Amid jostling for Biden energy roles, New Mexicans stake claim on Interior

The state’s Rep. Deb Haaland and Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have become increasingly visible in pitching themselves as potential heads of the Interior Department, sources following the jockeying said.

Haaland, the vice chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, didn’t deny her interest in the role as she touted her potential inclusion in a potential candidates’ list as a historic first.

“I’m honored that people believe in my leadership in protecting our public lands and combating climate change,” said the first-term House member who previously served as the state’s Democratic Party chair. “It is also meaningful that our country has finally reached the point where having the first Native American Cabinet Secretary is a serious consideration. I am open to those opportunities where I can best serve New Mexico, Indian Country and our country at large.”

Udall’s office declined to comment, and pointed to his March 2019 announcement that he would not seek reelection to the Senate but that he was not done with public life.

“Now, I’m most certainly not retiring,” Udall said in that video. “I intend to find new ways to serve New Mexico and our country after I finish this term. There will be more chapters in my public service to do what needs to be done.”

A source familiar with Udall’s thinking told POLITICO he would consider the position if asked.

Udall comes from a storied political family. His father, Stewart Udall, led Interior for eight years under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations where he oversaw the dramatic expansion of millions of acres of public lands and assisted in passage of bedrock environmental statues, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Haaland’s backers are pushing for her to make history as the first Native American to serve in a presidential cabinet. She’s also teamed up with Udall as a lead sponsor of a resolution S. Res. 372 (116) setting a national goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. land and oceans by 2030.

Staff for Heinrich, now in his second term in the Senate, demurred when asked about his interest, with one aide saying that he “is laser focused on doing absolutely everything in his power to ensure Joe Biden is elected president, so we can end Trump’s war on our public land and put millions of Americans back to work restoring our natural resources.”

Heinrich has played key roles behind-the-scenes in getting two major public lands packages —the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, S. 47 (116) and the Great American Outdoors Act, H.R. 1957 (116) — across the finish line this Congress. And he led Democrats’ charge to remove William Perry Pendley from atop the Bureau of Land Management, and is well-connected within influential sportsmens groups.

All three New Mexicans have been visible surrogates for the Biden campaign. Haaland is a member of the campaign’s Climate Engagement Advisory Council and hosted a fundraiser for the campaign alongside Udall in late June. Heinrich hosted his own fundraiser

Read more

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior Secretary will lead BLM after judge ousts Pendley from public lands role | Trump, Biden spar over climate change at debate

HAPPY WEDNESDAY! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.



a man wearing a suit and tie: OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior Secretary will lead BLM after judge ousts Pendley from public lands role | Trump, Biden spar over climate change at debate | Trump official delays polar bear study with potential implications on drilling: report


© Greg Nash
OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior Secretary will lead BLM after judge ousts Pendley from public lands role | Trump, Biden spar over climate change at debate | Trump official delays polar bear study with potential implications on drilling: report

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.

FILL-IN THE BERN: The Department of the Interior will not name a new acting director to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) after it’s leader was ousted by a federal judge, top officials told employees in an email obtained by The Hill.

Instead the job will be left to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

A Montana-based U.S. district judge on Friday ruled William Perry Pendley, the controversial acting director of BLM, “served unlawfully … for 424 days” and enjoined him from continuing in the role.

The decision was in response to a suit from Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who argued Pendley, whose nomination to lead the BLM was pulled by the White House last month, was illegally serving in his role through a series of temporary orders.

A Wednesday email makes clear that Interior will not be placing the top career official in charge of the nation’s public lands agency, as its department manual dictates.

“I understand there may be some questions about the ruling on Friday regarding William Perry Pendley’s leadership role at the Bureau of Land Management,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond wrote in an email to BLM staff.

“Secretary Bernhardt leads the bureau and relies on the BLM’s management team to carry out the mission. Deputy Director for Programs and Policy, William Perry Pendley, will continue to serve in his leadership role.”

Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, ruled Friday that Interior and the White House improperly relied on temporary orders far beyond the 210 days allotted in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act while also violating the Constitutional requirement to seek approval from the Senate.

“The President cannot shelter unconstitutional ‘temporary’ appointments for the duration of his presidency through a matryoshka doll of delegated authorities,” he wrote.

