Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Biden looks to tackle methane

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Welcome to Tuesday’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 proposed methane regulations, subpoenas for Big Oil and a new global pledge on deforestation. 

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.

Biden takes aim at methane emissions 

The Biden administration announced a series of actions aimed at tackling methane, a greenhouse gas that is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.

Methane is 25 times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period and is responsible for 10 percent of the United States’ contribution to climate change. 

A key quote: “One of the most important things we can do in this decisive decade is —  to keep 1.5 degrees in reach —  is reduce our methane emissions as quickly as possible,” President Biden said during the United Nations’ global climate summit in Scotland, referring to a goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. 

At the EPA: Through a new rule proposed Tuesday, the EPA said it will cut methane emissions from the entities it regulates by 74 percent compared 2005 levels. 

For the first time, it’s taking on existing sources of pollution from the oil and gas industry by requiring states to develop guidelines that restrict the release or burn off of excess gas — processes known as venting and flaring. 

Venting and flaring release methane since that substance is the main component of natural gas. 

The agency is also adding additional regulations onto existing rules governing new facilities — like requiring certain technologies used by the industry to be non-emitting. 

Meanwhile, the EPA also teased additional actions, saying it was requesting information on additional sources of methane to consider for a “supplemental proposal.” It’s also requesting information on how to structure a community mentoring program under which the public could find and report large emission events. 

At Interior: A White House report outlining the administration’s methane strategy also said that the Interior Department will try to disincentive the release or burning of excess gas by proposing a regulation requiring oil and gas drillers to pay fees to the government for what’s released or burned off. 

At PHMSA: The Biden administration said it will implement a bipartisan law requiring pipeline operators to cut methane leaks. 

And at COP26: Administration officials announced that more than 100 countries had signed onto a global pledge aiming to reduce global methane emissions 30 percent by 2030. The effort is being led by the U.S. and EU. 

Read more about the attempts to take on methane here.


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Countries vow to halt deforestation by 2030

The leaders of more than 100 countries reached an agreement to stop and reverse deforestation by the year 2030 at a United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on Tuesday.

The countries represent more than 85 percent of the globe’s forests, according to the British government, which announced the agreement. The pledge is backed by $19 billion in public and private funds and includes nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, Indonesia, the United States, China and Russia.

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, making them a key tool in limiting global warming, but forests have been ravaged across the globe to allow for commodity agriculture, which is the largest driver of deforestation.

President Biden in his own brief remarks said the U.S. would “help the world deliver on our shared goal of halting natural forest loss and restoring at least an additional 200 million hectares of forest and other ecosystems by the year 2030.”

Biden said his administration would ask Congress to put $9 billion toward conserving forests through 2030 and would work with the private sector as well as local communities most affected by deforestation.

Read more about the commitment here.

Oversight chair subpoenas Big Oil

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) issued subpoenas to four major oil companies and two leading trade groups on Tuesday, making good on a vow she made at a hearing last week.

In a Tuesday memo, Maloney said that Shell, BP, Exxon and Chevron, as well as the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had failed to voluntarily provide information the committee requested before the hearing last Thursday.

The subpoenas demand the entities produce all materials and internal communications among senior executives and board members relating to climate science, their “role in contributing to climate change” and the impacts it could have on their businesses. It also calls for documents on funding to third-party entities, as well as their respective plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So why the subpoena? Maloney wrote that neither Exxon nor Chevron have provided requested internal communications between top executives or detailed information on third-party funding. 

Meanwhile, she wrote, BP America provided only incomplete email correspondence and did not disclose third-party funding information, while Shell did not provide either third-party funding information or board/senior executive materials.

Both API and the Chamber of Commerce, she wrote, failed to provide internal senior executive communications requested by the panel.

What did they have to say when we reached them? API, Exxon, Shell and BP confirmed receipt of the subpoenas.

An Exxon spokesperson said the company has already been cooperating with the committee and has provided nearly 130,000 pages of documents.

A Shell spokesperson, meanwhile, said the company “appreciate[s] the opportunity to share with the Committee our views on climate and the progress we’re making against our goal to become a [net-zero emissions] energy business.”

And a spokesperson for BP said the company is “carefully reviewing the subpoena and will continue working with the committee.”

Read more about the subpoenas here.


  • The U.S. rejoined the High Ambition Coalition, which aims to limit warming by 1.5 degrees celsius when compared to industrial levels. 
  • President Biden said Tuesday that he believes he’ll ultimately get Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) vote on his climate and social spending bill. He also said that world leaders did not ask him whether he could get the bill across the finish line,. 
  • Nigeria committed to net-zero by 2060
  • The U.S. said it would accelerate action at the energy department to advance new technology aimed at removing carbon dioxide from the air. This “Carbon Negative Shot” is the latest of three several “Earthshot” initiatives the Energy Department is taking on to combat climate change



  • The Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced the following nominees by voice vote: Charles Sams III to lead the National Park Service, Willie Phillips Jr.to be a FERC commissioner, Brad Crabtree to lead DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management,  Geraldine Richmond to be DOE’s Under Secretary for Science and Camille Touton, to be Commissioner of Reclamation
  • The Energy and Natural Resources Committee also advanced Asmeret Berhe to direct DOE’s Director of Office of Science by a 12-8 vote.



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Poison in the Air, ProPublica reports

EPA criticizes Benton Harbor for water problems, says residents ‘suffered for too long,’ The Detroit News reports

Massive Louisiana plastics plant faces 2+ year delay for tougher environmental review, The Advocate reports



And finally, something offbeat but on beat: some sea turtle news out of Florida.


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.{mosads}

Tags Carolyn Maloney Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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