Overnight Energy: Majority in poll believe US doing 'too little' on climate change | Supreme Court allows climate scientist's lawsuit to go forward | UN finds greenhouse gases hit record in 2018 | EPA weighs action on 'forever chemicals'

Overnight Energy: Majority in poll believe US doing 'too little' on climate change | Supreme Court allows climate scientist's lawsuit to go forward | UN finds greenhouse gases hit record in 2018 | EPA weighs action on 'forever chemicals'
© Getty Images

POPULAR OPINION: A majority of Americans believe the government must do more to address pollution and climate concerns, according to a new study.

The federal government must do more to protect clean water, air quality, animals, open lands and reduce the effects of climate change, according to a majority of respondents in the survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

The survey broke down along party lines, with 90 percent of those who identified as Democrats saying they believe the federal government is doing "too little" to address climate change and just 39 percent of self-identifying Republicans saying the same.


However, Republicans within the millennial and younger generations showed more concern than their older counterparts, with about 52 percent of those between the age of 18-38 saying they think the federal government isn't doing enough to fight climate change, compared to 41 percent of Generation X respondents and 31 percent of the Baby Boomer and older group.

Pew conducted the survey with 3,627 U.S. adults between Oct. 1-13. It has a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points. 

What the results tell us: The poll numbers highlight a growing national trend of Americans concerned about the effects of climate change and how opinions on how best to act has split the political parties and various generations. A number of polls this year have shown that climate change has grown as a top issue among Democratic voters, making climate action a top speaking point within the Democratic primaries. 

Surveys continue to also show that the issue is one of most concern among younger generations, with Republican youth particularly split from older GOP generations about the need to address, and vote on, the issue. The Pew survey underscores that divide, potentially offering a window to presidential candidates hoping to win over climate-minded right-wing voters.

The survey additionally found a national consensus over the need to shift energy consumption and production toward renewables. About three-quarters of Americans polled agreed developing wind, solar, hydrogen and other alternative energy sources over fossil fuels should be a priority.

Read more about the poll here.



Happy Monday! 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.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.


CLIMATE SCIENTISTS VS CLIMATE SKEPTICS: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up an appeal involving a prominent climate scientist who sued an iconic conservative magazine and libertarian think tank for defamation.

In a closely watched request to the Supreme Court, the National Review and Competitive Enterprise Institute asked the justices to intervene in a suit brought against them by scientist Michael Mann. The case, which pits climate scientists against the free speech rights of global warming skeptics, drew interest from lawmakers, interest groups, academics and media.

The Supreme Court's denial means at least four justices declined to take on the case, which is required to grant an appeal. Justice Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoREAD: Supreme Court justices mourn death of Ginsburg, 'an American hero' Ginsburg death sets up battle over future of court Trump's Supreme Court list reveals influence of Clarence Thomas MORE dissented from the court's decision to decline the case.

"The petition in this case presents questions that go to the very heart of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and freedom of the press: the protection afforded to journalists and others who use harsh language in criticizing opposing advocacy on one of the most important public issues of the day," Alito wrote.

"If the Court is serious about protecting freedom of expression," Alito added, "we should grant review." 

The background: Mann, the plaintiff, is best known among climate scientists for his "hockey stick" graph, which showed a sharp uptick in the earth's temperatures over the 20th century as carbon emissions from human activity were on the rise.

He later came under fire from skeptics after leaked emails with colleagues fueled accusations of misconduct, in a controversy dubbed "Climategate." But Mann was ultimately cleared by multiple investigations, including a 2010 review by his employer, Penn State University.

The National Review questioned the university's findings, however. The magazine accused the school of a whitewash, and Mann of scientific fraud.

What's next? Mann's defamation case will now continue to proceed through D.C.'s equivalent of state court.

Read more about the case here.


A NEW RECORD: Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached record highs in 2018, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a report released Monday.

The Guardian reports the findings from the United Nations agency show the increases in key climate-heating greenhouse gases measured in 2018 were all above the average for the last decade.

"There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, despite all the commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change. We need to increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement accompanying the report.

He added that it "is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5m years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now."

The report noted that the gap between emissions targets and the most recent findings were both "glaring and growing," underscoring the fact that more needs to be done on the issue.

