Overnight Energy: Dems unveil first bill toward goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 | Oversight panel asks EPA for plans on 'forever chemicals' | EPA finalizes rule easing chemical plant safety regulations

Overnight Energy: Dems unveil first bill toward goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 | Oversight panel asks EPA for plans on 'forever chemicals' | EPA finalizes rule easing chemical plant safety regulations

ZERO BY 2050: Democrats unveiled the first major piece of legislation in their effort to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with a bill that would first push government agencies to reach the goal.

Dubbed the 100 Percent Clean Economy Act, the bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee the effort which would be undertaken across the government. It tasks each federal agency with using its authority to reach the net-zero goal, using "a substantial change from business-as-usual policies."

"The Federal Government can and must play a leading role in global efforts to minimize climate change and to mitigate its worst effects. By achieving a 100 percent clean economy by 2050, the United States can take a critical step toward meeting that obligation," the bill states.

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The bill is the first in what may be several pieces of legislation dedicated to Democrats' goal of reaching a green economy by 2050--a vision they outlined in July and promised to deliver by the end of the year. 

Read more here

 

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

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A PFAS BLAST:

Yes, it appears 'forever chemicals' are holding up the defense bill: Plans to finish negotiations on the annual defense policy bill by the end of the week are being tripped up by continued impasses over President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE's border wall, Space Force and cancer-linked "forever chemicals."

Comments from the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Thursday indicate wide gaps remain on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), despite both saying earlier in the week they expected to finish negotiations by the end of the week. 

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeMinority caucuses call for quick action on police reform Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Bipartisan Senate panel leaders back fund to deter China MORE (R-Okla.) said he remains hopeful of reaching an agreement in principle, but House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithCapitalism in orbit Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Overnight Defense: Trump's move to use military in US sparks backlash | Defense officials take heat | Air Force head calls Floyd's death 'a national tragedy' MORE (D-Wash.) was less optimistic.

"I don't know, it's getting more difficult," Smith said Thursday when asked about finishing negotiations this week.

What does that mean for PFAS? Inhofe, meanwhile, said he's received a letter from House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi scoffs at comparison between Trump and Churchill: 'I think they're hallucinating' Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Pelosi joins protests against George Floyd's death outside Capitol MORE's (D-Calif.) staff saying she would not bring a bill to the House floor without provisions related to a class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS, which have been leaching into the water supply near military sites.

"A staffer of Pelosi today said that without something in the bill that's not going to be in the bill she's will not bring it to the floor," Inhofe said Wednesday.

"If that doesn't work to her liking, then she won't let us vote on the bill," Inhofe reiterated Thursday.

Pelosi's office denied the existence of a letter.

"There are multiple open items outstanding on the NDAA. Negotiations continue," a Democratic leadership aide said. "We are not going to negotiate through the press." 

Read more about NDAA and PFAS here

 

The NDAA standoff comes as Dems push for answers from EPA: Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to turn over documents showing how the agency plans to regulate a cancer-linked chemical that has been leaching into the water supply across the country.

The chemical, abbreviated as PFAS, is widely used in a number of nonstick products like cookware and raincoats. 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 also been found in the water supply in nearly every state in the country, leading to health issues for people who have been exposed.

In a letter from Reps. Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary MORE (D-Calif.) and Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeePelosi makes fans as Democrat who gets under Trump's skin House to consider amendment blocking warrantless web browsing surveillance Bipartisan bill aims to help smallest businesses weather the coronavirus crisis MORE (D-Mich.), Democrats argue the agency is taking too long to take action on the substance.

"With EPA's end-of-year deadline quickly approaching for proposed regulation of these toxic 'forever chemicals' it has become increasingly apparent that America's water will not be cleaned without immediate federal action," they wrote.

Rouda and Kildee said lobbying efforts from PFAS manufacturers "have raised serious concerns that EPA will not take action to regulate this toxic 'forever chemicals' by the end of the year."

The two are asking the EPA to turn over a list of all stakeholders, including PFAS manufacturing lobbyists, that the agency has consulted with in weighing regulation.

Read more here

 

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Meanwhile, House Dems are also looking at their own legislation: The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday forwarded major legislation that would target a cancer-linked chemical that is leaching into the water supply, PFAS. The sweeping legislation combines 11 different bills that would bolster monitoring of PFAS while forcing stronger EPA regulation of the substance.

The bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency to set a drinking water standard for PFAS. Currently the agency is weighing whether to do so -- a decision the agency said earlier this month they are still committed to making by the end of the year.

The EPA has only issued a voluntary recommendation that water contain no more than 70 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS. 

Read more about the bill here

 

THE LATEST ROLLBACK: Chemical plants will be less burdened by safety regulations under a new rule finalized by the Trump administration Thursday.

Under the finalized tweaks to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) risk management program (RMP), chemical plants will be rid of what officials determine to be "unnecessary regulatory burdens," aligning with the wishes of the chemical industry.

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"Accident prevention is a top priority of the EPA and this rule promotes improved coordination between chemical facilities and emergency responders, reduces unnecessary regulatory burdens, and addresses security risks associated with previous amendments to the RMP rule," EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump rule limits states from blocking pipeline projects | EPA finalizes rule to regulate cancer-linked chemical | Democrats want Congress to help plug 'orphan' oil and gas wells EPA finalizes rule to regulate cancer-linked chemical Trump rule limits states from blocking pipeline projects MORE said in a statement Thursday.

The EPA first proposed the changes to its RMP, a regulation meant to reduce the risks of chemical plant disasters, in May 2018. 

The proposal to tweak the rule aligns with the wishes of the chemical industry, which argued that the previous January 2017 regulatory changes by the Obama administration were too expensive and unnecessarily burdensome. Obama beefed up the RMP regulations in the wake of the 2013 fertilizer explosion in West, Texas, which killed 15 people.

"In fact, accident rates in states that had adopted burdensome elements in the RMP Amendments rule show less decline in accident rates than RMP facilities nationwide under the original rule," EPA's press release read. "Thus, there was little data supporting the claimed benefits of the RMP Amendments."

The plan, also known as the chemical disaster rule, is part of a suite of disaster prevention measures developed by EPA. The Clean Air Act mandates that facilities storing specific chemicals must adhere to the RMP. The first plan was developed in 1996, and nearly 12,500 facilities across the country are regulated under the RMP.

Read more about the reg here

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

In the Sierra, scientists bet on 'survivor' trees to withstand drought and climate change, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

New Jersey ramps up targets as it looks to go big on offshore wind energy, CNBC reports.

In a first for Massachusetts, Brookline votes to ban oil and gas pipes in new buildings, the Boston Globe reports.

Endangered red panda escapes zoo in south-east France, BBC News reports.

 

ICYMI. Stories from Thursday...

Democrats unveil first bill toward goal of net-zero emissions by 2050

Deal on defense policy bill proves elusive

Oversight Democrats ask EPA to turn over plans for regulating toxic 'forever chemicals'

EPA finalizes rule easing chemical plant safety regulations

Trump's NOAA pick withdraws, cites health

Supreme Court weighs lawsuit pitting climate scientist against skeptics