Overnight Energy: Biden administration to restore, expand protections for Tongass National Forest | Republicans ask Biden to withdraw public lands nominee | New data on 'forever chemicals' prompts calls for transparency

Overnight Energy: Biden administration to restore, expand protections for Tongass National Forest | Republicans ask Biden to withdraw public lands nominee | New data on 'forever chemicals' prompts calls for transparency
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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 Biden plan for the Tongass forest, the latest on Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination to lead the BLM and calls for transparency after revelations on PFAS.  

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AT THE FOR-FRONT: Biden administration to restore, expand protections for Tongass National Forest

The Biden administration will both restore protections for the Tongass National Forest and add additional logging restrictions, the Agriculture Department announced on Thursday. 

In a statement, the department said that it would start a rulemaking process this summer to restore Clinton-era protections to the Alaska forest. 

But wait...there’s more! It will also add more protections by ending large-scale sales of timber harvested from the Tongass's old growth trees, but will still allow small-scale sales for "community consumption and cultural use."

The department also said that it would invest about $25 million in sustainable opportunities for economic growth and community well-being and would also look for potential priorities for future investments. 

Read more about the plan here.

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THEY’RE NOT EXACTLY FANS: Republicans ask Biden to withdraw public lands nominee

Republicans asked President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE to withdraw his pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management, and ramped up their criticism of her in relation to a decades-old tree-spiking incident. 

In a letter released Wednesday, every GOP senator on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee wrote to Biden asking him to withdraw his nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning. 

And also...On Thursday, committee Republicans also released a letter they said was from an investigator on the case, which alleged that a grand jury sent Stone-Manning a “target letter” indicating that she was going to be indicted but that she hired an attorney who negotiated an immunity deal. 

The nominee’s side of the story: Stone-Manning has testified that she retyped and sent the tree-spiking letter after an activist told her to do so, but she has denied any additional involvement. 

 And in written responses to the committee’s questions released late Wednesday, Stone-Manning reiterated that she had “no involvement in the spiking of trees.”

She also said that she had agreed to work with authorities on the issue and that her attorney had advised her to seek immunity.

And the Biden administration is sticking by her: “Tracy Stone-Manning is a dedicated public servant who has years of experience and a proven track record of finding solutions and common ground when it comes to our public lands and waters. She is exceptionally qualified to... be the next Director of the Bureau of Land Management,” a White House official said via email. 

Read more about the situation here.

 

OH FRACK: New data on 'forever chemicals' prompts calls for more transparency

A recent trove of data on so-called forever chemicals is spurring calls for more transparency around the use of toxic fluids by fracking companies.

One of the people pushing for a new approach is Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences who says the federal government should treat the cancer-linked chemicals like name-brand pharmaceuticals, rather than designating them as untouchable trade secrets.

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The backstory: Birnbaum spoke with The Hill on Tuesday, a day after revelations from the advocacy group Physicians for Social Responsibility that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2011 approved the use of chemicals that can break down into toxic forever chemicals, known as PFAS, in fracking fluid.

The group obtained internal EPA documents that were heavily redacted and did not reveal chemical names, due to confidentiality rules that allow companies to maintain trade secrets.

Going forward: Birnbaum said those rules are due for an overhaul, in the interest of public and environmental health. 

“Maybe we should begin to think about [them] as being something like a patent on a drug, which after a certain number of years expires — and then you get your generics coming in.”

Read more about the calls for transparency here.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

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OPEC sees world oil demand reaching pre-pandemic level in 2022, Reuters reports

US Faces Crossroads On Renewable Energy Future — Go Big or Go Local, NPR reports

Trillions of dollars spent on Covid recovery in ways that harm environment, The Guardian reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Thursday (and Wednesday night)...

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