Partnerships in Ocean Science and Technology." The event aims to address the economic, security and environmental concerns related to the ocean. The purpose of the event is to "further our understanding of the ocean and build partnerships with philanthropy, academia and industry," according to a White House official.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left MORE (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential contender, and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are introducing the next stage in their Green New Deal plan Thursday, with a focus on housing. The yet to be introduced bill is being slated as a means to "transform America's public housing."

A House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee will hold a hearing on energy innovation from geothermal power.

A House Natural Resources subcommittee will have a hearing looking into a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on illegal and unreported and unregulated fishing.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Rick PerryRick PerryNew Energy secretary cancels Paris trip amid mass strikes against Macron proposal Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in Overnight Energy: Critics call EPA air guidance 'an industry dream' | New Energy secretary says Trump wants to boost coal | EPA looks to speed approval of disputed industry pollution permits MORE's nominated replacement, Dan Brouillette, to be secretary of Energy.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Sweden's central bank sells off bonds from Canadian province over climate concerns, Reuters reports

Trump says U.S. left troops in Syria 'only for the oil,' appearing to contradict Pentagon, Politico reports.

Navajo leader vows no financial backing for tribal coal mines deal, Reuters reports.

Feral hogs find and destroy cocaine worth $22,000 hidden in woods, Newsweek reports.

 

ICYMI. Stories from Wednesday...

-California bucks Trump administration lightbulb rollback with tougher state standard

-Scientists join Democrats in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule

-Trump administration suspends oil and gas production on 130 plots in Utah after challenge

-Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg returning to Europe on catamaran

-Venice partially submerged after highest tide waters in more than 50 years

-Group launches six-figure pro-carbon tax ad campaign aimed at Congress