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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA head travels to Costa Rica in final days of Trump administration | Treasury rolls out 45Q guidance on carbon capture

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA head travels to Costa Rica in final days of Trump administration | Treasury rolls out 45Q guidance on carbon capture
© SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

IT’S THURSDAY. 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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WHERE’S WHEELER? Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerEPA rescinds Trump rule allowing public to weigh in on agency guidance  OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water | Watchdog questions adequacy of EPA standards for carcinogenic chemical emissions | Interior proposing revocation of Trump-era rollback on bird protections Ex-Trump Interior, EPA leaders find new posts MORE will spend some of his final days in office in Costa Rica.

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The trip comes after the EPA canceled Wheeler’s scheduled trip to Taiwan in November amid pushback over the cost of a $250,000 chartered flight amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Wheeler is heading south to discuss marine litter, a pet issue for the administrator, as well as agriculture issues.

But the EPA would not disclose the cost of the trip and did not respond to questions about the need for travel in the waning days of the administration.

“Administrator Wheeler will speak at a roundtable hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), with representatives from the private sector in Costa Rica on ways to work together to protect the global food supply. The Administrator will also hold meetings with the Vice Minister for Environment and Vice Minister for Water and Oceans at the Ministry of Environment and Energy,” EPA spokesman James Hewitt told The Hill on Thursday, adding that the conversations would focus on marine litter. 

“The mission will also include site visits and meetings with private sector and non-governmental organizations to learn more about their actions promoting environmental protection in Costa Rica.”

 

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Details of Wheeler’s Taiwan trip were first reported by The New York Times in November, finding that the three-day trip planned for December would cost $45,000 for a delegation of 10.

The outlet also reported the agency was weighing trips for Wheeler to several other countries in Latin America, including Panama, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.

The EPA did not respond to questions about Wheeler’s travel arrangements or additional travel plans.

The story is here

45Q: The Trump administration yesterday finalized its guidance for carbon capture tax credits, publishing a much awaited guidance on section 45Q of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

“These regulations are an essential step toward harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans to further modernize the American energy sector, while ensuring American energy producers maintain their competitive edge around the world,” Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said in a release.

The rule allows a wide range of products manufactured from captured carbon to be eligible for the tax credit, though it does not include some of the transparency measures some advocates had asked for.

Still, many are hopeful the rule will help support innovation in carbon capture, allow the U.S. to capture pollution from fossil fuels rather than release it into the environment.

“The final rule, coupled with the two-year extension of 45Q passed in December as part of the 2020 omnibus spending package, will help to unlock billions of dollars in private capital to continue moving forward on the approximately 30 publicly identified commercial carbon capture projects already under development nationwide in response to the revamped tax credit,” Carbon Capture Coalition president Brad Crabtree said in a release.

CONDEMNATION:

-From Interior Secretary David Bernhardt… “Today’s violence and lawlessness at the U.S. Capitol cannot and will not be tolerated,” Bernhardt said late Wednesday.

“Our brave men and women in the U.S. Park Police responded with dispatch to assist the U.S. Capitol Police, while also continuing to protect our national parks, memorials and monuments. Thank you law enforcement for your service and unwavering commitment to securing peace.”

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-From EPA’s Wheeler… “As an American and as a 14 year veteran Senate staffer, I was completely disgusted by yesterday’s events. There is no place for violence in settling political disputes,” Wheeler said in an email to EPA staffers on Thursday. 

Wheeler then said the EPA has been doing its part to cooperate with the Biden transition team.

“To date, we have provided the Biden transition team with hundreds of documents and over fifty briefings. My intention is to continue to honor the mission of the Agency, to protect public health and the environment, until January 20th in order to provide as smooth a transition for the Agency as possible.”

WHAT WE’RE READING:

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Will Senate wins unlock Biden's 100% clean energy agenda? E&E reports

'Significant concerns': US EPA notes flaws in draft Midas Gold mine review, S&P Global Market Intelligence reports