More on the WMO's warnings here.



EPA MULLS ACTION ON PFAS: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering increasing the monitoring of a cancer-linked chemical that has been leaching into the water supply.

Their efforts focus on a class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS, which are used on a variety of nonstick products like raincoats and cookware. One study found that 99 percent of individuals 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.

EPA's announcement Monday asked the public to weigh in on a proposal to add PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which would push municipalities to alert people right away if the substance has been found in tap water.

It would also require manufacturers who use PFAS to report annually how much of each chemical is released to the environment.

"Exploring the addition of certain PFAS chemicals to the TRI is an important step that can enhance this tool and provide important information to the public on these chemicals for the first time," EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Wheeler seeks to paint EPA regulatory rollbacks as environmentally friendly | Former EPA chiefs endorse Biden, criticize agency under Trump | White House opposes House energy bill as Democrats promise climate action Former EPA chiefs endorse Biden, criticize agency direction under Trump Wheeler seeks to paint EPA regulatory rollbacks as environmentally friendly MORE said in a release.

The early-stage proposal does not set a limit for what would require municipalities and manufacturers to start reporting on PFAS, instead asking them to weigh in on what level is appropriate. 


The agency did say, however, that it was weighing setting that number lower than the usual threshold. 

"It's good they are proposing this 'cause we've been waiting for them to move forward with their commitment in the PFAS action plan," said Betsy Southerland, who was director of the Office of Science and Technology at the EPA's Office of Water under the Obama administration.  

"But we won't know how good it is until they propose what limit they will set for PFOA and PFOS," she said, referring to two types of PFAS. "That's going to be the key concern."

Read more about the EPA's proposal here


CLIMATE SANCTIONS: Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySchumer: 'Nothing is off the table' if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement Democrats see fundraising spike following Ginsburg death Democratic senator calls for eliminating filibuster, expanding Supreme Court if GOP fills vacancy MORE (D-Mass.) proposed a bill Monday to allow more sanctions against foreign companies and individuals for "egregious behaviors" that contribute to climate change. 

The bill, entitled the "Targeting Environmental and Climate Recklessness Act of 2019," would call the president to "prioritize action against, and deterrence of, egregious behaviors that undermine efforts" to stop climate change, according to a press release from Markey's office.

Markey's proposed bill would permit the president to remove companies' and individuals' access to U.S. financial institutions and block visa requests to push other countries to cooperate to combat global warming.

It would serve as an expansion of the Global Magnitsky Act, an anti-corruption bill utilized to sanction Russia and North Korea, to allow the sanctions to apply to climate change abuses, such as destroying rainforests or developing new coal plants.

"As we fight to enact a Green New Deal here at home, we must use all of the tools of our foreign policy to change the behavior of companies and individuals most responsible for exacerbating the climate crisis," Markey said in statement. "This legislation would bring us closer to a complete U.S. global strategy that matches the magnitude of the climate crisis." 

The bill counters the Trump administration's efforts to move away from climate-focused policy and asks the U.S. to follow through with its vow to provide $3 billion to the United Nations to help poorer countries survive without climate-damaging coal plants and to develop better infrastructure.

Read more on Markey's legislation here.  



Home buyouts split apart a flood-prone Missouri town, the Associated Press reports.

What the Volkswagen settlement says about the difficulty of cutting transportation emissions in Minnesota, MinnPost reports.

Wild cows returned home after hurricane, the Associated Press reports.

EU lawmakers set to declare 'climate emergency' ahead of U.N. conference, Reuters reports.


ICYMI: Stories from Monday and over the weekend...

Climate change protesters stage sit-in at Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Bogeymen of the far left deserve a place in any Biden administration Overnight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq MORE's office

Jane Fonda says she feels 'sad' for Trump

Supreme Court refuses to hear case involving climate scientist's lawsuit

Majority believe US government is doing 'too little' to fight climate change: study

EPA weighs greater reporting of 'forever chemicals'

UN agency finds greenhouse gases hit record levels in 2018

Senate Democrat's bill would allow sanctions for 'egregious' actions causing climate change



We need stronger federal rules to address methane waste problem, writes Isaac Brown, executive director of the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions.