SPONSORED:

Overnight Energy:  Automakers withdraw from litigation over California vehicle emissions standard |Senate confirms Buttigieg as Transportation secretary | Republicans introduce long shot bill to circumvent Biden on Keystone XL

Overnight Energy:  Automakers withdraw from litigation over California vehicle emissions standard |Senate confirms Buttigieg as Transportation secretary | Republicans introduce long shot bill to circumvent Biden on Keystone XL
© Getty Images

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.

Signup for our newsletter and others HERE

PUTTING THE CARS IN REVERSE: A group representing several automakers including Toyota, Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler is withdrawing from a legal fight over whether California can set its own vehicle emissions standards, the group said Tuesday. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation (CSAR), which had sided with the Trump administration in its battle against California, reiterated its support for having just one nationwide emissions standard, but said it was leaving the litigation “in a gesture of good faith.”

“In a gesture of good faith and to find a constructive path forward, the CSAR has decided to withdraw from this lawsuit in order to unify the auto industry behind a single national program, with ambitious, achievable standards,” the CSAR said in a statement.

CSAR’s move follows the lead of General Motors, which was also initially on the side of the Trump administration but exited in November following Biden’s election victory. 

Other automakers represented by CSAR include Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru, according to its website. 

And it comes following the Biden administration’s decision ask a court to pause the litigation, after it identified the former Trump administration’s rule as one it would seek to review and potentially reverse course on. 

“Abeyance will further the Court’s interests in avoiding unnecessary adjudication, support the integrity of the administrative process, and ensure due respect for the prerogative of the executive branch to reconsider the policy decisions of a prior Administration,” the administration said in court. 

It is also seeking to hit pause on other rules including the prior administration’s methane regulations. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more about the automakers’ decision here and read more about the requests to pause the cases here. 

AND THE NOMINEES ARE…

Becoming confirmed, in the case of Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden looks to bolster long-term research and development White House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations MOREThe Senate voted 86-13 to approve Buttigieg’s nomination to lead the Transportation Department. He is the 19th Transportation secretary and the fifth member of President Biden's Cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate. He is also the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member in U.S. history.    

He is the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a Navy veteran. He ran against Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary before dropping out of the race and throwing his support behind the now-president.

Senators who voted against Buttigieg’s nomination were Republicans Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonHillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Republican lawmakers reintroduce bill to ban TikTok on federal devices MORE (Ark.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle Republicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost US has seen 45 mass shootings in the past month MORE (Texas), Bill CassidyBill CassidyCalls grow for national paid family leave amid pandemic Senators urge Energy chief to prioritize cybersecurity amid growing threats Vivek Murthy confirmed as surgeon general MORE (La.), Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallCruz no longer wearing mask in Capitol The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle MORE (Kan.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Senate GOP opens door to earmarks Five takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal MORE (Ala.), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyRepublicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring MORE (Mo.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha Blackburn2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet Blackburn introduces bill to require migrant DNA testing at border Bottom line MORE (Tenn.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Senators reintroduce bill to block NATO withdrawal New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations MORE (Fla.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottBass 'hopeful' on passing police reform: 'Republicans that I am working with are operating in good faith' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Tim Scott to participate in GOP event in Iowa MORE (S.C.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordRubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanent Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many MORE (Okla.).

He is set to take over an agency overseeing an industry devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Biden has also emphasized the need for a bold infrastructure package, which Buttigieg has highlighted.

The former mayor defended Biden’s executive order to revoke a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline when questioned earlier this month. He also walked back comments that left the door open to raising the gas tax to fund the Highway Trust Fund; a spokesperson said after the hearing that increasing the gas tax is not an option.

Read more about his confirmation here. 

And moving on up, in the case of Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE: Agriculture secretary nominee Tom Vilsack received bipartisan praise from senators during his confirmation hearing Tuesday, with a Senate panel voting unanimously to advance his nomination to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) again.

“It’s not lost on me ironically that this is Groundhog Day and I’m back again," Vilsack, 70, quipped in his opening remarks before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Vilsack, who is president of the dairy lobby group the U.S. Dairy Export Council, served for eight years as head of the USDA under former President Obama. Before that, he was the governor of Iowa.

Sen. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate GOP opens door to earmarks Arkansas governor quietly bucking GOP's dive into culture wars Trump allies line up ahead of potentially bruising primaries MORE (Ark.), the top Republican on the Senate panel, remarked about Vilsack's “excellent reputation” in welcoming him to the hearing Tuesday.

Vilsack also received across-the-aisle support from GOP Sen. Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley: Iowa can't afford to be 'babysitting' unaccompanied minors Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle On The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire MORE, a senator from his home state of Iowa. The senator introduced him, saying he “can’t think of a single quarrel that I’ve had with Secretary Vilsack.”

Grassley added that Vilsack knows agriculture well and that Vilsack also knows the importance of maintaining the institution of the family farm.

ADVERTISEMENT

Vilsack's nomination was advanced later in the day by a voice vote. It now heads to the full Senate, where it requires a simple majority.

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSerious about climate change? Get serious about agriculture Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand electric vehicle charging tax credit MORE (D-Mich.), the incoming chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement that she looks forward to his quick confirmation by the full Senate.

During his confirmation hearing, Vilsack fielded questions on trade, saying that he will work collaboratively with the rest of the administration on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and provide advice and counsel on additional free trade agreements.

“I think it's fair to say that we have work to do to make sure that we have a competitive opportunity,” Vilsack said.

Read more about the hearing here. 

SHOOTING THEIR SHOT: Republicans in both chambers of Congress are taking on a long shot bid to reinvigorate the Keystone XL pipeline after President Biden canceled a key permit for the oil pipeline project last month.

Lawmakers, led by Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSenate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Trump faces test of power with early endorsements OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies MORE (R-Mont.) and Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), introduced a bill that would give permission for the controversial pipeline to be constructed and operate across the U.S.-Canada border.

ADVERTISEMENT

The bill specifies that the pipeline would not need a permit from the president.

“We must reverse Biden's disastrous decision and send a clear message that supporting American workers is more important than supporting Saudi Arabia and allowing radical environmentalists to cash in on campaign promises,” Daines said in a statement.

The legislation, which is backed by 86 House members and 15 senators, would face an uphill battle in both chambers.

Biden said in his executive order revoking the permit for the pipeline that the project “disserves" U.S. national interest and that “leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration's economic and climate imperatives."

Lawmakers had previously said they would introduce legislation seeking to circumvent the move. 

The GOP bill comes amid tensions between Republicans and the White House over energy issues following the Keystone XL decision as well as a move to pause new oil and gas leasing on public lands.

Read more about the tensions here. 

ADVERTISEMENT

YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME: Both ExxonMobil and BP announced Tuesday that they had sustained major losses in 2020 amid low demand for oil due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Exxon posted $22.4 billion in losses for 2020, posting a loss of $20.1 billion for the fourth quarter. 

According to Reuters, this was Exxon’s first annual loss. 

BP reported $20 billion in losses for 2020, including nearly $1.4 billion in the fourth quarter. 

Chevron, meanwhile, announced last month that it had lost $5.5 billion in 2020, including $665 million in the fourth quarter. 

Read more here. 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Young Michael Regan: 'Determined to do something important,' E&E News reports

Natural gas pipeline leak spurs landowners to assail Colorado’s “subterranean toxic spaghetti,” The Denver Post reports 

A Consensus Builder for E.P.A. When Some Want a Fighter, The New York Times reports

Masks Are Finally Required In National Park Facilities, HuffPost reports

Why Kerry's claim on solar and wind jobs misses the mark, The Washington Examiner reports

ICYMI...Stories from Tuesday (and Monday night)…

Exxon, BP announce billions in losses for 2020

Republicans introduce long shot bill to circumvent Biden on Keystone XL

US cities undercount their emissions by 18 percent: study

Senate panel advances Vilsack nomination to head Agriculture Dept.

Fish and Wildlife Service defends gray wolf delisting from endangered list

Automakers withdraw from litigation over California vehicle emissions standard

Biden administration asks court to halt litigation on California emissions waiver, methane rollback