Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Dakota Access to ask Supreme Court to hear pipeline case | Biden admin sued over rejection of Mount Rushmore fireworks | Interior appoints first Native American chief of staff

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Today we're looking at the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline appealing to the Supreme Court, a lawsuit against the Biden administration from South Dakota and another first at the Interior Department.

LAST PIPELINE OF DEFENSE: Dakota Access to ask Supreme Court to hear pipeline case

The operators of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Thursday said they will ask the Supreme Court to take up lower court rulings that found the pipeline is operating without a necessary permit.

A Washington appeals court had previously backed the plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by Native American groups, agreeing the project required a full-scale environmental review. In the Thursday filing in the lower court, lawyers for the energy company asked for the pipeline to be allowed to operate while the nation's highest court considers it.

"A stay would preserve the status quo, retaining jurisdiction in this Court to consider a potential request for relief from vacatur while the Supreme Court considers the forthcoming petition," lawyers said in the filing.

Standing Rock's take: Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, one of the lawyers representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the case, accused the company of attempting to circumvent environmental reviews.

"The courts have agreed that the pipeline requires a full, careful environmental impact statement," Hasselman said in a statement obtained by The Hill. "The pipeline's increasingly desperate efforts to avoid this review speaks volumes."

Read more about the filing here:

NOEM FIELD ADVANTAGE: Noem sues Biden administration over rejection of Mount Rushmore fireworks

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) on Friday sued the Biden administration over its decision not to allow Independence Day fireworks at Mount Rushmore this year.

"Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America's birthday and all that makes our country special," Noem said in a statement announcing the suit. "We are asking the court to enjoin the Department of Interior's (DOI) denial of the fireworks permit and order it to issue a permit for the event expeditiously."

An Interior Department spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The story so far: The Hill first reported in March that the National Park Service (NPS) had rejected the state's request to hold fireworks at the national memorial, citing health risks, including those associated with the coronavirus pandemic, and opposition from Native American tribes.

"Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event," NPS regional director Herbert Frost wrote at the time. "In addition, the park's many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial."

"These factors, compiled with the COVID-19 pandemic, do not allow a safe and responsible fireworks display to be held at this site," he added.

Read more about the lawsuit here:

INTERIOR DESIGN: Interior Department appoints first Native American chief of staff

The Interior Department announced Friday that Lawrence Roberts will serve as its first ever Indigenous chief of staff. 

Roberts, a citizen of the Oneida Nation, previously served as former President Obama's acting assistant secretary for Indian Affairs and principal deputy secretary for Indian Affairs. Roberts has also worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The department announced Roberts's new role along with several other new appointments, including Heidi Todacheene, a citizen of the Navajo Nation who previously served as Secretary Deb Haaland's legislative council in Congress.

Who else is on board?: Other new appointments include Obama-era Interior veteran Steve Feldgus as deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management and Native American law expert Sarah Krakoff as deputy solicitor for parks and wildlife.  

"As the Interior Department continues its work to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time, these talented and accomplished leaders will play a key role in helping advance the Department's mission," Haaland said in a statement Friday. "I am thrilled to have these new team members join us at the Interior Department and look forward to working together to pursue a clean energy future."  

Haaland, the first Indigenous Senate-confirmed Cabinet secretary, has vowed to spotlight issues of importance to the Native American community during her tenure.

Read more about the appointments here:


On Tuesday:

  • The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the Energy Department's climate and energy science research 
  • The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on housing resilience to Climate Change
  • The Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that seeks to help restore coral reefs

On Wednesday:

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the CLEAN Future Act and other bills
  • The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing titled "Pipelines Over People (Part II): Midship Pipeline's Disregard for Landowners in Its Pathway"

On Thursday:

  • The House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the Energy Department budget request. Secretary Jennifer Granholm is slated to appear. 
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will have a member day hearing which will feature testimony from lawmakers both on and off the committee on various issues



The Climate Solution Actually Adding Millions of Tons of CO2 Into the Atmosphere, ProPublica reports

Senators urge scrutiny of Okefenokee mining proposal, The Savannah Morning News reports

Study finds carbon price could hike coal use for EVs, E&E News reports

Exxon CEO says advancing U.S. carbon capture project with rivals, government, Reuters reports

Michigan lawmakers propose $250 million fund to subsidize natural gas, Energy News Network reports

Industry body claims wind energy could generate 3.3 million jobs within five years, CNBC reports

Environmental groups object to West Yellowstone-area timber project, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle report

ICYMI: Stories from Friday...

Interior Department appoints first Native American chief of staff

Dakota Access asks Supreme Court to hear pipeline case

Porter urges increased budget for children's National Parks program

Noem sues Biden administration over rejection of Mount Rushmore fireworks


OFF-BEAT AND OFFBEAT:  Children of the Korn