OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Oil prices jump amid partial reopenings | Bill aims to block fossil fuel firms from coronavirus aid | Tribes to receive some coronavirus aid after court battle

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Oil prices jump amid partial reopenings | Bill aims to block fossil fuel firms from coronavirus aid | Tribes to receive some coronavirus aid after court battle
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OIL CAN: Oil prices have increased in recent days while parts of the country begin to partially reopen their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

A number of states already started allowing certain businesses to resume their operations in an effort to boost the economy.

Analysts and some political figures are linking the partial oil price rebound to an increase in demand caused by the renewal of economic activity.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices increased about 20 percent Tuesday, following several days of gains. This is a marked change from last month, when WTI prices were briefly negative, falling as low as negative $40 per barrel.

Increasing confidence and demand: Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, attributed the higher prices to both an increase in demand and investor confidence.

“It’s both psychological improvement and also that physical demand is starting to rally again,” he said. 

De Haan noted that GasBuddy’s data shows that demand on Monday was up 7.74 percent from the prior Monday and was the highest Monday demand since March 16. 

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“There certainly is solid evidence that the worst demand destruction is behind us,” he said, noting that Texas and Florida, which have partially reopened, are among the country’s largest gasoline-consuming states. 

Trump celebrates: President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE, meanwhile, celebrated the higher prices on Tuesday morning, tweeting, “Oil prices moving up nicely as demand begins again!” 

The Trump administration has pushed for states to lessen restrictions meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in order to boost the economy.

Some have expressed concern that reopening businesses could lead to a higher number of cases of the virus. 

De Haan said that if there were to be a new spike in cases, oil prices could backslide. 

“If we do see a second wave, that’s going to cause demand to go down,” he said. “If it does happen ... that could certainly push prices back down.”

Read more about the development here

 

CORONAVIRUS (LOAN) PREVENTION: A group of more than 40 lawmakers is backing legislation to prevent fossil fuel companies from receiving coronavirus-related aid. 

The sweeping Resources for Workforce Investments, Not Drilling (ReWIND) Act aims to prevent fossil fuel companies from receiving loans provided for under previous coronavirus aid packages and prevent the Trump administration from helping the companies in other ways. 

The legislation follows the loosening of criteria for a Federal Reserve lending program, which could help the oil and gas industry acquire government financing. 

“It would be unconscionable to bail out big oil and gas corporations with money intended to help families, workers and small businesses survive this global pandemic,” said a statement from Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), who is leading the legislation alongside Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyHillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem Democratic senator will introduce bill mandating social distancing on flights after flying on packed plane MORE (D-Ore.). 

Bill faces tough road: The new legislation will likely face an uphill battle in the Republican-led Senate. 

Whether or not to include the fossil fuel industry in coronavirus assistance has become a partisan lightning rod, with Republicans arguing that aid is necessary for energy independence and Democrats opposing it for environmental reasons. 

The bill appears to attempt to directly counter either actions taken by the Trump administration or moves supported by industry groups.  

For example, it aims to cap an emergency oil supply called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)  at its current level of 714.5 million barrels and prevent private companies from storing their oil in the reserve.

President Trump has said he wants to fill the remaining space in the reserve by purchasing oil, which would help industry.  After Congress declined to fund that endeavor, the administration moved to allow companies to lease space in the reserve. 

The legislation would seek to halt the sale of new fossil fuel leases while the administration continues to sell leases on federal land and prevent the Interior Department from cutting royalties for companies with such leases, which has been advocated for by certain industry groups. 

Read more about the ReWIND Act here. 

Also on Capitol Hill…

Reps. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinSanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 House Democrats seek to codify environmental inequality mapping tool  House coronavirus bill aims to prevent utility shutoffs MORE (D-Va.) and Raul RuizRaul RuizHouse Democrat who's a physician calls on Trump to 'man up' and wear mask In Trump response to coronavirus, left sees environmental injustice House coronavirus bill aims to prevent utility shutoffs MORE (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that aims to help communities that are disproportionately impacted by environmental inequality by authorizing $50 million in grants for projects including those that would monitor pollution and investigate the disproportionate impacts of the coronavirus in these communities. 

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STIMULUS START: The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it would begin distributing some of the coronavirus stimulus intended for Native American tribes, irking lawmakers who say the administration took far too long to dole out partial funding. 

The CARES Act passed on March 25 set aside $8 billion for tribal governments to cover the costs of combating the coronavirus. But getting that funding in tribal coffers has been delayed in a court battle over which entities should qualify.

“We are pleased to begin making $4.8 billion in critical funds available to tribal governments in all states,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhy Trump can't make up his mind on China Five takeaways from PPP loan data On The Money: Trump administration releases PPP loan data | Congress gears up for battle over expiring unemployment benefits | McConnell opens door to direct payments in next coronavirus bill MORE said in a statement Tuesday.

Distribution to start Tuesday: That figure, 60 percent of total funding, will be distributed based on tribes’ total populations starting Tuesday. The rest, to be handed out “at a later date,” will take into account the number of people employed by the tribe.

Congress gave the Treasury 30 days to distribute the stimulus funds — a deadline that was missed.

“Native communities needed these resources for their health and economic recovery plans weeks ago. The full fund should have been distributed by now,” Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate rejects Paul proposal on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 | Commerce Department led 'flawed process' on Sharpiegate, watchdog finds | EPA to end policy suspending pollution monitoring by end of summer House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 MORE (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a statement.

Native American communities have been hit particularly hard by the virus, flooding rural and tribal hospital systems with patients.

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The funding for tribes was delayed due to disputes over whether corporations affiliated with tribes should receive funds.

Read more about the dispute here. 

EXTENDING THEMSELVES: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Tuesday extended the tenure of William Perry Pendley to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in an acting capacity until June 5.

Pendley has been a controversial pick to head the bureau due to statements he has made opposing federal land ownership.

Bernhardt also gave a one-month extension to acting Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management to Casey Hammond, acting National Park Service Director David Vela, acting Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Director  Lanny Erdos and acting Special Trustee for American Indians Jerold Gidner. 

Last month, the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) threatened a lawsuit if the department continued to keep acting officials in the roles which typically require Senate confirmation. 

Following the extensions, PEER Senior Counsel Peter Jenkins told The Hill in an email that the group would sue “in a matter of a few days.”

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

'Like watching a train wreck': The coronavirus effect on North Dakota shale oilfields, Reuters reports

Coronavirus is causing a flurry of plastic waste. Campaigners fear it may be permanent, CNN reports

Texas Railroad Commission rejects statewide oil production cuts, The Houston Chronicle reports

ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday...

Push to reopen national parks sparks pandemic concerns

Renewable energy topped coal in US for 40 days straight

Oil prices jump amid partial economic reopenings

Legislation aims to block fossil fuel companies from receiving coronavirus aid

Tribes will begin to receive partial coronavirus stimulus funding after court battle

FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES:

Burning wood is not a solution to climate change, write Philip Duffy, the president of Woods Hole Research Center,  William Moomaw, a professor  at Tufts University, John Sterman a professor at MIT and Juliette N. Rooney-Varga director of the Climate Change Initiative at UMass Lowell.