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Overnight Energy: Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program | Biden administration delays Trump rule allowing companies to pay less money for drilling on federal lands

Overnight Energy: Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program | Biden administration delays Trump rule allowing companies to pay less money for drilling on federal lands
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HAPPY 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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OUT OF ORDER: The Biden administration is reversing course on changes the Trump administration made to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), arguing the changes “undermined” the program.

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Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega, in an order issued Thursday, revoked an order by then-Secretary David Bernhardt that required a “written expression of support” for land acquired through the LWCF from both governors and local governments, effectively allowing these officials to veto any land purchases. 

De la Vega’s order also reversed course on a separate action that shifted money away from an LWCF grant program that benefits urban areas, a move that critics said took resources from low-income communities and communities of color. 

“Interior’s actions today affirm our support for one of America’s most successful and popular conservation programs,” Shannon Estenoz, a principal deputy assistant secretary at the Interior Department, said in a statement on the new order.

“We look forward to further strengthening this successful program to ensure that all communities — from hikers and sportsmen to urban and underserved communities — have access to nature and the great outdoors,” Estenoz added. 

A statement issued by the department characterized Bernhardt’s changes as having “significantly undermined” the LWCF, which provides funding for the acquisition of new federal lands and waters and also gives grants to states and localities for the development of outdoor recreation areas. 

Read more on the order here

OIL MONEY: The Biden administration is delaying a Trump administration rule that was expected to result in the oil and gas industry paying less money for drilling on public lands and waters. 

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The administration announced on Thursday that the rule, which was slated to go into effect next Tuesday, will now not become effective until April 16. 

Interior will also start a 30-day comment period to allow for “additional engagement” on the rule. 

“The Trump administration sought to allow corporations to pay less money for the oil and gas resources they extract from public lands, which deprives American taxpayers from a fair return and would result in lost tax revenue for state and local governments,” a department spokesperson said in a statement. 

“As part of the ongoing review directed by President BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE, the Department of the Interior is reviewing this rule to ensure that corporations aren’t unfairly pocketing money that is owed to the American public,” the spokesperson added. 

The rule, which was finalized in January, changed the way that royalties companies pay to the government for drilling on federal property is calculated and was expected to decrease how much the government collects by $28.9 million each year. 

This amounts to less than 0.5 percent of the total federal oil and gas royalties it collected in 2018, the rule notes. 

Read more on the delay here

SITTING DOWN WITH THE CHAIR: House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) says his legislative priorities this year will include legislation to advance environmental justice and update the country’s laws governing public lands mining.

In an interview with The Hill this week, Grijalva also said he is looking forward to working with President Biden’s nominee to lead the Interior Department, Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOvernight Energy: Treasury creates hub to fight climate change through finance | Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' | Tomorrow's energy economy demands reform at the Interior Department OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior says it isn't immediately reinstating coal leasing moratorium despite revoking Trump order | Haaland seeks to bolster environmental law targeted by Trump | Debate heats up over role of carbon offsets in Biden's 'net-zero' goal MORE (D-N.M.), on a “repair job” at the department.

Grijalva returns to the helm of the committee with a Democratic president and the Senate in his party’s control after becoming the panel’s lead lawmaker in 2019, after his party took the House majority.

The narrow margins in the 50-50 Senate, where some Senate Democrats are cool to more progressive proposals on climate change, raise questions about how much will change for Grijalva’s agenda.

Asked how much has changed, Grijalva said, “We’re going to find out.”

“I don’t want to begin to negotiate the legislation,” he added. “I think we need to put the best piece of legislation [forward], set the bar high, be bold about it, and then deal with whatever discussions we need to have with our colleagues in the Senate.”

Grijalva’s big battle for 2021? Addressing environmental injustices…

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“This to me is one of the best bridge issues that we have,” Grijalva said. “Will it have a total bipartisan effect? I don’t know, I doubt it, but it’s going to have a unifying effect with the general public.”

Read more on our sit down with Grijalva here

WHAT WE’RE READING:

How the Fossil Fuel Industry Convinced Americans to Love Gas Stoves, Mother Jones reports

Pruitt: Trump asked, 'Should we shut down the agency?,' E&E News reports

China’s Emissions of Ozone-Harming Gas Are Declining, Studies Find, The New York Times reports

ICYMIStories from Thursday (and Wednesday night)…

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Appeals court rebuffs youth climate activists in novel case against government

GOP leaders on three committees push Pelosi on stimulus markups

Grijalva hopes to work with Haaland to 'repair' Interior

Shell unveils plans for emissions cuts

Biden administration delays Trump rule allowing companies to pay less money for drilling on federal lands

Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program

EPA sued by environmental groups over Trump-era smog rule

Biden's climate task force has first meeting