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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump criticizes banks withholding funds from certain fossil fuel projects | Treasury considers lending program for oil producers| White House uses Arbor Day to renew push for 1 trillion trees initiative

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump criticizes banks withholding funds from certain fossil fuel projects | Treasury considers lending program for oil producers| White House uses Arbor Day to renew push for 1 trillion trees initiative

TELL CORPORATE : President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-Trump lawyer Cohen to pen forward for impeachment book Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again Man known as 'QAnon Shaman' asks Trump for pardon after storming Capitol MORE on Friday expressed opposition to banks’ unwillingness to fund certain fossil fuel projects, after two major banks announced this week that they wouldn’t directly support oil and gas drilling in the Arctic.

After Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration proceeds with rollback of bird protections despite objections | Trump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians | EU 2019 greenhouse gas emissions down 24 percent MORE (R-Alaska) accused the banks in an Oval Office appearance of “starting to discriminate against American energy companies” and trying to “discriminate against investment in my state in Alaska,” Trump replied “I don’t like that.”

Sullivan then said that he doesn’t think the banks should be permitted to do so.

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“I like the idea of looking into that," Trump responded, asserting that the companies were "pushed by the radical left."

"They're afraid of the radical left. You shouldn't be afraid of the radical left,” he added. “You cannot be discriminating against these great energy companies.”

Trump's remarks came during an appearance in the Oval Office where he signed the latest coronavirus relief bill.

The exchange followed announcements this week by Citi and Morgan Stanley regarding their policies for funding fossil fuel projects in the Arctic as well as making other commitments surrounding funding for fossil fuel projects. 

Citi said that it will not “provide project-related financial services” for “oil and gas exploration, development and production in the Arctic Circle.”

Morgan Stanley said it won’t “directly finance new oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have previously made similar pledges.

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Banks have also shied away from financing other fossil fuel projects including new coal fired power plants and new thermal coal mines. 

Read more on the exchange here

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MNUCHIN MINUTIAE: The Trump administration is considering the creation of a lending program to provide money for U.S. oil producers, which have seen falling prices in recent days. 

“One of the components we’re looking at is providing a lending facility for the industry,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinTreasury Department sanctions inner circle of Russian agent Derkach for election interference Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated Ben Carson dismisses 25th Amendment talk: 'As a nation we need to heal' MORE told Bloomberg News on Thursday. 

“We’re looking at a lot of different options and we have not made any conclusions,” he added.

Mnuchin didn’t tell the news outlet whether such a lending program would be done through the Treasury Department or Federal Reserve. 

He did say, however, that for oil companies that are ineligible for assistance from the Federal Reserve, there are discussions about “alternative structures with banks.”

Mnuchin expressed openness to another option for assistance during comments in the Oval Office on Friday: taking equity stakes in energy companies.

"You can assume that’s one of the alternatives, but there’s many of them," he said.

Read more on the potential for financing here

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1 DOWN, 999,999,999,999 TO GO: The White House is using Arbor Day, which encourages people across the country to plant trees, to renew its push for joining the Trillion Trees initiative.

The Trump administration has pushed to join the global initiative since January, but a House bill to finalize the effort has stalled amid the coronavirus outbreak and a lack of support from Democrats.

The tree initiative “will lead to cleaner air and water, create wildlife habitats and reaffirm our nation’s commitment to conserving the majesty of God’s creation and the natural beauty of our world,” President Trump wrote in an Arbor Day message Friday. During his message he also touted planting a maple tree on the South Lawn of the White House for Earth Day earlier this week.

Rep. Bruce WestermanBruce Eugene WestermanGOP attacks Democrats for allowing Moore to vote after positive COVID test Moore to appear in House for Speaker's vote after testing positive for COVID-19 LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to name Speaker MORE (R-Ark.), the Yale-educated forester who sponsored the Trillion Trees Act that would commit the U.S. to the global initiative, said he’s hopeful to get the bill back on track after Congress deals with the immediate response to the pandemic.

Westerman said the coronavirus outbreak has him working on expanding certain portions of the bill, which in broad strokes requires the U.S. to plant some 3.3 billion trees each year over the next 30 years — an increase of about 800 million trees per year.

