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TRUMP FACES CLIMATE COURT CHALLENGE FROM KIDS: Oral arguments begin Monday between children and the Trump administration over whether the government’s inaction in fighting climate change violates their constitutional rights. The case, Juliana v. United States, will be heard by a panel of federal judges in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
What it argues: The initial complaint from Our Children’s Trust argues that the government’s inaction in exacerbating climate change violates the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, as well as the erosion of public trust.
The appeals court is taking up specifically whether the government can avoid dealing with the constitutional arguments in the case, as the Justice Department and fossil fuel industry argued in requesting the lawsuit be dismissed in the federal district court in Oregon. The motion to dismiss the case was denied by the district court. The Oregon case will go to trial in February.
WORLD BANK PLANS TO BUCK TRUMP ON PARIS: The climate change debate gets more intense next week in France, with the World Bank holding a forum Dec. 12 at the One Planet Summit, where the head of the international lender will vow to help developing countries implement the Paris Climate Agreement that Trump announced he would exit in June, according to a notice. The World Bank is based in Washington and has representatives from the Trump administration who attend its events and comment on its decisions. The World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, was appointed by former President Barack Obama.
GROUPS LOOK TO FORCE KEYSTONE XL BACK INTO STATE DEPARTMENT REVIEW: Environmentalists delivered formal letters to the White House officials Monday demanding that the State Department initiate a new environmental review for the Keystone XL pipeline.
“The new route for this disastrous pipeline puts more species at risk and would be just as bad if not worse for people, wildlife and our climate,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in delivering the letters.
The filings follow a key hurdle for the pipeline last month when the Nebraska energy commission approved a permit for the pipeline to cross the state but via a different route than first proposed. The environmental group says that route does not pass environmental muster and must go through a separate federal environmental review before it can be allowed to move ahead.
Block the pipeline: Of course, the environmental groups suggest that doing a new review will indefinitely block the pipeline and lead to yet another reroute.
Suing at the same time: At the same time, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Bold Alliance, Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council are suing the Trump administration in federal district court in Montana over its approval of the pipeline. The court is allowing the suit to proceed despite a motion to dismiss by the federal government. The pipeline is a top priority for the Trump energy agenda.
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MURKOWSKI WANTS FEDERAL ENERGY STATS TO BE UNAFFECTED BY POLITICS: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wants to make sure the federal government’s lead energy analyst remains as independent as possible amid an increasingly contentious political environment in Washington.
The Energy Information Administration “is held out to be this unbiased arbiter of data,” said the Alaska Republican at a Tuesday morning confirmation hearing for Linda Capuano to be administrator of the agency, which falls within the Department of Energy. Congress relies on the agency remaining accurate and “a really unbiased view,” Murkowski said. “It’s fair to say that when you have political and policy questions that come together, there can be great discussions about whether or not there is some bias that is brought to it.
Complicated job: “But when we are looking at future baseline predictions of future energy markets and how different regulatory environments, or different legal scenarios, will change that baseline, this job … becomes more than a little more than just a little bit complicated.”
She said Capuano’s role must be to “keep us from the politicization, or the bias that one can see” and sought assurances from the Trump nominee to that effect.
Data vs. opinion: Capuano responded by saying she will bring her years of experience in “sorting out data versus opinion” if appointed to the role of administrator.
The EIA forms the basis of much of the energy policy discussion within the White House, the agencies, and Congress. It is also a resource for the energy industry and state governments.
TRIBES, ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE TRUMP FOR SHRINKING MONUMENTS: Native American tribes and environmental groups filed separate lawsuits late Monday against the Trump administration for President Trump’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments.
‘Attack on all’: The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, represented by the Native American Rights Fund, sued the Trump administration, saying the president does not have the authority to reduce the size of monuments to the extent Trump did.
The coalition had urged former President Barack Obama to designate Bears Ears, which they consider sacred, as a monument. The coalition consists of Navajo, Hopi, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni.
‘Folly’ act: Separately, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups sued in federal court in Washington, asking a judge to block Trump from shrinking the Utah monuments.
“When we see this kind of folly, we will meet it swiftly with a legal complaint,” Sharon Buccino, director of land and wildlife programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.
Grand Staircase-Escalante would be split into three areas: Grand Staircase National Monument, Kaiparowits National Monument, and Escalante Canyons National Monument.
Court test: Supporters of the monuments note the Antiquities Act does not explicitly give authority to presidents to reduce the size of national monuments, although some have done so on a limited scale. The concept has not been tested in court. That will change now.
