With help from Anthony Adragna, Annie Snider and Ben Lefebvre.
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— House Democrats and their progressive allies insist on EV measures in infrastructure legislation as the bipartisan negotiations hit some snags.
— Interior Secretary Deb Haaland goes before the Senate Energy Committee today, where she’ll face fresh GOP questioning on the federal oil and gas leasing program.
— Over 100 Democrats in both chambers are urging EPA Administrator Michael Regan to grant California a waiver for its higher tailpipe emissions standards.
HAPPY TUESDAY! I’m your host, Matthew Choi. Congrats to Chevron’s Carrie Domnitch for knowing Charles Carroll was the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. For today: Who was the first Socialist president of the French Fifth Republic? Send your tips and trivia answers to [email protected]. Find me on Twitter @matthewchoi2018.
Check out the POLITICO Energy podcast — all the energy and environmental politics and policy news you need to start your day, in just five minutes. Listen and subscribe for free at politico.com/energy-podcast. On today’s episode: Climate hawks push — but risk overplaying their hands.
SHORT SHIFTING ON EVs: Several House Democrats are urging the White House and their Senate counterparts to maintain funding for electric vehicles as part of their bipartisan infrastructure plan, Pro’s Zack Colman reports. The push comes as progressives and House Democrats fret that most EV funding could hit the chopping block as Senate negotiators struggle to advance their talks.
Transportation funding has been a major sore spot in negotiations through last weekend, with Republicans calling for shrinking some planned spending and Democrats concerned transit would get shortchanged to finance highways. Progressives were already unsatisfied with the $15 billion for electrifying transportation initially presented by bipartisan senate negotiators — $7.5 billion of which would go to EVs. That’s a far cry from the $174 billion President Joe Biden first pitched in his American Jobs Plan.
But even if EV funding doesn’t match their ambitions in the bipartisan proposal, environmentalists still hope it could be a launching pad for more aggressive EV action in Democrats’ budget bill. “That is just further argument for ensuring that there is robust investment for electric vehicles in a reconciliation package,” Becca Ellison, deputy policy director with Evergreen Action, told Zack. The group sent a memo to congressional offices Monday evening outlining electrification spending priorities for the reconciliation deal.
HOW ARE THE NEGOTIATIONS GOING? Bleakly. Talks fell apart during a Monday night meeting and major disagreements remain on issues like broadband, water and how to fund the whole thing. Electoral politics are also bleeding into the mix, with Democrats eager to get on to other agenda items ahead of the midterm frenzy and former President Donald Trump pushing Republicans to drop the bipartisan effort all together.
Still, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was “fully committed” to getting the bipartisan deal done this summer, and is willing to force lawmakers to stay weekends and into recess to make that happen. And Sen. Rob Portman, one of the Republican negotiators, told reporters that they’re still making progress: “Somebody be a little positive. I mean come on. Geez.” POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine and Burgess Everett have more.
Senate EPW Chair Tom Carper, who called himself “by nature, an optimistic person” sounded downbeat about prospects for resolving differences on water infrastructure as part of the bipartisan infrastructure framework. Refusing to get into details of the negotiations, Carper told reporters on Monday: “Right now, I’m not sure how this is going to finish up. We’re working on it. We’re working behind the scenes.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who Democrats had accused of reneging on a water infrastructure deal earlier on Monday — his office called that complaint “laughably false” — told reporters he had not seen the latest water offer in its entirety but pledged senators would continue talking.
HAALAND ON THE HILL: The Interior Secretary heads up to the Senate Energy Committee today to dig into the department’s budget for FY 2022. The hearing comes as Republicans on the committee tear into some high-profile moves in the Interior space, namely the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management and the still-to-be-released review on federal oil and gas leases.
“It is past time for the administration to comply with the law and hold new lease sales,” Ranking Member John Barrasso will say, according to talking points shared with ME. “The department needs to change course and get back to an American energy dominance agenda.” As for Haaland, don’t expect her to be bringing up either topic in her opening remarks, a department official told ME.
