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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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 CastorOVERNIGHT 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 House Dems to offer up road map to solve the climate crisis 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 BidenBiden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Tammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream Mexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump 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 PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war 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 Inslee121 University of Washington students test positive for coronavirus Barr praises Seattle police chief as officers clear protest zone 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 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 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.), 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: 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 Watchdog: EPA hasn't provided 'sufficient justification' for decision not to recover Pruitt travel spending OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change 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. 

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 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 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 DeFazioShould the United States withdraw from the WTO? OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House approves .5T green infrastructure plan | Rubio looks to defense bill to block offshore drilling, but some fear it creates a loophole | DC-area lawmakers push for analysis before federal agencies can be relocated Republicans score procedural victory on Democrats' infrastructure bill MORE (D-Ore.) and Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior and Environment Chairwoman Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumOVERNIGHT 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 EPA to end policy suspending pollution monitoring by end of summer Lawmakers seek investigation of Park Police after clearing of White House protesters 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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