Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Biden seeks to quell concerns over climate proposals

 

 

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 President Biden's comments on repurposing previously proposed clean electricity funds, a financial oversight panel's climate risk plan and a court decision tossing a Trump rule making it harder for states to block projects that cross into their waters. 

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.

President pitches a repurposing of clean electricity funds 

 

President Biden sought to quell concerns about the climate aspects of his infrastructure agenda Thursday night, saying at a CNN town hall that the funds for an endangered clean energy program could be redirected to tax incentives.

Biden was asked about the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which would provide financial incentives for utilities transitioning to renewable energy and financial penalties for those that did not.

Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) opposition to the program has jeopardized its future in the package. 

The president acknowledged Manchin's objection to the program but pushed back on moderator Anderson Cooper's assertion that it has already been removed from the bill.

"The fact of the matter is we can take that $150 billion, add it to the $320 billion that's in the law now that he's prepared to support for tax incentives, to have people act in a way that they're going to be able to do the things that need to be do" on tasks like retrofitting windows, Biden said.

Biden added that "nothing has been formally agreed to"on  concessions to the West Virginia Democrat.

BIDEN ALSO TALKED GAS PRICES

What he said: "I don't have a near-term answer. There's two things I could do. I could go in the petroleum reserve and take out and probably reduce the price of gas maybe 18 cents or so a gallon. It's still going to be above 3 bucks," Biden said during the CNN town hall. 

Biden also predicted that prices could drop "into next year."

Read more about what he had to say at the town hall here.

A MESSAGE FROM API

Europe's ongoing energy crisis should make U.S. policymakers rethink pushing for a future where Americans' daily lives and the U.S. economy will be virtually dependent on intermittent energy sources. Read more.

Financial oversight panel unveils climate risk plan 

An interagency panel of financial regulators on Thursday approved a series of recommendations meant to help the federal government identify and fend off climate-related risks to the financial system.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) on Thursday issued a long-awaited report on the ways climate change and the societal response to it can pose risks across the financial sector. 

The report does not order member agencies to take any direct regulatory action, nor does it call for mobilizing the financial sector against the fossil fuel industry. Instead, the FSOC report lays out a series of steps regulators should take to help the U.S. match other nations with stronger climate finance regimes.

Who else is on board?: FSOC also includes the leaders of the Federal Reserve Board, Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and National Credit Union Administration, along with an independent member with insurance industry experience.

All FSOC members voted to recommend the report except for FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams, a Trump appointee who abstained from the voting but expressed a general concern with the financial impact of climate change. McWilliams is one of two Trump appointed FSOC members - including Fed Chair Jerome Powell - but is the sole Republican on the FDIC board.

While some FSOC member agencies have already begun accounting for climate risks, the report marked a breakthrough moment of relative agreement among financial regulators, who had long ignored such issues until President Biden's election.

Read more about the report here.

 

Court nixes Trump rule 

A federal court on Thursday nixed a Trump-era rule that limited state and tribal authority to block projects that could impact their waters, including pipelines. 

California federal Judge William Alsup vacated the rule and sent it back to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for further proceedings. 

The Clinton appointee's move came after the agency asked the court to remand the issue back to the EPA amid litigation filed by states and environmental groups challenging the rule. However, the EPA did not ask for the rule to be vacated.

It had asked for it to be sent back because it has already said that it would "revise" the Trump rule.

So which one was this? The now-vacated rule had limited states' authorities to block projects by giving them a strict one-year time limit to do so before the federal government could decide a state had waived its veto power. 

It also limited the scope of state-required approvals to only those that will impact water quality. It excluded other considerations such as air quality or "energy policy." 

Read more about the court decision here.

 

THREATS AGAINST ENERGY NETWORKS

Next week, The Hill is putting on an event titled "Securing Energy Networks from Cyber Threats." It will take place on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 2:00PM ET/11:00AM PT

As part of The Hill's A More Perfect Union festival, lawmakers, security experts and energy leaders explore how to proactively safeguard water, power, gas, and other systems from next-generation digital threats and prevent disruptions to everyday life. 

Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), FERC Commissioner Allison Clements and CSIS's Suzanne Spaulding join The Hill's Steve Clemons. RSVP today.

A MESSAGE FROM API

Europe's ongoing energy crisis should make U.S. policymakers rethink pushing for a future where Americans' daily lives and the U.S. economy will be virtually dependent on intermittent energy sources. Read more.

CONFIRMING BIG OIL'S PRESENCE NEXT WEEK

The House Oversight Committee sent out an advisory on Friday confirming that executives from ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP - as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Chamber of Commerce - will appear at a hearing next week. 

It comes after a long saga in which Congress had requested the presence of fossil fuel companies at hearings with limited previous success. 

Ahead of Thursday's hearing, the committee is already expressing discontent with its witnesses, claiming in the notice that "to date, all the fossil fuel entities have failed to adequately comply with the Committee's request" for documents.

Spokespeople did not respond to The Hill's questions asking for more details. 

But the entities pushed back on the panel's assertion. 

Exxon's spokesperson said that it has "provided documents and continue[s] to communicate with staff;" BP's spokesperson said it "made two substantial productions of information that total thousands of pages" and planned to deliver more; Shell's spokesperson said that it "delivered to the Committee thousands of pages of documents" and API said that it "has already produced thousands of pages responsive to their request."

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK

Tuesday:

  • The House Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing on FEMA wildfire assistance programs
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Protecting Human Rights in International Conservation

Wednesday:

  • The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will hold hearings to consider the nominations of Carlton Waterhouse to be Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste, and Amanda Howe, David M. Uhlmann, both to be an Assistant Administrator, all of the Environmental Protection Agency; and of Henry Christopher Frey to be Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jennifer Clyburn Reed to be Federal Cochairperson of the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission, and Ben Wagner to be Inspector General of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Wildland Firefighter Workforce Reforms
  • The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing entitled "Ensuring Equity in Disaster Preparedness Response and Recovery."
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing entitled "The Federal Coal Program: A Bad Deal for Taxpayers and a Threat to Climate"

Thursday:

  • The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing titled "Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oil's Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action." Executives from major oil companies and trade groups are expected to testify. 
  • The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing entitled "International Climate Challenges and Opportunities"

 

WHAT WE'RE READING

FERC rulings may change renewables' path in Southeast, Calif., E&E News reports

Mexico postpones low sulfur diesel rule until 2025, ministry says, Reuters reports

Increased salt in water table could pose threat to environment, human safety, The Dayton Daily News reports 

Political fundraising group aims to promote pro-environment candidates for Indiana state offices, WFYI reports

 

ICYMI

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: Buzz off.

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.

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