Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment

Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment
© Getty

Welcome to Friday’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 comments from the president of COP26 on domestic politics, the NDAA’s climate implications and the latest legal woes for California’s utility. 

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.

Top climate summit official on reconciliation bill: It's important to 'show progress' 

Asked Friday whether it is important for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending bill to cross the finish line ahead of a major climate summit this November, the conference’s top official says the U.S. needs to show it has made progress on the issue. 

“Whether it’s the U.S. or any other country, being able to show progress domestically is, of course ... going to be important in terms of them encouraging others to do the same,” Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26 United Nations climate change conference, told reporters. 

Sharma added that he believes there is “a real will and a real desire to get this thing done.”

He also praised President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege The No Surprises Act:  a bill long overdue MORE’s recent announcement that the U.S. would seek to double its climate funding for developing countries. 

“I think it matters because he’s delivering on a promise that was made back in 2009 to developing nations, and this $100 billion figure has become a matter of trust,” Sharma said, referring to the amount that more developed countries had pledged.

“Trust at any time is pretty fragile, and I think this helps in terms of rebuilding that trust,” he added.

The story so far: His comments come weeks before the conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where countries will negotiate climate action. 

The Biden administration has sought to be a world leader on climate. But the U.S. faces questions about its credibility, particularly in the wake of then-President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE’s decision to withdraw from the global Paris agreement, which Biden later rejoined.

Sharma also said that the conference's success comes down to whether countries can “credibly” say they’ll keep within reach the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

Read more about Sharma’s comments here:

 

Defense bill would require 'forever chemical' testing at military sites 

The Environmental Protection Agency headquarters is seen in Washington, D.C., on June 3

The National Defense Act Authorization (NDAA) passed by the House on Thursday night would require the Pentagon to factor in extreme weather risks and publish studies on a class of toxic “forever chemicals.”

The NDAA would create a two-year deadline for the Pentagon to finish testing at Defense Department and National Guard installations for the chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In cases where state PFAS cleanup standards are stricter than federal rules, the Pentagon would be required to follow the tougher rules.

The annual defense policy bill also requires the Defense Department to publish all PFAS testing results for drinking and groundwater on or near former and current military installations and report on the cleanup status at 50 PFAS sites.

The background: Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its first proposed limits on the amounts of PFAS that can be discharged from facilities where they are manufactured. The chemicals have been linked to a number of health problems, including immunodeficiencies and certain cancers.

The NDAA for 2022 was passed in a 316-113 vote, with 38 Democrats and 75 Republicans opposing the $778 billion measure.

The measure will next need to undergo reconciliation with the Senate-passed NDAA, which extends funding for the study of PFAS effects on drinking water in addition to mandating testing at military sites.

Read more about the bill here:

 

A MESSAGE FROM THE LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS

We’re calling on Congress to pass the climate test -- and only support a reconciliation package with real climate action that cuts climate pollution in half by 2030. Read LCV’s letter now.

 

California utility charged with manslaughter in wildfire that killed 4 

The Caldor Fire burns in California

A California utility company has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a wildfire that killed four people last year, state prosecutors said Friday.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announced the charge against Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) in a news conference ahead of the one-year anniversary of the start of the fire in question.

The company has been charged with 31 counts in connection with the fire: 11 felonies and 20 misdemeanors.

Bridgett said her office had “sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that PG&E is “criminally liable for their reckless ignition" of the fire.  

The fire began on Sept. 27, 2020, and was officially declared contained on Oct. 13. The fire burned nearly 57,000 acres in Shasta and Tehama counties, destroying 204 structures and damaging 27 others, according to Cal Fire.

The fire started when a grey pine with “significant physical injuries” fell into a PG&E electrical distribution line, Bridgett said on Friday.

PG&E was responsible for removing the tree, she added, noting that the company’s contractors had even marked it for removal in 2018. The tree, which had a “significant physical defect” in its trunk, leaned toward the electrical line until it ultimately fell on the line during a windstorm.

The four manslaughter charges are in connection with the four people who died as a result of the fire. The company is also facing “numerous counts” related to the smoke emissions caused during the fire, Bridgett said.

In response to the charges, PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said in a video that while the company has accepted that the company's equipment started the fire, "we did not commit a crime."

Read more about the case here:

TREE'S COMPANY

Bipartisan legislation introduced by the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Energy Committee would establish national revegetation efforts in response to a series of devastating wildfires that have swept forested areas in the western United States.

Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money — Democrats craft billionaire tax with deal in reach Democrats face critical 72 hours Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Manchin nixes Medicare expansion MORE (D-W.Va.) and John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate appears poised to advance first Native American to lead National Park Service Sunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-Wyo.) introduced the measure, called the America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration (ARCs) Act of 2021, with Sens. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallThune endorses Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race Vaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Defund the vaccine mandate MORE (R-Kan.) and Angus KingAngus KingThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal Angus King: Losing climate provisions in reconciliation bill weakens Biden's hands in Glasgow Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight MORE (I-Maine). The bill would establish a national revegetation plan under the umbrella of the Interior Department and the Forest Service, which would determine the number of acre of federal land requiring revegetation. The Interior Secretary would be required to publish a report detailing the amount of land and where it is located.

The bill would also require Interior and the Forest Service to establish a revegetation task force for each region of the U.S. within 18 months. Each regional task force would develop a region-specific revegetation plan in the six months following their establishment.

It would also establish a pilot program to revegetate abandoned mine sites on federal, state and tribal land for eight years, after which Interior would be required to submit a report outlining its results.

Read more here.

ON TAP NEXT WEEK

On Tuesday:

  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing “to review the administration of laws under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.” All four FERC Commissioners are slated to appear. 

On Wednesday: 

  • State Department energy security adviser Amos Hochstein will brief the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on administration efforts regarding energy security including Nord Stream 2
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the Chemical Safety Board
  • The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on mitigating wildland fire impacts on communities
  • The Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on sustainable forestry

 

A MESSAGE FROM THE LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS

We’re calling on Congress to pass the climate test -- and only support a reconciliation package with real climate action that cuts climate pollution in half by 2030. Read LCV’s letter now.

WHAT WE'RE READING

 

ICYMI

 

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 Monday. 

ADVERTISEMENT