OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Judge halts Biden pause on new public lands oil leasing | Democrat presses Haaland on oil and gas review | EPA puts additional delay on Trump lead and copper in drinking water rule

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Judge halts Biden pause on new public lands oil leasing | Democrat presses Haaland on oil and gas review | EPA puts additional delay on Trump lead and copper in drinking water rule
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IT IS WEDNESDAY, MY DUDES. 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 a federal judge halts the Biden administration’s oil leasing moratorium, and a key Senate Democrat has questions on the status of the pause, while the administration delays the Trump-era lead/copper rule.

I SHALL BE RE-LEASED: Judge halts Biden pause on new public lands oil leasing

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A federal judge has issued an order temporarily blocking the Biden administration's pause on new oil and gas leasing on public land and waters.

The preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty follows lawsuits over the leasing pause from more than a dozen Republican-led states.

Doughty, a Trump appointee in Louisiana, did not make an ultimate determination as to the legality of the pause on Tuesday, but rather blocked the move while the court case against it proceeds.

However, he did find that the states had a "substantial" likelihood to succeed on the merits of their claim and that they were able to demonstrate a "substantial" threat of irreparable harm.

The White House’s next steps: The ruling is something of a setback for the Biden administration, which had paused issuing new drilling leases on federally-owned land and water while it reviews and reconsiders its current leasing and permitting practices.

An Interior Department spokesperson told The Hill via email that the department will abide by the decision while continuing its review.

Read more about the ruling here.

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PUT TO THE TESTER: Democrat presses Haaland on oil and gas review

A Democratic senator pressed Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOvernight Energy: Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas review | Biden admin reportedly aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030 |  Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' PFAS risks Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers describe horror of Jan. 6 in first committee hearing MORE on the Biden administration’s review of its oil and gas program on Wednesday following a court ruling that blocked its pause on new leasing. 

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterNative Americans are targets of voter suppression too The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal MORE (D-Mont.) raised concerns about the pause’s impacts on industry while also trying to get information on when the administration would wrap up its ongoing assessment of its oil and gas program.

“We’ve got more acres leased than we have developed, which tells me that even if you support oil and gas jobs, which I believe we do, there’s some improvements that could be made, but as this review rolls on, a leasing pause gives folks that work in the oil and gas industry a lot of uncertainty,” he said during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. 

“It’s getting harder and harder to extend that trust without hard information,” he added. “Namely, when are we going to see the review? What’s it going to cover? Are there going to be any concrete policy recommendations for Congress to consider?”

Haaland responds: In response, Haaland said, “We have said all along early summer.”

“I’m taking that as it’ll be out in the next month, OK?” Tester said. 

“Thank you, senator,” Haaland replied. 

Asked about Haaland’s responses to his questions after the hearing, Tester said, “We’ll just have to hold her accountable that it comes out in the next month.”

Read more about the exchange here.

 

CALL THE COPPERS: EPA puts additional delay on Trump lead and copper in drinking water rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put another delay on a Trump-era update to a rule governing lead and copper in drinking water, according to a new federal register notice.

The notice says that the rule, which was previously expected to take effect on Thursday, will now take effect on December 16. It also pushed back the date at which it requires compliance by one month until October 16, 2024. 

The Trump changes to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) are expected to quicken the speed at which cities need to notify people who may have been exposed to lead but give utilities a longer timeline to replace lead-tainted service lines. 

The rule was originally expected to go into effect in March, but it was first delayed until this week before the latest move to push it until December.

WHY THE DELAY?: The EPA’s website says that the further delay is part of its effort to “take the time necessary to review the LCR Revisions and ensure that it protects families and communities.”

The Biden White House has identified the Trump rule as one of dozens it would seek to review. 

The Trump administration’s rule would require monitoring for lead at primary schools and child care centers. It would also require cities to notify residents of potential lead exposure within 24 hours.

Read more about the delay here.

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ON TAP TOMORROW:

  • Forest Service chief Victoria Christiansen will appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on her department’s proposed budget
  • The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

'Most fundamental' climate metric takes a worrying turn, E&E News reports

U.S. Southwest gears up for power crunch as temperatures soar, rivers dry up, Reuters reports 

How far can you go in an electric car? California needs 1.2 million charging stations,The Sacramento Bee reports

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As legislature reconvenes, Illinois is poised to become the first state in the Midwest to ban coal-burning power plants, The Chicago Tribune reports

Israel’s new environment minister calls to cancel pipeline deal with UAE, Cleveland Jewish News reports

 

NEW NEWSLETTER LAUNCHING MONDAY: The Hill's Sustainability Newsletter will focus on the best and most promising practices and policies that ensure society's needs of the present don't undermine the needs of the future. Sign up here: https://bit.ly/3jtvjBL

 

FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES:Cleaner US gas can reduce Europe's reliance on Russian energy,’ by Paul Bledsoe of American University’s Center for Environmental Policy

 

ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday…

EPA puts additional delay on Trump lead and copper in drinking water rule

Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office

Democrat presses Haaland on oil and gas review

GM increasing spending on electric vehicles, opening two battery plants

Conservationists plead for help after more than 30 pelicans mutilated in Calif.

Judge halts Biden pause on new public lands oil leasing

TSA working on additional pipeline security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack

 

OFF BEAT AND OFF-BEAT: Don’t bug me