Pendley has sparked controversy over the course of the year he has led BLM due to his long history opposing federal ownership of public lands as well as comments he has made questioning climate change and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Putting Bernhardt at the helm of the agency appears to comply with the court order from Morris.

But critics say the move centralizes power for the agency in the highest political circles after relocating more than 200 Washington, D.C.,-based positions to Grand Junction, Colo., in order to bring employees closer to the lands they manage.

The move leaves just 61 BLM employees in Washington.

“Secretary Bernhardt’s decision to centralize final decision-making in Washington,

Read more

Amid debate over repealing House Bill 6, Energy Harbor still won’t say whether its nuclear plants are profitable

COLUMBUS, Ohio—State lawmakers are looking at whether to keep in place a $1.3 billion public bailout for the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants along Lake Erie, a law that federal authorities say was corruptly enacted.

But throughout the debate, there’s still a glaring problem: the owner of the nuclear plants refuses to disclose whether they are profitable or not. And so far, there’s been no attempt by state lawmakers to compel the company to release its numbers before the bailout takes effect.

During last year’s debate over whether to pass the bailout as part of House Bill 6, Energy Harbor – then known as FirstEnergy Solutions – asserted it needed public subsidies or it would close the plants. But the company wouldn’t open its books to lawmakers or the public to prove that it actually needed the money, leading legislators to rely on estimates, industry averages and company officials’ word.

At the time, FirstEnergy Solutions told cleveland.com the reason it couldn’t open its books was because it was involved in bankruptcy proceedings. Those proceedings have been over for months, yet Energy Harbor still won’t say whether the plants are profitable. And this time, the company is not offering a reason.

“We do not release financial performance figures for the plants,” said Energy Harbor spokesman Jason Copsey in an email, when asked for such information. Copsey didn’t reply to an email asking why the company won’t publicly release the data.

State lawmakers are now considering whether to repeal or revise HB6 since ex-Speaker Larry Householder and four allies were indicted in July on charges that they secured the passage of HB6 through a bribery scheme fueled by $60 million in FirstEnergy Corp./FirstEnergy Solutions money.

When state Rep. Jim Hoops, a Napoleon Republican who chairs the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight, a special committee studying what to do about HB6, was asked earlier this month whether the committee would ask Energy Harbor to open its books, Hoops replied by saying lawmakers have discussed ensuring there’s an audit to prove whether Energy Harbor needs the money.

“I’m getting the language to show exactly how much do they need, if they need anything,” Hoops said.

But when asked whether lawmakers would seek to obtain such information before the legislature decides whether or not to move on repealing or replacing HB6, Hoops said he didn’t know the timing and needed to talk with House Speaker Bob Cupp about it.

Hoops told Gongwer News Service on Thursday that he’s not sure whether Energy Harbor or FirstEnergy Corp. (Energy Harbor’s former parent company) can or will testify before his committee, given lawsuits filed against the companies by Attorney General Dave Yost, among others.

Cupp spokeswoman Taylor Jach noted that HB6 requires state regulators to audit Energy Harbor every year starting in 2021, after the public starts paying for it.

When asked whether the speaker felt it’s not important for lawmakers to know now whether the nuclear plants are profitable or not, Jach replied

Read more

House backs bill to boost ‘clean energy,’ enhance efficiency

Updated


WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a modest bill to promote “clean energy” and increase energy efficiency while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are considered a major driver of global warming.

The bill boosts renewable energy such as solar and wind power, sets stricter energy efficiency standards for buildings and authorizes grants to local communities for more efficient schools, homes and municipal buildings.


The House approved the bill, 220-185, Thursday, sending it to the Senate, where a separate energy bill is pending. The Senate bill, like the House measure, would phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that are used as coolants, after an internal dispute among Senate Republicans was resolved earlier this month. Use of HFC gases is being phased out worldwide.



“I want to give a clear-eyed assessment: This bill is not going to stop climate change,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. “But it is a good opportunity to make good and sometimes necessary changes to programs, which might make it easier to do a bigger, more ambitious bill in the near future.”


The House bill, dubbed the “Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act,” would support clean energy technologies through research and development funding through the Energy Department. It also boosts electric cars and programs to finance clean energy projects.

