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 President Biden’s support on passing separate funding for climate action, Earth’s core potentially cooling ahead of schedule and Energy Department officials pouring cold water on the possibility of a gas export ban.
Let’s jump in.
Biden: ‘We would be able to get support’
President Biden on Wednesday said that Democrats will have to “break up” his spending agenda, but he expressed confidence that it will retain a significant level of energy and environment spending.
“It’s clear to me that we’re going to have to probably break it up,” Biden said at a press conference from the White House.
“I’m not going to negotiate against myself as to what should and shouldn’t be in it, but I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, come back and fight for the rest later,” he added.
He also expressed confidence that Democrats will be able to get upwards of $500 billion on energy and environmental programs — apparently keeping this spending relatively in line with the $555 billion the White House pitched for clean energy and climate last year.
“It’s clear that we would be able to get support for the $500-plus billion for energy and the environmental issues,” he said.
The package in general has been stalled amid opposition from swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), but Manchin recently said that lawmakers can probably find an agreement on climate “much easier than anything else.”
…and, Biden also talked gasoline prices, saying the administration would try to increase oil supply.
“I think that’s the place where most middle class people, working class people, get hit the most. They pull up to a pump and all of a sudden instead of paying $2.40 cents a gallon, they’re paying $5 a gallon, that’s got to be really difficult, but so we’re going to work on trying to increase oil supplies that are available.”
Researchers: Earth’s core cooling ‘rapidly’
Researchers are warning that the Earth’s core may be cooling “more rapidly than expected,” which could speed up the timeline for when the planet becomes uninhabitable for humans.
In a paper published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a group of researchers reported that the Earth’s mantle is “much more efficiently cooled, which would ultimately weaken many tectonic activities driven by the mantle convection more rapidly than expected from conventionally believed thermal conduction behavior.”
The researchers noted that the rate at which the Earth has been losing heat “directly links to the fundamental question on how long the Earth will remain dynamically active.”
The story so far: Earth has been cooling throughout its 4.5 billion year history, according to the researchers, but the rate at which temperatures have been dropping is still being scrutinized, NBC News noted.
The researchers examined bridgmanite, a conductive mineral that can be located between the core and the mantle of Earth, according to NBC News. The team wrote in the paper that the mineral is 1.5 times more conductive than it was thought to be, which suggests the planet may be cooling at a quicker rate than previously believed.
What did they find? “We found the bulk thermal conductivity at core-mantle boundary becomes ∼1.5 times higher than the conventionally assumed value, which supports higher heat flow from core, hence more vigorous mantle convection than expected,” the researchers wrote.
When the planet gets cold enough, it will begin losing its magnetic field, which protects the Earth from damaging cosmic radiation. This would ultimately lead the planet to become sterile and unlivable. The research team did not, however, provide an estimate as to how many more years life can be sustained on Earth.
US not considering gas export ban
The U.S. is not considering a ban on exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) to other countries, a Biden official said Wednesday, despite a push from some Democrats to curb exports of the fuel.
Asked during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing whether an export ban was on the table, Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk said, “An export ban, either on the LNG side or on the oil side, is not something we’re currently discussing and under consideration.”
His comment comes after other administration officials have said they’re not planning to ban exports on crude oil — a solution that has been pushed by several Democrats to tamp down gasoline prices, since gasoline is made from oil.
But, some have also said they want to limit or stop exports of natural gas. Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) last month introduced legislation that would ban both crude oil and natural gas exports — though the legislation is unlikely to be taken up.
During the same hearing, when asked about banning LNG exports, Turk gave a general answer.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- ‘Responsibly Sourced’ Gas Finds a Niche, But Some Cry Greenwashing (Bloomberg)
- Race to cut carbon emissions splits U.S. states on nuclear (The Associated Press)
- How coal holds on in America (The Washington Post)
- Power companies back EPA climate authority at Supreme Court (E&E News)
- Corps of Engineers to focus on supply chain problems, climate change with $14B in allocated spending
- Environmental groups: Biden administration has legal authority to end oil and gas leasing on public land
ON TAP NEXT TOMORROW
- The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing titled “What More Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Leasing Means for Achieving U.S. Climate Targets.”
- The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Cleaning up cryptocurrency: the energy impacts of blockchains”
- The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a series of wildlife and water bills
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.