Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Manchin: Gas 'has to' be part of the clean energy program

Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Manchin: Gas 'has to' be part of the clean energy program

Welcome to Thursday’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 Manchin’s latest comments on clean energy, the confirmation of Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management, and an upcoming lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. 

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.

Manchin says gas should be part of the clean energy program

Sen. <span class=Joe ManchinJoe ManchinKlobuchar confident spending bill will be finished before Christmas Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill MORE (D-W.Va.) " width="100%" data-delta="7" data-fid="242029" data-media-element="1" />

Asked Thursday about whether natural gas should be included in a clean energy program pushed by his fellow Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). said that it should be. 

“It has to be,” the key swing vote senator told reporters. “I am all for all of the above. I am all for clean energy, but I am also for producing the amount of energy that we need to make sure that we have reliability.”

The remark is sure to anger climate advocates, who have opposed the use of natural gas in a key program known as the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP). 

He differs from his House counterparts. A version of the CEPP drafted by the House would pay power providers to shift towards clean energy sources and penalize companies that don’t move quickly enough. 

The House’s version would exclude natural gas that doesn’t use technology to capture its emissions.

But wait...there’s more! Manchin on Thursday also reiterated past opposition to paying utilities to make the switch, and instead floated low-interest loans. 

“I am just not for giving public companies who have shareholders, public dollars, free, when I know they’re going to be very profitable at the end whatever we do,” he said. 

“We might front you the money with low-interest loans, but shouldn’t we get it back when the profits start flowing so we don’t have to incur more debt,” he added.

AND THAT'S NOT ALL THERE IS TO RECONCILE...

Manchin also commented on the reconciliation package overall, telling reporters that his top-line spending number for the budget reconciliation package is $1.5 trillion, far below the $3.5 trillion spending goal set by the budget resolution that he and every other Senate Democrat voted for last month.

“My top-line has been $1.5 [trillion],” he said, explaining that he doesn’t want “to change our whole society to an entitlement mentality.”

Manchin also said that he had shared his figure with President BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE

Related: Politico obtained a copy of a proposal Manchin gave to Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian MORE (D-N.Y.). this summer. 

The document calls for: 

  • His Energy and Natural Resources Committee to have jurisdiction over any clean energy standard
  • Spending on “innovation, not elimination”
  • Keeping fossil fuel tax credits in place if solar and wind tax credits are included and extended

Read more about Manchin’s energy remarks here and read more about his remarks on the bill overall here.

A MESSAGE FROM API

These relationships…help us plan for the future,” says Andreas Shamel, of Ford Motor Company. That future includes lower CO2 emissions, achieved through partnerships with U.S. natural gas and oil companies.

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Senate confirms Biden's controversial land management pick

The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management despite a decades-old tree-spiking incident that led to GOP opposition to her nomination.

OK, but what’s the controversy? Republicans opposed Stone-Manning's confirmation because of a letter she sent in 1989 that mentioned tree-spiking, a tactic used to prevent logging that involves putting metal rods or materials into trees. It can both damage equipment and cause injuries. 

In the letter, Stone-Manning, a 23-year-old graduate student at the time, warned that trees in a forest in Idaho had been spiked to protect them, and that people would get hurt if they tried to cut them down. 

“This letter is being sent to notify you that the Post Office Sale in Idaho has been spiked heavily. The reasoning for this action is that this piece of land is very special to the earth,” the letter said. “You bastards go in there anyway and a lot of people could get hurt.”

The letter did not contain Stone-Manning's name, but she acknowledged in court in 1993 that she had sent it. She did not write the letter, but retyped a message and sent it after an activist asked her to do so. She has said she was not involved in any tree-spiking, and that she sent the letter “because I wanted people to know that those trees were spiked. I didn’t want anybody getting hurt as a result of trees being spiked.”

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WHAT DID THE GOP HAVE TO SAY?

Republicans ripped Stone-Manning over the letter and argued that it showed she was unfit to lead the BLM.

