Overnight Energy: Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez bill would outlaw fracking | Emails show weather service employees frustrated by 'Sharpiegate' | House panel schedules vote to subpoena Interior

Overnight Energy: Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez bill would outlaw fracking | Emails show weather service employees frustrated by 'Sharpiegate' | House panel schedules vote to subpoena Interior
© Greg Nash

IF FRACKING IS OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL FRACK: A bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersCuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Trump Spanish-language ad equates progressives, socialists Biden's tax plan may not add up MORE (I-Vt.) that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTrump campaign rolls out TV spots in early voting states after advertising pause Trump adviser Jason Miller: Biden running mate pick 'his political living will' 'Squad' member Rashida Tlaib faces strong primary challenger MORE (D-N.Y.) helped craft would ban fracking nationwide by 2025, according to its newly unveiled text.

The legislation would immediately prevent federal agencies from issuing permits for expanded fracking, new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure.

A House version of the legislation is being spearheaded by Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoLet's build a better post-COVID future than fossil fuel consolidation Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs Florida lawmakers press Interior on offshore drilling MORE (D-Fla.). 


By Feb. 1, 2021, permits would be revoked for wells where fracking takes place and that are within 2,500 feet of a home, school or other "inhabited structure." The wells would be required to stop operations. 

Fracking for oil and natural gas would become illegal "on all onshore and offshore land in the United States" by Jan. 1, 2025. 

The legislation follows up on Sanders's campaign promise of a fracking ban if he's elected to the White House. It was introduced the week before Monday's Iowa caucus, which kicks off the 2020 presidential nominating contest.

"Fracking is a danger to our water supply. It's a danger to the air we breathe, it has resulted in more earthquakes, and it's highly explosive. To top it all off, it's contributing to climate change," Sanders said in a statement. 

"If we are serious about clean air and drinking water, if we are serious about combating climate change, the only safe and sane way to move forward is to ban fracking nationwide," he added. 

In a statement, Ocasio-Cortez said fracking "is a leading contributor to our climate emergency."

"It is destroying our land. It is destroying our water and it is wreaking havoc on our communities' health," Ocasio-Cortez said in the statement. 


The legislation is backed by environmentalists but has been slammed by industry groups.

"Sen. Sanders' fracking ban bill is desperately needed if we're going to stop the climate crisis," said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, in a statement. "This is the big, bold action that's required so future generations can have a livable planet."

An oil industry spokeswoman said the practice of fracking is safe and banning it would lead to a "spike in household energy costs."

"Banning a safe, successful method of developing energy would erase a generation of American energy progress and in the process destroy millions of U.S. jobs, spike household energy costs and hurt farmers and manufacturers," American Petroleum Institute spokeswoman Bethany Aronhalt told The Hill in a statement last week following the initial announcement of the bill.

Read it here


HAPPY MONDAY!  Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at rfrazin@thehill.com or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.


SHARPIEGATE: Internal emails show employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Weather Service (NWS) were upset and frustrated after President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE held up a map in the White House that showed an altered path for Hurricane Dorian sketched out with a black marker.

Emails obtained by The Hill and other news outlets through a Freedom of Information Act request show some scientists were flabbergasted at the president's actions in the so-called Sharpiegate controversy, and that they worried about other steps that might be taken.

The emails also criticized the NOAA over a statement it issued that sided with the president over the NWS, which had said Trump's map incorrectly suggested that Alabama was in the path of the hurricane.

"What's next? Climate science is a hoax? Flabbergasted to leave our forecasters hanging in the political wind," said an email by NOAA's acting chief scientist Craig McLean regarding the statement.

Trump on Sept. 1 tweeted that Alabama was a potential target of Hurricane Dorian, writing, "In addition to Florida - South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated."

After Trump's remarks, the NWS office in Birmingham, Ala., tweeted that the state would "NOT" be impacted. 

Trump continued to stand behind his statement on Alabama, however, and on Sept. 4 displayed a map of Dorian's projected path that appeared to show the path extended with black marker to include Alabama.

On Sept. 6, the NOAA issued an unsigned statement saying that the NWS's tweet "spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time" and that information provided to Trump and the public showed "that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama."

