Overnight Energy: Lawmakers clamor to add provisions to fast-moving energy bill | EPA board questions replacement of Obama-era emissions rule | Dem senator asks watchdog to investigate two EPA rules

Overnight Energy: Lawmakers clamor to add provisions to fast-moving energy bill | EPA board questions replacement of Obama-era emissions rule | Dem senator asks watchdog to investigate two EPA rules
© Greg Nash

DASHING THROUGH THE SENATE: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are seeking to add their bills to a fast-moving bipartisan energy package, which is expected to hit the Senate floor for a vote on Thursday.

The American Energy Innovation Act is sponsored by Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans push for help for renewable energy, fossil fuel industries The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinStakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December Congress headed toward unemployment showdown MORE (D-W.Va.), and would spur research and development into renewables as well as technology to ease pollution from fossil fuels. 

The 555-page proposal already includes measures reflecting more than 50 bipartisan bills that have already been forwarded from the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee.

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That may just be the beginning, as a number of lawmakers are eager to add a few more bills to the compilation before it reaches the floor for a vote.

 

Like what?

Two bipartisan proposals, one from Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOpen Skies withdrawal throws nuclear treaty into question GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill Pass the Primary Care Enhancement Act MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCongress headed toward unemployment showdown McConnell gives two vulnerable senators a boost with vote on outdoor recreation bill Fight emerges over unemployment benefits in next relief bill MORE (R-Ohio) on building codes and another from Sens. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens coronavirus funds for states easing voting OVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey EPA's Wheeler grilled by Democrats over environmental rollbacks amid COVID-19 MORE (D-Del.) that aims to reduce the use of heat-trapping chemicals, are among those that could be tacked on to the new bill. 

"We expect Rob to offer an amendment with Senator Shaheen that would add the voluntary building codes sections of their legislation... which were left out of the energy bill," a spokesperson for Portman told The Hill in an email. 

A spokesperson for Shaheen told The Hill in an email that the senator wouldn't vote for the bill without her and Portman's provisions, which aim to strengthen building codes to make new homes more energy efficient, though the codes are voluntary and at states' discretion. 

Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunGOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal Republicans introduce bill to create legal 'safe harbor' for gig companies during the pandemic MORE (R-Ind.) is eyeing new proposals that aim to get rid of the electric vehicle tax credit for people making above a certain income threshold. He also wants to limit the credit to vehicles costing less than $45,000. 

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But not everyone's in agreement... 

The Murkowski-Manchin bill, which was introduced last week, would promote research in renewables including geothermal and wave technology, as well as nuclear energy. It also includes a controversial measure that could fast-track mining of minerals needed for the batteries to support long-term use of wind and solar.

The legislation's mining and fossil fuel provisions have elicited concerns from some Democrats, and calls from environmental groups to include provisions that would more directly help tackle the climate crisis.

"Senate Republicans who claim to want to do something about climate change face a big test this week: Will they join Senate Democrats in fighting for and passing bipartisan provisions that will address climate change in a significant way, or will they continue to do big oil's bidding and block any progress?" Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Beyond the amendments from Shaheen and Carper, Schumer wants tax credits for solar, wind, batteries and electric vehicles to be included in the package.

Read more about the possible amendments here and get more details on Braun's efforts 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. 

 

GOING IN REVERSE?: The Trump administration's plans for addressing vehicle emissions may not be as good for society as an Obama administration rule, according to a review released Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) independent science board.

The analysis from the Science Advisory Board (SAB) found "significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis" of the 2018 Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles rule.

The Trump administration has argued that reducing fuel economy requirements will allow automakers to produce more affordable cars. As customers replace older gas guzzlers with new cars, officials argued, overall emissions output will decline.

Those new emissions targets would be rolled out alongside a measure that would freeze average fuel economy at 37 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2026 rather than the 54.5 mpg ordered by the Obama administration.

But the Trump administration's analysis of the U.S. vehicle market, as well as the costs and benefits of the rule, were flawed because they overestimated the positive outcome of a rule significantly weaker than what it replaces, SAB said in its report.

"Together with other problems and inconsistencies, the issues are of sufficient magnitude that the estimated net benefits of the proposed revision may be substantially overstated," the report said. "The standards in the 2012 [Obama-era] rule might provide a better outcome for society than the proposed revision."

