Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030

Greg Nash

USMC-NAY: Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats announced Thursday they would not support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), citing the proposed deal’s failure to address climate change.

“Despite the fact that it includes very good labor provisions, I am voting against USMCA because it does not address climate change, the greatest threat facing the planet,” Schumer said in a statement.

“Instead of advancing global climate security by outlining binding and enforceable climate commitments from all three countries, the Trump administration provides significant incentives for manufacturers to move their business and their jobs from the U.S. to Mexico, where clean air and clean water regulations are much weaker,” he continued.

Schumer made his announcement shortly before the Senate was set to vote on the revised North American trade deal on Thursday. The measure overwhelmingly passed the upper chamber in an 89-10 vote after the House signed off on it in December following months of closed-door negotiations.

Several other Democrats opposed the trade deal citing climate concerns, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Jack Reed (R.I), Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Sanders mentioned climate change as a factor in his opposition to the trade deal during Tuesday’s night’s debate, only to be cut off by the moderator who promised to address climate change later.

“But they’re the same,” Sanders.

Gillibrand called the deal a “missed opportunity to address the urgent threats we face from climate change. It fails to close loopholes for corporate polluters or set binding, enforceable standards to protect clean air and water.” 

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler defended the deal’s climate credentials on Twitter, saying it “provides some of the strongest environmental protections ever negotiated in a free trade agreement, including important provisions to combat marine litter.”

Numerous Senate Democrats have announced their support for the deal, including progressive figures such as Brown and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a Democratic presidential candidate.

Read more about the Democratic opposition here.


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GIVE US THE DEETS: House Republicans offered new details about their plans for environmental legislation after Democrats rolled out their own sweeping proposal last week, though leadership said the move was not a response to the Democrats’ plan.

At a Thursday morning meeting first reported by The Hill, lawmakers pitched their colleagues on a variety of approaches that could be incorporated into the eventual package. 

House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) told The Hill that the proposals would build upon a legislative package already endorsed by the minority, ranging from “forestry ideas” to investing in new research and planting trees.

“This really I think sets the stage for our involvement not only in climate but other environmental related issues,” he said. 

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-La.) told The Hill that at the meeting, Republicans discussed a mix of both old and new bills. 

He said that a package, which could come out in the coming months, could include investing in research and development as well as efforts to make communities more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Thursday’s meeting follows the announcement of a broad package being developed by Democrats that requires 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, a mandate that includes a clean energy credit trading system. The transportation sector would also have to be emissions free by 2050 through increasingly tight vehicle standards. 

Buildings and industry would also be required to use materials from more eco-friendly sources and meet stricter building codes under the Democratic plan. 

The Republican effort is being led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whose office stressed in a Wednesday email to The Hill that it was not a response to the Democrats’ proposal. 

“This is a policy conference to discuss how conservative solutions have been the greatest driver of emissions reductions in the world and how these principles are the road map for a cleaner environment here at home and around the globe,” McCarthy spokesman Matt Sparks said by email. 

Graves told The Hill that at the meeting, GOP lawmakers also talked about “concerns related to some of the proposals that have been proffered on climate” by Democrats. He cited economic factors and possible reliance on foreign fuels. 

Environmental advocates, however, criticized the Republican conference based on the party’s past record on the issues. 

“Let’s get real: Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump just blocked a package of clean energy tax credits from being included in the year-end tax and budget deal,” Sierra Club global climate policy director John Coequyt said in a statement. 

Read more about their plans here


MICROSOFT’S CARBON PUSH: Tech giant Microsoft announced Thursday it would seek to be carbon negative by 2030.

“The world’s climate experts agree that the world must take urgent action to bring down emissions. Ultimately, we must reach “net zero” emissions, meaning that humanity must remove as much carbon as it emits each year,” the company said in a release.

“While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so. That’s why today we are announcing an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint.”

The plan involves increasing its own internal carbon price while imposing it for the first time on its suppliers.

The company will also shift to renewable electricity and an all-electric vehicle fleet.



Toxic refinery leaks imperiled Philadelphia residents, E&E News reports

Florida moves to purchase land to protect Everglades from oil drilling, we report

Germany agrees timeline, compensation for coal phase-out, The Associated Press reports


ICYMI: Stories from Thursday…

Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications

Republicans offer details on environmental proposals after Democrats roll out plan

Florida moves to purchase land to protect Everglades from oil drilling

Tags Andrew Wheeler Bernie Sanders Brian Schatz Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Garret Graves Greg Walden Jack Reed Kevin McCarthy Kirsten Gillibrand Sheldon Whitehouse

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