Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: EPA takes major step to battle climate change

MONDAY AGAIN. Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day's energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rachel Frazin at rfrazin@thehill.com . Follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin . Reach Zack Budryk at zbudryk@thehill.com or follow him on Twitter: @BudrykZack . Signup for our newsletter and others HERE

Today we're looking at the EPA's latest move on greenhouse gases, the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's request on tailpipe emissions, and a lawsuit over a federal permit for pipeline construction.

 

GREENHOUSEKEEPING: EPA proposes major rule to reduce certain greenhouse gases

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a major step Monday to battle climate change with the formal proposal of a rule phasing down the use of planet-warming gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used as refrigerants, the agency announced Monday. 

The reduction will decrease HFC production and use in the U.S. by 85 percent over the next 15 years. The rule is being issued under a law passed last year by Congress. 

The EPA said that phasing down the use of the gases globally would avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2100.

How would the EPA enforce the rule?: The agency said it will create an allocation and trading program under which it will issue an allowance for how much of the gases can be used for 2022 by Oct. 1. 

It will also determine how much of the gases can be used for 2023 by that date next year. 

The agency said that it will create a framework within the legal timeline for the phaseout, and will revisit allocating HFCs for 2024 and beyond.

Read more about the proposed rule here.

 

PEOPLE WHO DRIVE IN CARPERS: Carper asks EPA to require half of new cars to be zero-emissions by 2030

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) on Monday called for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop national tailpipe emissions standards for new cars in line with those proposed by California.

The standards Carper called for would require half of all new light passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by decade's end, and for all of them to be zero-emission by 2035.

In a letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan, Carper notes that Trump-era EPA rules both relaxed emission standards and authorized the federal government to overrule state-level emissions and electric vehicle standards.

How does the U.S.' progress compare to the rest of the world?: While Carper acknowledges the Biden administration has announced several steps to revisit those rules, he also cites moves by other countries, particularly China, that are "better preparing" for a transition away from fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

"If the U.S. does not establish a robust policy that leads to zero emission vehicle deployment ... we will be at risk of losing our automotive jobs and industry leadership to other nations, as well as enduring unnecessary public health impacts from pollution," Carper wrote.

"The future of automobile manufacturing sector is at a crossroads. The Clean Air Act provides sufficient authority for the U.S. EPA to rise to this challenge," he added. "EPA can establish requirements on new cars that would significantly reduce air pollution harming communities, put the nation on track to maintain its leadership in vehicle technology, and make significant progress in fighting climate change."

Read more about the letter here.

 

HARDCORPS: Environmental groups sue Army Corps of Engineers over pipeline permitting

A coalition of five environmental groups on Monday sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saying the corps did not properly analyze environmental impacts when issuing a broad pipeline permit.

The plaintiffs, which include the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Waterkeeper Alliance and Montana Environmental Information Center, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Montana.

The permit at issue, Permit 12, is a so-called nationwide permit that streamlines the pipeline permitting process. The corps estimates its 2021 version will be used more than 40,000 times over the next five years.

What does the lawsuit state?: In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that although national permits are intended for activities with negligible environmental impacts, the projected uses of Permit 12 will affect more than 3,000 acres of U.S. waters and threaten endangered species. It would also allow major pipelines to begin construction under the nationwide permitting process instead of undergoing stricter regulatory scrutiny.

The lawsuit further argues that the permit violates the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act

While the Biden administration has called for a review of nationwide permits, it has also allowed the 2021 version of Permit 12, reissued in the final days of the Trump administration, to take effect, according to the lawsuit.

Read more about the lawsuit here.

 

ON TAP 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

 

WHAT WE'RE READING:

Chinese Solar Firm Plans Tours to Rebut Forced Labor Claims, Bloomberg reports

Wisconsin's Largest Renewable Energy Project in the Works, Environment and Energy Leader reports

Leaked docs: Gas industry secretly fights electrification, E&E News reports

U.S. approves massive solar project in California desert, Reuters reports

A Giant Organic Farm Faces Criticism That It's Harming The Environment, NPR reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Monday and the weekend...

Ex-Trump Interior, EPA leaders find new posts

52 percent say there is a climate emergency: poll

Carper asks EPA to require half of new cars to be zero-emissions by 2030

Environmental groups sue Army Corps of Engineers over pipeline permitting

EPA proposes major rule to reduce certain greenhouse gases

Maryland governor gives nod to cicadas, declares May and June 'Magicicada Months'

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION PAGES: Circular economy infrastructure will build value for all Americans, by Closed Loop Partners CEO Ron Gonen

OFF-BEAT AND OFFBEAT:  Drive-time zoo

Outbrain