Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal

Welcome to Wednesday'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're looking at Democratic criticism of an Energy Department proposal, the White House meeting with European leaders on methane and a key Senate Republican with questions for a senior EPA nominee.

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.

Let's jump in.

Uranium reserve pitch draws pushback

A group of six Democrats is criticizing the Energy Department's proposed uranium reserve that could feed U.S. nuclear fuel and boost American mining.

The Biden administration has argued that creating a uranium reserve could bolster its clean energy goals since nuclear energy doesn't have any emissions. But in their Wednesday letter, the lawmakers warn of potentially adverse impacts on nearby communities and say there's not a need to increase U.S. extraction.

"The establishment of a government-funded uranium reserve poses a serious threat to the health of Tribal and environmental justice communities, as well as to the overall environment," said the letter, which was led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

"Furthermore, there is no urgent need for domestic uranium. Instead of establishing a uranium reserve, the DOE should focus on the cleanup and remediation of existing toxic waste and conduct extensive outreach with communities affected by current and previous uranium mining operations," they added.

The story so far: The Department last month put out a "request for information" on the uranium reserve.

"Revitalizing the U.S. nuclear fuel supply infrastructure would support the Administration's goals described in the American Jobs Plan, including addressing the climate crisis, creating American jobs, positioning the U.S. to compete with economic rivals, and supporting national security," it said.

The uranium reserve was previously promoted by the Trump administration and funding was appropriated for it in a major government funding bill.

Read more about the letter here.

Biden to convene world leaders for climate forum this week

President Biden will virtually convene world leaders on Friday in the hopes of raising climate ambitions ahead of a major U.N. conference.

The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that the president will reconvene the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) - an Obama-era forum meant to enhance dialogue between major economies on climate.

A senior administration official told reporters that it would be a leader-level conference but declined to specify the participants.

Who's involved?: The Obama-era program included economies such as the U.S., European Union, China, India and Australia.

It was reported this week that the U.S. and EU had agreed to cut their emissions by 30 percent and that this could be announced in line with the forum.

The senior official described the methane push as a "collective global goal" in a call with reporters.

The official also said that the leaders' meeting will not be livestreamed and that this is about discussing what the major economies and emitters can do about climate change.

Read more about the meeting here.

A MESSAGE FROM CLIMATE POWER

Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on Wednesday questioned President Biden's nominee to oversee Superfund cleanup about a 2015 tweet containing an exhortation to "#ResistCapitalism."

Carlton Waterhouse, Biden's nominee for assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management at the Environmental Protection Agency, was one of three nominees who came before the committee Wednesday.

"You said, 'The ugly truth about energy. The ends don't justify the means.' And then you hashtagged a bunch of things, one of which was #ResistCapitalism," Capito asked Waterhouse. "You are going to be dealing in your position with a lot of private entities. ... What does 'resist capitalism' mean to you and how would that interplay with what you would be doing? What does it mean when you say energy ends don't justify the means?"

Waterhouse responded that he did not recall the context of the tweet, which quoted another user's tweet that has since been deleted.

"I recognize the value of capitalism as a way of making sure goods and services are made available to people, and I think reasonable and responsible regulation allows us to make sure people can be safe and protected in the environment in their daily lives," he said.

What's Waterhouse's background?: Waterhouse has worked in the EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management since February. Prior to his work there, he has frequently spoken and written about the disproportionate impact of pollution on Black Americans and called for reparations for the descendants of slaves.

Conservative organizations and Republican lawmakers have sharply criticized him for that advocacy, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has called him an "extremist." They have in particular pointed to a 2006 paper in which he wrote that civil rights legislation in the 1960s and '70s did not do enough to remedy racial discrimination, because it did not compensate the victims of discrimination that took place before it became law.

Mustafa Santiago Ali, who led the EPA's Office of Environmental Justice under former President Obama, defended Waterhouse's record on environmental justice, telling The Hill, "Carlton Waterhouse's amazing work to protect vulnerable communities is in step with many of our great leaders who fought for civil rights and social justice."

Read more about the potential confirmation fight here.

WHAT WE'RE READING

Trump Interior Officials Used Secret Twitter Account To Rip Enemies, HuffPost reports

California Oil Industry Continues to Thwart Climate-Related Bills, Capital and Main reports

Scientists Are Toilet-Training Baby Cows to Cut Emissions, Bloomberg reports

Vineyard Wind secures $2.3 bln loan, allowing construction to start, Reuters reports

Major utility questions Biden's signature climate plan, E&E News reports

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION PAGES

"Clean energy wins and woes in Biden's budget" by Jakob Puckett of the Show Me Institute

A MESSAGE FROM CLIMATE POWER

WHAT WE'RE READING

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: 'Tis the season

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 Thursday.

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