When reached for comment, an EPA spokesperson insisted the Trump administration's rule "will reduce air emissions and ensure vehicle fuel efficiency."

The proposal has been a source of frequent controversy for the Trump administration, spurring a legal battle with California as well as an allegation that EPA chief Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation OVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey MORE misled  Congress about career employees' involvement in formulating it.

 

In other EPA news...

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) has asked an internal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) watchdog to investigate alleged "irregularities" relating to two agency rules, his office said Monday. 

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He wrote a letter to the agency's inspector general asking him to look into procedures surrounding the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule and the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule, also known as the "secret science" rule. 

"I have been informed by multiple sources that EPA political officials appear to be trying to conceal EPA comments that are critical of the draft final [SAFE Vehicles rule]," Carper wrote last week. 

"I have learned of similar irregularities in the intra- and inter-agency processes associated with the preparation of a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking of the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science Rule," he added. 

An EPA spokesperson told The Hill in an email that the agency follows the law when it develops and proposes rules and regulations. 

"We will work with the IG should they decide to investigate," the spokesperson added. 

The SAFE Vehicles rule, a draft of which was sent to the White House in January, would freeze the average fuel economy requirement at 37 miles per gallon (mpg). Changes made by the Obama administration would have hiked it to 54.5 mpg by 2026.

The Transparency in Regulatory Science rule would prevent the agency from considering studies that don't make their underlying data public.

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Read more about the SAB analysis here and Carper's letter here

 

MISLEADING LANGUAGE:An official at the Interior Department has led an effort to insert misleading language about climate change, including some already debunked claims, into official agency reports, The New York Times reported Monday.

Indur Goklany, a longtime department employee whose responsibilities expanded under the Trump administration, reportedly led the effort. He was promoted to the office of the deputy secretary near the beginning of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump anti-reg push likely to end up in court Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE's time in office and began attending senior-level meetings and weighing in on early policy moves, the Times reported.

The Times reports that the misleading language appears in at least nine reports, including environmental studies and impact statements on major watersheds in the West.

Internally, the language claiming there's a lack of consensus among scientists that the earth is warming was known as "Goks uncertainty language," according to the Times.

The Times report is based in part off of department emails dating from 2017 through last year obtained under public-records laws by the watchdog group Energy and Policy Institute as well as interviews with current and former department officials. 

Read more here.

 

WARREN AGAINST WALL STREET: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPentagon charts its own course on COVID-19, risking Trump's ire Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-Mass.) released a plan over the weekend that would aim to fight climate change by increasing regulations on fossil fuel financing.

Her plan comes as some banks in recent months have said they will not directly finance oil and gas drilling in the arctic as Democratic lawmakers step up the pressure on these institutions and as her campaign has lagged in the crowded Democratic nomination contest.

As president, Warren says she would require banks to report how much fossil fuel equity and debt they create, direct credit agencies to impose a climate standard and appoint financial regulators who will hold financial institutions accountable for climate risks.

The senator would also require major insurance companies to disclose the size of premiums they're getting from coal, oil and gas projects.

"I will act decisively and swiftly to manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change instead of passing it on to millions of Americans," she said in an online post outlining the plan. "It's time to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis."

Over the past few months, some financial institutions have backed away from certain fossil fuel projects.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the role of nuclear in a clean energy future. 

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the nomination of James Danly to be a FERC commissioner. 

Afterwards Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette will stop by as the committee considers his department's budget.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

How DuPont may avoid paying to clean up a toxic 'forever chemical,' NBC News investigates

Study says world's beaches disappearing due to climate crisis, The Guardian reports

Oil and gas industry conference canceled amid growing coronavirus fears, the Houston Chronicle reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Monday...

GOP senator wants to exclude the rich from electric vehicle tax credit

Carper asks EPA watchdog to probe SAFE Vehicles, 'secret science' rules

Climate group endorses both Sanders and Warren

Warren releases plan to regulate Wall Street's effect on climate change

Trump official inserted debunked climate change language into scientific documents: report

EPA board: Trump replacement of Obama-era emissions rule may not be as good for society

Lawmakers clamor to add provisions to fast-moving energy bill