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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden calls climate change one of America's four major crises | National parks chief says coronavirus staff shortages shouldn't prevent access | Trump hits California officials over wildfires

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden calls climate change one of America's four major crises | National parks chief says coronavirus staff shortages shouldn't prevent access | Trump hits California officials over wildfires
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TGIF! 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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THE CLIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’ Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE listed climate change among the major crises facing America as he seeks to rally voters heading toward the November election.

“History has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments America has ever faced. Four historic crises. All at the same time. A perfect storm,” Biden said when accepting the Democratic nomination late Thursday.

“The worst pandemic in over 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The most compelling call for racial justice since the '60s. And the undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change.”

Biden’s comments at the Democratic National Convention come after environmental groups complained frequently throughout the primary that climate change was getting short shrift from campaigns. Many called for a standalone climate debate as the topic was overshadowed by discussions of health care and the economy.

But Biden has since made inroads with environmentalists who were calling for a stronger plan from the former vice president throughout the campaign. He fleshed out his initial climate plan with stronger timetables for switching to clean energy and gearing more funding toward the Black and Latino communities that face a disproportionate share of pollution and climate impacts.

Basil Smikle, a political strategist and lecturer at Columbia University, said Biden’s framing in his acceptance speech reflecting on both justice and climate change recognizes the importance of each to young voters.

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“Not speaking about something like climate change, which moves so many people and inspires so many young voters, would have been glaring omission. So I’m glad the language was included and hope it portends real thorough investigation and policy decisions going forward,” he said. 

“The overall environment and atmosphere is ripe for conversations around climate change and this moved the needle from a positive perspective.”

Biden’s plan lagged behind more ambitious proposals from former presidential candidates Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief says congressional progressives looking to become stronger force in 2021 Obama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom MORE (I-Vt.) and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert Inslee10 under-the-radar races to watch in November On The Trail: A third coronavirus wave builds just before Election Day Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D), but it still makes history as the boldest vision from a Democratic nominee as the urgency of addressing climate change — and outcry from activists — have pushed campaigns to release detailed climate plans like never before.

The nominee received praise from past candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangPelosi spars with CNN's Blitzer over COVID-19 aid: 'You really don't know what you're talking about' The shape of guaranteed income Biden's latest small business outreach is just ... awful MORE, who called the plan a new standard for the party.

“The magic of Joe Biden is that everything he does becomes the new reasonable. If he comes with an ambitious plan to address climate change, all of a sudden, everyone's going to follow his lead,” Yang said.

The story is here

PARKS, UNINTERRUPTED: The new head of the National Park Service (NPS) has told the agency’s regional directors that they shouldn’t let staff shortages linked to COVID-19 limit access to the parks. 

"Within the sideboards of guidance, outdoor spaces should be accessible, including outdoor areas such as picnic areas, parking lots, overlooks, open-air areas in forts and gardens, and campgrounds should be fully accessible," Margaret Everson told regional leadership in an email obtained by National Parks Traveler

"Staffing limitations should not be a constraining factor in providing access to outdoor spaces," Everson reportedly added. 

NPS spokesperson Stephanie Roulett told The Hill in an email that the Everson's "message is supportive of our duty to serve the public and conserve our natural resources."

 "We continue to be flexible with modifications to park operations and are committed to ensuring park superintendents have the resources — staffing and otherwise — to safely maintain operations and public accessibility," Roulett added. "NPS will continue to work with superintendents and park managers to account for the unique needs of each park and the health and wellness of their staff using the available flexibilities and hiring authorities."

Everson was named as the leader of NPS, typically a role requiring Senate confirmation, this month through an order from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that has no end date. She has served as a counselor to Bernhardt dealing with matters relating to NPS and the Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Parks advocates slammed the reported email, raising concerns about the spread of the virus. 

“This directive from Acting Director Everson demonstrates her complete lack of understanding regarding how parks operate and what National Park Service (NPS) employees actually do. Her comment should disqualify her from serving as the acting director, as it demonstrates her lack of experience and support for NPS staff and the protection of park resources," said a statement from Phil Francis, the former superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

“Her suggestion that all outdoor facilities, including campgrounds and picnic areas should be open despite staff shortages suggests she thinks these facilities run themselves. They do not. NPS employees are required to empty the trash, clean the restrooms, take water samples for public health, handle campground issues, respond to medical emergencies, and so much more,” added Francis, who now leads the advocacy group Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “To suggest that all these facilities remain open despite staff shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a further insult to the dedicated managers and employees of these national parks and puts their health at further risk.” 

The email from Everson comes amid a broader push by the Trump administration to keep the parks open, even amid concerns from advocates and epidemiologists.

Many parks began to close earlier this year amid concerns about the health of staff and visitors, especially those who gather in crowded areas. 

The Trump administration, however, encouraged many to reopen as part of a broader push to open the country back up. 

The Interior Department has defended the reopening, with Bernhardt saying in a statement this year that “it is time the American people once again enjoy the incredible benefits of the great outdoors at our national parks.”

Read more on park openings here

BLOWING SMOKE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE on Thursday took aim at California officials as wildfires burned in the Bay Area, accusing leaders of improperly managing flammable debris in state forests leading to fires.

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During a speech in Pennsylvania, the president blamed the wildfires on "years" of poor forest management in California.

"And I see again, the forest fires are starting," Trump said. "They're starting again in California. And I said, you've got to clean your floors. You've got to clean your floors."

"I've been telling them this now for three years, but they don't want to listen," he added.

Trump made similar comments last year, prompting California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Ford, GM scientists knew in 1960s that emissions caused climate change: report | Testing for oil in Arctic wildlife refuge proposed for this winter | Biden's oil stance jars Democrats in tough races Electric vehicles see state-level gains 10 under-the-radar races to watch in November MORE (D) to hit back by saying the president was unqualified to weigh in on fire safety due to his past remarks calling climate change a hoax.

"The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must 'clean' his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him," Trump tweeted in November.

"You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation," Newsom wrote back at the time.

Newsom has blamed the current wave of fires on extraordinary weather in the state, noting that California has recorded more than 11,000 lightning strikes over the past 72 hours.

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The story is here

Meanwhile...California Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinMurkowski predicts Barrett won't overturn Roe v. Wade Democrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination The Senate should evoke RBG in its confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett MORE (D) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden pushes into Trump territory The Hill's Campaign Report: One week from Election Day | Biden looks to expand map | Trump trails narrowly in Florida, Arizona The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands MORE (D), the vice presidential nominee, asked the White House to expedite a disaster declaration for their state.

We strongly support California Governor Gavin Newsom’s request for a Major Disaster declaration on August 20, 2020, for the State of California in response to the devastating Wildfires,” they wrote to President Trump on Friday. 

“Due to the catastrophic and rapidly developing nature of these wildfires and in order to help the affected communities and individuals rebuild as soon as possible, we ask that you expedite the declaration without the need for complete preliminary damage assessments and make federal assistance available,” they added. 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

The Republican National Convention will meet in Charlotte, N.C.

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

'There's nowhere like it': Alaska's wildlife refuge fears death by drilling, The Guardian reports

Coronavirus, wildfires combine to create a Bay Area respiratory catastrophe, The San Francisco Chronicle reports

Weather Service says 2 possible hurricanes heading for Gulf Coast early next week, NPR reports

ICYMI: Stories from Friday (and Thursday night)…

National parks chief says coronavirus staff shortages shouldn't prevent access

Biden calls climate change one of America's four major crises

Trump hits California officials over wildfires: 'You've got to clean your floors'