Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy & Environment — Judge reinstates gray wolf protections

Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service via AP

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 a federal court reversing a Trump-era move to get rid of protections for gray wolves, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) keeping climate action on the table in a recent interview and the Biden administration’s latest move in its push for an electric vehicle charging network.  

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. 

Court restores gray wolf protections axed by Trump  

A federal court in California on Thursday restored endangered species protections for the gray wolf that were rolled back during the Trump administration.  

Judge Jeffrey White, a George W. Bush appointee, determined that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t adequately consider threats to the wolves outside of two major populations.   

The decision listed other reasons that White was tossing the Trump-era move, including his assessment that a decision to analyze West Coast wolves with Northern Rocky Mountain together instead of separately was arbitrary and capricious. 

The Trump administration in 2020 removed endangered species protections for the wolves that had been in place for more than 45 years, saying they had exceeded recovery goals.  

Many environmental and animal advocacy groups disagreed, saying they still need protections. 

The Biden administration last February defended its predecessor’s decision, saying it was made “using the best scientific and commercial data available.” 

But, it later signaled a possible reversal, saying in September that it would review the wolf’s endangered species status.    

It’s not clear whether the Biden administration will appeal the Thursday ruling. When asked whether it would, Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Vanessa Kauffman said via email, “we are reviewing the decision.” 

Thursday’s ruling does not apply to wolves in a few states such as Montana and Idaho, where they were already delisted before the Trump action. 

Read more about the court decision here.  

 

MANCHIN KEEPS CLIMATE ACTION ON THE TABLE

Though he has said that the Build Back Better bill representing President Biden’s climate and spending agenda is “dead,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) kept climate action on the table in a new interview.  

In an interview with a local news outlet, he said he wanted a  “tax bill that puts us on a path to financial solvency.” 

Specifically, he said he wanted a 25 percent corporate tax rate.  

At a later point in the interview, he also said he was open to taking on climate change, but didn’t appear to offer specifics.  

“I’m willing to do a lot of good things on climate, too. We can all get together; we just can’t throw caution to the wind.” 

 

Biden seeks equity in EV network push

New guidance from the Biden administration as it prepares to disburse funds to states to build out an electric vehicle charging network asks them to do so with equity in mind.   

The guidance document issued on Thursday says that state plans submitted to the federal government to gain access to funds for the charging network “should explain how the State will deliver projects … [that] target at least 40 percent of the benefits towards disadvantaged communities.” 

This would put them in line with a White House Initiative called Justice40, which seeks to give at least 40 percent of the benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.   

The report notes that the equity push doesn’t necessarily mean that 40 percent of the chargers need to be located in disadvantaged communities if they can benefit in other ways.  

The guidance comes as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which the Biden administration has touted as its signature Build Back Better climate and spending bill remains stalled in Congress.  

Wednesday’s rollout deals with the bill’s $5 billion program for states to build out a nationwide electric vehicle charging network. Funds for the program which will be dispersed to states over a five-year period. 

Read more about the push here.  

REPUBLICANS RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT BIDEN SCIENCE ADVISER

In a new letter, House Republicans are raising concerns about a top White House climate science adviser after a paper she edited was retracted last year.  

The letter from Reps. Frank Lucas (Okla.), Stephanie Bice (Okla.) and Jay Obernolte (Calif.) asks President Biden to “consider whether Dr. [Jane] Lubchenco’s leading role in the administration’s scientific integrity efforts undermines public confidence in future policy decisions.”  

“We also encourage you to consider if Dr. Lubchenco should continue to be involved in developing a framework for the improvement of agency scientific integrity policies and practices,” they added. “If the executive branch cannot or will not uphold the practices of scientific integrity, then Congress will have to assume a greater role in oversight of these matters.” 

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Editor in Chief May Berenbaum said in the retraction that Lubchenco “recently published a related paper with the article’s authors and has a personal relationship with one of the authors, both of which are disallowed by PNAS editorial policies.” 

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) declined to comment on the Republican letter specifically.  

Instead, it directed The Hill to a prior statement from an official, which said that “Jane agreed there was a conflict and the paper should be retracted, told OSTP, and it was a matter of public record at the time,” referring to the time when The Scientific Integrity Task Force report came out in January. 

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • White House regs shop delayed air pollution reg for months (E&E News) 
  • How Billions in Infrastructure Funding Could Worsen Global Warming (The New York Times) 
  • Major breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy (The BBC) 
  • Gina McCarthy pledges to run ‘faster and faster’ to address climate change (Politico)  

 

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 Friday. 

Tags Frank Lucas Gina McCarthy Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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