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Overnight Energy: Climate emerges as infrastructure sticking point | US recovers millions in cryptocurrency paid to pipeline hackers | Chief scientist: NOAA is '$12 billion agency trapped in a $5.5 billion budget'

Overnight Energy: Climate emerges as infrastructure sticking point | US recovers millions in cryptocurrency paid to pipeline hackers | Chief scientist: NOAA is '$12 billion agency trapped in a $5.5 billion budget'
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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 at @BudrykZack.

Today the White House says it remains at an impasse with a key Republican over climate provisions on infrastructure, the U.S. says it’s recovered millions paid in ransom to the pipeline hackers and NOAA’s chief scientist says the agency is underfunded.

INFRA PENNY, IN FOR A POUND: Climate emerges as infrastructure sticking point

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Climate change is emerging as a sticking point in infrastructure negotiations, as proposals from President Biden and Republicans remain disparate on actions to address the warming planet. 

Following additional negotiations last week, during which Republicans upped their offer by $50 billion, the White House said it still did not go far enough on climate change. 

Meanwhile, climate hawks are expressing fear that climate action could fall to the wayside in a push to get bipartisan legislation across the finish line. 

On Friday, after a meeting between Biden and Republican negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Capito’s counteroffer “did not meet [Biden’s] objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis, and create new jobs.”

What’s next?: Psaki said during a press briefing Monday that her statement referenced “investment in areas like [electric vehicle] EV buses and EV charging stations and some of the components that are essential to investing in industries of the future and ensuring that we’re creating millions of jobs while also doing it in a way that protects our climate.” 

But, asked whether those were “must-haves,” the spokesperson said “I’m not outlining must-haves here, I’m outlining what the president would like to see more of in a piece of legislation.”

While neither Democrats nor Republicans gave specifics on what was discussed, where each side’s public proposals fall on climate shows two very different visions for the extent and scope that tackling climate change will play in the infrastructure package.

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Read more about the negotiations here:

TAILS FROM THE CRYPTO: US recovers millions in cryptocurrency paid to Colonial Pipeline hackers

U.S. investigators have recovered millions of dollars in cryptocurrency that Colonial Pipeline paid hackers last month to end a ransomware attack on its systems.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced Monday afternoon that the Department of Justice “found and recaptured the majority of the ransom” paid to the DarkSide network, the group responsible for the attack.

Paul Abbate, the deputy director of the FBI, said the bureau successfully seized the ransom funds from a bitcoin wallet that DarkSide used to collect Colonial Pipeline’s payment.

Monaco, however, would not reveal how much money was taken from the account.

The story so far: Colonial Pipeline, a network that provides around 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel, was the target of a crippling cyberattack last month that forced it to shut down operations for several days.

Joseph Blount, the company’s CEO, later revealed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he authorized the company to pay the cyber criminals behind the attack the equivalent of $4.4 million in bitcoin on the day of the breach in exchange for the keys to decrypt the network.

The FBI recommends against paying the ransom, as it may encourage the hackers to go after another group, and the payment may be used for criminal operations. The Biden administration has reiterated this stance in recent weeks. 

Blount on Monday applauded the FBI for their "swift work and professionalism in responding to this event," and stressed in a statement that "the private sector also has an equally important role to play" in defending against cyber threats.

Read more about the report here:

NOAA IDEA: Chief scientist: NOAA is '$12 billion agency trapped in a $5.5 billion budget'

Craig McLean, the acting chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on Monday lamented what he said was insufficient funding for the agency to achieve its mandate.

“NOAA is a $12 billion agency trapped in a $5-and-a-half billion budget,” McLean said Monday in testimony before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on the Environment. “When I compare [the agency's budget] to all of the obligations we have … when I stack all of those authorizations up and what we’re supposed to be doing, we just can’t afford to do them all.”

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“We don’t work in isolation, we’re not a solo act as a federal agency,” he added. “To fill … gaps we need more resources than we have available.”

McLean made the remarks during a hearing on a national “oceanshot,” or an acceleration of oceanic technology and science comparable to the U.S. landing on the moon. In her own opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) also addressed the funding obstacles in the process, as well as lack of diversity in the field.

“Ocean science is the least diverse of all STEM fields, with Black students representing less than 2 percent of graduates. A March 2021 House Science Committee Majority Staff report found that less than 4 percent of NOAA scientists are Black, and only 1.3 percent are Black women,” she said.

McLean said the funding required to map the world's ocean would be about $3 billion, or “the rough approximate cost of a Mars mission,” compared to the current level and scale of spending on mapping, which is between $50 million and $80 million.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

  • Bill Nye the Science Guy will testify at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on climate change. 
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on DDT dumping off California’s Southern Coast
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on public lands recreation bills
  • The Senate Natural Resources Committee will hold hearings to consider the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning to be Director of the Bureau of Land Management; Shalanda H. Baker to be Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact, Department of Energy; Samuel T. Walsh to be General Counsel, Department of Energy; and Andrew E. Light to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy (International Affairs)

WHAT WE’RE READING:

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How bankruptcy lets oil and gas companies evade cleanup rules, Grist reports

Survival of Illinois nuclear plants hang in the balance as Democrats haggle over aid, The Washington Examiner reports

Line 3 foes in northern MN block road, chain themselves to equipment, MPR reports

Maine’s blueberry crop faces climate change peril, The Portland Press-Herald reports

ICYMI: Stories from Monday and the weekend...

Climate emerges as infrastructure sticking point

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US recovers millions in cryptocurrency paid to Colonial Pipeline hackers

Senate Democrat 'very anxious' about climate legislation: 'I sense trouble'

Chief scientist: NOAA is '$12 billion agency trapped in a $5.5 billion budget'

Granholm launches 'Earthshot' goal of reducing hydrogen energy cost to $1

CO2 concentration levels hit record high, show no impact from pandemic

Energy secretary: Adversaries have capability of shutting down US power grid

Granholm: Infrastructure plan 'has got to be done soon'

OFFBEAT AND OFF-BEAT: Better late than never