Overnight Energy: Trump says US will cut oil production to secure global deal | Green groups press Biden on climate plans after Sanders exit | EPA looks to suspend hazardous waste cleanups during outbreak

Overnight Energy: Trump says US will cut oil production to secure global deal | Green groups press Biden on climate plans after Sanders exit | EPA looks to suspend hazardous waste cleanups during outbreak
© The White House

FOR A FRIEND IN NEED: President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE said Friday the U.S. would reduce its oil production to move forward with a tentative deal limiting global output, part of an effort by the administration to address sinking prices affecting American oil producers.

An agreement outlined during a Thursday meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil-producing nations known as OPEC+ would cut production by 10 million barrels a day, a 10 percent drop in oil production.

But that deal was stalled by Mexico, where president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been hesitant to cut production levels following campaign promises to boost Mexico's oil industry.

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"The United States will help Mexico along, and they'll reimburse us sometime at a later date when they're prepared to do so," Trump said, recapping a conversation with López Obrador.

Trump said the U.S. would cut production levels by 250,000 to 300,000 in order to assist Mexico in meeting the parameters outlined by OPEC+, but he could not provide any details as to how Mexico would reimburse the U.S. for cutting production.

"There's no real cost because you're saving it for another day," Trump added when pressed for more details.

 

But there's a disconnect between what Trump says he'll do and what the law allows...

U.S. antitrust law prohibits oil companies from coordinating their production, and there is no direct mechanism for the government to dictate production levels to private oil companies.

"U.S. production has already been cut because we're a market driven economy and oil is very market driven. They've been cutting oil all over the place," Trump said.

The deal Trump is trying to shepherd across the finish line would stall a trade dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia, with both counties increasing production as the coronavirus pushed demand for oil to drop by 30 percent.

Trump has had conversations with both leaders, including a call to Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Hot mic catches Queen criticizing 'irritating' climate inaction Putin directs sexist remark at US anchor Navalny, Afghan women among those under consideration for EU human rights prize MORE on Friday morning.

U.S. production has already fallen in the wake of sinking oil prices.

The number of rigs used to drill new oil wells is down by more than 400 from the same time last year, with nearly half of that decline coming in the last month.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, part of the Energy Department, predicts domestic oil production will drop by 500,000 barrels per day through the rest of the year, a figure that could decrease by 700,000 barrels per day into next year. The U.S. typically produces about 12 million barrels of oil each day.

Read more on the oil markets here

 

HAPPY FRIDAY! 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.

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BIDEN TIME: Environmental groups are pushing former Vice President Joe Biden to adopt a more aggressive platform on climate change after losing a big champion for their cause with the departure of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (I-Vt.).

Climate change is emerging as a significant issue within the Democratic Party, pitting progressives like Sanders who have called for more aggressive environmental policies such as a total ban on fracking against others like Biden, who instead opposes new fracking on public lands.

Although some environmental advocates have said they will now support Biden, others were more reticent, putting pressure on Biden to accommodate some of their proposed policies.

Climate change has emerged as a particularly salient issue for younger Democrats -- a group that Biden has struggled to win over during the course of the campaign.

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Sunrise Movement, a youth group advocating for environmental issues that has grown in influence, issued a statement after Sanders dropped out on Wednesday urging Biden to adopt a more aggressive climate policy framework. 

"We're not going to sugarcoat it: our hearts are heavy," Sunrise spokesperson Aracely Jimenez said in a statement. "The ball's now in Joe Biden's court. To avoid a repeat of 2016, he needs to show young people that he's going to stand up for them by embracing policies like an ambitious Green New Deal that led young voters to flock to Bernie. If he doesn't do this, our work turning out our generation to defeat Trump this fall becomes a lot harder."

Biden's campaign has been stressing that the former vice president has already been engaging with groups that supported Sanders and will continue to do so. 