Supporters said it would create well-paying jobs across the country and help the U.S. transition to a “clean energy future” that is less dependent on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.


The bill would authorize more than $36 billion to help speed up the electrification of the transportation sector and make electric cars an option for more communities. It also authorizes funding for “clean” school buses, electric vehicle charging equipment and other zero-emission vehicle programs.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chairman of

Read more

House Backs Bill to Boost ‘Clean Energy,’ Enhance Efficiency | Business News

By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a modest bill to promote “clean energy” and increase energy efficiency while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are considered a major driver of global warming.

The bill boosts renewable energy such as solar and wind power, sets stricter energy efficiency standards for buildings and authorizes grants to local communities for more efficient schools, homes and municipal buildings.

The House approved the bill, 220-185, Thursday, sending it to the Senate, where a separate energy bill is pending. The Senate bill, like the House measure, would phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that are used as coolants, after an internal dispute among Senate Republicans was resolved earlier this month. Use of HFC gases is being phased out worldwide.

“I want to give a clear-eyed assessment: This bill is not going to stop climate change,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. “But it is a good opportunity to make good and sometimes necessary changes to programs, which might make it easier to do a bigger, more ambitious bill in the near future.”

The House bill, dubbed the “Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act,” would support clean energy technologies through research and development funding through the Energy Department. It also boosts electric cars and programs to finance clean energy projects.

Supporters said it would create well-paying jobs across the country and help the U.S. transition to a “clean energy future” that is less dependent on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.

The bill would authorize more than $36 billion to help speed up the electrification of the transportation sector and make electric cars an option for more communities. It also authorizes funding for “clean” school buses, electric vehicle charging equipment and other zero-emission vehicle programs.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the legislation would “modernize our energy system, create jobs and take positive steps towards addressing the climate crisis.” He called it “one of the most impactful steps we can take now to create manufacturing jobs and boost our competitiveness, all while protecting our environment.”

Pallone said he and other lawmakers who pushed for the energy package tried to “move provisions we believe have a shot at becoming law this Congress” after negotiations with the Senate.

House Republicans disputed that, saying the bill would cost more than $135 billion while including no serious reforms.

“Don’t be fooled by its name — this bill has little to do with innovation and everything to do with House Democrats’ embrace of their high-cost Green New Deal,” Republican Reps. Greg Walden of Oregon, Rob Bishop of Utah and Frank Lucas of Oklahoma said in a joint statement. Walden is the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce panel, while Bishop leads the GOP on Natural Resources and Lucas is the top Republican on the House Science panel.

While many Democrats have expressed support for the Green New Deal — a non-binding but

Read more

House passes sweeping clean energy bill

The House on Thursday passed a broad bill that aims to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy sources as part of an attempt to combat climate change. 

The chamber approved the 900-page Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act in a 220-185 vote. 

The legislation would create research and development programs for solar, wind, advanced geothermal energy and hydroelectric power as well as lessening pollution from fossil fuel production. 

It would also establish more rigorous building codes and bolster energy efficiency requirements and weatherization programs. 

The bill moved rapidly through the House. It was first introduced last week and did not go through any legislative hearings.

A similar energy innovation package that was introduced in the Senate earlier this year has recently been reenergized after legislators came to an agreement on an amendment seeking to phase down the use of a type of greenhouse gas. 

A senior House Democratic aide told The Hill that if the Senate passes its own bill, the chambers can go to conference to resolve their disagreements. The aide said that House Democrats urge Republicans to take some action on clean energy, either moving by their own bill or taking up the House bill.  

Speaking in favor of the House legislation, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHoyer: House should vote on COVID-19 aid — with or without a bipartisan deal Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at Supreme Court McCarthy threatens motion to oust Pelosi if she moves forward with impeachment MORE (D-Calif.) praised it as one step in the fight to tackle climate change. 

“It takes actions that scientists, researchers and experts tell us is needed by launching the research and development needed to unleash a clean energy revolution and reduce pollution in our communities, making a bold down payment for future climate action by modernizing America’s energy innovation infrastructure,” she said. 

The top Republicans on the Natural Resources, Energy and Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees released a joint statement criticizing the legislation this week. 

