OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House votes to nix Trump methane rule | Supreme Court rules in favor of oil refineries in blending waiver dispute | Colorado lawmaker warns of fire season becoming year-round

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House votes to nix Trump methane rule | Supreme Court rules in favor of oil refineries in blending waiver dispute | Colorado lawmaker warns of fire season becoming year-round
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TGIF! 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 House voting to get rid of a rule weakening methane emission regulations, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of giving oil refiners exemptions to biofuel requirements and what Rep. Joe NeguseJoseph (Joe) NeguseDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Democrats inch closer to passing spending package MORE has to say about wildfires in his home state of Colorado.

CRA-VING MORE REGULATION: 

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The House voted on Friday to get rid of a Trump administration rule that weakened regulation on the greenhouse gas methane.

The measure, passed by the House in a 229-191 vote, has already been approved by the Senate and will now head to the White House for President BidenJoe BidenPfizer CEO says vaccine data for those under 5 could be available by end of year Omicron coronavirus variant found in at least 10 states Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles MORE's signature.

Twelve House Republicans voted with all Democrats to eliminate the Trump-era rule.

The process stuff: Lawmakers used a legislative tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to get around a possible GOP filibuster in the Senate.

The CRA allows Congress to target recently promulgated regulations, and such votes can not be filibustered.

The policy stuff: The Trump-era methane rule rescinded standards aimed at limiting methane emissions from oil and gas production, processing, transmission and storage. 

By voting to get rid of it, the legislators voted to restore 2016 Obama-era regulations that required companies to capture methane leaks.

The Trump rule was also expected to set up an additional hurdle for regulating air pollution by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to determine that a substance contributes “significantly” to air pollution before it can be regulated

Read more about the vote here.

THE WINNER OF THE FUEL DUEL:  Supreme Court rules in favor of oil refineries in blending waiver dispute

The Supreme Court in a Friday decision upheld waivers granted to three oil refineries that exempted them from requirements to blend biofuels into their products. 

In its 6-3 ruling, the court reversed a 10th Circuit decision that vacated hardship waivers granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and determined that the refineries were not eligible for an “extension” after going for some time without one.

So what does “extension” even mean??? In an opinion penned by Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? The Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion Five revealing quotes from Supreme Court abortion case  MORE, the majority argued that the word “extension” didn’t necessarily imply continuity, so the waivers could stand despite the time lapse from when the refineries that had previously held one. 

"It is entirely natural — and consistent with ordinary usage — to seek an ‘extension’ of time even after some lapse,” Gorsuch wrote.  

“Think of the forgetful student who asks for an ‘extension’ for a term paper after the deadline has passed, the tenant who does the same after overstaying his lease, or parties who negotiate an 'extension' of a contract after its expiration,” he added. 

Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Supreme Court weighs abortion restrictions The Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion MORE wrote the dissenting opinion, arguing that the EPA can’t “extend” an exemption that a refinery doesn’t have anymore and that the majority opinion uses an “outlier” meaning of the word that’s not consistent with its other uses in the statute. 

Read more about the ruling here.

FIRED UP: Colorado lawmaker warns of fire season becoming year-round

Colorado residents and their representatives in Congress are bracing for another summer of raining ash and uncontrolled blazes as wildfires rage along the state’s Western Slope.

Smoke is billowing across the Centennial State, but it’s the duration and frequency of the fires that is causing the greatest alarm. What was once a seasonal occurrence is now extending beyond a few months each year.

“We have transitioned from having fire seasons to now having fire years,” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) told The Hill’s Equilibrium on Thursday. “There are fires raging almost year-round.”

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Then...While much of the West set wildfire records in 2020 — with devastating blazes scorching California and Oregon in the fall — Colorado experienced its most active wildfire season in the state’s history.

...and now: This year, the fires have prompted the Bureau of Land Management to increase restrictions on federal land, starting this weekend. Meanwhile, Neguse and other lawmakers from the region are scrambling to push a slew of wildfire bills through Congress, to bolster the firefighting workforce and strengthen mitigation and recovery efforts across the West.

Neguse, who described Colorado as an “epicenter” for conditions that pose “Herculean challenges,” said that at one point last year there were five blazes raging simultaneously in his district: the East Troublesome and Williams Fork fires in Grand County, the Calwood and Lefthand Canyon fires in Boulder County and the Cameron Peak fire in Larimer County.

“When your community is the home to the largest and second largest wildfires in the history of Colorado, it is a wake-up call to our communities, to our state and certainly for policymakers,” said Neguse.

Read more about what the lawmaker had to say here.

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

On Tuesday:

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  • The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the state of wildland fire science
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a legislative hearing on climate, resiliency and electric-grid related bills
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a legislative hearing on water and conservation bills

On Wednesday:

  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing titled “Toxic Coal Ash: Adverse Health Effects from the Puerto Rico Plant and Options for Plant Closure”
  • The House Climate Crisis committee will hold a hearing on transportation investments
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on compensating residents of the Vieques, Puerto Rico, for health impacts of military operations 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

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Study: Air Pollution Could Be Causing Higher Cancer Rates in Louisiana’s Low-Income Communities, WWNO reports

ICYMI: Stories from Friday…

Colorado lawmaker warns of fire season becoming year-round

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Supreme Court rules in favor of oil refineries in blending waiver dispute

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