Overnight Energy: Biden campaign says he would revoke Keystone XL permit | EPA emails reveal talks between Trump officials, chemical group before 2017 settlement | Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings

Overnight Energy: Biden campaign says he would revoke Keystone XL permit | EPA emails reveal talks between Trump officials, chemical group before 2017 settlement | Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings
© Greg Nash

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.

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A pause on the pipeline… Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenPrivacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus Trump crowd chants 'lock her up' about Omar as president warns of refugees in Minnesota MORE's campaign said on Monday that he would rescind the Keystone XL Pipeline permit if elected, undercutting what has been a top priority of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus MORE.

“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as President and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit,” Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign's policy director, said in a statement.

"Stopping Keystone was the right decision then and it’s still the right decision now," Feldman added.

The pipeline, which would deliver oil from Canada to the U.S., has been blocked in court and is facing an appeal from the Trump administration.

Read more on that here.

‘Redlining’... Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette is accusing major U.S. banks of discriminating against the oil and gas industry, comparing their refusal to finance Arctic drilling projects to tactics used to prevent minorities from buying homes.


In an interview with Axios published Monday, Brouillette charged that some of the largest banks were “redlining” the oil and gas industry by declining to finance new drilling in parts of northeast Alaska.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Morgan Stanley — five of the eight largest U.S. banks — have said they will not provide loans or credit that support oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The 2017 tax-cut law lifted a decades-long ban on drilling in the region, drawing praise from the fossil fuel industry and criticism from Democrats and environmentalists.

Brouillette said the moves by major banks were similar to the systemic discrimination from the financial sector faced by nonwhite families throughout U.S. history.

“We didn’t want banks redlining certain parts of the country. We don’t want that here. I do not think banks should be redlining our oil and gas investment across the country,” said Brouillette, a former vice president of financial services firm USAA.

Throughout the 20th century, banks would often decline to extend home loans and other credit products to applicants from majority-minority areas, typically drawing red lines on maps around neighborhoods under the discriminatory assumption that they were too risky to serve.

That practice, known as redlining, is now illegal, but it prevented millions of nonwhite families from reaping the full benefits of the post-World War II economic boom and the federal government’s support for homeownership.

Read more on that here

Hypothetically… Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Neil ChatterjeeIndranil (Neil) ChatterjeeAppeals Court's support for FERC rule ramps up the need for flexible energy programs Watchdog finds agencies using outdated standards for gas export facilities Overnight Energy: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution | Panel votes to block Trump's 'secret science' rule | Court upholds regulation boosting electric grid storage MORE is considering running for governor in Virginia next year, Politico reported Monday.

A Facebook group titled “Hypothetical: Draft Neil Chatterjee for Virginia Governor 2021” was formed over the weekend, featuring a photo of Chatterjee wearing a Nats baseball cap while holding a gavel.

Chatterjee, a Republican tapped by President Trump to lead the commission in 2018, told Politico he was "just playing around" when he created the group, and plans to finish out his term, which ends in June of next year.

“My focus from now until June 30, 2021 is on my duties at FERC,” he told Politico. “Only after my term is complete will I start to give any thought to what I do next in life.”

Read more on that here

Billionaires only? Former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump extends Florida offshore drilling pause, expands it to Georgia, South Carolina Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet MORE criticized the investigations into his tenure at the department in an interview published Monday, saying that his experience suggested public officials would have to be billionaires in order to afford to fight politically motivated attacks. 

“For the future of our country, we need really good people to serve, and the resume shouldn’t start with a billionaire on the front of it,” Zinke told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “I have nothing against billionaires. I worked for one, love him to death. But it can’t be a prerequisite for serving in the highest levels of our government.”

Zinke claimed the investigations into him were “intended to harass” and that he stepped aside so he wouldn't have to risk his personal savings on expected legal fees. 

Read more on that here

GETTING CONNECTED: When the chemical company Brenntag received a fine in 2017, the National Association of Chemical Distributors asked for help from two new Trump administration appointees who previously worked in chemical lobbying, according to emails obtained by The Hill through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The two appointees were Mandy Gunasekara, a former NACD lobbyist who is now chief of staff at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Nancy Beck, former senior director at the American Chemistry Council. Beck, now detailed at the White House, has been nominated by President Trump to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Brenntag was ultimately fined, although the penalty it received was roughly 20 percent lower than the one initially proposed by the EPA. 

Documents state that the EPA had originally proposed a $19,410 penalty.

