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ONE DOWN: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 13-4 on Wednesday to advance to the full Senate the nomination of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmEnergy Department's loan program helped Tesla; now it needs to help low-income communities Biden administration launches new effort to help communities with energy transition Biden expresses confidence on climate in renewable energy visit MORE (D) to be secretary of Energy.
Republican Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoInterior reverses Trump, moves BLM headquarters back to DC Lobbying world A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate MORE (Wyo.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Trump lawyer offered six-point plan for Pence to overturn election: book Graham found Trump election fraud arguments suitable for 'third grade': Woodward book MORE (Utah), Bill CassidyBill CassidyHouse passes bill to prevent shutdown and suspend debt limit Louisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid Sunday shows - Boosters in the spotlight MORE (La.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) voted against Granholm, with some citing concerns about actions already taken by the Biden administration on fossil fuels.
"I can’t support a Biden administration agenda that throws my constituents out of work and kills the economies of the communities in which they live,” said Barrasso, who is slated to be the top Republican on the committee.
The nomination will now go to the full Senate, where she is expected to be confirmed.
In announcing Granholm's selection, President Biden specifically cited her role in bringing clean energy jobs to Michigan when she was governor.
Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Biden, Xi talk climate at UN forum Election reform in the states is not all doom and gloom Manchin presses Interior nominee on leasing program review MORE (D-W.Va.), who will become the committee’s chairman, praised her for how she handled the Great Recession in a speech supporting her nomination on Wednesday.
“She was up to those challenges, she helped save the domestic auto industry, she diversified Michigan’s economy, she brought in new investments and new industry and she created new jobs,” Manchin said.
“She has the leadership skills, the vision and the compassion for the people we need at the helm of the Department of Energy to face the climate challenge and at the same time preserve our energy security,” he added.
Read more on the vote here.
AND ONE TO GO: During his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, President Biden’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Michael ReganMichael ReganFormer EPA chief to chair pro-Trump think tank's environmental center Overnight Energy & Environment — Effort to repeal Arctic refuge drilling advances EPA seeks protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay, undercutting mining project MORE pledged to act with “a sense of urgency” on climate and increase the agency’s focus on science, transparency and combating inequality.
“Our priorities for the environment are clear: We will restore the role of science and transparency at EPA. We will support the dedicated and talented career officials. We will move with a sense of urgency on climate change, and we will stand up for environmental justice and equity,” Regan said in his opening statement.
Regan was formerly the state of North Carolina’s top environmental regulator. If confirmed, he would be tasked with implementing a number of Biden’s campaign pledges, including reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
He would also be coming into an agency that, under the prior administration, rolled back dozens of environmental protections that the Biden administration will likely seek to restore.
During the hearing, Regan also said he would take action to clean up contamination from a class of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS that can be found in drinking water and a variety of household products.
He said he would pursue setting limits on how much of the chemicals facilities can spew into the air and water, in response to questions from Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot MORE (D-N.Y.).
Regan didn’t directly answer the senator’s question on whether he would set a standard for what constitutes a safe level of PFAS in drinking water.
“What I plan to do is sit down and spend some time with the staff at EPA, with our counsel, to understand the multiple avenues I believe we have at our fingertips,” he said.
Asked by Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization MORE (R-W.Va.) if the Biden administration would come up with a “new version” of an Obama-era regulation for emissions from coal-fired power plants, the nominee said he would operate with a “clean slate.”
The Obama administration’s plan for the major climate change regulation was stayed in court, while the Trump administration’s rollback of it was recently struck down.
"There are lots and lots of, I would say, examples of success and failure that we've seen in past tries and so I look forward to having an opportunity to do a few things,” Regan said.
“Number one, to not look backwards but to look forward,” he added. “Number two, to convene all parties relevant to this discussion and think about how we harness the power and the statutory authority of the clean air act in concert with major investments that we should see governmentwide and the input and the statements from those who will be impacted by any potential actions we take whether that be a rulemaking or whether that be voluntary.”
Read more on the hearing here.
In Minnesota… Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarWarren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Democrats look for Plan B after blow on immigration Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian MORE (D-Minn.) on Wednesday urged President Biden to block the construction of a pipeline that would cross through her state to carry oil from Canada to Wisconsin after a court refused to temporarily block its construction.
Omar, in a letter to Biden, invoked both climate change and tribal rights issues.
“I joined millions of Americans celebrating your announcement to withdraw permits for the Keystone XL pipeline,” the congresswoman wrote. “I ask that you extend this scrutiny to another massive fossil fuel infrastructure project that will have a comparable impact on our planet: the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline currently being constructed across Minnesota.”
And at SCOTUS… The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to take up a challenge from a pipeline project seeking to use eminent domain to build a natural gas pipeline between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC is seeking to overturn a decision from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that blocks it from seizing New Jersey state land to build its 116-mile project.
The state of New Jersey has opposed the project, as have environmental groups, but under the Trump administration, the White House sided with the pipeline company.
CALLING ALL COMMITTEES: “As the Biden administration prepares a whole of government approach to combating climate change, the Democratic majority will pursue a whole of Senate approach as well,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerLouisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in McConnell signals Senate GOP will oppose combined debt ceiling-funding bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said on the floor Wednesday.
“In several different ways, this Democratic majority will compel the Senate to forcefully, relentlessly, and urgently address climate change—beginning with work in all of the relevant committees. So as we set up new committee structures, I look forward to working with the new Democratic Chairs on ways their committees will address the climate crisis.”
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Biden administration to restart permitting for major U.S. offshore wind project, Reuters reports
John KerryJohn KerryA new UN climate architecture is emerging focused on need for speed Xi says China will no longer build coal plants abroad Biden's post-Afghanistan focus on China is mostly positive so far MORE took private jet to Iceland for environmental award, called it 'only choice for somebody like me,' Fox News reports
Michael Regan's coal ash cleanups set template for EPA regs, E&E News reports
ICYMI...Stories from Wednesday…
Environmental groups sue over federal permit for Virgin Islands refinery
Senate committee advances Granholm nomination to lead Energy
Supreme Court will hear case on PennEast pipeline
Washington state bill would require all new cars be electric by 2030
Omar calls on Biden to block pipeline being built in Minnesota
EPA nominee Regan pledges 'urgency' on climate change at confirmation hearing