BISHOP TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO SUPPORT MONUMENT MOVE: Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is introducing two pieces of legislation intended to provide legislative backing for Trump’s moves to shrink the Utah monuments.
Tribal input at Bears Ears: The first bill, introduced Monday night, provides clarity about what the rules should be at the Shash Jaa and Indian Creek monuments, which Trump has proposed as replacements for Bears Ears.
Bishop’s proposal would permit tribes to co-manage the monuments and create the “first-ever protection enforcement team” for antiquities inside the newly designated monuments.
Keep mining restrictions: It also would maintain the Obama administration’s moratorium against mineral withdrawals in the entire 1.35 acres that Obama had previously created as Bears Ears. Obama’s monument designation forbid new mining and drilling, but allowed cattle grazing and hunting.
“Despite what some argue, the Bears Ears debate has never really been a proxy over energy vs protection,” Bishop’s office said in a summary of the bill provided to the Washington Examiner. “There really aren’t economically recoverable oil and gas resources in the area. Keeping the moratorium in place will put this false narrative to rest once and for all.”
Local input for Grand Staircase: The second bill, introduced Tuesday morning, provides a management structure for the new Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments. It establishes a management council made up of tribal members, local stakeholders, and government experts to implement a comprehensive management plan, while ensuring “protection of bona fide antiquities” and “safeguarding traditional uses, recreation and public access.”
Bishop’s active role: Bishop’s committee this year passed a bill restraining the Antiquities Act. He joined Trump in Utah Monday and has been a leading opponent of Obama’s monument designations. Bishop last year introduced legislation to protect Bears Ears, but his bill would have covered less land than what Obama established and allowed energy development in certain areas.
His measure was opposed by environmental groups and the tribal coalition, who said it did not significantly protect natural resources.
CONGRESS FIGHTS OVER WHETHER TO ALLOW INTERIOR TO KILL WILD HORSES: To manage overpopulation, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management wants Congress to lift restrictions to give the agency more flexibility to euthanize horses — not just when they’re old and sick — and sell more of them for private use, without dictating what the buyer can or cannot do with the animals.
More than 72,000 horses occupying BLM-managed lands as of March, almost 300 percent more than the 26,715 the agency says it can control in an environmentally sustainable manner.
‘Hindered by Congress’: “What’s happened over time is our tool box has shrunk, our ability to manage the wild horse population the way the law intended is hindered by Congress, and what we end up with is a population that every four years doubles in size,” said John Ruhs, BLM’s acting deputy director of operations, the top civilian position at the agency, in an interview with the Washington Examiner.
Trump seeks changes: Ruhs would be tasked with implementing a Trump administration proposal to allow euthanasia of healthy wild horses on federal lands and the unrestricted sale of those animals.
The plan is part of Trump’s 2018 budget request, but Congress is split about whether to fulfill the proposal.
Senate moves to block Trump plan: The Senate introduced a fiscal 2018 Interior-Environmental Protection Agency spending bill last month that includes language prohibiting BLM from selling without restriction tens of thousands of excess horses on federal rangelands and banning the agency from euthanizing animals that have been unsuccessfully offered for adoption more than three times.
That language is consistent with provisions Congress has tucked into appropriations bills in recent years, to the satisfaction of animal rights activists who consider the sale of wild House allows euthanasia: The House’s fiscal 2018 Interior appropriations legislation, by contrast, contains a section that would lift restrictions on BLM to sell or, in specific circumstances, euthanize excess wild horses.
Unknown fate: The two chambers must reconcile their bills.
SOLAR INDUSTRY URGES TRUMP TO ADOPT ‘AMERICA FIRST’ ALTERNATIVE TO TARIFF PROPOSAL: The solar industry is increasing pressure on Trump to reject a petition by two U.S. companies to impose tariffs on imports of cheap solar panels.
The Solar Energy Industries Association hosted an event Tuesday morning where it introduced a proposal for the Trump administration that is an alternative to tariffs that the White House could impose soon.
Tariffs could harm growth: The "America First Plan for Solar Energy" argues tariffs would harm Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda by disrupting progress of a booming industry, risking tens of thousands of jobs and raise electricity prices for consumers and businesses.
“Tariffs would jeopardize our economy, our national security and our workers,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Our plan is meant to help the president address the issues in this case, put America First, and say yes to strong economic and manufacturing growth. Rather than throw a highly successful U.S. industry in reverse for no good reason, this plan will create more jobs and investment in America.”
By the numbers: The association says U.S. solar power capacity doubled last year. The industry has added more than 100,000 the last five years and is growing at a rate 17 times faster than the rest of the economy.
