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CLIME-ING UP THE INFRASTRUCTURE: The White House on Thursday rescinded Trump-era draft guidance that proposed to limit the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions in infrastructure decisions.
The 2019 draft sought to prevent consideration of long-term emissions impacts deemed “remote or speculative” in analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
NEPA requires environmental impact analyses to be carried out ahead of projects such as pipelines, highways and drilling on public lands.
The 2019 guidance aimed to replace an Obama administration guidance.
The Trump administration billed its move as a way to expedite federal permits.
The Obama guidance, issued in 2016, recommended that agencies use projected greenhouse gas emissions when preparing the analyses as a stand-in for estimating a project’s climate change impacts.
The White House is now encouraging agencies to consider all available resources in considering climate change impacts of their actions, including the 2016 guidance “as appropriate and relevant.”
GASSING UP: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) limited out-of-state natural gas shipments as Texas struggles with severe winter weather, low temperatures and widespread power outages.
The Texas governor announced on Wednesday that natural gas would be restricted from leaving the state through Feb. 21 to allow for power generators to have enough gas to function. Bloomberg News reported that the order would mandate gas be sold in Texas before becoming available across state lines.
“I hereby mandate that all sourced natural gas be made available for sale to local power generation opportunities before leaving the state of Texas, effective through February 21, 2021,” Abbott said in a letter to the Texas Railroad Commission. “I ask that you immediately take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure that this mandate is carried out.”
Abbott said that his disaster declaration, announced last week ahead of the winter storm, allows him to make such an order. But some experts disagree, saying it violates the Constitution's commerce clause by hindering interstate trade.
GUNNING FOR A CHANGE: Lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Committee clashed Thursday over a panel rule ensuring that guns are prohibited in its hearing room.
An amendment aiming to strip the provision from the rules failed on a 19-25 vote, but not without sharp debate.
The Republican side: “This is an enumerated right that American citizens have,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said over Zoom during the virtual hearing with several firearms visible behind her.
“Will there be metal detectors installed outside the committee hearing doors? If this is passed, the chairman is trying to take responsibility for my personal safety while stripping away my Second Amendment rights," Boebert added, referring to the rules package.
What Democrats have to say about it: “If somebody wants to have a shrine to their gun fetish as a Zoom backdrop in their private life, they can do that. But this is our hearing room," Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanOvernight Energy: Infrastructure bills could curb emissions by 45 percent, Democrats say Democrats could push for Arctic wildlife refuge drilling reversal in reconciliation Lawmakers from both parties push back at Biden's Aug. 31 deadline MORE (D-Calif.) said.
“I think it's necessary, not only appropriate, but necessary that we lay down these ground rules that whatever your fetishes or feelings are about guns, you're not going to bring them into our committee room. You don't need them there for your own safety. Many of us feel like it threatens our safety," Huffman added.
What was already in place: Under existing Capitol Police regulations, members of Congress are exempt from the blanket prohibition on firearms anywhere in the Capitol complex.
Lawmakers can store guns in their offices and can transport them, unloaded and securely wrapped, elsewhere on the Capitol campus. But guns are expressly forbidden altogether in the House and Senate chambers, as well as the adjacent areas.
A committee spokesperson told The Hill that they believe lawmakers are already prohibited from having firearms in the hearing room under the existing rules, but wanted to take the extra step of putting it in writing.
QUOTES OF NOTE: Bipartisan commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) criticized efforts to blame just one type of energy on the issues in Texas.
“The media is already filled with interest group flacks trying to pin blame on one generation source or another all in an effort to boost their own technology at the expense of others. That is irresponsible. The one thing that is clear is that there is not a resource type that has been immune to the challenges of extreme weather,” said Chairman Richard Glick, a Democrat.
Glick also said he is “prepared if necessary to force the imposition of new mandatory standards to make sure that electric generators and others are better prepared.”
Similarly, Republican Commissioner Neil ChatterjeeNeil ChatterjeeOvernight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program Biden nominates DC regulator to federal energy commission Former GOP energy regulator regrets partisan past MORE said, “I would just encourage everyone to stop viewing these sorts of things through a particular, partisan lens favoring one fuel source or another and let’s let the experts dig into it and then make a determination on how to proceed.”
He also pushed back on Glick, saying “it is too soon to try to advocate for solutions including imposing mandatory standards.”
FERC regulates interstate electricity transmission, but Texas’s grid doesn’t fall under its jurisdiction since it doesn’t cross state lines.
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Florida to Supreme Court: Ga’s excessive water use killing bay’s oysters, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports
Top Republican energy regulator criticizes party for blaming Texas crisis on frozen wind turbines, The Washington Examiner reports
Democrats put scrapping Trump rules on the back burner, E&E News reports
ICYMI:Stories from Thursday (and Wednesday night)…
Justice Dept. charges employees of Navy contractor with allegedly dumping contaminated water in Japan
US greenhouse gas emissions fell 9 percent in 2020: analysis
League of Conservation Voters adds racial justice issues to 2020 congressional scorecards
White House rescinds Trump proposal to limit greenhouse gas consideration in infrastructure decisions
Facebook to debunk climate change myths
Texas governor limits out-of-state natural gas shipments amid power shortages
State lawmakers propose bill to ban fracking in California by 2027
Lawmakers clash over gun prohibition in Natural Resources committee room
FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES:
Congress needs a comprehensive agenda to battle climate change, writes Sarah Ladislaw, director of the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.