The underlying premise is that trees absorb carbon, and a boost in planting, harvesting and then planting more trees will allow the U.S. to reduce the harmful gas.

But Westerman said a portion of the bill that gives tax credits for sustainable building — a measure that promotes building energy-efficient homes alongside using wood products — could be a beneficial measure as the U.S. seeks to grow the economy once the virus subsides.

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“I thought the sustainable building tax credit was a good idea before the pandemic, now I think it’s a great idea,” he told The Hill.  “Now, I think we should even look at enhancing it. If we want to do things from the federal government standpoint to help the economy get rolling then we can use these incentives to help homebuilding and commercial construction.”

That expansion could include incentives to use American-made products. 

Westerman also sees the potential for the U.S. to take a greater role in promoting forestry in developing nations, a role he said could lead to more habitat for threatened wildlife as well as forestry jobs.

“Forestry and deforestation affects wildlife habitat. I think that has a tie into economies in a lot of these areas where forests are and the fact that some people trade illegal wildlife into these wet markets. I think we need to use leverage and pressure to try to shut down those wet markets around the world,” he said.

“The bill has a tie to helping prevent future pandemics by giving people better economies and livelihoods versus selling reptiles and certain mammals in the wet markets.” 

Trump announced his plan to join the Trillion Trees program earlier this year, and it’s become part of the Republican climate proposal in the House.

But Democrats have opposed Westerman’s bill, saying tree planting alone cannot be the key to the climate solution.

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“Any bill, no matter how well-intended, that does not respond to this crisis needs to be recognized as part of the problem,” Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanTrust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Capitol in Chaos | Trump's Arctic refuge drilling sale earns just fraction of GOP prediction | EPA finds fuel efficiency dropped, pollution spiked for 2019 vehicles Trump's sale of Arctic refuge drilling rights earns just a fraction of GOP prediction MORE (D-Calif.) said at the bill’s hearing in February. “We should plant trees, we should perfect cross-laminated timber ... but we should not call these ‘climate solutions’ if we are using these strategies to continue deforestation and continue developing and burning fossil fuel at a completely unacceptable and unsustainable pace.”

Read more on the legislation here

MAIL TO MCCONNELL: The battle between Democrats and Republicans over including energy measures in a coronavirus stimulus bill has flared up yet again.

“As Congress and the Trump Administration discuss further efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic, our Democratic colleagues continue to puppet renewable energy tax credit extensions,” six senators wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Murkowski blasts Trump's election claims, calls House impeachment appropriate MORE (R-Ky.) spearheaded by Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies Republican senators now regret not doing more to contain Trump MORE (R-N.D.).

“We once again urge you to reject these demands as they are unrelated to the current public health crisis.”

SEE YOU IN COURT: Jewish and Christian faith organizations have joined a suit over a Trump administration rule that rolls back regulations at power plants

“We represent diverse groups within the Jewish and Christian faiths, and are united in a common conviction that we and all people collectively carry a moral obligation to care for the earth and combat climate change,” they write in an amicus brief filed Friday.

In the Affordable Clean Energy rule finalized last June, the “EPA is not merely ‘shirk[ing] its environmental responsibilities’; it is acting in direct opposition to them. As leaders of the faithful, amici must speak out in opposition to EPA’s abdication of its moral and legal responsibilities to our planet and our people,” the groups wrote.

The case is a high stakes legal battle. If environmental groups lose, it could limit the EPA’s ability to address climate changing pollution in administrations to come.

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

A yearlong Arctic mission to study climate change takes three-week pause due to pandemic, The Hill reports.

Insect numbers down 25% since 1990, global study finds, The Guardian reports.

Battered by Matthew and Florence, North Carolina Must Brace for More Intense Hurricanes, InsideClimate News reports.

As a dying Salton Sea spews harmful dust, Imperial Valley water wars heat up again, The Los Angeles Times reports.

ICYMI: Stories from Friday…

Progressive groups call on Biden to remove Summers as economic adviser

Treasury considers lending program for oil producers

Yearlong Arctic mission to study climate change takes three-week pause due to pandemic

White House uses Arbor Day to renew push for 1 trillion trees initiative

Trump criticizes banks withholding funds from certain fossil fuel projects