IT’S TUESDAY! Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day’s energy and environment news.
Today we’re looking at reported details on the Biden administration’s vehicle mileage push, an inspector general probe finding that a lack of Defense Department action may have caused “preventable” PFAS risks and Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandInterior reverses Trump, moves BLM headquarters back to DC Harris in Shanksville honors heroism, courage of Flight 93 passengers Environmental groups call for immediate restoration of national monuments shrunk by Trump MORE facing questions on the federal oil and gas program.
IN THE HOT SEAT: Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas review
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE (D-W.Va.) grilled Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on the status of the Biden administration’s review of oil and gas drilling on public lands in a hearing Tuesday.
"While I’ve supported the administration’s desire to pause lease sales to make sure the American people are getting fair returns for our shared resources, we are now well — now into the early summer timeline when we were told the review would be completed,” Manchin said during a Tuesday hearing on the Interior Department’s fiscal 2022 budget request.
“We need a plan to move forward for responsible oil and gas leasing both onshore and offshore," he added.
In response, Haaland did not commit to a specific timeline but said "the review is being finalized internally and should be out very soon."
A refresher: Haaland said in June that the administration’s review of federal oil and gas leasing would be finalized in “early summer.”
INDUSTRY STANDARD? Biden admin reportedly aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030
The Biden administration is set to issue vehicle mileage standards that will first restore Obama-era standards and then exceed them, with a goal of 40 percent of U.S. drivers using electric vehicles by 2030, The Associated Press reported.
The rules, which would undo Trump-era rollbacks, would first apply to 2023 cars, which would be subject to California’s 2019 rules cutting emissions by 3.7 percent a year. By 2025, the Obama-era level of a 5 percent annual increase would be fully restored and would continue to increase beginning in the model year 2026, according to the AP, citing four officials briefed on the plan.
However, the EPA is expected to announce the requirements will begin increasing faster in 2027 in a nonbinding statement, with hopes that the pressure will nudge the vehicle industry into increasing their electric vehicle output. One of the officials told the AP the EPA will seek to request that new vehicle sales be 40 percent electric by 2030.
The agency declined The Hill’s request for comment.
...and speaking of vehicles: A group of 139 Democratic lawmakers is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “promptly” reinstate California’s ability to set its own vehicle emissions standards — which is expected to increase electric vehicle adoption.
In separate letters to EPA Administrator Michael ReganMichael ReganFormer EPA chief to chair pro-Trump think tank's environmental center Overnight Energy & Environment — Effort to repeal Arctic refuge drilling advances EPA seeks protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay, undercutting mining project MORE on Tuesday, 26 senators and 113 House members urged the swift reversal of the Trump administration’s move to revoke California’s emissions standards waiver, a major climate change rollback.
NOT SO PFAST: Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' PFAS risks, watchdog says
A report from an internal watchdog says that a lack of action from the Defense Department may have led to people being exposed to “preventable” risks from toxic chemicals.
The department’s inspector general said in a report issued last week that in 2011, Defense officials issued an alert saying that firefighting foam that had a type of chemicals known as PFAS in it “contain[s] chemicals that present human health and environmental risks and require[s] special handling and disposal.”
It said that this alert wasn’t translated into action, however, because officials within the program didn’t develop and present their recommendations to an emerging chemicals council — and the department was ultimately not required to act on the risk alert.
The watchdog also found that Department of Defense (DOD) officials including firefighters were not aware of the risk alert.
Taking their time: Risk management actions for PFAS in firefighting foam weren’t required for several more years, until 2016.
All in all, the inspector general said that because of the lack of action “people and the environment may have been exposed to preventable risks from PFAS‑containing [firefighting foam].”
And the report generated some calls for change from Capitol Hill.
Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Dems demand accounting from Big Oil Bipartisan House group asks Biden to stop Canada's Great Lakes nuclear storage plans Toyota, Honda knock union-made EV incentive in Democrats' spending package MORE (D-Mich.) in an interview called for a “culture change” at the department on PFAS, saying it should be achieved by making people aware of how the department is handling the issue and through top-down changes in the administration.
“We have to expose the reality of how the Department of Defense is handling this and this is one of the reasons that I led this effort to get the IG to take a look at this,” he said, adding that he hopes that “the administration also will take time to direct, through the secretary of Defense right on down, that this be taken more seriously."
NOMS NEWS: Senate approves DOJ environment nominee, Stone-Manning passes procedural vote
- The Senate voted 58-41 Tuesday to confirm Todd Kim to lead the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, with eight Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with all the chamber's Democrats.
- Tracy Stone-Manning, Biden’s pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management, advanced through a procedural vote 50-49 along party lines
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Oregon governor signs ambitious clean energy bill, The Associated Press reports
London judges reverse course to reopen $7 bln Brazil dam lawsuit against BHP, Reuters reports
Historic floods fuel misery, rage in Detroit, E&E News reports
Florida is buying $300 million in land. It’s for the environment — and developers., The Tampa Bay Times reports
ON TAP TOMORROW:
- The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee’s National Parks Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the impacts of overcrowding in national parks on park resources and visitor experiences
- The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will hold a hearing to examine the benefits of investing in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water infrastructure projects
ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday...
Biden adviser's brother lobbied National Security Council on GM's behalf
Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division
Watchdog: Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' risks from 'forever chemicals'
Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas
Heavy wildfire smoke linked to increased COVID-19 risk, researchers say
Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards
Biden administration aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030: report
OFFBEAT AND OFF-BEAT: A snow leopard also faces consequences of not being vaccinated.