Overnight Energy: Dems outline legislation to make US carbon neutral by 2050 | 2019 was second warmest year on record | Top Republican says 'forever chemical' bill won't move in Senate

DEMS DETAIL CLEAN FUTURE ACT: House Democrats outlined their vision for sweeping climate legislation Wednesday, offering a first look at a bill that would push the U.S. to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Wednesday’s white paper provides the framework that lawmakers in July promised to deliver by early 2020 – a broad climate bill targeting every major sector of the economy.

“We’re treating this climate crisis like the emergency that it is,” House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said of the so-called CLEAN Future Act.

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The measure includes a requirement that utilities work toward 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, a mandate that includes a carbon credit trading system. The transportation sector would also have to be emissions free by that deadline, as the Environmental Protection Agency ratchets up increasingly tight vehicle standards. And buildings and industry would also have to clean up their act, using materials from more environmentally friendly sources while meeting tighter building codes.

States would play an active role in developing plans to ensure their economies meet the national standard.

And funding it all would be a first-of-its-kind National Climate Bank, mobilizing private and public funding to boost technological innovation as well as projects to bolster against the effects of climate change.

What about Republicans?: A more complete discussion draft is expected by the end of the month, but any legislation would face resistance in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham predicts Senate will take up impeachment trial next week Pressure building on Pelosi over articles of impeachment Brent Budowsky: Bloomberg should give billion to Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) has refused to bring a number of climate-focused bills to the floor, and from the White House.

Democrats say while they hope to get Republican support from the bill, they are not counting on it.

“Most of them are climate deniers. The president, the leadership won’t admit here’s a human element to the climate disaster that we face, so that’s a huge problem in trying to get them to participate,” Pallone said.

“I don’t want you to see this as a messaging bill. We’re going to try to move this bill or pieces of this bill when we can.”

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Republican leaders on the committee expressed an interest in working with Democrats on some portions of the bill, hoping that some aspects of the legislation will align with a package of a dozen pieces of legislation that tackle climate change through technological innovation, greater reliance on natural gas and nuclear, and developing better battery storage. 

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Energy: Dems outline legislation to make US carbon neutral by 2050 | 2019 was second warmest year on record | Top Republican says ‘forever chemical’ bill won’t move in Senate Democrats outline sweeping legislation to make U.S. carbon neutral by 2050 Top Republican: ‘Forever chemical’ bill has ‘no prospects’ in Senate MORE (R-Ore.) said he hoped some of those pieces of bipartisan legislation could be a starting point for tackling climate issues.

“My view is always if we can get that done, let’s get that done. And then we can argue about other stuff where we may come to terms, and there will be things where we’re just polar opposites, right? But we ought to grab the things that are already bipartisan, and move forward on those,” he said.

One big stumbling block: One of many likely sticking points would be the framework’s call for a carbon trading market. Under the system, suppliers could trade clean energy credits or buy or sell them at an auction. Utilities that do not meet clean energy requirements would be hit with a penalty.

Read more here. 

 

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IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE: Last year was the second warmest year ever recorded, and the last five years were the warmest five on record globally, according to an analysis released Wednesday.

According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), which is associated with the European Union, 2019 was the second warmest year across the globe, behind 2016.

The average temperature last year was almost 33.08 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 1981–2010 average, C3S found. The decade of 2010 to 2019 was also the warmest decade on record.

In 2019, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere rose by about 2.3 parts per million (plus or minus 0.8 parts per million).

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“2019 has been another exceptionally warm year, in fact the second warmest globally in our dataset, with many of the individual months breaking records,” C3S chief Carlo Buontempo said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

NO (CHEMICAL) STANDARDS: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Dems outline legislation to make US carbon neutral by 2050 | 2019 was second warmest year on record | Top Republican says ‘forever chemical’ bill won’t move in Senate Top Republican: ‘Forever chemical’ bill has ‘no prospects’ in Senate GOP senators introduce resolution to change rules, dismiss impeachment without articles MORE (R-Wyo.) told Bloomberg News a House bill addressing so-called “forever chemicals” has “no prospects in the Senate.”

The bill, HR-535, would both force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set nationwide drinking water standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, often abbreviated PFAS, and require the EPA to place such chemicals on its hazardous substance list. This could potentially mean designating any contaminated location as a Superfund site, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The chemicals, which derive their “forever” nickname from their resistance to breaking down in the environment, are frequently used in nonstick consumer goods and have been linked to health problems by the EPA. One study linked PFAS with kidney and thyroid cancer along with high cholesterol and other illnesses.

Barrasso said he specifically objected to the bill’s Superfund provisions, which he said go “way beyond” a bipartisan PFAS-related bill his Senate committee passed over the summer as an amendment to a defense spending bill.

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The bill ultimately became law in December, but by that point language requiring an enforceable PFAS drinking-water standard had been removed due to objections by House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

Barrasso was not the only Republican to express skepticism about whether the bill could pass the GOP-led Senate Wednesday. 

“We’re back now with a partisan bill that stands no chance,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) told reporters.

Rep. John ShimkusJohn Mondy ShimkusKoch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill House to vote on resolution opposing Russia’s inclusion in G-7 Shimkus announces he will stick with plan to retire after reconsidering MORE (R-Ill.) also expressed doubts.

“There’s some Republican amendments that have been accepted,” said Shimkus. “It’s not enough to turn the tide on the vast majority of Republicans.”

The bill passed the House Rules Committee on Tuesday and is expected to come before the full house as early as Thursday.

Read more here.  

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MORE GREENHOUSE GASES: Oil, natural gas and petrochemical companies could release about 30 percent more greenhouse gas pollution by 2025 than they did in 2018, according to a new report. 

Expected growth from these companies could release about 227 million tons of additional greenhouse gas pollution by the end of 2025, with a projected total of 990.5 million tons of emissions, according to a report from the Environmental Integrity Project. 

In 2018, the companies reported emitting 764 million tons, the study said. 

It pointed in particular to possible increases from 157 projects that had not been operating by the end of 2018. 

It said the projects had the potential to increase emissions by up to 193.8 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. 

The report called for changes such as stronger emissions monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and stronger permits by the states and the EPA that “include cost-effective measures to minimize greenhouse gas pollution.”

“This glut of oil and gas is fueling growth in industries that release significant amounts of greenhouse gases, such as liquefied natural gas export terminals, plastics manufacturing and other petrochemical production,” the report said. 

“The U.S. is already struggling to meet climate commitments and transition to a low-carbon future. The industries responsible for driving fossil fuel extraction and production need to be held more fully accountable for their actions and the consequences of those actions,” it concluded. 

Read more here. 

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

Democrats PFAS measure is slated to come to the House floor, and an expected rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) may also be unveiled tomorrow.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Deadly earthquake forces many Puerto Ricans to sleep outside, USA Today reports

One billion animals estimated to have been killed in Australian fires, we report

Russia Readies New Gas Link to Europe in Defiance of U.S., Bloomberg News reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday…

Democrats outline sweeping legislation to make U.S. carbon neutral by 2050

2019 was second warmest year on record globally: analysis

Study warns of rise in greenhouse gas pollution from oil and gas firms by 2025

Top Republican: ‘Forever chemical’ bill has ‘no prospects’ in Senate

One billion animals estimated to have been killed in Australian fires

Australian prime minister urges foreign tourists not to cancel trips over fires

Greta Thunberg questions newspapers that accept fossil fuel advertising

Impossible Foods calls off talks with McDonald’s: report

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