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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

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
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IT’S WEDNESDAY. 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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CAPITOL IN CHAOS: A chaotic and violent scene unfolded at the Capitol on Wednesday as supporters of President TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire MORE swarmed the building to protest the Electoral College vote, forcing a lockdown and various confrontations with police.

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The House and Senate were less than an hour into debating the first GOP objection to a state that Biden won — Arizona — when they were forced to abruptly recess as mostly maskless rioters crowded into the hallways around each chamber.

Read more on the evacuation here and follow our live updates here. 

ANWR SALE GETS COLD SHOULDER FROM OIL COMPANIES: The Trump administration auctioned off oil and gas rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for the first time ever Wednesday, selling off 1.6 million acres along the coast to primarily one major buyer: the state of Alaska. 

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) won nearly every bid, a sign that oil companies were largely uninterested in developing the pristine wildlife refuge as many major banks have refused to provide financial backing and public support for the projects has diminished.

The sale raised just $14.4 million dollars, roughly $27 per acre. That figure is far below the billion dollars the 2017 bill projected the government would earn alongside a second sale. Only half the acres up for sale received bids, which were submitted by only three companies. 

The sale, just two weeks before President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenWoman accused of trying to sell Pelosi laptop to Russians arrested Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Trump moves to lift coronavirus travel restrictions on Europe, Brazil MORE is sworn in, shows the Trump administration’s determination to kickoff oil drilling in the Arctic before leaving office. Passed as part of the 2017 tax bill, the law requires the sale by the end of 2021.

Environmentalists and Democrats have long opposed drilling in the refuge, saying it will blemish untouched wilderness, harm wildlife and exacerbate the climate crisis to extract a resource the U.S. should diminish its reliance on.   

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“Trump is giving away treasured land in the Arctic Refuge at rock bottom prices in today’s oil/gas lease sale,” Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanTrust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots 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 Trump's sale of Arctic refuge drilling rights earns just a fraction of GOP prediction MORE (D-Calif.) said on Twitter, calling the sale a human right violation for the Gwich'in tribe that considers the area sacred. 

Huffman’s bill to block drilling in ANWR passed the House but was never taken up in the GOP-led Senate.

The AIDEA largely serves as Alaska’s economic development wing and is not itself an oil company. It will need to resell the leases to those that can drill — a move that raises a number of legal questions.

Two other companies purchased one tract of land each.

“To my knowledge this has never happened before, that a state bids on federal leases within their own state,” Jenny Rowland-Shea, a senior public lands policy analyst at the Center for American Progress told The Hill.

“It’s very odd because the state of Alaska will get 50 percent of the revenue from lease sales. Basically they will be paying to not make any money on those lease sales.”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which conducted the lease sale, praised the success of the historic sale and defended the state’s ability to purchase the bulk of the leases through AIDEA.

“It doesn't present legal issues from our perspective,” Kevin Pendergast, BLM’s deputy state director for Alaska said on a call with reporters, describing it as an “evolution” of BLM’s earlier work with the state.

“It's a new perspective, a new element to the process of working within the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. It’s a corporate entity, and in that sense they're able to take actions like this, and it meets our regulatory requirements.”

Read more on the sale here.

MILEAGE DOWN, POLLUTION UP: Automakers' fuel efficiency went down and vehicle pollution went up for the first time in five years in 2019, according to a report released Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The report, which analyzed data for model year 2019 vehicles, found fuel economy dropped by 0.2 percent in the U.S. when automakers were instead expected to increase their fuel efficiency by 5 percent. Carbon pollution went up 3 grams per mile.

For the Trump administration, the report was a rebuke of the Obama-era fuel efficiency standards they drastically weakened.

“This report shows in detail how few auto manufactures were able to meet the unrealistic emissions standards set by the Obama administration without resorting to purchasing emission credits,” 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 said in a release. 

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“We have set realistic standards in 2020 that will reduce emissions as well as vehicle costs and maintain consumer choice going forward.”

The previous standards were considered one of the most significant climate fighting actions of the Obama presidency, asking automakers to make year-over-year improvements, producing fleets that could average 55 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025.

Under the Trump administration rule finalized in March, automakers would need to reach 40 mpg by 2026, bringing mileage below what automakers have said is possible for them to achieve. 

“The automakers rolled back before Trump did,” Dan Becker, director at the Safe Climate Transport Campaign with the Center for Biological Diversity, said by email.

All fourteen large auto manufacturers met the 2018 mileage goals, but 11 only did so using various offsets not related to fuel economy, like using improved air conditioning refrigerant or by installing solar roof panels on their vehicles.

And three companies — Ford, GM and Mazda — delivered worse fleet-wide gas mileage and emissions than they did five years ago.

Read more on the report here

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GEORGIA’S ON HIS MIND: “I could not sleep last night. I was so excited. I woke up in bed this morning, the first words my wife said to me was ‘Good morning Mr. Chairman,’” Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports White House intervened to weaken EPA guidance on 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-Del.) told reporters this morning.
With Democrats’ win in Georgia, Carper is set to become chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, adding that even with tight margins there’s “a hunger for rebuilding our wastewater, clean drinking water infrastructure.”

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Biden climate team says it underestimated Trump's damage, E&E reports

Montana Grants Keystone XL Pipeline Water Crossing Permit With Conditions, Montana Public Radio reports

Early Biden Climate Test: Groups Demand Tougher Rules on Building, The New York Times reports