On The Hill

Energy Update (January 17)

Jan 20, 2021 | SHARE  
Congress
 
Great Lakes Task Force
 
On Friday (Jan. 8), the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Rickey James and laid out its priorities for the 117th Congress.
 
The letter urged the Army Corp of Engineers to efficiently utilize the additional $145 million authorized in the FY 2021 spending package. Notably, the letter requested the Corps to spend $500 million to conduct a study on the resiliency of the Great Lakes’ 5,200 miles of coastline, $3.8 billion to mitigate the spread of the harmful Asian carp in the Great Lakes, and prioritize spending on Soo Locks.[1]
 
To view the letter, click here.
 
Impeachment
 
On Wednesday (Jan. 13), the House voted 232-197 to impeach President Trump for “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” House Republican Conference Chairman Liz Cheney (WY) and nine other House Republicans voted with Democrats in favor of impeachment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said the Senate will not return before Tuesday (Jan. 19). Impeachment proceedings in the Senate will likely start after Trump is out of office. Under current Senate rules, once proceedings begin, the Senate is barred from completing other work.
 
House Energy and Commerce Committee
 
On Thursday (Jan. 14), the Republican Steering Committee announced Representatives Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), John Curtis (R-UT), Neal Dunn (R-FL), John Joyce (R-PA), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), Gary Palmer (R-AL) and Greg Pence (R-IN) will serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 117th Congress.
 
House Appropriations Committee
 
The Republican Steering Committee also announced Representatives David Valadao (R-CA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Tony Gonzales (R-TX), and Ashley Hinson (IA) will serve on the House Appropriations committee.[2] 
 
House Agriculture Committee
 
This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced additional committee assignments for the 117th Congress.
 
To view the new committee assignments, click here.
 
Notably, Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Bobby Rush of (D-IL), as well as Del. Gregorio Sablan (I-Northern Mariana Islands) will serve on the House Agriculture Committee.[3]
 
Legislation
 
On Monday (Jan. 11), Rep. Don Young (R-AK) reintroduced two fishery-related bills.
  • Keep Finfish Free Act, a bill that would block the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of Interior from advancing any offshore finfish aquaculture unless they receive congressional approval. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Sean Casten (D-IL).
  • bill that would require the Secretary of Commerce to receive congressional approval before designating marine sanctuaries off the coast of Alaska.
“The fishing industry is critical to Alaska’s economy, culture, and way of life. Every year, countless families across the country sit down at their dinner tables to enjoy Alaskan salmon, halibut, and other delicious seafood. We must be doing all we can to protect the health and integrity of our state’s wild fish stock,” Young said in a statement. [4]
 
On Wednesday (Jan.13), House and Senate lawmakers reintroduced the “Roadless Area Conservation Act,” legislation that would codify the 2001 Roadless Rule and therefore protect 58.5 million acres of national forest from road construction and related development. 
 
“The looming climate crisis has only increased the need to protect America’s last remaining wild forestlands, which reduce wildland fire risk and store huge amounts of carbon,” as we mark the twentieth anniversary of this landmark proposal, we need to redouble our efforts to permanently preserve the benefits these public lands provide our nation and future generations,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said in a statement. [5]
 
 
Biden-Harris Transition
 
This week, President-elect Joe Biden announced the following nominees and appointees:
 
Janet McCabe, Deputy Administrator of the EPA
  • Served as Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation from 2013 to 2017.
Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator
 
Shalanda Young, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget
 
Jason Miller, Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget
 
Samantha Power, U.S. Agency for International Development
 
William Burns, Director of Central Intelligence Agency
 
David S. Cohen, Deputy Director of the CIA
 
Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Homeland Security Adviser and Deputy National Security Adviser.
 
Stefanie Feldman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Director of the Domestic Policy Council
 
Sonia Aggarwal, Senior Advisor for Climate Policy and Innovation
 
David Hayes, Special Assistant to the President for Climate Policy
 
Maggie Thomas, Chief of Staff for the Office of Domestic Climate Policy
 
Jahi Wise, Senior Advisor for Climate Policy and Finance
 
Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Senior Director for Environmental Justice
 
To view a list of all of the nominees, appointees, and White House staff, click here.
 
 
Biden COVID-19 relief package
 
On Thursday (Jan. 14), President-elect Joe Biden outlined his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” to address the COVID-19 pandemic and stimulate economic recovery. The plan invests $400 billion to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden will also urge Congress to authorize an additional $160 billion for a nation-wide vaccination program, expanded testing, and aid efforts in mobilizing a public-health jobs program.
 
