Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues

Greg Nash

HAPPY TUESDAY! 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 Supreme Court ruling in favor of the PennEast pipeline in its land dispute with New Jersey, a study questioning the EPA’s methane accounting and a new GOP climate task force. 

EVERYTHING IS LEGAL IN NEW JERSEY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize N.J. land

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the PennEast pipeline can seize land from the state of New Jersey for its construction, a win for the natural gas vessel. 

The 5-4 decision wasn’t split along ideological lines in the case that pitted fossil fuel interests against states’ rights. 

The majority opinion, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Brett Kavanaugh, argued that the federal government can deputize private entities like the PennEast Pipeline Company to seize land under the federal government’s eminent domain rights. 

Getting into the legal stuff: The five justices rejected New Jersey’s argument that the pipeline company taking its land violated its sovereign immunity protecting it from lawsuits, including property condemnation suits, and argued that the state gave up its ability to evade eminent domain by ratifying the Constitution. 

The other side: The four dissenting justices, in an opinion written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, argued that permitting the company to take the state’s land through eminent domain violates court precedent which has determined that the Constitution doesn’t allow for Congress to interfere with states’ sovereign immunity. 

What comes next: PennEast cheered the court’s ruling in a statement, saying completion of the approximately 120-mile vessel will be good for consumers while New Jersey’s attorney general pledged to keep up the fight against it.

Read more about the decision here. 

METHANE ON THE BRAIN:  Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has underestimated methane emissions caused by oil and gas production by as much as 76 percent, according to research published Tuesday in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

The assessment found emissions at levels between 48 percent and 76 percent higher than the EPA’s estimates.

How’d they find that? Researchers from Pennsylvania State University collected data in the mid-Atlantic, mid-South and central Midwest of the U.S. from 2017 to 2019, tracking the movement of carbon dioxide, methane and ethane within weather systems. They then studied ethane-to-methane ratios from oil and gas production basins and compared to them an EPA inventory of those emissions

What the EPA has to say: In a statement to The Hill, the EPA said its greenhouse gas emissions inventory methods are continually updated based on stakeholder feedback.

“Given the variability of practices and technologies across oil and gas systems and the occurrence of episodic events, it is possible that the EPA’s estimates do not include all methane emissions from abnormal events,” an agency spokesperson said.

“For many equipment types and activities, the EPA’s emission estimates include the full range of conditions, including ‘super-emitters.’ For other situations, where data are available, emissions estimates for abnormal events are calculated separately and included in the GHG Inventory,” the spokesperson added. “The EPA continues to work through its stakeholder process to review new data from the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) and research studies to assess how emissions estimates can be improved.”

Read more about the study here. 

REPUBLICANS: ASSEMBLE! Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues

House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) office announced the formation of seven issue-specific task forces on Tuesday, including a task force focused on energy, climate and conservation. 

The task forces will identify and develop policy solutions to the issues, his office said. 

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), who is also the top Republican on the House Climate Crisis Committee,  will lead fourteen other lawmakers in energy, climate and conservation group. 

The other members are Reps. Debbie Lesko (Ariz.), Dan Crenshaw (Texas), John Curtis (Utah), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), David McKinley (W.Va.), Dusty Johnson (S.D.), Randy Feenstra (Iowa), Blake Moore (Utah), Pete Stauber (Minn.), Yvette Herrell (N.M.), Brian Mast (Fla.), Michael Burgess (Texas), Glenn Thompson (Pa.), Stephanie Bice (Okla.). 

“When Republicans retake the majority, we will come prepared to implement policies that will actually solve problems and improve people’s lives. That is why earlier this year I informed the conference that we would be rolling out Republican Task Forces designed to tackle the several crises that currently threaten our great nation,” McCarthy said in a statement. 


Telos: ESG and Corporate Responsibility in America — Wednesday, June 30 starting at 1:00 PM ET

Join The Hill on Wednesday, June 30 for a national summit on Environmental, Social, and Governance  (ESG) with CEOs, regulators, investment experts, activists, and others leading the way towards purpose-driven business models. It’ll feature Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rep. French Hill, Rep. Yvette Clarke, UN Global Compact CEO Sanda Ojiambo and more.  RSVP today. 

The Road to Zero-Emission Trucks: Charging Infrastructure — Wednesday, June 30 starting at 3:15 PM ET

Join The Hill on June 30th for the kickoff event in a series examining the future of electric trucks with an emphasis on the EV charging infrastructure supply chain, federal initiatives for large-scale charging installations and health and equity concerns for frontline communities. Rep. Yvette Clarke, AutoGrid CEO Amit Narayan and more join The Hill’s Steve Clemons. RSVP today.


  • 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 


The land was worth millions. A Big Ag corporation sold it to Sonny Perdue’s company for $250,000, The Washington Post reports

Why FEMA Aid Is Unavailable To Many Who Need It The Most, NPR reports

Minnesota sheriff barricades pipeline resistance camp’s driveway, The Intercept reports

Bangladesh scraps plans to build 10 coal-fired power plants, Reuters reports

Canadian government says by 2035 all new cars, light-duty trucks sold there will be electric, The Globe and Mail reports

ICYMI: Stories from  Tuesday…

Randy Moore first African American tapped to lead Forest Service

Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development

Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey

Amazon opens cooling center in Seattle amid searing heat wave

Pacific Northwest heat wave temperatures reach all-time high


Tags Amy Coney Barrett Brett Kavanaugh Brian Mast Dan Crenshaw David McKinley French Hill Garret Graves Glenn Thompson Jeff Duncan Kevin McCarthy Michael Burgess Pete Stauber Samuel Alito Sherrod Brown Sonia Sotomayor Sonny Perdue Stephen Breyer Yvette Clarke
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