The alternative plan: The group’s proposal calls for Trump to issue a “import license fee” rather than a tariff, if he insists on a trade measure. Such a fee would collect money from overseas manufacturers to be redistributed to U.S. manufacturers. With a 0.5 percent fee, the plan would result in $192 million going directly to U.S manufacturers, and with a 1 pecrcent fee it would raise $384 million.
Hearing, decision coming soon: The proposal comes ahead of a public hearing on Wednesday hosted by the U.S. Trade Representative. Trump is facing a decision on tariffs soon.
Up to speed: The International Trade Commission in September decided that the solar industry is being hurt by cheap solar panel imports, recommending Trump take action.
While the broader U.S. solar energy opposes tariffs, two U.S. companies, Suniva and SolarWorld, asked the Trump administration to act.
Trump has until Jan. 26 to make a decision. He can accept or reject the ITC’s recommendations or come up with a different policy.
CAPE WIND PROJECT PULLED: The company behind the planned offshore wind farm in Massachusetts has officially given up on the nearly two-decade fight to bring it to life, saying it is better off developing other forms of energy elsewhere.
"During Cape Wind's development period we successfully developed over a billion dollars of renewable solar and biomass energy projects and, although we were unable to bring Cape Wind to fruition, we are proud of the catalyzing and pioneering effort we devoted to bringing offshore wind to the United States," said Jim Gordon, Cape Wind and Energy Management CEO, in a statement late last week after informing the Interior Department that it no longer will be using the permit it received to build the offshore energy project.
GREENS SUE OVER EPA’S FAILURE TO MEET OZONE DEADLINE: Environmentalists sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday for missing a deadline for implementing strict standards for controlling smog-forming ozone set in motion by the Obama administration.
“We cannot stand by as an executive official flagrantly flouts the law. It’s dangerous and corrosive,” said lawyer Seth Johnson with Earthjustice.
Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association sued the EPA to designate the regions of the nation that are not in compliance with the ozone rules. EPA missed the October deadline.
In November, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he was still consulting with states and local regions on how to meet the standards and needed more time before making any decisions on non-compliance areas.
PERRY AND SAUDIS FORM CLEAN COAL ALLIANCE: Energy Secretary Rick Perry struck an agreement with Saudi Arabia on Monday to work on clean fossil fuel projects that had the support of the Obama administration.
Perry signed the memorandum of understanding with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al Falih while visiting the oil-rich kingdom on Monday. The agreement would advance a number of technologies, including a way of burning coal more cleanly called oxy-combustion that was a favorite technology of Obama administration Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
New York Times Hunt elephants to save them? Some countries see no other choice
Bloomberg Trump disbands group meant to prepare cities for climate shocks
Reuters Exxon climate-change probe goes to Massachusetts top court
Forbes Why an oil company plans to build California's biggest solar project
Associated Press Obama expected to address mayors' summit on climate change Tuesday
Bloomberg For Nebraska landowners, the fight against Keystone XL hasn’t come cheap
Reuters U.S. judge orders oil-spill response plan for Dakota Access Pipeline
TUESDAY, DEC. 5
All day, Las Vegas. Powergen International holds its annual convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
9:30 a.m., 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program holds a discussion on "The Challenge of Too Much Water: Ensuring Sustainable Water, Resilient Communities."
10 a.m., 366 Dirksen. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds confirmation hearing to consider the following nominations: Timothy R. Petty to be an assistant secretary of the Interior (Water and Science); and Linda Capuano to be administrator of the Energy Information Administration.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6
10 a.m., 1324 Longworth. The House Natural Resources Committee Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee hearing on H.R.4465, the "Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act of 2017."
10 a.m., 406 Dirksen. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of R.D. James to be assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
THURSDAY, DEC. 7
9 a.m., 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The Washington International Trade Association holds a discussion on "Energy and the NAFTA."
10 a.m., 2125 Rayburn. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before House Energy and Commerce Committee Environment Subcommittee.
10 a.m., 1324 Longworth. The House Natural Resources Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee holds a hearing on "Transforming the Department of the Interior for the 21st Century."
2 p.m., 1324 Longworth. The House Natural Resources Committee’s Federal Lands Subcommittee holds a hearing on the "Tulare Youth Recreation and Women's History Enhancement Act"; a bill to amend the Wilderness Act to ensure that the use of bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers and game carts is not prohibited in Wilderness Areas; the "Modoc County Land Transfer and Economic Development Act of 2017"; and the "Kissimmee River Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2017."
2 p.m., 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) holds a discussion on "OPEC's World Oil Outlook 2017," focusing on the impacts of worldwide shifts in demographics, emissions reductions, and technological development.