Additionally, Biden pledged to release his infrastructure and clean energy proposal next month when he addresses a joint session of Congress.
 
“It will make historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and clean energy, imagine confronting the climate crisis with American jobs and ingenuity leading the world,” Biden said.
 
To view a fact sheet of the American Rescue Plan, click here.
 
 
EPA
 
On Wednesday (Jan. 13), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that will limit future greenhouse gas emission regulations on new, modified, and reconstructed stationary sources, with the exception of power plants.
 
The new rule states any stationary source whose greenhouse gas emissions make up less than three percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas pollution will be considered “necessarily insignificant without consideration of any other factors.” This will protect any “necessarily insignificant” stationary source, such as oil and gas producers, refiners, and steelmakers from federal regulation under section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act.
 
Critics of the rule argue it will increase greenhouse gas emissions, pose a risk to public safety, and limit the Biden administrations ability to implement environmentally friendly regulations. The rule is scheduled to go into effect on Mar. 15, 2021.[6]
 
Biden has promised to suspend and potentially undo all pending rules and regulations finalized in “the 11th hour” of Trump’s presidency.[7] It is unclear if the rule will be allowed to go into effect.
 
To view the rule, click here.
 
On Thursday (Jan. 14), the EPA finalized a rule that will modify efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters and other appliances. The rule establishes two separate product classes for appliances: condensing and non-condensing.
 
The new regulation states “non-condensing technology” is a performance-related feature under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and cannot be eliminated through adoption of an energy conservation standard. Supporters of the rule argue it will expand access to appliances for personal and commercial use without costly or over burdensome regulations.[8]
 
However, critics note the rule will likely make it harder for the Biden administration to regulate older appliances, a key part of his climate change plan.
 
To view the rule, click here
 
 
PFAS
 
This week, the EPA modified the safety assessment for PFBS, part of a class of “forever chemicals” called PFAS. The new safety assessment is not a regulatory rule, but a science document. The review can still be used as guidance by state and federal regulators to potentially set lower cleanup standards, drinking water limits, and other standards. 
 
“This collaboration is important as other program offices have information and expertise that can improve the scientific quality of the work product under review,” EPA spokeswoman Molly Bock said. 
 
Critics argue the assessments use of “range values” instead of “single reference doses” to describe PFBS exposure levels could pose a public health risk. They have also noted the safety assessment was subject to a White House review, which they argue politicized the safety document. On Monday (Jan. 11), the Environmental Defense Fund challenged the assessment in a federal district court in Montana. President-elect Biden cannot suspend the assessment because it is not a regulatory rule, but a federal court judge can.
 
 
USMCA
 
On Monday (Jan. 11), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote a letter to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador regarding blocked energy permits. They claimed Mexican regulators blocked private sector energy permits in favor of a Mexico’s state-owned energy company and warned the action could be in violation of the U.S. – Mexico – Canada (USMCA) trade deal.
 
In October 2020, a bipartisan group of 30 lawmakers wrote a letter to President Trump and expressed similar concerns.[9]
 
To view the letter to President López Obrador, click here.
 
 
 References
 
 
[1] Northey, Hannah “Task force calls for spending on carp, climate, Soo Locks” E&E News 11 Jan. 2021
 
 
[2] Cahlink, George “Republicans name Energy & Commerce, Appropriations picks” 14 Jan. 2021
 
 
[3] Cahlink, George “Republicans name Energy & Commerce, Appropriations picks” 14 Jan. 2021
 
 
[4] Hotakainen, Rob. “Don Young introduces suite of fisheries bills” E&E News 12 Jan. 2021
 
 
[5] Heller, Marc. “Dems revive push to make roadless rule protections law” E&E News 13 Jan. 2021
 
 
[6] Guillén, Alex “Trump’s EPA launches surprise attack on Biden’s climate rules” Politico Pro, 12 Jan. 2021
 
 
[7] Puko, Timothy “EPA Raises Barriers to Climate-Change Rules” Wall Street Journal, 12 Jan. 2021 https://link.edgepilot.com/s/db503984/5xlXcCDBwE2XDu7d3F89oQ?u=https://www.wsj.com/articles/epa-raises-barriers-to-climate-change-rules-11610484987
 
 
[8]Clark, Lesley “DOE furnace rule may thwart Biden on climate” E&E news, 15 Jan. 2021
 
 
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