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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump replaces head of energy regulatory commission | Biden climate agenda would slam into Senate GOP roadblocks | Emails show Park Police reliance on pepper balls, outside police forces during Lafayette protests

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump replaces head of energy regulatory commission | Biden climate agenda would slam into Senate GOP roadblocks | Emails show Park Police reliance on pepper balls, outside police forces during Lafayette protests
© Camille Fine

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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NO FERC-ING WAY: President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE has replaced the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), who is now suggesting that his "independence" and support for carbon pricing may be behind the decision. 

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James Danly’s surprise appointment to the top spot, replacing Neil ChatterjeeNeil ChatterjeeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations Senate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump takes major step toward Alaska wildlife refuge drilling opposed by Biden | Grijalva backs Haaland for Interior Secretary | Obama alumni considered top picks for Biden Energy secretary MORE, was announced Thursday night.

FERC regulates interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity as well as natural gas and hydropower projects.

Both Danly and Chatterjee are Republicans. Chatterjee has recently signaled support for carbon pricing in electricity markets, which Danly opposes. 

Putting a price on carbon emissions raises the cost of energy from fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide when burned.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Chatterjee suggested that this may have been the reason for his ouster, though he will remain on the commission until his term is up next year. 

E&E News reported on Friday that Chatterjee not wanting to abide by a White House memo seeking to limit diversity training played a role in his demotion. 

Chatterjee, a former aide to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight MORE (R-Ky.), was appointed to the commission by Trump in 2017 and was named chairman in 2018. 

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Trump appointed Danly to the commission and he was confirmed in March. Prior to his confirmation, Danly was serving as FERC’s general counsel, and he has also worked at a law firm representing energy companies.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) criticized Chatterjee's demotion in a statement, calling it an "outrageous attack on an independent agency at a time of transition." 

Read more about Chatterjee’s demotion and Danly’s ascension here

ROADBLOCKS FOR A BIDEN WHITEHOUSE: A Senate that’s expected to stay in Republican hands is likely to create headaches for a potential Biden presidency on climate legislation and nominees for top environmental posts — if Biden does win the election. 

The blue wave anticipated by Democrats failed to materialize, leaving a smaller Democratic majority in the House and what’s likely to remain a GOP-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has often refused to bring climate-related bills to the floor.

Biden himself hasn't been projected as the winner in the presidential race yet by major news networks, though he grew his lead Friday and overtook President Trump in the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

If Biden were to win, Republican control of the upper chamber would make it tough to secure Senate confirmation for potential Cabinet picks and other top administration posts for energy and environment policy.

Nominees who have clashed with the Trump administration might find a steep path to confirmation.

Read more about what the future could hold here. 

CLEARING THE AIR: U.S. Park Police email traffic during the June protests at Lafayette Square shows that agency officials were unaware which law enforcement agencies were assisting with the heavily criticized government response as demonstrators were overwhelmed by chemical irritants.

The heavily redacted batch of emails was released Friday as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Park Police, alongside other law enforcement groups including the National Guard, have been scrutinized for clearing largely peaceful protests near the White House on June 1 in order for President Trump to give a speech, Bible in hand, at a church across the street.

The emails show, even days into the protests, Park Police did not have a complete list of every law enforcement agency that had arrived to assist.

The conversations also show Park Police quickly exhausted its supply of chemical irritants in just days, even as the agency’s communications wing appeared unaware of the use of pepper balls.

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By June 2, the day after Trump’s photo op, Park Police had placed an order for more.

One officer thanked his higher-ups “for emergency approval and authorization to resupply after exhausting PepperBall munitions the last two nights. Should arrive Tuesday ... ordering riot vest and larger PepperBall air tanks now,” they wrote.

The emails show Park Police’s top communication official, Alexandra Picavet, learned on Twitter that the agency was using chemical irritants.

“Question: have you seen this?” Picavet wrote to acting Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan and others, linking to a tweet showing a photo of the canisters used to disperse the gas. “Did Park Police use OC Skat Shells on Monday in Lafayette Square? Can you please fill me in so that I can help respond?”

Other emails show the agency was unclear about which law enforcement agencies had arrived to assist with the protests.

Read more on the confusion here

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

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Putin tells officials to act on climate, green groups unhappy, Reuters reports

U.S. Energy Chiefs Weigh What Biden Means for Oil, Renewables, Bloomberg reports

Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE will be president, but there will be no Green New Deal, Vox reports

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