Overnight Energy: House Dems propose halt to drilling on public lands | Former Van Drew staffers land jobs at Energy committee | Defense bill passes without key measures on 'forever chemicals'

Overnight Energy: House Dems propose halt to drilling on public lands | Former Van Drew staffers land jobs at Energy committee | Defense bill passes without key measures on 'forever chemicals'
© Getty Images

A LIL SOMETHING FOR THE KEEP IT IN THE GROUND TYPES: House Democrats introduced sweeping climate legislation Tuesday that would halt fossil fuel production on public lands for at least a year as the nation prepares to drastically cut climate-warming pollution from its own land holdings.

The bill from the House Natural Resources Committee requires the Department of the Interior to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions on public lands by 2040. 

"The Trump administration is handing out drilling and coal mining leases like candy, and no thought is ever given by this administration to the climate change impacts," said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) a sponsor of the bill as well as chair of the committee.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Our bill is about what's right for the whole country and not just polluting industries," he added.

Grijalva said the yearlong moratorium on fossil fuel production would be meant to give Interior time to assess how to meet the 2040 goal of net-zero emissions, though the bill also sets targets in five year increments that the department must meet.

The department would be barred from issuing new leases until they came into compliance with the targets.

The plan would ratchet up the royalties paid by fossil fuel companies that drill and mine on the nation's more than 600 million acres of public land, raising fees from roughly 12 percent to 18 percent. That increased cost of doing business would be used to create a transition fund to help communities that are largely dependent on the fossil fuel industry. 

In a nod to the Green New Deal, Grijalva referred to them as "fees that big oil and not taxpayers will have to cover" that would be used for land reclamation, cleaning up the environment as well as the retraining of workers. 

The timing: The legislation, which would likely face tough scrutiny in the Republican-led Senate, comes as environmentalists left the latest United Nations climate summit disappointed by countries resisting more ambitious climate measures. 

Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandOvernight Energy: DOJ dropping antitrust probe into automakers | Energy chief unveils coal research initiative | House Dems seek to conserve 30 percent of US lands, oceans House Democrats seek to conserve 30 percent of US lands, oceans by 2030 Stuck in DC for impeachment, senators hold ground in Iowa MORE (D-N.M.) said the bill would help curb the nearly quarter of U.S. emissions that are produced on public lands, specifically calling out methane being leaked by oil and gas operations.

ADVERTISEMENT

Barring oil and gas drilling on public lands isn't a new idea for the party. A number of Democratic presidential candidates have proposed stopping new oil leases on public lands, though many have been hesitant to end ongoing drilling as well.

The House already voted this year to bar drilling along nearly the entirety of the U.S. coastline. Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are also working on a bill that would push the U.S. to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The full story is here

 

And we're back! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Rebecca Beitsch will be managing this newsletter solo for the time being. 

Please send her tips and comments at rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch and @thehill.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

A PLACE FOR THOSE WHO ESCHEWED VAN DREW: A half dozen staffers of Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.) have landed jobs at the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Van Drew, a vocal opponent of impeachment, informed his staff that he plans to switch parties after a meeting with President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE last Friday. 

The sudden shift sparked a number of his staffers to resign Sunday, along with offers to departing staffers from other wings of the Democratic Party.

A spokeswoman for the Energy and Commerce Committee confirmed that six of Van Drew's former staffers would join the committee to work on short term projects. The hiring was first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Van Drew, a freshman from a Republican-learning district, was one of just two Democrats to vote against opening an impeachment inquiry into the president.

In a letter to Allison Murphy, Van Drew's chief of staff, five senior aides wrote that Van Drew's jump to the GOP "does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office," adding that they were "deeply saddened and disappointed by his decision."

ADVERTISEMENT

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had also offered jobs to Van Drew's departing staffers.

"It's right before the holidays and these staffers just quit their jobs to stand up for their Democratic values. We'll bring them and others who leave on with the @dccc until they land new jobs that align with their values," Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosHouse GOP campaign arm mocks Democrats after stumbling upon internal info on races Julián Castro endorses Rep. Cuellar's primary opponent in Texas Vulnerable Democrats fret over surging Sanders MORE (D-Ill.), the DCCC chairwoman, tweeted.

The story is here

 

PFAS PLAN: The defense policy bill is headed to the president's desk without a number of provisions designed to curb a cancer-linked chemical that Democrats and environmentalists have pushed to be better regulated by the government.

Stripped from the bill were a number of measures dealing with a chemical abbreviated as PFAS, used in a variety of products ranging from raincoats to nonstick cookware to firefighting foam. 

The substance is not just leaching into the water supply--it's been dubbed a "forever chemical" due to its persistent presence both in the environment and the human body. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The bill does not include language to force the Environmental Protection Agency to set a limit on how much PFAS may be allowed in water, something some Republicans had argued was outside the purview of the defense bill.

But it does push the military to stop buying firefighting foam that contains PFAS by 2023 and to stop using such foam by 2024. 

The legislation also adds PFAS to the Toxic Release Inventory which requires greater data collection on on the substance, including requiring the EPA to test the health effects of other forms of PFAS, forcing manufacturers to turn over their data, and making municipalities disclose when PFAS has been found in drinking water.

PFAS provisions may find their way into an appropriations bill, and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi's staff huddles with aides in both parties on 'surprise' medical billing House panel approves bill to grant DC statehood Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' MORE (D-Md.) has vowed to bring a broad PFAS bill to the floor in January. 

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-Paris Disagreement: States Split on Climate, So U.S. to Miss Emissions Target, Stateline reports.

-Colorado lawmakers to consider letting human bodies be composted, The Denver Post reports.

-After voters rejected a gas tax hike, Missouri taps into general checkbook for road projects, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. 

-California requires 'humane' space for farm animals. Now, pork industry is suing, The Sacramento Bee reports.