Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA reinstates climate webpage taken down under Trump | Senate panel spars over financial regulators’ climate agenda | Environmental group, community activists petition EPA to block Georgia wood pellet plant

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TANGLED WEB: EPA reinstates climate webpage taken down under Trump

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reinstated a climate change webpage that was taken down during the Trump administration. 

The agency announced Thursday that it now has a page with information on greenhouse gas emissions data, climate change impacts and scientific reports “for the first time in four years.”

In April 2017, the agency scrubbed the page in question as part of an update to “reflect the agency’s new direction under President Donald Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt.”

Regan hails return: “Climate facts are back on EPA’s website where they should be,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement on the page’s renewal. 

“Considering the urgency of this crisis, it’s critical that Americans have access to information and resources so that we can all play a role in protecting our environment, our health, and vulnerable communities,” he said.

Read more about the restoration of the website here.

 

TAKE THAT TO THE BANK: Senate panel spars over financial regulators’ climate agenda

During a Thursday hearing on the climate risks facing the financial system, members of the Senate Banking Committee highlighted the deeply partisan divide over the role financial regulators should play in the fight against climate change.

Democrats argued that the intensifying effects of climate change posed significant dangers in nearly every pocket of the financial system and praised federal regulators for initial steps toward monitoring those risks. 

Democratic proponents: “We can’t protect the economy and the people who make the work if we don’t start by identifying the risks,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the committee’s chairman. 

“That means looking at stronger transparency rules,” he added. “It means looking at whether the tools that financial watchdogs already have can help shine a light on these risks.”

However: Republicans have been fiercely critical of efforts to bolster climate-related financial regulation.

“The Fed is not in the position to navigate the enormous uncertainties and complexities underlying climate models, financial regulators just have no experience or expertise in environmental policy and any attempt to impose new requirements will only result in the government picking winners and losers losers,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

Read more about the hearing here.

 

WOOD NOT: Petition for EPA to block Georgia wood pellet plant

An environmental advocacy group has joined with local activists to petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to block the construction of a wood pellet plant in south Georgia, arguing its permit was secured without community input and threatens public health.

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Concerned Citizens of Cook County, along with six other groups, said in the petition that Georgia’s Clean Air Act program allows public comment on draft permits for new sources of air pollutants proposed in their communities. However, the Environmental Protection Division of the state Department of Natural Resources in January denied a request to comment on a draft permit authorizing the Renewable Biomass Group facility in Adel.

Groups accuse plants of concealing pollution levels: In 2017, amid an increase in construction of wood pellet plants in the southern U.S., EIP began looking at their air pollution permits, Keri Powell, an attorney for the group and the author of the petition, told The Hill.

“In pretty short order we realized they had been drastically underestimating their emissions and they had been coming in under the Clean Air Act as minor sources” of pollution, Powell said. For example, Mississippi fined Drax Amite $2.5 million in November after watchdog groups reported it was emitting air pollutants far above its permit limits.

Read more about the petition here.

 

KEYED IN: 21 states sue Biden for revoking Keystone XL permit

A coalition of states with Republican attorneys general sued President Biden on Wednesday over his decision to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The lawsuit from 21 states, led by Texas and Montana, argues that revoking the cross-border permit is a “regulation of interstate and international commerce” that should be left to Congress and that Biden’s move was an overreach.

The Republican attorneys general also argued that the decision was arbitrary and capricious. 

Some of the states represented in the lawsuit have Democratic governors, including Kentucky and Kansas, though all of them have Republican attorneys general.

Read more about the lawsuit here.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Trump EPA Invited Companies to Revise Pollution Records of a Potent Carcinogen, The Intercept reports

Oil firms knew decades ago fossil fuels posed grave health risks, files reveal, The Guardian reports

Bottom trawling releases as much carbon as air travel, landmark study finds, The Guardian reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Thursday…

Environmental group, community activists petition EPA to block Georgia wood pellet plant

Senate panel spars over financial regulators’ climate agenda

EPA reinstates climate webpage taken down under Trump

Democrats reintroduce measure to address racial disparities in environmental impacts

Amazon starts testing electric delivery vans in San Francisco

FEMA pauses flood insurance rate update after Schumer pushback: report

Court denies former Michigan governor’s attempt to dismiss charges over Flint

US grid at rising risk to cyberattack, says GAO

21 states sue Biden for revoking Keystone XL permit

 

FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES

Three things Biden can do to unleash state and local climate action, by Aimee Barnes of Hua Nani Advisors and Sam Ricketts of the Center for American Progress

Tags Donald Trump Environmental policy of the Donald Trump administration Joe Biden Keystone Pipeline Michael Regan Pat Toomey Pellet fuel Scott Pruitt Sherrod Brown

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