Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — Biden seeks nearly $2 billion funding boost for EPA

AP-Patrick Semansky

Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here and view the full edition here.

Today we’re looking at President Biden’s sprawling budget proposal, a new environmental pledge for progressive candidates and a probe into solar imports.

For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with tips: rfrazin@thehill.com and zbudryk@thehill.com.

Let’s jump in.

 

President asks Congress to increase EPA funding

The White House’s proposed budget for fiscal 2023 would increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Energy Department and the Interior Department, according to materials shared with The Hill. 

A closer look: The budget proposes $11 billion for the EPA in fiscal 2023, an increase of about $1.5 billion from the $9.56 billion Congress authorized last year. The White House unsuccessfully sought similar increases in its proposed fiscal 2022 budget, with Congress eventually increasing the agency’s budget by about $323 compared to the previous year. 

“The President’s budget request for EPA reflects this Administration’s unwavering commitment to protect people from pollution, especially those living in overburdened and underserved communities across America. It funds a broad suite of transformational programs enacted by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and it will enable us to implement the President’s historic Justice40 commitment, among other key priorities,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

Regan noted that $5.7 billion of the proposed budget includes efforts to support environmental justice and cleanup efforts with tribes, states and localities.

What else? The budget proposal also includes $3.3 billion for renewable energy, one of the White House’s major priorities at a time when the price of gas has soared amid the crisis in Ukraine. The White House has already released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and called for both domestic oil companies and nations such as Saudi Arabia to increase production, but renewables advocates have said the crisis illustrates the need to move beyond fossil fuels entirely.

The administration’s proposal also includes more than $18 billion for federal climate resilience programs, including federal firefighting funds and funding to improve the resilience of federal housing. Another $11 billion would go toward international climate finance, which President Biden has pledged to increase fourfold. 

Read more about the budget proposal here.

 

Groups unveil ‘Green New Deal’ midterm pledge

A coalition of progressive and environmental organizations on Monday introduced a pledge for candidates indicating plans to co-sponsor a handful of bills associated with Green New Deal policies. 

Signers of the pledge commit to rejecting any donations of more than $200 from fossil fuel lobbyists, companies or executives and commit to co-sponsoring 10 pieces of Green New Deal-related legislation within six months of taking office. 

These include the original Green New Deal resolution, Rep. Cori Bush’s (D-Mo.) Green New Deal for Cities, the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act, and the Keep it in the Ground Act, which would ban new fossil fuel projects on federal lands and waters. 

Who’s on board? Candidates who have taken the pledge include Jessica Cisneros, who will face Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) in a July runoff for the state’s 10th Congressional District in May, along with three candidates the environmental organization Sunrise Movement endorsed last week: Nida Allam, who is running in North Carolina’s 4th District, Erica Smith of North Carolina’s 1st District and Summer Lee of Pennsylvania’s 12th District. 

A number of sitting members of Congress also meet the standards of the pledge, many of them associated with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. They include Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).   

“Since I introduced the Green New Deal with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, the climate crisis has only become more severe,” Markey said in a statement. “We have to act now to deliver justice for communities on the frontlines of this crisis and create millions of green-collar jobs to save our economy and save our planet. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in the House and Senate, and with an entire generation committed to climate justice, in the fight for a Green New Deal.” 

More than 50 groups collaborated on the pledge, including Sunrise Movement, the Working Families Party, Our Revolution, Public Citizen and Greenpeace. 

Read more about the pledge here. 

 

FEDS PROBING SOLAR MANUFACTURERS

The Commerce Department on Monday announced an investigation into solar panels imported from four Southeast Asian nations for potential circumvention of tariffs, a move decried by industry groups as potentially devastating the industry. 

Commerce announced Monday that it will respond to a petition from California company Auxin Solar. The complaint alleged the panels in question, assembled in Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, were intended to illegally evade U.S. regulations blocking Chinese imports. 

The petition alleged the technology assembled in those four countries involves parts manufactured by Chinese companies and that their manufacture violates years-old antidumping and countervailing tariffs on Chinese imports. 

The department had dismissed a similar petition in November from the group American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention. Tariffs on solar panel components can be as high as 250 percent, and the solar industry cast the decision as a major step backward as the Biden administration pledges to halve carbon emissions by 2030. 

“This misstep will have a devastating impact on the U.S. solar market at a time when solar prices are climbing, and project delays and cancellations are adding up,” Solar Energy Industry Association President Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement.

“The solar industry is still reeling from a similar tariff petition that surfaced last year. The mere threat of tariffs altered the industry’s growth trajectory and is one of the reasons why we’re now expecting a 19% decline in near-term solar forecasts. Taking up this case will have a chilling effect on the solar industry.” 

Read more about the investigation here. 

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Trusting the Tap: Upgrading Americas Drinking Water Infrastructure 

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

   And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: And all that jazz. 

 

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.  

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ayanna Pressley Bernie Sanders Cori Bush Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Ilhan Omar Joe Biden Michael Regan Pramila Jayapal Rashida Tlaib Ro Khanna

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