Overnight Energy: Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections | Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections | Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires

Overnight Energy: Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections | Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections | Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires
© Photo Credit: Yahoo News. Piney Point phosphogypsum stacks in Manatee County, Florida, in 2020.

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 EPA’s plans for the future of clean water regulations, President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE’s talk with Western governors on wildfires and Secretary Haaland’s call for inclusion of native voices. 

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LANDING GEAR: Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections

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 joined other Native American leaders and activists at the National Mall on Thursday to accept the delivery of a totem pole transported across the country as part of a push to protect sites that are sacred to Native Americans.

The event was the final stop in the "Red Road to DC," a two-week tour from Washington state to Washington, D.C., with visits to sacred locations throughout the U.S. Speaking at the event Thursday, Haaland called for greater inclusion of Native American voices in lawmaking in order to protect the sites.

“The fact that we are all here is not insignificant. When our nation’s capital was established, its policies were intended to exclude us, to assimilate us. Laws and policies were written without considering Indigenous communities’ challenges or their strengths, and we are working hard to undo so many consequences of these actions," said Halaand, who is the nation's first Native American Cabinet secretary.

What’s at stake?: Advocates warn that a number of sacred locations across the U.S. are threatened by government actions, which they say violate prior peace treaties. Among these locations is the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE slashed the size of Bears Ears, which the Biden administration has pushed to reverse.

The Snake River in Idaho, another site on the tour, has seen a decline in its salmon population due to dams in the river that native people have long claimed violate their fishing rights.

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Read more about the event here

 

TESTING THE WATERS: Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections in first step for clean water regulations

The Biden administration said on Friday that it’ll take a two-step approach to decide which U.S. waters should get federal protections from pollution, returning first to pre-Obama protections.

A statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that a “forthcoming foundational rule” would temporarily restore protections that were in place prior to an Obama-era expansion in 2015. 

Last year, the Trump administration put forward a rule that undermined both the Obama-era protections and also rolled back some protections, including for wetlands, that had been in place for decades.

Read more about the proposal here

 

LOOKING WEST: Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires

Governors of Western states facing severe fires called for federal action on climate change and forest management on a call with President Biden and Vice President Harris Friday.

Biden began by asking the governors what help the White House could provide at the state level that they were not already receiving. Montana Gov. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteMontana governor issues rules requiring schools to consider 'parental concerns' about masks Montana Gov. Gianforte allocates more than million in federal aid for school virus testing Bipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions MORE (R) said the fires illustrate the need for more effective forest management in the affected areas.

“I can take you 10 miles west of the state capitol in Helena and show you a forest where 90 percent of the trees are standing dead,” Gianforte said, adding that such circumstances create a “tinder box” in those areas.

Biden agreed, comparing ignitions in poorly-managed forests to “dropping a match in a pool of fuel” and highlighted the additional forest management and Bureau of Land Management funds in the bipartisan infrastructure package backed by the White House.

What else?: Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeSeattle area to require COVID-19 vaccine to enter indoor venues Washington state troopers, firefighters sue over vaccine mandate Washington state enacting mask mandate for large outdoor events MORE (D), meanwhile, said his state has “a huge need for additional aerial assets" to fight wildfires, and described an “emerging concern about fuel supply” for those assets.

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Inslee also touted the infrastructure measures as essential to combating wildfires, saying, “The fact of the matter is there is nothing in human intervention against these fires if climate change continues to ravage our forests.”

“There is only one way to save these forests from the ravages of climate,” he added. “We won’t recognize these forests as forests anymore unless we realize your vision.”

Read more about the call here

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

On Tuesday:

  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on nominees for Energy Department science roles and an Interior Department policy role

On Wednesday:

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  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on three EPA nominees
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of an energy and water funding bill

On Thursday:

  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold hearings to examine the role of and programs within the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
  • The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold hearings to examine the nomination of Homer L. Wilkes to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals, The Associated Press reports

A Florida city wanted to move away from fossil fuels. The state just made sure it couldn’t, Grist reports

As sockeye runs struggle elsewhere in North America, a record run in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, The Seattle Times reports

Virus variant threatens to cool oil demand recovery, Reuters reports

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Midwest Lawmakers Urge Biden to Consider Biofuels in Environment Agenda, NAFB reports

 

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

Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires

Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections in first step for clean water regulations

Enough ice melted in Greenland in single day to cover Florida in two inches of water

Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections

Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure

 

OFFBEAT AND (SOMEWHAT) OFF-BEAT: Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?