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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

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
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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.

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SOLVING THE CLIMATE CRISIS IN JUST 547 PAGES: House Democrats officially unveiled their vision for solving the climate crisis, detailing a plan on Tuesday that would put the U.S. on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

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The sweeping plan touches nearly every sector of the economy, pushing for rapid deployment of renewable energy, cleaning up transportation through electric vehicles and a massive expansion of public transit and promoting cleaner buildings and manufacturing processes.

“We are releasing a transformative roadmap for solving the climate crisis,” said Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorLawmakers wager barbecue, sweets and crab claws ahead of Super Bowl Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports MORE (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis. “We have a plan for building the 100 percent clean energy economy. And we are going to do it in an equitable and inclusive way.”

It’s the first major piece of legislation from the committee, and while it has almost no chance of becoming law this session, the general timetable for decarbonizing the economy is in line with what has been called for by former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video MORE, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

“Democrats know that the climate crisis is the essential crisis of our time, threatening public health, jobs and the economy, national security, and values,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House House Republican attempts to appeal fine for bypassing metal detector outside chamber MORE (D-Calif.) said at a press conference on the Capitol steps.

“Our plan honors our obligation to address the climate crisis and embraces our opportunity to solve that crisis as we build a new clean energy economy that creates millions of good paying jobs with strong labor protections.”

The 547-page plan calls for transitioning to 100 percent clean energy by 2040 — a goal in line with many existing state plans that have called for the electricity sector to decarbonize.

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But some of the other goals may be tougher to meet. To tackle transportation emissions — now the largest sector of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. — auto manufacturers would have to sell only zero-emission cars by 2035. Similarly, all new residential and commercial buildings, both major energy users, would have to be net-zero by 2030.

The plan incorporates some of the ideals of the Green New Deal, creating a National Economic Transition Office to assist workers from polluting sectors in finding new employment. 

“To the young people who have inspired us to act fearlessly, we have heard you. This is your moment to press policymakers to enact our solutions to solve the climate crisis now,” Castor said.

It also borrows many of the suggestions from Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington state officials warn providers offering VIP vaccine access Legislators go after governors to rein in COVID-19 powers Inslee rebukes hospital over vaccine appointments for donors MORE (D), a former 2020 presidential candidate, whose climate team has since formed a group to forward the ideas in Congress. 

It also calls for protecting 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030, legislation previously introduced by Sens. Cory Bennet (D-Colo.) and Tom UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-N.M.), and establishing a new Civilian Conservation Corps, something supported by many members of the House. It would also establish a climate bank used to fund green endeavors.

The bulk of the plan, however, lays the groundwork for what would likely be a series of legislation that would be needed to establish new standards and regulations across the economy while funneling investments in the green areas that would need to grow.

“Imbedded in here is a lot for Biden as a candidate to pick up and run with,” said Bracken Hendricks, a co-founder of Evergreen, the group formed by former Inslee staffers. “It’s setting a framework for how to build econ transformation, setting goals and incentives to move there and make sure you're taking steps to bring everyone along.”

Read more about what’s in the plan here.

WATCHDOG WORLD:

-Pay up, Pruitt… An internal watchdog said Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t provided a good explanation for its decision not to recover travel expenses from former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule Restoring the EPA: Lessons from the past MORE that were found to be improper. 

In a new update to a report from last year, the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) said the agency decided it won’t try to recoup the costs but “has not provided sufficient justification to support the basis of the determination, that is, evidence that a security risk existed at the time.”

A 2018 OIG report found that Pruitt and his staff spent $123,942 on “excessive airfare expenses ... without sufficient justification to support security concerns requiring the use of first- and business-class travel.” It recommended that the EPA demand reimbursement from Pruitt for his share of the expenses. 

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Read more on the report here

-Sharpiegate difficult to erase… An internal watchdog has said that the Commerce Department led a "flawed process" during what is now known as the Sharpiegate controversy last year. 

Last September, President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE held up a map that showed an altered path for Hurricane Dorian sketched out with a black marker that appeared to wrongly show the storm headed toward Alabama in support of a statement he had made earlier about the hurricane's projected path.

Following this, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released an unsigned statement saying that the storm did at one point appear to possibly threaten in the state, and criticized the Birmingham National Weather Service Office for tweeting that Alabama would not see impacts from the storm. 

A recently posted summary of a forthcoming Commerce Department inspector general report said that the department led a "flawed process that discounted NOAA participation," and also "required NOAA to issue a Statement that did not further NOAA’s or [the National Weather Service's (NWS)] interests."

The summary report also stated that the department "failed to account for the public safety intent of the NWS Birmingham tweet and the distinction between physical science and social science messaging."

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Read more on the report here

MONITOR THIS: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will rescind its controversial policy allowing companies to skip monitoring their pollution by the end of the summer, the agency wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

The policy, unveiled in a March 26 memo in an effort to help companies reduce regulatory burdens during the coronavirus, alerted companies they would not face penalties for failing to monitor their pollution emissions as required under a host of environmental laws.

EPA said it would terminate the policy at the end of August, bringing to a close a directive that was previously listed as temporary but with no set end date. 

“Recognizing that there will be a period of adjustment as regulated entities plan how to effectively comply both with environmental legal obligations and with public health guidance … EPA has established a termination date for the Temporary Policy of August 31, 2020,” the agency wrote in a letter to lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Lawmakers on a number of committees had pressured EPA to end the policy quickly, arguing the agency had no way of knowing how much pollution might be emitted into the air or water without sufficient monitoring.

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“This policy had no business being put into effect, but fortunately it will be coming to an end soon. We demanded a firm end date because we had feared that the administration would not commit to one otherwise, and might attempt to keep this policy in place indefinitely,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioDemocrats offer bills to boost IRS audits of rich, corporations House Democrats call on Biden to fill Postal Service Board vacancies to pave way for ousting DeJoy House Democrats' draft coronavirus relief legislation includes B for U.S. airlines MORE (D-Ore.) and Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior and Environment Chairwoman Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumTim Ryan, Rosa DeLauro giving free coffee and donuts to National Guard stationed at Capitol House Democrats request cots for National Guard troops stationed in Capitol OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations MORE (D-M.N.) said in a statement.

The letter defended the policy at length, arguing that a number of other programs help the EPA monitor spills, leaks and emissions.

“The burden is on the regulated entity to prove to EPA that compliance is not reasonably practicable due to COVID-19,” Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, wrote in the letter, adding later that the policy did not appear to be widely used by industry.

“Moreover, given the continued submission of discharge monitoring reports, it appears that COVID-19 has not had a significant impact on routine compliance monitoring and reporting.

Read more on the letter here

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