OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds

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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THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH: John KerryJohn KerryFor Joe Biden, an experienced foreign policy team Biden's trade policy needs effective commercial diplomacy Biden taps ex-Obama aide Anita Dunn as senior adviser MORE, tapped by President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: AP Iran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries MORE to serve as climate czar, said Tuesday the incoming administration would look to retake a leadership role on the international stage when it comes to fighting climate change.


“Mr. president-elect, you've put forward a bold transformative climate plan. But you've also underscored that no country alone can solve this challenge,” Kerry said as Biden publicly introduced his national security team during remarks in Delaware.

“You're right, to rejoin Paris on Day 1," he added, referring to the Paris Agreement. The Trump administration formally withdrew from the multinational climate pact earlier this month. 

"And you're right to recognize that Paris alone is not enough,” Kerry added. 

Biden has proposed a $2 trillion climate plan that would push the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050. But Kerry noted on Tuesday that the U.S., which is responsible for about 15 percent of all emissions, will have to help other countries meet similar targets — a move that presents an opportunity to boost jobs and sell U.S. technology.

“Failure is not an option. Succeeding together means tapping into the best of American ingenuity and creativity and diplomacy, from brain power to alternative energy power,” Kerry said.

“No one should doubt the determination of this president [and] vice president. They shouldn't doubt the determination of a country that went to the moon, cured supposedly incurable diseases, and beat back global tyranny in World War Two. This kind of crisis demands that kind of leadership again," he added. "And President Biden will provide it.”

In introducing Kerry, Biden said the former secretary of State and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee doesn’t “underestimate the difficulties of meeting my bold commitments to fighting climate change” but added that “the world will know that one of my closest friends — John Kerry — is speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.”


Read more on the team here

WHEELS DOWN: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Groups sue EPA over 'backwards' lead rule | 12 states, green groups sue EPA over airline standards they deem insufficient | Biden taps Janet McCabe to serve as deputy at EPA 12 states, green groups sue EPA over airline standards they deem insufficient Groups sue EPA over 'backwards' lead rule MORE is postponing an official trip to Taiwan after The New York Times published a report on its costs. 

The postponement also comes after China forcefully objected to a recent reported Taiwan visit from a U.S. Navy admiral.

The Times reported last week that Wheeler was expected to take a chartered flight to Taipei costing more than $250,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The visit itself, the Times reported, would have cost $45,000. 

But now the agency is putting off the trip, at least for the time being, as first reported by Bloomberg. 

“Due to pressing domestic priorities at home, Administrator Wheeler’s visit to Taiwan has been postponed,” EPA spokesperson James Hewitt said in an email on Tuesday. 

“However, it is disturbing that a government official would leak deliberative schedules to the New York Times that could jeopardize both international diplomacy and personal security and we are referring the matter to the inspector general,” Hewitt added. 

He didn’t specify when the trip might be rescheduled.

The Times reported that Wheeler was scheduled to spend three days in Taiwan next month, and aides were told to plan a separate visit to Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, as well as for other countries if Wheeler couldn’t travel to those four. 

Hewitt told The Hill on Tuesday that nothing had been scheduled regarding that trip. 

Read more on the trips here

ASHES TO ASHES: A coalition of nine environmental groups is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a rule that extends the life of giant pits of toxic coal sludge, risking contamination of nearby water sources.

The July rule allows for the more than 400 coal ash pits across the nation, where coal residue is mixed with liquid and stored in open-air, often unlined ponds, to stay open as late as 2038.

“Right now toxic chemicals are poisoning water across the country because of dirty coal plants. The Trump administration acted illegally when it gave coal plants many more years to dump toxic waste in pits that contaminate waterways and drinking water sources. Instead of acting in the best interests of the American people, the administration once again put the coal power industry first,” Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans said in a statement announcing the suit.


EPA would not comment on the suit.

The EPA has been under longstanding pressure to better regulate coal ash ponds because of the extreme risks associated with them.

An Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice review of monitoring data from coal ash ponds found 91 percent were leaking toxins in excess of what EPA allows, contaminating groundwater and drinking wells in nearby communities.

Read more on the suit here

FUDGE GETS THE NOD: Three major unions, including the largest union for meatpacking workers, are pushing the incoming Biden administration to select Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeHow fair housing and COVID-19 intersect Pelosi to seat Iowa Republican as Democratic challenger contests election results Former Sanders surrogate Nina Turner discusses House bid MORE (D-Ohio) as the next Agriculture Secretary.

The letter from United Food and Commercial Workers calls Fudge “a fierce advocate for those who find themselves in hard times," and says that she "seeks ways to ensure that federal programs successfully address the needs of the public.”

Fudge would be the first Black woman to hold the Ag Secretary role, and she’s been openly campaigning for the job, telling Politico earlier this month that she’s been “very, very loyal to the ticket” and encouraging the Biden administration to place Black leaders in roles beyond traditional posts like Housing and Urban Development secretary.


Fudge, one of the highest-ranking Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee, comes from a more urban district but has made a name for herself through her work advocating for food stamps and other food security programs. That includes fighting efforts from the Trump administration to limit food stamps and school lunch programs.

Read more on the letter of support here

REMEMBER THAT ENERGY BILL? ME NEITHER. Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperWhite House intervened to weaken EPA guidance on 'forever chemicals' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Capitol in Chaos | Trump's Arctic refuge drilling sale earns just fraction of GOP prediction | EPA finds fuel efficiency dropped, pollution spiked for 2019 vehicles EPA finalizes 'secret science' rule, limiting use of public health research MORE (D-Del.) told reporters Tuesday that he hopes a long-stalled bipartisan energy bill will be completed this year as the clock on the 116th Congress begins to run out. 

The top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee cited a compromise amendment to the bill that would phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas, in his support for the wide-ranging energy bill. 

“We hope to get it done this year,” he said. 

Asked about Carper's comment, a spokesperson for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee told The Hill in an email “We’re working hard to make that happen and certainly appreciate Senator Carper mentioning energy as one of his priorities.”



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ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday…

Kerry: Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough'

EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds

EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler

Major unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary