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
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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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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. 


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. 


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


Becoming confirmed, in the case of Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries Buttigieg says he'd go on space flight 'in a heartbeat' Biden signs sweeping order to bolster US competition, target big business 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 CottonEx-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Republicans raise concerns about Olympians using digital yuan during Beijing Games MORE (Ark.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis US, Germany reach deal on controversial Russian pipeline State, Dems call out Cruz over holds ahead of key Russian talks MORE (Texas), Bill CassidyBill CassidyBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries GOP centrists call on Schumer to delay infrastructure vote MORE (La.), Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallHouse GOP leaders say vaccine works but shouldn't be mandated Rand Paul introducing measure to repeal public transportation mask mandates Sunday shows preview: As delta variant spreads, US leaders raise concerns MORE (Kan.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThis week: Senate faces infrastructure squeeze GOP seeks to make Biden synonymous with inflation Funding fight imperils National Guard ops MORE (Ala.), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyCompetition laws could be a death knell for startup mergers and acquisitions Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis MORE (Mo.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnBiden's misinformation crackdown spotlights partisan divide on content reform White House looks to cool battle with Facebook Republicans raise concerns about Olympians using digital yuan during Beijing Games MORE (Tenn.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers Hillicon Valley: Senators introduce bill to require some cyber incident reporting | UK citizen arrested in connection to 2020 Twitter hack | Officials warn of cyber vulnerabilities in water systems MORE (Fla.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottBiden: Republicans who say Democrats want to defund the police are lying The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections MORE (S.C.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordDemocrat stalls Biden's border nominee Republican calls on Oklahoma to ban Ben & Jerry's Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections 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 BoozmanTrump getting tougher for Senate GOP to ignore Former NFL player challenging Boozman in Arkansas GOP primary Senate GOP opens door to earmarks 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 GrassleyEx-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Senate committee to hold hearing following FBI watchdog's report on Nassar case 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.

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 StabenowSchumer: Democrats considering option to pay for all of infrastructure agenda Democrats closing in on deal to unlock massive infrastructure bill Senate plants a seed for bipartisan climate solutions 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 committee advances bipartisan energy infrastructure bill  Hillicon Valley: Lina Khan faces major FTC test | Amazon calls for her recusal | Warren taps commodities watchdog to probe Google Senators propose bill to help private sector defend against hackers 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.


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. 


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. 



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