“Here we are in the middle of a global pandemic and Speaker Pelosi wants to spend more than $135 billion on a piece of legislation that will never become law,” said Reps. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOVERNIGHT ENERGY: California seeks to sell only electric cars by 2035 | EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to ‘anarchist’ cities | House energy package sparks criticism from left and right House energy package sparks criticism from left and right OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA head questions connection of climate change to natural disasters | Pebble Mine executives eye future expansion in recorded conversations | EPA questions science linking widely used pesticide to brain damage in children MORE (R-Utah), Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHillicon Valley: DOJ proposes tech liability shield reform to Congress | Treasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities | House Republican introduces bill to set standards for self-driving cars OVERNIGHT ENERGY: California seeks to sell only electric cars by 2035 | EPA threatens to

Read more

House energy package sparks criticism from left and right

Both Republicans and left-wing environmental groups criticized a sprawling House energy package billed as a response to climate change.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn The Money: Powell, Mnuchin stress limits of emergency loans | House seeks to salvage vote on spending bill | Economists tell lawmakers: Kill the virus to heal the economy House moves toward spending vote after bipartisan talks House Democrats mull delay on spending bill vote MORE (D-Md.) has said the chamber would vote this week on the legislation.

The package would funnel money toward research and development of a number of types of energy while promoting energy efficiency for homes, schools and other buildings.

Republicans on Wednesday knocked the speed at which the 900-page bill, which has not had a legislative hearing, is moving through the House and said it would harm consumers. 

Top Republicans on the chamber’s Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources, and Science, Space and Technology committees slammed the legislation. 

“Here we are in the middle of a global pandemic and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] wants to spend more than $135 billion on a piece of legislation that will never become law,” said Reps. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenTrump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line Ignore the misinformation: The FDA will ensure the safety of any COVID-19 vaccine Hillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video MORE (R-Ore.), Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA head questions connection of climate change to natural disasters | Pebble Mine executives eye future expansion in recorded conversations | EPA questions science linking widely used pesticide to brain damage in children House GOP seeks to cement Trump rollback of bedrock environmental law LWCF modernization: Restoring the promise MORE (R-Utah) and Frank LucasFrank Dean LucasHillicon Valley: DOJ indicts Chinese, Malaysian hackers accused of targeting over 100 organizations | GOP senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal | QAnon awareness jumps in new poll House passes legislation to boost election security research Protecting COVID research at American universities from foreign hackers MORE (R-Okla.). “If Democrats wanted to make real progress on clean energy, they wouldn’t have dropped a 900-page bill and called for a vote a week later, without any time for thoughtful consideration through regular order.”

“This bill is chock-full of government mandates that would raise what Americans pay for everything from the vehicles they drive to what they pay to heat, cool, and power their homes,” they added. 

Environmentalists criticized the inclusion of funding for research into a mechanism known as carbon capture and sequestration, which removes carbon from the air. Carbon capture is unpopular with some environmentalists because it’s often used in fossil fuel production.

And a coalition of more than 100 environmental and progressive groups, including 350.org and the Center for Biological Diversity, released a letter urging members of Congress to oppose the bill, citing its support for carbon capture. 

“Any

Read more

House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerRaces heat up for House leadership posts Hillicon Valley: Election officials prepare for new Russian interference battle | ‘Markeyverse’ of online fans helps take down a Kennedy | GOP senators unveil bill to update tech liability protections Google, Apple, eBay to meet virtually with lawmakers for tech group’s annual fly-in MORE (D-Md.) says the chamber will vote next week on a more-than-900-page energy package billed as a response to climate change.

The bill, unveiled Tuesday, has not had a hearing or gone through the regular legislative progress. It would funnel money toward research and development of a number of types of energy while promoting energy efficiency for homes, schools and other buildings.

It comes as the Senate last week resolved a roadblock that halted a spring vote on a similar energy bill proposed by Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Study links coronavirus mortality to air pollution exposure | Low-income, minority households pay more for utilities: report Senate Republicans scramble to contain fallout from Woodward bombshell OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling bipartisan energy bill The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind – Woodward book revelations rock Washington MORE (D-W.Va.).

Hoyer in a release said the bill “fulfills House Democrats’ promise to invest in the creation of high-paying jobs by making America a global leader in clean energy. Our climate is changing, and we not only need to take dramatic steps to slow the carbon pollution that has driven this climate crisis but we must also seize the economic opportunities that this challenge presents.”