MINIBUS ON THE ROAD: The House Rules Committee accepted 229 amendments Monday night for floor debate as Democrats prepare to pass a minibus spending package of at least seven fiscal 2022 bills. Read the full list of amendments.
The House will start debating the funding package this afternoon, with final passage expected later this week. The seven-bill minibus consists of Labor-HHS-Education, Agriculture-FDA, Energy-Water, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA, Transportation-HUD and Financial Services. For those of you watching the calendar, government funding expires in less than 10 weeks.
FERC IN THE HOUSE: An Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hear from all five FERC commissioners today for an oversight hearing. Energy Chair Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) plans to point out ways FERC can help ease along a transition to clean energy, such as its current work to reform transmission. “Although it is not traditionally viewed as a climate regulator, FERC’s vast authority over the electricity sector makes it a principal player in our race to tackle climate change,” Rush plans to say.
FERC Chair Rich Glick will outline some of the commissions’ five current priorities: building updated transmission, modernizing electricity markets, updating natural gas certificate policy, protecting grid reliability and opening up decision making to the public. And outgoing Republican Commissioner Neil Chatterjee will offer some reflective words about his time on FERC, while also emphasizing initiatives he hopes the commission continues in hybrid resources, offshore wind, adjustable line ratings and transmission incentives.
Other hearings today: A House Oversight subcommittee and the Senate Commerce Committee will be tackling cybersecurity on energy infrastructure. And the House Small Business subcommittee will discuss economic opportunities from the transition to clean energy.
CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: Over 100 lawmakers are pushing EPA Administrator Michael Regan today to formally give his blessing for California’s stricter tailpipe emissions standards. The lawmakers, spearheaded by chairs of infrastructure-related committees including Carper and Rep. Frank Pallone, wrote to Regan that the Trump administration acted unlawfully when it repealed the Clean Air Act waiver that let California adopt the standards, which have since been adopted by 13 states and D.C. “EPA has never previously withdrawn a waiver, and we believe the agency lacks the authority to do so,” they write.
The signatories also cite California’s “long-standing and continuing air quality problems” and the program’s incentives for zero-emissions vehicles as reasons to grant the waiver. Read their letter here.
WESTERMAN’S ‘EYE-OPENING’ BORDER TRIP: Rep. Bruce Westerman, ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee, wrapped a delegation to the U.S. border in McAllen, Texas, over the weekend that he told ME was “eye-opening” about environmental and human suffering. “We saw some environmental damage down there but it pales in comparison to the human tragedy that’s happening,” he said.
Westerman’s made border trips before, though he said this one highlighted the environmental impacts of record levels of migration, which Republicans hope to make a marquee issue for the 2022 midterms. He said he saw lots of trampling in a federal wildlife refuge and lots of trash, including a cellphone that still worked when he picked it up.
ICYMI: Manchin weighs another term as his influence peaks, from POLITICO’s Burgess Everett.
LET IT FLOW: Spire STL Pipeline, whose natural gas pipeline authorization was vacated by federal court, is urging FERC to give it permission to keep operating the pipeline. Shutting it down, the company says, could cut off service to hundreds of thousands of customers in the St. Louis area this winter, the company’s general counsel Sean Jamieson, told Pro’s Gloria Gonzalez — a fate he compared to the Texas energy crisis of last winter.
“We will pursue all legal paths that will help prevent any interruption of natural gas service to St. Louis,” Jamieson told Gloria. “But we also believe this can be fixed by FERC immediately and we want to give FERC the opportunity to do that.”
A federal appeals court vacated the pipeline’s approval and ordered FERC to reevaluate after the court unanimously found the commission had failed to follow its own guidelines in determining ample need for the pipeline when granting its approval.
