OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy
© Greg Nash

HAPPY WEDNESDAY! 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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Programming note: There will be no Overnight Energy on Thursday or Friday this week. The newsletter will be back on Monday. 


REACHING A SCIENTIFIC CONCLUSION: The Interior Department on Wednesday reversed a Trump policy that the Biden administration says “improperly restricted" the department's use of science and data.

Similar to what became known as the “secret science” rule at the Environmental Protection Agency, a 2018 Interior Department order limited the agency’s use of studies that are not supported by publicly available data.

At the time, the Trump administration billed the measure as promoting transparency and open science, but critics argued that it created unnecessary barriers to using studies based on sound data. 

In a new order on Wednesday, acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega revoked the previous order and directed a review of all actions taken under it. 

Specifically, he ordered the science integrity officer in each of the department’s offices or bureaus to provide a report on all actions where compliance with the Trump order “was determinative in the outcome or decision” within 90 days. 

He said that these reports should include plans to “reverse or alter, if necessary, each such action.”

Read more about the decision here. 


OFFICIALLY BIPARTISAN: Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start Moderate GOP senators and Biden clash at start of infrastructure debate MORE (R-Maine) on Wednesday became the first Republican senator to say she will vote to confirm Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dakota Access pipeline to remain in operation despite calls for shutdown | Biden hopes to boost climate spending by B | White House budget proposes .4B for environmental justice Haaland return sets up Biden decision on Utah national monuments shrunk by Trump Biden hopes to boost climate spending by billion MORE (D-N.M.), President BidenJoe BidenBiden eyes bigger US role in global vaccination efforts Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech Kemp: Pulling All-Star game out of Atlanta will hurt business owners of color MORE's nominee to lead the Interior Department.

“After examining Representative Deb Haaland’s qualifications, reviewing her hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and meeting with her personally, I will vote to confirm her to be the Secretary of the Department of the Interior,” Collins said in a statement.

She cited Haaland’s work on a bipartisan conservation bill that passed last year as one reason for her support. 

“While we certainly have different views on some issues, her role in helping to shepherd the Great American Outdoors Act through the House will be beneficial to the Department’s implementation of this landmark conservation law, which I cosponsored. I also appreciate Representative Haaland’s willingness to support issues important to the State of Maine, such as Acadia National Park, as well as her deep knowledge of tribal issues,” the senator said.

Read more about Collins’s decision here. 


EPA nominee gets pressed on power plant regs: Do you believe that the EPA has the authority to ... regulate a power plant’s carbon dioxide emissions outside the fence line as the Clean Power Plan did?” the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (W.Va.), asked Janet McCabe, who has been nominated to be second-in-command at the Environmental Protection Agency. 

“The Clean Power Plan was one of the most important and impactful rules that we worked on during the Obama administration,” McCabe said. 

“We’ve never had a legal ruling on that very question and certainly we would not have put that rule forward if we did not believe we were acting within the four corners of the Clean Air Act,” she added. 

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum MORE (R-N.D.) called the Clean Power Plan “one of the most overbearing, big government impositions on states,” and told McCabe she has “a lot to answer for.”

“I know that there were many who disagreed with the outcome of that rule, but in terms of listening to people and hearing people and taking everybody's perspective into account, we certainly did that,” McCabe replied. 

White House environment nominee talks NEPA and pipelines: “I view the challenge of finding a way to ensure that NEPA is serving its multiple purposes in a way that allows the president's full agenda to be met as the challenge that we face,” Brenda MalloryBrenda MallorySenate committee advances two Biden environment nominees OVERNIGHT ENERGY: White House pulls deputy Interior secretary amid reported pushback | Fed to form committee focused on climate risks to financial system | Democratic senators call on Biden to sanction Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy MORE said during the hearing. 

“It not only has to create an opportunity for there to be a full, robust analysis of the impacts on major projects, it has to create an opportunity for there to be a way for citizens and the community to engage, but it also has to be done in a way that ensures that we have significant infrastructure projects and that economic recovery which is based on those projects can occur,” added the nominee, who will lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality if confirmed. 

Cramer asked the nominee to guarantee that the White House would not “interfere politically” with a decision before the Army Corps of Engineers about whether to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline after a court ruled against a permit that allowed it to move forward. 


“I can commit that I will carry out the president’s agenda in making sure that decisions that are made are based on sound science,” Mallory replied. 

Read more about the Mallory/McCabe hearing here. 

PROBING QUESTIONS: The House Oversight Subcommittee on Environment is probing into Texas’s power grid operator after the severe winter conditions caused power outages and deaths across the state in February.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaBiden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike Sanders expresses 'serious concerns' with Biden's defense increase Lawmakers express horror at latest Capitol attack MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee, sent a letter to Bill Magness, CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), on Wednesday requesting documents and information regarding their preparation for the storm.

“The failures of ERCOT and the State of Texas were costly. Dozens of Texans have died and the number of confirmed deaths continues to grow,” Khanna wrote. “The total economic losses in Texas could reach $50 billion when factoring in property and infrastructure damage, lost wages, business and crop losses, and medical costs.”

Read more about his letter here. 


  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on whether to advance the nomination of Deb Haaland to lead the Interior Department to the full Senate
  • David Turk, Biden’s nominee to be second-in-command at the Department of Energy, will appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a draft bill on climate change planning, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience 


Weeks after storms, water crisis continues in Mississippi, The Associated Press reports

10th Circuit Rules Against Colorado in ‘Waters of the US’ Dispute, Courthouse News Service reports

UN panel says new industrial growth in Louisiana's 'Cancer Alley' is 'environmental racism,' The Advocate reports

ICYMI:Stories from Wednesday…

Exxon Mobil ordered to pay $14.25 million fine for violating Clean Air Act at Texas refinery

Interior Department reverses Trump policy that it says improperly restricted science


Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy

Granholm calls for Texas grid to weatherize, connect to other grids

Hunter banned in 48 states after pleading guilty to poaching

Susan Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination

House subcommittee probes Texas power grid operator