Overnight Energy: Democratic lawmakers seek emissions reductions in airline bailout | House Dems warn Trump against oil industry bailout | GOP senators ask Saudis to stabilize oil market

Overnight Energy: Democratic lawmakers seek emissions reductions in airline bailout | House Dems warn Trump against oil industry bailout | GOP senators ask Saudis to stabilize oil market
© Greg Nash

THAT KIND OF AIRLINE BAILOUT: A number of Senate Democrats say any airline bailout package must include measures that limit carbon emissions from the industry.

The airline industry asked the government Monday for over $50 billion in assistance, including both $30 billion in grants and another $25 billion in loans and tax relief, as airline traffic has nosedived amid the coronavirus outbreak. President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE has said he intends to provide help for the airlines.

But Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime MORE (D-R.I.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyA game theorist's advice to President Trump on filling the Supreme Court seat Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing MORE (D-Mass.) say those funds should come with strings attached.

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"Carbon offsets should be a condition for any such bailouts," Whitehouse tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "Airlines that want public support should live public values."

Though a small percentage of global emissions, the airline industry is one of the rapidly growing sectors of greenhouse gas emissions.

Emissions from global air travel increased 32 percent between 2013 and 2018, according to data from the International Council on Clean Transportation released late last year.

Another study from the same organization found that growth outpaced fuel efficiency measures taken by airlines threefold.

"There's a big imbalance between emissions growth and fuel efficiency gains. A bailout should try to address that core challenge," said Dan Rutherford, an author of both of the studies and the aviation director at the council.

He hopes any bailout would mirror the 2008 and 2009 bailouts for the auto industry, which were followed by a commitment to more aggressive fuel economy regulations.

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Rutherford said the package should not just provide relief to the industry, but spur use of biofuels -- perhaps having the government pick up some of the cost, which can be two to five times higher than for traditional jet fuel -- or work to reduce pollution from smaller flights.

"If you had just a straight bailout or [jet] fuel subsidy I think you're ... not going to get the new investments that you need" in alternative fuels, he said. "But if you go a different route and provide incentives for airlines to retire the less fuel efficient aircraft used on marginal routes, that could move the ball forward."

Airlines for America, the trade association for the airline industry, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Lawmakers have yet to offer up many specific conditions on the environmental front but some have included demands for labor and consumer protections.

Read more on the bailout talk here

 

HAPPY TUESDAY! 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.

 

CAN'T GET NO RELIEF: A growing number of Democrats are voicing concern that the White House may pursue broad relief for the oil and gas industry amid sinking prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Twenty House Democrats sent a letter to President Trump on Tuesday cautioning against dolling out further funds to the fossil fuel industry after the White House announced late last week that the government would purchase oil to shore up the industry.

"Diverting public funds to bail out this industry will do nothing to stop the spread of this deadly virus or provide relief to those in need," lawmakers wrote in a letter spearheaded by Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.).

"A bailout tells the American public that fossil fuel investors can rely on U.S. taxpayers to cover their bills when the industry's corporate executives' risky investments don't pan out."

On Friday, Trump announced that the U.S. would buy as much as 77 billion barrels of oil to help the industry as prices slump amid an ongoing trade dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia as well as the coronavirus outbreak.

Those barrels would be held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move that would cost taxpayers more than $2.5 billion.

Senate Democrats have already decried such assistance, while large oil companies have previously said they are not interested in any financial assistance.

Democrats worry the public health crisis surrounding coronavirus will lead to the government propping up the oil industry and handicapping efforts to combat climate change.

"Using this public health crisis as an excuse for another giveaway to the fossil fuel industry is badly misguided. It would only worsen the climate crisis," lawmakers wrote. " A corporate bailout for oil and gas industry is not the answer to either crisis."

Read about it here

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CHILL BABY CHILL: A group of 13 Republican senators wrote a letter to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday asking that the kingdom stop its recent decision to ramp up oil production and flood the global market.

"As the United States and the rest of the world--including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia--are dealing with COVID-19 pandemic response, mitigation and prevention efforts, the added impact of unsettled global energy markets is an unwelcome development," the senators wrote.

"It was greatly concerning to see guidance from the Kingdom's energy ministry to lower crude prices and boost output capacity. This has contributed to a disruption in global oil prices on top of already hard-hit financial markets."

"We urge the Kingdom to assert constructive leadership in stabilizing the world economy by calming economic anxiety in the oil and gas sector at a time when countries around the world are addressing the pandemic," they added.

The Monday letter was signed by Sens. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanOvernight Energy: Trump officials finalize plan to open up protected areas of Tongass to logging | Feds say offshore testing for oil can proceed despite drilling moratorium | Dems question EPA's postponement of inequality training Trump administration finalizes plan to open up protected areas of Tongass National Forest to logging  OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  House passes sweeping clean energy bill | Pebble Mine CEO resigns over secretly recorded comments about government officials  | Corporations roll out climate goals amid growing pressure to deliver MORE (R-Alaska), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerAbortion stirs GOP tensions in Supreme Court fight Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day On Paycheck Protection Program, streamlined forgiveness is key MORE (R-N.D.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Overnight Energy: Trump officials finalize plan to open up protected areas of Tongass to logging | Feds say offshore testing for oil can proceed despite drilling moratorium | Dems question EPA's postponement of inequality training Poll: 57 percent of Americans think next president, Senate should fill Ginsburg vacancy MORE (R-Alaska), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose CHC leaders urge Senate to oppose Chad Wolf nomination  MORE (R-Wis.), John CornynJohn CornynHillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Lawmakers introduce legislation to boost cybersecurity of local governments, small businesses On The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami MORE (R-Texas), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Bottom line Bipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock MORE (R-N.D.), Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyCoushatta tribe begins long road to recovery after Hurricane Laura Senators offer disaster tax relief bill Bottom line MORE (R-La.), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate to push funding bill vote up against shutdown deadline The conservative case for phasing out hydrofluorocarbons GOP senator attacks Biden: 'I'm not sure what he recalls' MORE (R-Wyo.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump stokes fears over November election outcome The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Abortion stirs GOP tensions in Supreme Court fight MORE (R-Ark.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordMcConnell works to lock down GOP votes for coronavirus bill Charities scramble to plug revenue holes during pandemic Warren calls for Postal Service board members to fire DeJoy or resign MORE (R-Okla.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat SCOTUS confirmation in the last month of a close election? Ugly The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' MORE (R-Texas) and James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection MORE (R-Okla.).

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Read more on the letter here

 

WORK IN THE TIME OF CORONA: Trump administration agencies, including those dealing with energy and the environment, are taking some steps to try to mitigate the spread of the virus.

An Interior Department spokesperson told The Hill in an email that the department and its bureaus have "taken measures to maximize telework flexibility, implement staggered work schedules and use social distancing and other mitigations where appropriate to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while continuing mission essential operations." 

An Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson said in statement that it has "authorized voluntary unscheduled leave and telework for all EPA employees across the nation" and that it is encouraging those who can telework to not go into the office. 

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

U.S. EPA Cincinnati office seeks coronavirus test for employee showing symptoms, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. 

The Park Service is selling out to telecom giants, High Country News reports.