Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court nixes Trump move to open 10 million acres to mining | Treasury will reportedly add climate czar | Manchin pushes natural gas in letter to Biden 

Sage-grouse bird Interior Department zinke

TGIF! 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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GROUSE IN THE HOUSE: Protected again

A federal judge on Thursday ruled against a Trump administration decision to open up 10 million acres of land to mining that had previously been protected as habitat for the sage grouse bird. 

Lynn Winmill, a federal judge in Idaho, ruled that the administration did not sufficiently justify its decision to remove the protections given to the area. 

The judge’s logic: Winmill said he was not persuaded by the Bureau of Land Management’s argument that its decision to withdraw protections from the lands, located in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, was based on new data. 

“The new data showed that the impacts from locatable mining was more significant than the previous data showed,” the Clinton appointee wrote. “The new data does not, therefore, provide a reasoned explanation for the BLM’s change in position regarding the withdrawal. If anything, this new data indicated a greater need for the withdrawal from locatable mining than the previous data.”

Read more from Rachel Frazin here. 


CZARS ALL OVER: Making moves on climate change

The Treasury Department will have its own climate czar to spearhead ways to address climate change within the financial sector.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to tap Sarah Bloom Raskin, who served as deputy Treasury secretary during the Obama administration, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Bloom Raskin would not be the only czar in town.

President Joe Biden named former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to serve as his domestic climate chief, while John Kerry was named a special envoy to deal with climate change internationally.

Get ready for action: Bloom Raskin joins the Treasury Department as Yellen told key U.S. allies Thursday that the department’s approach to climate change will “change dramatically” under her watch.

During a virtual meeting of Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers and central bankers, Yellen said the U.S. would take a lead role in the global fight after years of environmental rollbacks under former President Trump.

“She expressed strong support for G7 efforts to tackle climate change, highlighting that her colleagues should expect the Treasury Department’s engagement on this issue to change dramatically relative to the last four years,” the department said in a statement.

“The Secretary noted ‘we understand the crucial role that the United States must play in the global climate effort.’ ”

This is a change: Yellen’s pledge to global allies marks a notable turning point in the U.S. government’s approach to fighting climate change, a major priority for the Biden administration. Under Trump, the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accords, which Biden has since rejoined, and weakened emissions and energy efficiency standards meant to slow the pace of global warming.

Yellen has also promised to make climate change a primary focus of her tenure as Treasury secretary. She called rising global temperatures an “existential threat” to both the planet and the economy during her confirmation hearing, and said the federal government needs to develop “regulations necessary to assess and mitigate this risk.”

Read more on the G7 meeting here


CUP OF JOES: A possible swing vote speaks up

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) stressed the importance of natural gas production in a new letter to President Biden. 

In a letter on Thursday, Manchin urged the president to consider the importance of fossil fuel as the Biden administration reviews its fossil fuel leasing and permitting practices.

The most moderate Senate Democrat mentioned jobs, energy security and uses of gas in products like plastics and chemicals. 

Manchin’s plea: “I encourage you to bear in mind the many benefits of responsible domestic natural gas production as you consider any future executive or administrative action, and I look forward to working with you to achieve our shared goals of energy security, economic growth, and global emissions reductions,” Manchin wrote. 

Where Biden’s at: Biden last month instituted a temporary pause on new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters while his administration reviews its permitting practices. 

He previously said on the campaign trail that he would ban new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, but has not yet carried out a ban. The ban wouldn’t impact existing permits or leases and also wouldn’t prevent oil or gas drilling on privately owned land. 

The correspondence marks Manchin’s second letter to Biden on fossil fuels this week. On Tuesday he wrote to the president urging him to reverse course on the decision to revoke a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. 

Read more about Manchin’s letter here.



The Senate subcommittees in charge of funding energy and environment agencies will have new leadership, it was announced Friday. 

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) will lead the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Interior Department, EPA and Forest Service. Its ranking member will be Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). 

The Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which has jurisdiction over the Energy Department’s budget, will be led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Its ranking member will be Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). 



  • On Thursday the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing virtual titled “A Smarter Investment: Pathways to a Clean Energy Future”


Glick unveils environmental justice, climate plans, E&E News reports 

Biden’s next big pipeline decision could deepen clash of greens and unions, The Washington Examiner reports 

They’re Arctic Survivors. How Will They Adapt to Climate Change? The New York Times reports


ICYMIStories from Friday…

Interior faces backlog of more than 5K drilling permits

Manchin pushes natural gas in letter to Biden

Yellen: Treasury’s approach to climate will ‘change dramatically’ from Trump era

Court nixes Trump move to open 10 million acres to mining

Tags climate czar Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Gina McCarthy Grouse Janet Yellen Jeff Merkley Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Kennedy John Kerry Lisa Murkowski Mining Natural gas

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