OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration says proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska is not a threat to fisheries | Democrats push environmental policies in $259.5B budget package | Green groups threaten suit over push to transport liquefied natural gas by rail

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration says proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska is not a threat to fisheries | Democrats push environmental policies in $259.5B budget package | Green groups threaten suit over push to transport liquefied natural gas by rail
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GO FISH: The Trump administration has determined that a proposed mine in Alaska would not impact salmon harvests in the area, reversing an Obama-era determination that it would.

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“There would be no measurable change in the number of returning salmon,” said the new assessment of the environmental impacts of the controversial Pebble Mine. 

It also said the project "would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay."

The Bristol Bay area where the mine would be located is the world’s largest commercial sockeye salmon-producing region, and opponents of the mine fear its discharges could contaminate local waters. 

The assessment notes that wetlands and streams will see impacts from the mine. It’s expected to permanently affect between 2,226 and 2,261 acres of wetlands and other waters, including between 104.1 and 105.8 miles of streams.

Completing an evaluation of the project means the mine, the largest of its kind in North America, is now one step closer to construction. 

Critics of the assessment said that it underestimated the potential for harm to water and fish. 

“The Army Corps is jamming this through without regard for science or what the public wants — and they know it,” said a statement from Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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“To stick to its accelerated schedule, the agency has ignored major fatal flaws in its proposed review — from data gaps to environmental risks to social impacts,” he added, also vowing to challenge the mine “at every step.”

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed under the Obama administration to preemptively veto a permit for the mine. The Trump administration reversed this action last year. 

The story is here.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: The House passed a number of environmental measures in budget legislation Friday, voting to block the Trump administration from drilling in the Arctic or from rejecting grants for projects and studies tied to climate change. 

The measures were included in a $259.5 billion spending package that passed with a 224-189 vote.

Lawmakers voted on a series of amendments to the budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior on Thursday and Friday, seeking to block funding from being used to implement a number of Trump administration rollbacks.

The language includes measures to block a new policy allowing hunting tactics that make it easier to kill bear cubs and wolf pups in Alaska.

Another measure would block the administration from implementing its changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law that green groups have said President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE is gutting. Trump rolled back the law last week, calling the act, which requires a thorough environmental review of major projects, the “single biggest obstacle” to construction.

The legislation passed by Democrats also blocks drilling in both the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA).

The Trump administration has sought to open more than 80 percent of the NPRA to drilling, while ANWR was opened for drilling through the 2017 tax cut legislation.

The legislation includes other measures with a more bipartisan agenda, including an increase in funding to replace lead pipes and language to ensure the EPA will continue with its plans to regulate cancer-linked PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

Read more about the environmental amendments here and more about passage of the overall spending package here.

RAIL RISKS? Two environmental groups on Friday threatened to sue the Trump administration over a newly published rule allowing the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail. 

The rule, which allows for the transport of LNG in rail tank cars, was finalized last month but published in the Federal Register on Friday. 

Previously, a special permit was needed to transport LNG in this way. 

The administration determined that this method of transporting gas is a “safe alternative” after comparing a specific type of tank car to other modes of transportation.

However, environmentalists have expressed doubts about whether transporting LNG by rail is actually safe. 

“The explosion risk of transporting this volatile cargo in vulnerable tank cars through major population centers is off the charts,” Earthjustice attorney Bradley Marshall said in a statement threatening to sue the administration over the rule. 

“It would only take 22 tank cars to hold the equivalent energy of the Hiroshima bomb,” Marshall said. “We will hold this administration accountable for its responsibility to protect Americans from disaster.”

When the rule was finalized, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoChick-fil-A drops fight for San Antonio airport location Overnight Defense: US marks 19th anniversary of 9/11 attacks | Trump awards Medal of Honor to Army Ranger for hostage rescue mission | Bahrain, Israel normalizing diplomatic ties Trump marks 9/11 with moment of silence on Air Force One, remarks in PA MORE praised the transport method as a way to get energy to more parts of the country.

“The Department's new rule carefully lays out key operational safeguards to provide for the safe transportation of LNG by rail to more parts of the country where this energy source is needed,” she said in a statement last month. 

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Read more about the potential lawsuit here

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

On Monday:

  • The House Rules Committee will look at amendments to its Energy Department appropriations proposal

On Tuesday:

  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing titled “Unanswered Questions About the US Park Police's June 1 Attack on Peaceful Protesters at Lafayette Square”
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on reforming drinking water standards
  • The House Climate Crisis Committee will hold a hearing on “Building a Vibrant and Just Clean Energy Economy”
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will examine the development and deployment of large-scale carbon dioxide management technologies

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

A Climate Plan in Texas Focuses on Minorities. Not Everyone Likes It., The New York Times reports

N.H. Gov. Signs Bill That Will Reinstate Contested PFAS Chemical Limits, New Hampshire Public Radio reports

Formosa can't build Louisiana plant for up to 7 months, The Advocate reports

Is America’s biggest gas utility abusing customer money? California demands answers, The Los Angeles Times reports