Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: White House reinstates climate adviser removed by Trump | Porter blasts oil CEOs: ‘Declined to answer to the American people’

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Today a climate adviser ousted under the Trump administration is back in the White House, Katie Porter takes aim at oil CEOs and a top Senate Democrat confirms the Biden administration’s waiver of Nord Stream 2 sanctions.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: White House reinstates climate adviser removed by Trump

The White House has reinstated a top adviser overseeing the government’s reports on climate change after the official was removed from the position under former President Trump last year.

Officials announced on Wednesday that Michael Kuperberg had returned to the position of executive director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, six months after he was reassigned during the previous administration. Officials stressed the need for nonpartisan leadership in charge of climate assessments and for science to be in the driver’s seat.

“We face urgent climate threats, but we have the knowledge needed to take bold action to combat them,” Kuperberg said in a statement. “As a scientist, it’s been my honor to serve the American people under Democratic and Republican administrations to help deliver science to inform solutions.”

What will Kuperberg handle?: Reprising his role, Kuperberg will be responsible for overseeing the government’s National Climate Assessment, which relies on opinions from government and independent scientists. The fourth edition of the report, issued in 2018, included dire warnings about the threat of climate change if the U.S. didn’t do enough to curb emissions. It reportedly angered the Trump White House. The former president often dismissed the threat of climate change.

Read more about the reinstatement here.

 

NO PORTER GIVEN: Porter blasts oil CEOs: ‘Declined to answer to the American people’

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) on Wednesday chastised oil company executives who declined her invitation to testify before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, saying they “declined to answer to the American people.”

Porter, who chairs the subcommittee, invited the CEOs of ExxonMobil, Devon Energy and EOG Resources to testify at a hearing, which was titled, “Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars and Corporate Welfare in the Oil and Gas Industry.”

All three, as well as officials with the trade group Western Energy Alliance, ultimately declined.

Porter cites industry tax breaks: “I have long said that congressional hearings are opportunities for representatives and witnesses to be in conversation with Americans. Yet, despite receiving billions in taxpayer subsidies, every witness that we invited today from the oil and gas industry declined to answer to the American people,” Porter said, responding during Wednesday’s hearing. 

Porter particularly pointed to tax breaks meant to encourage fossil fuel production, what she described as “outdated” royalty rates and rental fees for public lands drilling as well as coronavirus-related aid.

Read more about the hearing here.

 

ROUGHLY DOWN THE STREAM: Biden administration confirms it’s waiving sanctions over Nord Stream 2, Senate Democrat says

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Wednesday that the Biden administration has confirmed it will waive sanctions against the Russian company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The announcement comes after the decision was initially reported Tuesday. Sources with knowledge of the situation said the administration would issue waivers for both the company and CEO Matthias Warnig, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The administration reportedly made the decision to avoid straining Washington’s relationship with Germany, which the natural gas pipeline is set to pass through. Reports said U.S. officials had determined it would not be possible to halt construction of the pipeline without also sanctioning German entities.

“I am opposed to the decision by the Biden Administration to waive sanctions on NS2 AG and Matthias Warnig. I urge the administration to rip off the Band-Aid, lift these waivers and move forward with the congressionally mandated sanctions,” Menendez said in a statement. “The administration has said that the pipeline is a bad idea and that it is a Russian malign influence project. I share that sentiment, but fail to see how today’s decision will advance U.S. efforts to counter Russian aggression in Europe.”

Read more about Menendez’s comments here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

  • The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing to examine Federal, state, and private forestlands, focusing on opportunities for addressing climate change.
  • The House Climate Committee is having a hearing on investments to “modernize and expand” the electric grid.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Conservative group launches bid to sell GOP on carbon tax, E&E News reports

EnergyAsia snubs IEA’s call to stop new fossil fuel investments, Reuters reports

Brazil environment minister probed for timber trafficking, The Buenos Aires Times reports

What to Save? Climate Change Forces Brutal Choices at National Parks, The New York Times reports

Bill seeking $100M for energy-efficient affordable housing moves forward in Maine legislature, Mainebiz reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday….

42 percent of world’s protected areas were added in last decade: UN report

Biden administration confirms it’s waiving sanctions over Nord Stream 2, Senate Democrat says

Putin, Xi announce start of joint Russian-Chinese nuclear project

Porter blasts oil CEOs: ‘Declined to answer to the American people’

Granholm expresses openness to pipeline cyber standards after Colonial attack

White House climate adviser: Americans will ‘keep demanding’ upgraded infrastructure after Biden

Colonial Pipeline CEO says company paid hackers $4.4 million in ransomware attack

White House reinstates climate adviser removed by Trump

 

OFF-BEAT AND OFFBEAT:  It’s a living

Tags Bob Menendez Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

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