Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Feds target illegal gas practices

Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Feds target illegal gas practices
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Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today we look at a Federal Trade Commission investigation on gas pricing, a Democratic crossroads on the fight against climate change and an announcement on hunting and fishing from the Interior Department.

For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with tips: rfrazin@thehill.com and zbudryk@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @RachelFrazin and @BudrykZack.

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Let’s jump in.

FTC to probe 'collusive' practices on gas prices 

Federal antitrust regulators will look into whether there are any “collusive” or otherwise illegal practices impacting gas prices following a request from the White House. 

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Lina KhanLina KhanOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens FTC warns health apps to notify consumers impacted by data breaches Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE said in a letter to Brian DeeseBrian DeeseOn The Money — Yellen sounds alarm on national default Biden officials raise concerns about rising meat prices The Hill's 12:30 Report - Supreme Court resumes in-person oral arguments MORE, who leads the National Economic Council, that she’ll direct staff to take actions on mergers and franchising. 

Specifically, Khan said in the letter obtained by The Hill that she’ll ask staff to investigate “abuses” in the franchise market.

More: “Many retail fuel stations are franchised, but most franchisees have no control over prices at the pump. We will need to determine whether the power imbalance favoring large national chains allows them to force their franchisees to sell gasoline at higher prices, benefitting the chain at the expense of the franchisee’s convenience store operations,“ Khan said. 

She also said she’d seek to identify “additional legal theories” to challenge fuel station mergers where major companies are buying up family-owned businesses, which she said could lead to collusion on price. 

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“I am especially interested in ways that large national chains may ‘restore’ higher prices through collusive practices, and I will direct our staff to investigate any signs of this type of conduct,” she wrote.

Read more about the investigation here.

 

A MESSAGE FROM API

The American Petroleum Institute released a new analysis of the natural gas and oil industry’s impact on the U.S. economy. Learn how the industry is powering each state’s economy here.



Hunting, fishing expanded across 2.1M acres 

The Interior Department on Monday announced an expansion of hunting and fishing rights across 2.1 million acres, which it tied to the Biden administration’s lands conservation target.

The announcement applies to a single national fish hatchery and 88 national wildlife refuges, according to an Interior announcement.

“Increasing access to outdoor recreation opportunities is essential to advancing the Administration’s commitment to the conservation stewardship of our public lands,” 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 said in a statement. “Responsible hunting and fishing helps to promote healthy wildlife habitats while boosting local recreation economies.”

“Today’s announcement furthers a rich tradition of providing quality outdoor recreation experiences to the American people on our public lands,” Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams said in a statement. “By expanding these opportunities, we are enhancing the lives of millions of Americans while stimulating the national economy to which hunting and fishing contribute significantly.”

The story so far: The announcement comes just over a year after the Trump administration announced an expansion of hunting on 2.3 million acres at nearly 150 refuges and hatcheries.

Despite the greater acreage in the 2020 announcement, the department called the latest expansion the greatest in recent history in terms of total hunting and fishing "opportunities." An Interior spokesperson told The Hill the 2020 expansion included 859 new opportunities, while the latest expansion will include 910 expanded or new opportunities.

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The Biden administration in May announced a goal of preserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, a target that the department said Monday’s announcement will further. To achieve that goal, the administration said it would take steps such as increasing outdoor recreation areas and conserving fish and wildlife habitats, with an eye toward voluntary incentives for fishers and hunters.

Read more about the announcement here.

DECISION TIME

Democrats face a tough choice in their efforts to reduce methane emissions, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.

Their dilemma? Whether to impose any new restrictions on agriculture.

State economies in places like Iowa and Wisconsin are heavily reliant on the agriculture industry, and voters in rural areas have largely backed Republicans.

An aggressive move against agricultural emissions could benefit GOP candidates heading into the midterm elections, and Democrats will be hard pressed not to tackle methane emissions if they’re serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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But: At the same time, some environmental advocates who align with Democrats say they are more focused on targeting the oil and gas industry, characterizing the efforts to reduce methane emissions in that sector as “low-hanging fruit.”

According to the EPA, methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. But since it doesn’t linger as long as carbon dioxide, some environmentalists argue that focusing on methane could help the country meet its climate goals faster.

Methane is garnering fresh attention following a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which called for “strong, rapid and sustained reductions” in methane emissions to limit global warming.

A major climate component of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package will focus on reducing methane emissions, but instead of addressing agriculture, the provision is expected to focus on oil and gas.

Read more about the quandary here.

 

Democrats look to nix fossil fuel subsidies 

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A group of more than 50 Democrats is calling on Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Of partisan fights and follies, or why Democrats should follow Manchin, not Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBudget chairman: Debt ceiling fight 'a ridiculous position to be in' Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda MORE (D-Md.) to repeal fossil fuel subsidies in the party’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure package.

They specifically targeted subsidies that are only given to the oil and gas industries, including “the deduction for intangible drilling costs, corporate tax exemption for fossil fuel master limited partnerships (MLPs), percentage depletion, and the dual capacity taxpayer deduction for royalty payments to foreign governments on fossil fuels.”

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have already said they plan to include a repeal of fossil fuel subsidies as part of the bill. 

Read more about the letter here.

 

YOU’VE GOT MAIL

  • A group of nearly 70 House Democrats also wrote a letter pushing for additional funding for the Interior Department in a reconciliation package, saying that the Senate-passed resolution doesn’t address “DOI funding shortfalls totaling tens of billions of dollars.” Specifically, they pushed for more funding to go toward addressing drought and wildfires, promoting biodiversity and urban parks and providing more funding for tribal water infrastructure and health infrastructure in U.S. territories and the freely associated states. 

 

NEW GIG

Neil ChatterjeeNeil ChatterjeeOvernight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program Biden nominates DC regulator to federal energy commission Former GOP energy regulator regrets partisan past MORE, a Republican who ended his tenure as Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner last week, announced a few new gigs on Monday. 

He’s joining law and lobbying firm Hogan Lovells, where he’ll be a senior advisor in its energy regulatory practice. He’s also joining both the Climate Leadership Council and Americans for Carbon Dividends, which promote charging fossil fuel companies fees for their carbon emissions.

 

A MESSAGE FROM API

The American Petroleum Institute released a new analysis of the natural gas and oil industry’s impact on the U.S. economy. Learn how the industry is powering each state’s economy here.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

 


ICYMI

Today’s lighter click...Here comes the bride

 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s energy & environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Tuesday.