This statement resulted in some pushback from staffers, the new emails showed. 

"For an agency founded upon and recognized for determining scientific truths, trusted by the public, and responsible in law to put forward important science information, I find it unconscionable that an anonymous voice inside of NOAA would be found to castigate a dutiful, correct, and loyal NWS Forecaster who spoke the truth," said McLean in one email. 

"Our employees need to know that we stand for science, not politically motivated apologies," he added. 

In a reply to McLean's email, Deputy NOAA Administrator Tim Gallaudet wrote "I have no problem with you being as vocal as all of our NWS employees on this -- they are absolutely reeling over this."


Similar sentiments were shared by other employees, who called the statement "deeply upsetting," and "BULL."

"Please do not allow the science and support that we perform on behalf of the American public to be tossed into the trash heap by political expediencies," wrote one scientist. 

Read more on Sharpiegate here.


IT IS, IN FACT, SUBPOENA TIME: The House Natural Resources Committee will vote Thursday on whether to subpoena the Department of the Interior after numerous requests for information have been ignored.

Thursday's vote would grant Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) subpoena power as well as outline the scope of what the committee will seek from Interior.

But that discussion is likely to ignite tension with GOP members, who are not eager to agree to a far-reaching resolution.


"This is a change to our rules mid-process intended to wipe out input of minority members and take committee decision making behind closed doors," Ranking Member Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOvernight Energy: House passes major conservation bill, sending to Trump | EPA finalizes rule to speed up review of industry permits House passes major conservation bill, sending it to Trump's desk Overnight Energy: 20 states sue EPA over power plant regulation | States, groups sue to block federal coal leasing program | GOP lawmaker wants vote on public lands bill delayed MORE (R-Utah) said in a statement.

"It's an unprecedented power grab that, if adopted, provides unchecked subpoena authority over private citizens and agencies."

The committee's years-long beef with Interior includes 25 formal information requests to the department, of which "only three have received complete or nearly complete responses."

"This is the same authority most other committees give their chairs at the beginning of each Congress as a matter of course. We're just bringing ourselves up to par with where many of our colleagues are already," Adam Sarvana, the committee's spokesman, said in a statement to The Hill.

"The ranking member will be given notice before any individual subpoena goes out the door. The issue here is the unprecedented Trump administration stonewalling that got us to this point, which Republicans on this Committee have never seemed interested in addressing."

At a September hearing, lawmakers used screens in the hearing room to flash fully redacted pages, blurred images and examples where the committee was given limited versions of documents that were given to other requesters in full. 

An Interior spokeswoman told The Hill it has completed nine requests and will turn over the rest of the documents on a rolling basis. Just last week the department touted its productive relationship with the committee.

"Chairman Grijalva's long-desired intention to issue unwarranted subpoenas is nothing more than political grandstanding and a lowly partisan attack against the Trump Administration. The Department has been more cooperative with the committee than any in history -- turning over an unprecedented number of documents and even extending multiple invitations for personal visits with the Secretary, none of which have been accepted," a spokesperson for Interior said last week.

The longstanding rift between the department and the committee has led to some bipartisan frustration in the past.

"There are many of us on the other side of the aisle that may not share the Democrats' policy positions, but do recognize the role of oversight, and are frustrated when legitimate requests, bipartisan requests, are made and not answered," Rep. Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockHouse votes to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Cook shifts 20 House districts toward Democrats Democrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers MORE (R-Calif.) said at a hearing to review issues with getting information from Interior. 

Read more on the subpoena here.  



The State of the Union, of course. Check in at TheHill.com for our live coverage.



Concerns grow that Trump's wall will damage rivers, wildlife habitat on Arizona border, the Arizona Republic reports. 

Missouri killed a record number of feral hogs in 2019. And it might not be enough, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. 

Louisiana seeking $150M grant to elevate oil and gas highway, the Associated Press reports. 


ICYMI: Stories from Monday and the weekend...

GOP bill will commit U.S. to planting 3.3 billion trees annually

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez bill would outlaw fracking by 2025

Emails show weather service employees were frustrated by Trump, 'Sharpiegate'

Pentagon watchdog will review military use of cancer-linked chemical

Natural Resources Committee schedules vote to subpoena Interior