Bringing the quickly drafted legislation to the floor leaves several other climate proposals from House committees by the wayside.

A bill from the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis billed as a road map for battling climate change was introduced in June. And in January, the House Energy and Commerce Committee laid out its own vision for transitioning to clean energy. Both bills would set strict timetables for decarbonizing the economy by 2050.

Tuesday’s bill, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, doesn’t offer any similar targets, instead focusing on assisting the industries that could help the U.S. transition to a clean energy economy while seeking to close energy efficiency gaps in buildings across the country.

“Energy is a big deal for us. We had a lot of bills that we wanted to do in the spring, that were energy bills, then obviously the spring fell apart, right? So we didn’t have a spring,” Hoyer told

Read more

Lebanon: Aoun Bargains with Interior, Finance Ministries to Keep Control Over Energy

Lebanese President Michel Aoun is responsible for the delay in the formation of the new government, Lebanese political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The president’s first priority, according to the sources, is to bring back his son-in-law, former Minister and MP Gebran Bassil, to the forefront, and to reserve the largest number of ministerial seats for his Christian bloc, including the ministry of Energy.

The political sources revealed that the General Security chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, has been working behind the scene to resolve the nodes that are hindering the cabinet formation. Ibrahim has recently met with Aoun, who informed him that he favored a government of 24 specialists of political background, “to facilitate the implementation of reforms.”

According to the sources, Aoun supports, in one way or another, Bassil’s request to implement rotation in the redistribution of portfolios to the different sects. They said he suggested that the financial and the interior ministries be the share of the Christians, in exchange for assigning the defense and foreign ministries to the Muslims.

The same sources explained that Aoun wanted to convey a message that the Shiites’ insistence on preserving the finance portfolio – which grants them the authority to sign the decrees of a financial nature – does not give them the right to veto the redistribution of ministerial portfolios.

In other words, Aoun – according to these sources – absolutely refuses any party to use the right of veto to prevent the allocation of the ministry of Energy to a Christian minister. The president considers the energy as an exclusive right to his political party, led by Bassil.

Therefore, the sources said Aoun was bargaining with the Interior and Finance ministries, in exchange for maintaining the energy within his share.

Moreover, the president’s insistence on forming an expanded government was aimed at bringing Bassil to the forefront, in light of the rejection of the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb party to participate in the government, according to the sources.

However, Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib would not approve a cabinet of 24 ministers and insisted on excluding Bassil from his ongoing talks with Aoun.

Adib is also working to prepare a draft ministerial lineup that he would present to the Baabda Palace at the end of this week.

Source Article

Read more

Interior Dept. seeks to expedite energy projects to speed COVID recovery -document

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) – The Interior Department sent a list of 50 major infrastructure projects, including 21 involving oil and gas drilling and mining, to the White House to be fast-tracked to “support economic recovery” from the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, according to a document obtained through a lawsuit by an environmental group.

A July 15 letter obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, from Deputy Interior Secretary Katharine MacGregor to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, listed projects undergoing environmental review.

The list includes around 5,000 oil wells in Wyoming, liquefied natural gas projects in Alaska and Oregon and an offshore wind project in Massachusetts, as well as several mining, grazing and transmission projects.

The request came in response to an executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on June 4 that gave federal agencies emergency powers to fast-track major energy and other infrastructure projects by overriding environmental permitting requirements.

Interior Department spokesman Conner Swanson confirmed the request: “The Trump Administration has taken significant steps to improve the federal government’s decision-making process, while also ensuring that the environmental consequences of proposed projects are thoughtfully analyzed.”

Trump, a vocal advocate of fossil fuels as president, has sought to roll back environmental regulations across all federal agencies and reduce state powers to block projects for environmental reasons.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a bedrock environmental regulation that creates time consuming environmental reviews and public feedback requirements for major infrastructure projects.

In the letter, MacGregor also said the Interior Department is working on expanding the list of “categorical exclusions” for projects to exempt them from full NEPA reviews.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a lawsuit to obtain the documents after the group’s public records request was denied.

“Rushing to approve more climate-killing fossil fuel projects while ignoring environmental harms is wrong, and using COVID-19 as an excuse is despicable,” said Hartl. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Source Article

Read more