"Tracy Stone-Manning is a dangerous choice to be put in charge of America's public lands," Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Biden administration to release 50 million barrels of oil from strategic reserve MORE (R-Wyo.) said in a floor speech on Thursday. 

What about Democrats? Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.), Stone-Manning’s former boss, accused his colleagues of “character assassination.”

"The truth is Tracy Stone-Manning did nothing wrong. And in fact, the people who went to jail went to jail because of Tracy Stone-Manning. But that aside, character assassination isn't something we should put up with in this body," he said during a floor speech. 

Read more about her confirmation here.

Biden administration sets November date for Gulf lease sale canceled in February

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Fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico

The Biden administration on Thursday announced a November oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, months after a federal court blocked its moratorium on new federal lease sales.

The lease sale will comprise about 15,135 blocks in a range of three to 231 miles offshore and depths ranging from nine to more than 11,000 feet.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said in a statement that the leases will include stipulations to protect threatened species and potential conflicts with other activities in the Gulf. The BOEM also resolved to press on with a “comprehensive review of the deficiencies associated with its offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing programs."

As one of his first acts in office, President Biden announced a moratorium on new leases on federal lands for oil and gas drilling. However, a federal judge in June ordered a temporary hold on the moratorium. The Interior Department said it would appeal the decision but comply with it in the meantime.

BOEM had previously announced it would make a decision on the lease sale in question by the end of September after it was initially canceled in February.

Despite these caveats, environmental and progressive groups were sharply critical of the announcement.

“President Biden is doing Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE’s bidding today. This lease sale will be devastating for the Earth’s climate, and set America back years on our path to a climate solution,” Center for Western Priorities Deputy Director Aaron Weiss said in a statement. 

Read more about the lease sales here.



A MESSAGE FROM API

These relationships…help us plan for the future,” says Andreas Shamel, of Ford Motor Company. That future includes lower CO2 emissions, achieved through partnerships with U.S. natural gas and oil companies.

Seeking refuge

Haitian migrants, part of a group of over 10,000 people staying in an encampment on the US side of the border, cross the Rio Grande river

The swell of Haitian migrants attempting to come to the U.S. shows that the country needs a plan to help environmental refugees, advocates say, while warning that the swift deportation of those camped in Texas is indicative of how climate migrants could be treated in the years to come.

The Biden administration in recent days deported some 4,000 migrants back to Haiti without giving them a chance to seek asylum — their plight brought to the forefront with images of border officials on horseback dispersing migrants in Del Rio, Texas.

Advocates say the scenario reveals a hole in the Biden administration’s plans for addressing climate change and those displaced by natural disasters as Haitians flee both political turmoil from the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July and the effects of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August.

So what’s the climate tie exactly? While Haiti’s earthquake wasn’t directly attributed to climate change, experts say it was a preview of how the administration may respond to climate-fueled disasters like hurricanes and wildfires that can factor into why people leave their countries.

Haitians have routinely sought to enter the U.S. via the border with Mexico as they leave a country plagued by famine and gang violence. But their efforts to migrate to the U.S. have gotten greater attention after the earthquake struck a nation already reeling from a political assassination and succession fight that has further destabilized the country.

Advocates say the cool reception they’ve received could be reflective of how the Biden administration and future presidents will treat people fleeing the most harmful effects of climate change.

“We haven’t seen anything that tells us that we’re going to go in a different direction other than what we’ve always historically done and that has always been to have a far more securitized, militarized response,” said Amali Tower, executive director of the advocacy group Climate Refugees.

Read more about the situation here.

WHAT WE'RE READING

Top EPA air appointee offloaded oil stocks, E&E News reports

GE, Siemens Energy settle lawsuit over gas turbines, Reuters reports

Environmental groups push for Pittsburgh plastic bag ban, WITF reports

EPA officials exposed whistleblowers three minutes after receiving confidential complaint, The Intercept reports

ICYMI

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: Not a boaring story.

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 tomorrow.