On The Hill

Energy Update (July 20)

Jul 20, 2020 | SHARE  

House News


The House of Representatives will consider the Great American Outdoors Act on Wednesday (Jul. 22). President Trump has committed to signing the legislation.

A group of Republican lawmakers have objected to House Democratic leaders bringing the package to the floor under an expedited procedure.[1] This week, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said he would vote no on the bill.

In the Senate, the Great American Outdoors Act passed 73-25. The bill has 218 cosponsors in the House.

Interior-Environment Appropriations

The House will likely vote on its Interior-Environment appropriations package on either Thursday (Jul. 23) or Friday (Jul. 24). House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said he hopes to have all of the appropriations bills finished by the end of July, as well as pass an additional COVID-19 stimulus package.

Energy and Water Appropriations

On Monday (Jul. 13), the House Appropriations Committee approved $49.6 billion in funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and related agencies by a party-line vote of 30-21. The committee approved a Manager’s Amendment that would boost funding for Western water supply efforts, prioritize dredging projects with environmental benefits, and other changes.

The bill would provide $41 billion to DOE, $7.63 billion to USACE, and $1.66 billion to the Bureau of Reclamation.[2] 


On Wednesday (Jul. 15), the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously advanced the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to the floor. The measure would authorize the USACE to begin construction on 34 new water resources projects and study the feasibility of 35 potential projects.[3] 

Hoyer has teed up the measure for floor consideration the week of July 27.



On Wednesday (Jul. 15), President Trump announced the completion of rules to overhaul the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The move will shorten the timeline for environmental reviews and could reduce the need to consider the impacts of climate change. The changes are designed to provide more clarity for federal agencies by imposing deadlines and eliminating redundancies for reviews.

The final rule states that projects using “minimal federal funding” would not trigger a NEPA review, and changes the definition of “major federal action” to exclude “extraterritorial” projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline.

“This is a truly historic breakthrough which means better roads, bridges, tunnels and highways,” Trump said at an event in Atlanta. “Together we’re reclaiming America’s proud heritage as a nation of builders and a nation that could get things done. ” [4] 

Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said this update to NEPA will cut down “overly burdensome regulations plaguing the energy industry” and modernize the regulatory environment to promote safety, environmental responsibility, national security, and economic growth.

Environmentalists and numerous Democratic lawmakers have criticized the rule, and issued statements of disapproval ahead of Trump’s remarks. Lawmakers said the NEPA changes could hurt public input on projects and federal agencies’ ability to consider the impact projects will have on climate change and disadvantaged communities. [5] 

“The Trump Administration’s ongoing assault on environmental protections is out of control,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI).

Under the Congressional Review Act, the new rule could potentially be repealed by Democrats if they win the White House and both chambers of Congress in November.

To view the new rule, click here.


Methane Rule Reinstated

On Wednesday evening (Jul. 15), a federal judge reinstated an Obama-era methane venting and flaring rule. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said the Trump administration “engineered a process to ensure a preordained conclusion to repeal the rule.”

In 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published regulations on methane leak detection and repair requirements for oil and gas production on federal lands. In 2018, BLM repealed many of the rule’s key provisions.

Rogers said the administration’s repeal violated NEPA, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Mineral Leasing Act. She concluded leaving the repeal rule in place would cause more environmental harm than reinstating the 2016 rule, and ordered the repeal be vacated. However, she agreed to a 90-day stay of her order for parties to determine their next steps.[6] 

To Roger’s ruling, click here.


Biden Environmental Plan

On Tuesday (Jul. 14), presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden announced he would spend $2 trillion in four years on clean energy if elected president in November. The former vice president said he would focus the funding on energy efficiency, sustainable jobs, and electric transportation.

Last week, Biden released a $700 billion outline for the U.S. manufacturing sector that relies heavily on clean energy.

The spending plan is part of Biden’s broader economic stimulus vision to help the U.S. recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The announcement came after the release of recommendations from a task force composed of Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) allies.

Senior Biden campaign officials said the plan will rely on executive actions, stimulus spending, appropriated funds, and tax increases on wealthy Americans and corporations.

The plan includes: a zero-emissions goal for American made busses by 2030; rebates to swap older cars for electric, hybrid, or hydrogen fuel vehicles; setting a clean-electricity standard to neutralize power sector emissions by 2035; retrofitting and weatherizing millions of homes; establishing programs to employ $250,000 people to plug abandoned oil and gas wells and reclaim mines; expand financing for new farming equipment; and forming voluntary carbon-farming markets to incentivize greenhouse gas emission reductions in the agriculture sector.[7] 

Biden also released an environmental justice plan with a commitment to target 40 percent of clean energy benefits to disadvantaged communities.

To view Biden’s plan for clean energy and environmental justice, click here.



[1] Dumain, Emma. “Hoyer updates House plans, sets vote on lands package.” E&E Daily, 14 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/b9d57043/q7Y-IFg-kUe4EVDaUZCdag?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/stories/1063559527/search?keyword=great%2Bamerican%2Boutdoors%2Bact

[2] Snider, Annie & Wolff, Eric. “House committee advances $49.6B energy and water appropriation.” Politico Pro, 13 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/9b48f1a3/1VufF14LREeGIk9AsAQFCw?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/house-committee-advances-496b-energy-and-water-appropriation-3982446

[3] Snider, Annie. “House T&I committee advances bipartisan WRDA bill.” Politico Pro, 15 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/ee7110d3/IjwXPXM5DU6ZD_qcgHV1bQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/t-i-advances-bipartisan-wrda-bill-3982531

[4] Brugger, Kelsey; Clark, Lesley; & Anchondo, Carlos. “3 ways Trump’s NEPA plan overhauls energy projects.” Energywire, 16 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/542fb357/Bg2oIkPPTUOg8zeEWZpOww?u=https://www.eenews.net/energywire/stories/1063571715/search?keyword=NEPA

[5] Colman, Zack. “Trump eases major environmental protection law to help spur new pipelines, highways.” Politico Pro, 15 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/9b50623b/f-T6qfFUdE_EXo3agWLeSQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/trump-eases-major-environmental-protection-law-to-help-spur-new-pipelines-highways-1965326

[6] Tamborrino, Kelsey. “Jude reinstates Obama methane rule.” Morning Energy, 16 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/74e8df98/G9mnWmW7IUmlxG5iMP4APQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/newsletter/2020/07/judge-reinstates-obama-methane-rule-789205

[7] Colman, Zack. “Biden hikes target for climate spending to $2T over 4 years.” Politico Pro, 14 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/b267a137/xqOG7c-NaEK7RPHWynyDig?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/biden-hikes-target-for-climate-spending-to-2t-over-4-years-1965118


The Week Ahead

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The Week Ahead

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