Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden announces bipartisan infrastructure deal | DOJ backs Trump-era approval of Line 3 permit | Biden hits China on solar panels

President Biden, senators reach deal on infrastructure
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HAPPY THURSDAY! 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 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. 

Read more about the infrastructure deal here, its climate provisions here and Biden’s reconciliation remarks here.

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. 

Read more about the brief here.

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.

Read more about the move here.

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.”

Read more about the bill and its passage here.

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


  • The House is expected to vote on whether to undo a Trump-era rule that weakened oil and gas methane regulations


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 

Tags Bernie Sanders Cory Booker Debbie Stabenow Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren James Inhofe Jeff Merkley Joe Biden Josh Hawley Mike Braun Mike Lee

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