EPA TARGETS COAL PLANT FLUSHING: EPA plans to buff up water protections from coal plant discharges, revising the Trump administration’s rolled back guidelines that were part of an effort to help a flagging coal industry. The agency announced Monday that it’s planning a new rulemaking process to strengthen the 2020 Steam Electric Effluent Limitation Guidelines, which loosened standards set in 2015 to limit discharges of mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals. Environmentalists sued the Trump administration over the roll backs, but EPA is asking the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is hearing challenges to the Trump rollback, to put the litigation on hold.
Greens are asking EPA to act fast, since the agency said the 2020 rule would remain on the books during the new rulemaking process. “Affordable technologies exist to limit nearly all of the toxic metals and other chemicals in power plant wastewater, and many plants are already using them. Fixing Trump’s rollback as quickly as possible will help ensure that the safest technology is being used across the country,” the Sierra Club’s Dalal Aboulhosn said in a statement. More from Pro’s Annie Snider.
COULD’VE, SHOULD’VE DONE MORE: The Defense Department acted too slowly and too narrowly after learning of the dangers posed by toxic “forever chemicals” that have been used for decades in military firefighting foam, contaminating water supplies and exposed service members and their families, according to a new Inspector General’s report. Despite an alert in 2011 to the chemicals’ dangers, DoD failed to elevate the issue and didn’t take proactive actions for another five years, when EPA issued a 2016 health advisory for the chemicals PFOA and PFOS, the report found. The IG also criticized DoD for acting hastily to implement Congress’ mandate to test firefighters’ blood for PFAS without planning for tracking and analyzing the data across the sprawling department.
“Today’s Inspector General’s report confirms that the Defense Department must urgently do more to protect service members and their families from PFAS chemicals,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who led 31 lawmakers in requesting the probe in 2019, said in a statement.
CHINA CRITICIZES EU CARBON TARIFF: China is denouncing the European Commission’s recent framework for a carbon border adjustment scheme, saying it would violate trade principles and potentially hinder economic development in middle-income countries. “CBAM is essentially a unilateral measure to extend the climate change issue to the trade sector. It violates WTO principles … and (will) seriously undermine mutual trust in the global community and the prospects for economic growth,” said Liu Youbin, a spokesman of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, according to Reuters.
China often cites its status as a middle-income country to push back on stringent climate measures as it tries to rapidly expand its energy production. The country also had a major hand in blocking the G-20 from adopting the G-7’s stance on shunning coal during their summit in Naples, Italy, last week.
ENTER THE WHALE: Shell says it will go ahead with a deepwater oil drilling project in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, one that would start production in 2024 and pump up to 100,000 barrels a day. The Whale project would be one of the few new oil projects Shell is committing to as the company sells off its infrastructure in the Permian Basin and tries to position itself as a greener company. The company says its offshore oil production “is among the lowest greenhouse gas intensity in the world” among members of the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers, but still, greens are not happy. “The oil and gas industry continues to invest in a future of more dirty and dangerous drilling and spilling,” Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins said in an email.
— Jennifer Arasimowicz is joining 8minute Solar Energy as general counsel and corporate secretary. She previously wore many hats at FuelCell Energy, including executive vice president, general counsel, chief administrative officer and corporate secretary.
— Nancy Beck is currently serving as director of regulatory science at Hunton Andrews Kurth. Beck previously worked at the Office of Chemical Safety and Prevention at EPA under President Donald Trump. Bloomberg has more.
— “Chevron Foe Steven Donziger Found Guilty of Contempt in Ecuador Saga,” via The Wall Street Journal.
— “New transmission can prevent power outages during extreme weather — and save tons of money,” via Canary Media.
— “As China Boomed, It Didn’t Take Climate Change Into Account. Now It Must,” via The New York Times.
— “Beijing thrusts long lists of demands at Biden administration,” via POLITICO.
— ”Big Oil Companies Push Hydrogen as Green Alternative, but Obstacles Remain,” via The Wall Street Journal.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!