Greenpeace, which does not endorse a candidate, gave an "A+" score to Sanders and a "B+" to Biden on their platforms. Nonetheless, the group called on the former vice president to be bolder.

"We've seen Joe Biden recognize more and more the urgency of this crisis," said Greenpeace climate campaigner Charlie Jiang. "But we still think that there is a lot more that Biden should do." 

Jiang said he'd like to see Biden commit to banning exports of crude oil and rejecting new permits for fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines and coal and liquified natural gas terminals.

Still, how far advocacy groups will go in standing by their demands remains uncertain in light of how unpopular President Trump remains among environmentalists, who have been dismayed by actions from the administration including significant rollbacks of Obama-era environmental regulations and its encouragement of fossil fuel production. 

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And Biden campaign officials stress that senior advisers have been engaging with progressive groups for a few weeks in the hopes of identifying common ground.

The former vice president faces the challenge of unifying the party, with strategists calling on him to make some concessions but without going too far to the left and undermining his centrist platform. 

"As we engage with these progressive leaders and these groups, including climate justice groups, we are continuously evaluating and considering additional policies that can build upon the ones Vice President BidenJoe BidenManchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report Abrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE has already introduced," said campaign spokesman Matt Hill. 

Read more about what the groups are pushing for here.

 

CLEAN UPS GET A TIMEOUT? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday announced that the cleanup of hazardous waste sites and other pollution spills may be slowed or paused during the coronavirus outbreak.

The agency said it would consider on a case-by-case basis whether to delay any cleanup projects, which may be carried out by private companies or state and local governments in coordination with the EPA.

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The guidance represents a different approach from a controversial March memo that offered an across-the-board option for companies to suspend monitoring of pollution if the virus interfered with their ability to do so.

"EPA remains committed to protecting human health and the environment as we continue to adjust to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic," EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Former EPA chief to chair pro-Trump think tank's environmental center Lobbying world MORE said in a statement. "This guidance will allow us to keep workers and the residents in these communities safe while also being able to respond to any emergency that may present an imminent danger to the public health or welfare."

The guidance allows for a pause in cleanups of contaminated sites if site workers have tested positive for COVID-19, if social distancing on the site is not possible or if workers would have to enter the homes of any quarantined people to do their work. Those factors would be weighed against imminent threats of direct human exposure to any contaminants. 

 

This latest memo prompted a very different reaction than the last...

Betsy Southerland, who served as director of the Office of Science and Technology at the EPA's Office of Water under the Obama administration, said the case-by-case approach was appropriate, allowing career staff to evaluate what work should stall amid the pandemic.

That's a sharp departure from the March memo, which Southerland called a blanket waiver. 

In that directive, the EPA said it would not pursue any fines or penalties against companies that stopped monitoring pollution output, arguing that the agency would be overwhelmed by such requests, and instead would review companies' need to suspend monitoring after the pandemic. 

"They're not making the same argument they made here in the regulatory enforcement memo that they don't have time to deal with it," Southerland said. "They're saying by god they will deal with it and really scrutinize it before any exemption is given, so we really hoped this is what [the] March memo would have looked like."

Hazardous waste cleanup teams may be in a better position to carry on work during the virus given their reliance on suits designed to withstand numerous dangerous substances.

Read the story here

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Cities are flouting flood rules. The Cost: $1 billion, The New York Times reports

Seattle closing 15 parks, beaches this weekend due to virus, the Associated Press reports

Environmental group bets $14 million on moving swing voters against Trump, NBC News reports 

Alaska suspends burn permits to stop wildfires during virus, the Associated Press reports

 

ICYMI: News from Friday...

Renewable energy producers warn of layoffs

Trump administration says no widespread royalty cuts for public lands drilling

Green groups press Biden for bolder plans after Sanders exits

EPA charts path to suspend hazardous waste cleanup amid coronavirus

Trump says US will cut oil production to secure global deal

Trump, Putin speak for second consecutive day

GOP senator introduces bill to remove US troops from Saudi Arabia