OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden announces bipartisan infrastructure deal | DOJ backs Trump-era approval of Line 3 permit | Biden hits China on solar panels
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Today we’re looking at the new bipartisan infrastructure deal, the Justice Department backing Line 3 in litigation over a permit for the pipeline and the Biden administration stopping certain imports of a solar material over alleged forced labor.
DEAL WITH IT: Biden announces bipartisan deal on infrastructure
President Biden on Thursday announced he’d reached an infrastructure deal with a group of Republican and Democratic senators, saying both sides gave up some things they wanted to get a rare accord in a bitterly divided Washington, D.C.
Biden acknowledged the deal would not include proposals he’s made for spending to help American families, but firmly endorsed the deal on infrastructure in unusual remarks just outside the White House with the bipartisan group of senators looking on.
“We have a deal,” Biden told reporters.
On climate, it has some Biden priorities, though many investments are scaled down:
- A $7.5 billion investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and another $7.5 billion in electric buses and transit as part of its overall $579 billion in new spending on infrastructure projects. That compares to Biden’s initial proposal for spending $174 billion to “win the EV market.”
- $73 billion to upgrade power infrastructure, including building “thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines,” in comparison to Biden’s initial proposal for spending $100 billion.
- $47 billion in “resilience” projects, in comparison to Biden’s initial proposal for spending $50 billion for infrastructure resilience.
- Biden’s push to replace the nation’s lead service lines was also included in the bipartisan deal, with the White House statement saying it will “eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes, delivering clean drinking water to up to ten million American families and more than 400,000 schools and child care facilities that currently don’t have it.
But Democrats are not done: Biden said he intends to continue to look for a larger package on spending through a budget reconciliation measure, which would allow it to pass the Senate with just Democratic votes.
It’s possible that more spending on these climate provisions or additional measures that aren’t part of the bipartisan deal could appear in the other one.
GET IN LINE: DOJ backs Trump-era approval of controversial Line 3 permit
The Biden administration is backing the Trump administration’s approval of a permit for a controversial pipeline project in Minnesota in a new legal filing.
In a legal brief filed Wednesday, the Justice Department argued that the Army Corps of Engineers’s 2020 approval of a permit for Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline followed its legal obligation to consider the project’s environmental impacts.
“The Corps met its … obligations by preparing Environmental Assessments (EA), which included consideration of the impacts from the Corps’ authorizations, including to wetlands, the climate, low-income and minority populations, Tribal rights to hunt, fish, and gather, and all of the issues to which Plaintiffs draw special attention,” the department argued.
It asked the court to reject arguments brought by tribes and environmentalists that the federal government didn’t adequately assess environmental impacts and instead affirm the approval.
SUNSET ON THOSE IMPORTS: Biden hits China on solar panels over human rights abuses
The Biden administration is moving to bar U.S. imports of a material used in solar panels produced by a Chinese-based firm that officials say is engaged in forced labor practices, ratcheting up pressure on China over its human rights abuses.
The White House said that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection issued a “withhold release order” on silica-based products produced by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd. and its subsidiaries, which will result in personnel detaining shipments of Hoshine-made products.
The Biden administration said that the order was based on information “reasonably indicating” that the company, which is based in China’s Xinjiang region, engages in forced labor practices.
INCENTIVES FOR FARMERS: Agriculture climate bill easily clears Senate
The Senate on Thursday passed bipartisan legislation aimed at granting farms access to carbon offset markets by a 92-8 vote.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act, introduced by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), next heads to the House. The measure would establish a Department of Agriculture certification process through which producers can generate and sell carbon credits.
The “no” votes were from a combination of the right wing of the Republican caucus and the left wing of the Democratic caucus: Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
The Dem “no” votes seem to be over controversy on carbon offsets, with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) saying in a statement: “I applaud Chairman Stabenow and my Senate colleagues for their important work on addressing this crucial problem, but ultimately I don’t believe that an offset system that subsidizes corporations’ continued pollution in frontline communities is the best strategy.”
NOMS LATEST: Interior gets a fish and wildlife leader, EPA gets a CFO
- The Senate confirmed Shannon Estenoz as Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife by a voice vote
- It also confirmed Faisal Amin to be the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chief Financial Officer by voice vote
ON TAP TOMORROW:
- The House is expected to vote on whether to undo a Trump-era rule that weakened oil and gas methane regulations
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Can Massive Cargo Ships Use Wind to Go Green? The New York Times Magazine asks
Climate paradox: Warming is cooling parts of Antarctica, E&E News reports
Gas infrastructure across Europe leaking planet-warming methane, Reuters reports
As thicker plastic bags became a worse problem for environment, Delaware lawmakers look to ban them altogether, WDEL reports
ICYMI: Stories from Thursday (and Wednesday night)…
Summer heat brings new challenge to electric grid
Infrastructure package scales down Biden climate investments
Bipartisan lawmakers back clean electricity standard, but fall short of Biden goal
Bipartisan agriculture climate bill clears Senate
Biden admin backs Trump-era approval of controversial Line 3 pipeline permit
Judge denies Exxon bid to halt Massachusetts climate case
Biden hits China on solar panels over human rights abuses
Judge halts loan forgiveness program aimed at Black farmers
Brazil environment minister steps down amid illegal logging investigation
OFF BEAT AND OFF-BEAT: An outfit repeater but no outfit rememberers