Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine

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BACK TO THE FUTURE: House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a revamped version of a major bill aiming to get the country on the road to carbon neutrality by 2050. 

The latest edition of the CLEAN Future Act legislation, introduced by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), also sets an interim target of reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions to no more than half of what they were in 2005 by 2030.

One of the ways it plans to reach its goals is through a clean electricity standard, under which power retailers would need to provide 80 percent of their electricity from clean sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. 

This lines up with President Biden's stated goal of achieving a carbon-free power sector by 2035, and is 15 years more ambitious than the previous bill's goal of a decarbonized power sector by 2050. 

For a period of time, fossil fuel producers would be able to earn partial credits under the standard by lowering their carbon intensity, but this would eventually be phased out. 

The legislation also aims to tackle emissions from the transportation sector through measures including authorizing $500 million to deploy electric vehicle equipment such as charging stations and authorizing $2.5 billion annually to transition the country's school bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles. 

It would additionally set energy efficiency targets and standards for buildings and seek to provide more funding for energy efficiency in schools, homes, nonprofits and infrastructure. 

The legislation, which would in total authorize $565 billion over 10 years, also has an overarching requirement that 40 percent of funds made available through it would benefit communities that have faced environmental inequality.

Read more about the bill here.

OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW:  U.S. climate envoy John Kerry called on energy producers to ramp up their development of alternative and low-carbon technologies at a virtual conference Tuesday.

"I think that the fossil fuel industry clearly could do a lot more to transition into being a full-fledged energy [industry] that is embracing some of these new technologies," Kerry said at the CERAWeek energy conference as part of a discussion with former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, according to Reuters.

The annual energy conference, which is typically held in Houston, was held virtually in 2021 after being canceled last year. Attendees included both climate leaders and energy industry figures.

Kerry also told conference attendees that major upgrades to U.S. energy infrastructure were needed, blaming outdated equipment and systems for the failure of Texas's self-contained energy grid during a recent cold snap.

"We need to have a smart grid. That will save us [a] huge amount of money, reduce emissions and produce a capacity to have baseload challenges met," Kerry said, adding that the U.S. is capable of substantially increasing the amount of renewable electricity it deploys.

Read more about Kerry's remarks here. 

FALLING FLAT: The Biden administration is delaying a critical step in the development of a controversial copper mine on federal land in Arizona that tribes consider sacred.  

Tom Torres, the acting forest supervisor at Tonto National Forest, the location of the land in question, announced that the Department of Agriculture directed him to withdraw the final environmental impact statement for the project that the Trump administration issued five days before his presidency ended. 

In his statement, Torres said the department will use the extra time for a "thorough review based on significant input received from collaborators, partners, and the public," including the concerns presented by tribes. 

"The recent Presidential Memorandum on tribal consultation and strengthening nation to nation relationships counsels in favor of ensuring the Forest Service has complied with the environmental, cultural, and archaeological analyses required," he said.

Due to a previous law, the 2,422 acres of the Oak Flat area of the forest would have been transferred to Resolution Copper 60 days after the environmental impact statement, but  the Forest Service's Monday actions halted the turnover. 

In his statement, Torres noted that  Congress would need to pass legislation to fully prevent the transfer. 

Read more about the situation here 

MUSICAL CHAIRS:  The Senate's Environment and Public Works and Energy and Natural Resources committees have announced who will chair their subcommittees. 

EPW: 

  • Ben Cardin (D-Md.) will lead the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee;  Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) will be its ranking member. 
  • Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will lead the Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee;. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) will be its ranking member. 
  • Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) will lead the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water Subcommittee;  Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) will be its ranking member.
  • Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) will lead the Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight Subcommittee; Roger Wicker (R-Miss) will be its ranking member

ENR: 

  •  Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) will lead the Energy subcommittee; John Hoeven (R-N.D.) will be its ranking member.
  • Angus King (I-Vt.) will chair the National Parks Subcommittee; Steve Daines (R-Mont.) will be its ranking member. 
  • Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) will lead the Public Lands, Forests and Mining Subcommittee; Mike Lee (R-Utah) will be its ranking member. 
  • Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will lead the Water and Power Subcommittee; Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) will be its ranking member.

ON TAP TOMORROW:

Brenda Mallory, Biden's nominee to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, and Janet McCabe, the nominee to serve as the deputy administrator of the EPA, will appear before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee 

WHAT WE'RE READING:

Popular flea collar linked to almost 1,700 pet deaths. The EPA has issued no warning, The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and USA Today report

Big Oil's Net-Zero Plans Show the Hard Limits of Carbon Offsets, Bloomberg reports

Biden administration to consider carbon border tax as part of trade agenda, Reuters reports

ICYMI:Stories from Tuesday...

Volvo moving to all electric vehicles by 2030

Major oil lobbying group to endorse emissions pricing: report

Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change

House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050

Emissions from energy production rise slightly in December

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION PAGES:

What happened in Texas is only the beginning, writes Michael Webber professor at The University of Texas at Austin and chief science and technology officer at French utility company ENGIE

The whole nation could soon become Texas, writes Mark Wolfe, the executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, representing state directors of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Green New Deal's 3 billion ton problem: sourcing technology metals, writes Saleem Ali, professor at the University of Delaware and member of the United Nations International Resource Panel

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