It was eventually settled for $15,591 according to an EPA spokesperson.


While former EPA officials told The Hill they didn’t think the changed settlement figure was out of the ordinary, the correspondence between an industry executive and former industry officials who landed jobs in the administration underscores what critics say is a cozy relationship between business groups and Trump officials.

In one 2017 exchange, NACD Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Jennifer Gibson asked Beck and Gunasekara to “assist” with a settlement that followed an alleged failure by Brenntag to certify a certain chemical on an official report.

Read more on the correspondence here.

COMMITTEE QUARRELS: Tensions between Democrats and Republicans over whether to conduct committee business online heightened on Monday after Republicans did not attend a virtual House Natural Resources Committee meeting. 

According to Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanOVERNIGHT 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 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' COVID-19 complicates California's record-setting wildfire season  MORE (D-Calif.), who chairs the Water Oceans and Wildlife subcommittee, Republican Reps. Robert Wittman (Va.), Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesHouse GOP seeks to cement Trump rollback of bedrock environmental law Oil and gas is a partner — not an adversary — in meeting our economic and environmental goals OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium MORE (La.), Daniel WebsterDaniel Alan WebsterGaetz set to endorse primary opponent of fellow Florida GOP lawmaker Former cop Demings faces progressive pushback in veepstakes Overnight Energy: Biden campaign says he would revoke Keystone XL permit | EPA emails reveal talks between Trump officials, chemical group before 2017 settlement | Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings MORE (Fla.)  and Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceHouse rebuffs GOP lawmaker's effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol Pelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership House Republicans investigating California secretary of state's contract with Biden-linked firm MORE (Ga.) had sent in an RSVP saying they would attend the meeting on the impacts of the coronavirus on fisheries and the seafood supply chain, but ultimately did not show up. 

“I have been working with some of those same members...on letters and on legislation to help get some relief to fishing communities,” Huffman said. “ I thought if ever there’s an issue where we can put aside the partisan Kabuki and just try to do something productive together, this would be it.”

He accused Republican leadership of issuing a “fatwa” on participation. 


Meanwhile, E&E News quoted an anonymous staffer saying that witnesses who join the hearings could pay a “price for engaging in such bluntly partisan activity.”

"Congress does change hands, and the chance to appear before a partisan fake hearing today may cost you a future of appearing before the real committee later,” the person reportedly said. 

However, a spokesman for Republicans on the committee denied that one of its staffers made such a comment.

“There was never any prohibition that our members participate and the comments in the article about witness retaliation did not come from anyone on committee staff,” spokesman Austin Hacker told The Hill in an email. 

He added that committee staff notified members of what he characterized as Democrats’ “refusal to work with us on an agreement establishing consensus on witnesses, providing equal rights to all members, and clear disclaimers that these events do not constitute official business.”

Read more on the tension here

TRENDING: Monday was the last day for the public to weigh in on the EPA’s science transparency rule, with a flood of last-minute comments leaving the rule “trending” on regulations.gov.

The proposal, which would limit consideration of studies that don’t make their underlying data public, has been highly controversial since it was unveiled in 2018. The latest version has spurred some 72,000 comments, many of them negative. 

“This proposal does not reflect longstanding, accepted scientific practice of using the best available science in the development of policy,” the Environmental Protection Network, a groups of EPA retirees, wrote in their comments. “EPA’s proposal did not discuss in any way how barring studies would further the policies of the regulatory statutes that it would affect, nor what was wrong with the current approaches to assuring study reliability.”


Cuomo administration cites new climate law in denying controversial New York, New Jersey pipeline, Politico reports

Dust bowl conditions of 1930s US now more than twice as likely to reoccur, The Guardian reports

Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Anne Arundel say they’ll sue EPA over failure to enforce cleanup goals, The Capital Gazette reports

Tropical Storm Arthur brings high surf, strong winds and heavy rains to the North Carolina coast, CNN reports

ICYMI: Stories from Monday and over the weekend…

EPA emails reveal talks between Trump officials, chemical group before 2017 settlement

EPA proposes extending deadline for selling wood heaters with high smoke output

Ex-Interior chief rips attacks, says being a billionaire 'can't be a prerequisite' for public office

Energy secretary accuses banks of 'redlining' oil and gas industry

Biden says he would revoke Keystone XL permit, campaign says

Analysis: 1.3M energy jobs lost since pandemic's start

Two green groups call for end to wildlife trade to prevent next pandemic

FERC chairman mulls run for Virginia governor

Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings