Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland reverses Trump effort on tribal land | Senate confirms Janet McCabe as deputy EPA chief | Study finds quick action on methane could significantly cut into global warming


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Today we’re looking at a reversal of some Trump-era tribal lands moves, the confirmation of Janet McCabe for the No. 2 role at the EPA and a new study finding that quick action on methane could prevent significant warming.  

TRUST ME: Haaland reverses Trump effort on tribal land

The Interior Department will roll back several Trump-era steps that complicated the process by which Native American tribes can place land into trust, the department announced Tuesday morning.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to hold the post, is issuing an order to return jurisdiction over trust applications to regional Bureau of Indian Affairs directors.

Her order reverses a 2017 move by the Interior Department under former President Trump that placed these decisions under the jurisdiction of department headquarters.

“At Interior, we have an obligation to work with Tribes to protect their lands and ensure that each Tribe has a homeland where its citizens can live together and lead safe and fulfilling lives,” Haaland said in a statement. 

Haaland also revoked three Trump-era Interior opinions that the department said unduly complicated the process by which tribes seek to place land into trust.

Read more about the moves here. 

LIKE A PENCIL, SHE’S NO. 2: Senate confirms Janet McCabe as deputy EPA chief

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Janet McCabe as the No. 2 official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

McCabe was confirmed in a 52-42 vote, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) joining most Democrats to vote for her nomination. Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) was the only Democrat to vote against McCabe’s confirmation.

Meanwhile, Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who voted for McCabe in committee, apparently changed his mind and voted against her today. 

“Janet McCabe is exactly the leader that Administrator Michael Regan and the EPA need right now,” Senate Environment Committee Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. “Janet McCabe is a steady hand who has built a 30-year career of leadership in environmental protection.”

McCabe served as acting assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation during the Obama administration, where she worked on the Clean Power Plan, a regulation aimed at reducing power plants’ carbon emissions.

Read more about her confirmation here

A MATTER OF DEGREE: Study finds quick action on methane could significantly cut into global warming

Swift action to cut methane emissions could reduce the planet’s near-term warming by as much as 30 percent, according to a new study. 

The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found that it’s possible to cut methane emissions from human activities in half by 2030.

It said that “pursuing all mitigation measures now” could slow near-term warming by around 30 percent, avoid one-quarter degree celsius of warming by the middle of the century and chart the course for avoiding more than one-half degree of warming by 2100. 

“Acting now and moving quickly to cut methane emissions is essential. Even modest delay would mean missing out on significant climate benefits,” Ilissa Ocko, the study’s lead author and senior climate scientist at Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. 

Read more about the study here. 

COMES WITH THE PROTERRATORY: Barrasso calls for investigation into Granholm ties to electric vehicle company

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is calling for an investigation into Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm over her connections with a company that makes electric buses, batteries and chargers. 

In a letter Monday, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee asked the Energy Department’s inspector general to look into “potential conflicts of interest” related to the company Proterra, where Granholm formerly held a board position. 

“In light of concerns about a potential conflict of interest associated with Secretary Granholm’s significant investment in the electric bus, battery, and charging company Proterra, Inc. … I request that DOE’s Office of Inspector General promptly initiate a review of Secretary Granholm’s ethical, regulatory, and  statutory obligations; her relationship with Proterra, Inc. … and her or her staffs’ participation in or promotion of activities by the Biden Administration to advocate for electric vehicles (including electric buses), batteries, and charging infrastructure,” Barrasso wrote. 

DOE’S response: An Energy Department spokesperson told The Hill that Granholm did not play a role in President Biden’s tour of a Proterra plant, has stepped down from its board and is in the process of divesting her holdings in accordance with the 180 days allowed in her ethics agreement.

“Since day one in office, Secretary Granholm has acted in full accordance with the comprehensive ethical standards set by the Biden Administration — and any insinuation otherwise is entirely false,” the spokesperson said via email.

Read more about his letter here. 

WHAT COMES NEXT: US seeks to lead on climate while finalizing details on plan

The Biden administration is expected to lay out more details for a domestic roadmap for how to achieve its climate goals and put more pressure on foreign countries to increase their own commitments in the coming months.

Following its updated commitments under the Paris Agreement, the administration says that more details are on the horizon following the announcement of the goal of cutting emissions at least in half by 2030. Observers say they also expect more countries to make announcements between now and a United Nations summit in November.

The loose outline of the U.S. climate plan leaves the administration with opportunities to work with Congress on details of its implementation while seeking to lead by example on setting emissions targets.

“There will be a great deal more detail,” Jonathan Pershing, a senior advisor for special climate envoy John Kerry, said Monday during a panel discussion. “There’ll be sectoral information. There will be policy by agency. There’ll be policy in terms of both national programs as well as state programs and those do roll up to be a compelling collective agenda to achieve the target.”

Read more about what’s coming up here. 


  • The Senate is expected to vote on a resolution that would nix a Trump-era rule limiting regulation of methane
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the administration’s proposed EPA budget for next year. Administrator Michael Regan is slated to appear. 


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge activist Adam Kolton dies at 52, E&E News reports

The Secret Footage of the N.R.A. Chief’s Botched Elephant Hunt, The New Yorker and The Trace report

Fact check: No, Biden is not trying to force Americans to eat less red meat, CNN reports

Maine completes first phase of electric vehicle fast-charger network, The Portland Press-Herald reports

ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday (and Monday night)…

Senate confirms Janet McCabe as deputy EPA chief

Witnesses tell House subcommittee national parks must improve information on disability access

Supreme Court weighs whether to limit issuance of exemptions to biofuel blending requirements

Manchin rips big banks for net-zero carbon goals

Interior, Haaland reverses Trump effort on tribal land

Kerry denies allegations from leaked Iran tapes

New research finds quick action on methane could significantly cut into global warming

Barrasso calls for investigation into Granholm ties to electric vehicle company

US seeks to lead on climate while finalizing details on plan

Biden administration announces $8.25B in loans to boost power grid

OFF-BEAT AND OFFBEAT: Quit joshing around!” Is what we would say if we were among the people who fought over the weekend to be the one true Josh.

Tags Chuck Grassley Deb Haaland Donald Trump Jennifer Granholm Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Barrasso John Kerry Lisa Murkowski Michael Regan Roger Wicker Susan Collins Tom Carper

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