Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push

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 divides on climate among Democrats who are critical of reconciliation, who's going to COP26 and a cyber warning for water systems. 

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.

Moderates split over climate provisions in Democrats' spending package 

Climate change provisions in a sprawling Democratic spending package are dividing moderates, creating major obstacles to getting the legislation across the finish line.

Those who have raised concerns include Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and several Texas Democrats in the House who have criticized proposals designed to accelerate the country's shift toward cleaner energy and away from fossil fuels.

But others, like Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), have appeared more open to significant climate components. 

So what? The divisions among moderates largely reflect regional interests, underscoring the challenges to getting the moderate wing of the party on board with the multitrillion-dollar spending package. Every Democratic senator and nearly every House member will need to vote for the final legislation to get it to President Biden's desk.

OK so who is critical of the climate provisions and why? Manchin, for example, has opposed the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which seeks to shift the country toward clean energy through a mix of grants and fines. 

He has said it doesn't make sense to subsidize an already-occurring shift and criticized the program's exclusion of unabated natural gas. 

Meanwhile, a group of six Texas Democrats wrote a letter last month saying they oppose "the targeting of U.S. oil, natural gas, and refining with increased taxes and fees and the exclusion of natural gas production from clean energy initiatives."

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), one of the signatories, said lawmakers have been concerned about potential "targeted taxes" that have not appeared in the House proposal. He also raised concerns about the methane fee in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday.

"There's another way to address the issue of methane," he said, citing funding for innovation and regulating emissions of the potent greenhouse gas.

Cuellar was reluctant to call any of the climate provisions a deal-breaker, but said he would weigh the final bill's positives and negatives before deciding whether to support it.

"I want to make sure there's no punitive tax against any industry, and that includes the energy industry," he said. "But once you get to the overall, you have to look at the overall good, it's kind of hard for me to say what are the red lines."

Now who are the supporters? Murphy told The Hill on Tuesday that Democrats should be "as bold as the votes will bear" on climate change.

"Let's do all that we can do given the slim majorities and the evenly split Senate," she said, adding that she would support a bill that included the CEPP criticized by Manchin if it could get across the finish line.

But she's less enthusiastic about other components of the package.

Murphy was the only Democrat to vote against portions of the spending bill last month in the House Ways and Means Committee, arguing that the legislative process was too rushed and saying she had concerns about some spending and tax provisions. Still, she noted in a statement explaining her vote that she supported the climate provisions advanced by the panel.

And Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), who has raised concerns about the potential for the spending package to include budget gimmicks, told The Hill on Wednesday that targeted climate provisions are "one of the highest priorities" for him in the package. He praised the CEPP in particular, saying it "could have the biggest and fastest and broadest bang for the buck."

Read more about the divide here.


ExxonMobil plans to offer certified or "differentiated" natural gas.

ExxonMobil's plan to offer certified gas will help give customers information they need to purchase lower-emission products.

The emerging market, on top of methane regulations, could help accelerate emissions reductions. 

12 top US officials to join Biden at major climate conference

The Biden administration will send a host of Cabinet and other top officials to the international climate conference in Glasgow next month, in addition to the president himself, a White House official confirmed to The Hill. 

The list of attendees: 

  • Special Climate Envoy John Kerry
  • National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
  • Interior Secretary Deb Haaland
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan
  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
  • U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Rick Spinrad
  • White House Office of Science and Technology policy director Eric Lander.

The attendees were first reported by CNN, which obtained a schedule, and were confirmed to The Hill by a White House official. 


Agencies warn of cyber threats to water, wastewater systems 

A coalition of federal agencies on Thursday warned that hackers are targeting the water and wastewater treatment sectors, strongly recommending that organizations take steps to protect themselves.  

In a joint advisory, the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) warned of "ongoing malicious cyber activity-by both known and unknown actors-targeting the information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) networks, systems, and devices of U.S. Water and Wastewater Systems (WWS) Sector facilities."

"This activity - which includes attempts to compromise system integrity via unauthorized access - threatens the ability of WWS facilities to provide clean, potable water to, and effectively manage the wastewater of, their communities," the agencies wrote in the advisory.

A little good news with the bad news: The agencies noted that targeting of the water and wastewater sectors had not increased, but that "cyber threats across critical infrastructure sectors are increasing."

The advisory highlighted threats to water and wastewater sectors from phishing emails to personnel containing dangerous attachments or links, and the exploitation by hackers of outdated systems used by many organizations. 

What should they do about it. The agencies recommended that to protect against ransomware and other attacks, facilities should "use a risk-informed analysis to determine the applicability of a range of technical and non-technical mitigations to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats."

Read more here.


He Helped Bring Down a Top Trump Crony. Now He's Driving for Uber, Rolling Stone reports

Old oil and gas sites are a climate menace. Meet the company that owns more of America's decaying wells than any other, Bloomberg reports

Corporations are pledging to be 'water positive'. What does that mean?, The Guardian reports


ExxonMobil supports action on methane emissions regulations

ExxonMobil believes achieving broad reductions in methane emissions requires uniform regulations supported by technology advancements. Learn how we are investing in new and better ways to reduce methane emissions.


And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: New wife guy just dropped

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.