Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Infrastructure bills could curb emissions by 45 percent, Democrats say

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) arrives for a press conference on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 to discuss the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget resolution as the Senate leaves for the August district work period.
Greg Nash

Happy Wednesday and 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 what the Senate Majority leader says the infrastructure bills will do for carbon emissions, the NOAA’s latest report on greenhouse gas concentrations and new research on emissions from electricity.

EMISSION POSSIBLE: Schumer says infrastructure bills would cut emissions by 45 percent

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) projected Wednesday that the bipartisan infrastructure bill and Democrats’ reconciliation spending package would reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 45 percent by the end of the decade compared to 2005.

“In our analysis of the combined impact of both the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Budget Resolution’s instructions, we are on track to reduce U.S. emissions to approximately 45 percent beneath 2005 levels by 2030,” Schumer wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter.

“When you add Administrative actions being planned by the Biden Administration and many states – like New York, California, and Hawaii – we will hit our 50 percent target by 2030,” he continued.

The goal as outlined by the New York Democrat is aligned with the Biden administration’s target of 50 percent reduction by decade’s end.

How would it accomplish this?: Schumer wrote that while his office projects “many important policies” will lead to this outcome, it primarily hinges on the Senate Finance Committee’s clean energy and vehicle tax plan as well as the Clean Electricity Payment Program, which is included in Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan. The analysis projects the two policies alone would comprise nearly 66 percent of the total projected emissions reductions.

Read more about the letter here.


ELECTRIC BACKSLIDE: Global electric emissions outpace pre-pandemic levels: research

Greenhouse gas emissions from the electric sector are now exceeding their pre-pandemic levels, according to new research.

An analysis by the London-based climate think tank Ember found that during the first half of this year, emissions were 5 percent higher than they were in the first six months of 2019.

Ember’s report said no country “has yet achieved a truly ‘green recovery’ for their power sector,” though it did note that the U.S., European Union, Japan and South Korea have achieved some reductions.

Globally, the think tank reported an increase in the use of coal, which is a particularly carbon-intensive fuel.

While emissions can come from a variety of sources such as power generation, agriculture and transportation, the report’s findings reflect challenges the world faces in reducing emissions, particularly from a sector that became the greatest greenhouse gas contributor worldwide in 2010.

The background: The findings also come as countries prepare for another round of climate negotiations at a United Nations conference this fall.

President Biden has called for the U.S. to achieve an emissions-free power sector by the year 2035. In the Senate, Democrats are pushing for plans for a clean electricity payment program that seeks to reduce emissions from the sector by 80 percent over the next decade.

The new research from Ember found that in the U.S., clean energy generation rose by 3 percent while fossil generation declined slightly and that demand for electricity was at a similar level as it was before the pandemic.

Read more about the research here.


AS YOU ANWR: Democrats could push for Arctic wildlife refuge drilling reversal in reconciliation

Democrats may try to use their $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill push for a reversal of a provision in 2017 legislation requiring drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. 

“The Natural Resources Committee has a markup coming up and I’m sure that this is something we’ll be debating in the context of that,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) told The Hill in an interview when asked about the possibility of a reversal in the reconciliation package. 

“It’s just no secret that I support this. I’m certainly going to try to push it if we can and we’ll see what happens,” he said Wednesday, adding that he “can’t lay out this thing in great detail.” 

E&E News previously reported that discussions on the matter were taking place among House and Senate leadership and that Huffman was promoting it.

The story so far: House Democrats on Tuesday adopted a rule allowing them to start working on the reconciliation package. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has asked committee chairs to start working on their pieces of the legislation and report back to the Budget Committee by Sept. 15. 

Huffman said that a Natural Resources markup was slated for Sept. 2, and that specific language could be revealed around that time. 

Green groups have previously called for the infrastructure bills — seen as a major opportunity to pass climate legislation in the narrowly divided Congress — to include provisions that reverse requirements for drilling in the wildlife refuge.

Read more about the issue here.


SEA CHANGE: Greenhouse gas concentrations, global sea levels hit record highs in 2020: NOAA

The concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere hit their highest level ever recorded in 2020, while the year was overall the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual review.

NOAA’s 31st State of the Climate report released Wednesday found that even as the coronavirus pandemic drastically reduced economic activity, greenhouse gas concentrations hit 412.55 parts per million (PPM). This represented both a 2.5 PPM increase from 2019 and the highest level recorded in six decades.

Average methane concentration also reached a record high in 2020, according to the report, as well as an all-time high year-over-year increase of 14.8 parts per billion.

The same report found a record high for global sea levels for the ninth year in a row. Sea levels in 2020 were about 3.6 inches above the 1993 average, according to the NOAA, and levels are increasing at an average of 1.2 inches per decade due to melting ice sheets and glaciers.

Read more about the research here.



The EPA’s Rationale for Banning Chlorpyrifos May Make it Harder to Eliminate Other Brain-Harming Pesticides, The Intercept reports

‘A combination of failures:’ why 3.6m pounds of nuclear waste is buried on a popular California beach, The Guardian reports

‘Hijacked by polluters’: Fossil fuel and mining groups pressured regulators to blame Asia for ozone violations in Salt Lake City, emails show, The Salt Lake Tribune reports

 New Mexico governor signs executive order establishing ’30 by 30′ land conservation committee, KRQE reports

Questions trail big business’ ‘water positive’ pledges, E&E News reports



Populations in high-risk climate areas grow: Redfin

Lawsuits warn newly banned pesticide might linger for years in homes

Wildfire smoke leads to worst air quality on record in Nevada counties


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Tags Charles Schumer Jared Huffman Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi

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