Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows to push for Paris climate goals | Senate confirms Brouillette to succeed Perry at Energy | EPA under attack from all sides over ethanol rule

PELOSI AT CLIMATE SUMMIT: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised world leaders Monday that Democrats in Congress have an “iron-clad” commitment to addressing climate change despite the Trump’s administration rollback of multiple environmental efforts.

Speaking at a United Nations conference in Madrid, Pelosi promised that the U.S. would continue to push for the goals set by the Paris climate agreement despite President Trump removing the country from the international pact.

“Congress’s commitment to take action on the climate crisis is iron-clad,” she said. “By coming here we want to say to everyone, ‘We’re still in. The United States is still in.'”

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Flanked by 14 Democratic senators and representatives, Pelosi’s attendance at this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is meant to position congressional Democrats as counter figures to the White House, whose talking points have frequently derided the Paris climate accord.

“It’s our moral responsibility, if you believe as do I that this planet is God’s creation and we must be stewards of it. But if you don’t share that belief, we all agree we have a moral responsibility to our children to pass on this planet to our children in a very responsible way,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi journeyed to the event as part of a bicameral delegation with members of Congress who have been key figures in the party’s climate action push, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)  and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.). The House in May passed a bill introduced by Castor that would force the U.S. to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and recommence steps to meet its emissions goals. The Senate has not taken up the bill for a vote.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries are attending the event in Madrid this week to hammer out details from the 2015 Paris climate accord. Trump is not scheduled to attend and sent no senior members in his wake. Trump is attending NATO meetings in London.

Earlier this month, Trump took official measures to formally withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. The withdrawal would make the U.S. the only country to not be part of the accord.

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Pelosi’s comments come as the European Union prepares to take stronger action on climate change: The European Union’s new leaders pledged to prioritize action against climate change upon taking office Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

“Today we can present a unified face to the rest of the world. With more weight and greater coherence in a rules-based world,” former Belgian premier Charles Michel, who succeeded European Council President Donald Tusk, said Sunday. “Today we do more than look back, we celebrate a new beginning, with great enthusiasm and hope.”

“The European Union wants to be the first climate neutral continent in 2050. Europe is leading in this topic and we know that we have to be ambitious for our planet,” Ursula von der Leyen, the EU’s new president, told reporters.

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And we’re back! Happy Monday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. 

Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, [email protected] and Rebecca Beitsch, [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @rebeccabeitsch and @thehill.

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SENATE CONFIRMS BROUILLETTE TO REPLACE PERRY: The Senate confirmed Dan Brouillette on Monday to lead the Department of Energy (DOE) in a 70-15 vote as Rick Perry exits the agency amid questions over his dealings in Ukraine.

Brouillette, the deputy secretary at DOE, was nominated to the top post after Perry announced in October he would be stepping down.

Brouillette first served at the agency during the George W. Bush administration, working as an assistant secretary between 2001 and 2003. He has also worked as a chief of staff to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Prior to joining the Trump administration, Brouillette served as senior vice president and head of public policy for USAA, a financial services firm. He also worked as a vice president at Ford Motor Co.

“Dan’s experience in the sector is unparalleled. A total professional, I have no doubt that Dan will do a great job!” President Trump wrote in a tweet announcing Brouillette’s nomination in October.

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Perry departed DOE on Sunday after questions were raised about his role in the Ukraine controversy engulfing the White House.

Read more here.

 

THIS YEAR WE’RE GONNA PARTY LIKE IT’S EPA’S 49: The EPA turned 49 today, marking nearly 50 years since it was formed under the Nixon administration.

“Since the agency’s inception under the leadership of the late Administrator William Ruckelshaus, EPA staff have worked tirelessly to clean up our air, water, and land for the American people,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “Together, we have achieved significant milestones in support of our mission to protect human health and the environment. I look forward to celebrating EPA’s accomplishments over the coming year and continuing to build on our progress for future generations.”

 

But what do you get the agency that has everything? For the birthday divas who didn’t make time to celebrate today, fear not, for today kicks off what will be a year of celebrations leading up to the agency’s 50th birthday.

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INNOVATION: House Republicans are hosting an event to showcase technologies they say will “strengthen our energy security, power the economic engines of the future, and address climate change.”

The effort comes from Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and members will review businesses, efforts or institutions that have taken strides to reduce emissions, improve energy delivery and tackle global warming.

Republicans have often turned to “innovation” as a solution to global warming, but the word is popular with Democrats too who say solutions from national laboratories, the military and private industry could play a crucial role alongside other measures.

The summit will take place Monday, Dec. 9. 

 

LIKE THE CAPULETS AND THE MONTAGUES: Journalists like to say that if everybody is mad at you, you’re doing a good job.

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If the same holds true for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they must be crushing it.

As the deadline for comments on ethanol policy passed just after Thanksgiving, both sides — ethanol producers and the oil and gas industry — have weighed in to let the agency know how unhappy they are with the proposal.

The comments serve as the latest reminder that President Trump is in a tough spot when it comes to pleasing two sides of what he sees as his base–the fossil fuel industry that fits into his energy dominance strategy versus farmers that may be waffling on casting a 2020 vote for him after being hit hard by the trade war. 

If there’s a possible compromise, it’s not clear what it might be.

Ethanol producers want the oil industry as a whole to blend in any gallons of ethanol small refineries are exempted from using.

“Under this policy refiners that meet their blending requirements would be unfairly forced to bear the burden of those who don’t,” the American Petroleum Institute’s Frank Macchiarola told reporters in a call Monday.

Ethanol producers want all the gallons to be blended in, regardless of who does it, arguing the EPA has skirted the law and reduced ethanol demand by giving out waivers that allow small refiners to skip blending in fuels without finding another plant to add it in.

But they’re unhappy with the EPA’s latest proposal because it relies on using government estimates to determine how much ethanol remaining refineries must blend in, rather than relying on the actual figure.

That distinction doesn’t matter much to the oil industry, who argue compliant refineries shouldn’t have to pick up the slack of others’ regardless of what formula is used.

The comments come as EPA is on a tight deadline to set ethanol policy for 2020.

Whatever rule comes out, the oil industry says it’s likely to head to court. The ethanol industry said it would likewise consider legal action.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

It’s a light day as Congress eases back into the work week. In the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee will meet with Robert J. Feitel, who has been nominated to be inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-Oh, Great! There Are High Levels of “Forever Chemicals” in the State’s Fertilizer, Boston Magazine reports.

-Southern States Split in Response to EPA’s Coal Ash Rule Rollbacks, Stateline reports.

-Colorado rethinks dam safety as climate change heightens risk for state’s 27 “unsatisfactory” structures, The Denver Post reports. 

-Pennsylvania boosts aid for clean water near military bases, the Associated Press reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from today and over the break…

European parliament declares ‘climate and environmental emergency

Boris Johnson skips climate debate, gets replaced with ice sculpture

Astronomers discover black hole three times larger than researchers thought possible

Evacuation lifted after fire at Texas chemical plant

Pelosi heads to Madrid for UN climate change convention

Leonardo DiCaprio denies Brazil president’s claim he funded Amazon fire

John Kerry launches ‘World War Zero‘ climate activism coalition

UN leader rips world’s efforts to fight climate change as ‘utterly inadequate

Kerry: Fight against climate change should be treated like a ‘war’

New EU leadership vows to fight climate change

Scottish organization warns of plastic waste after finding 220 pounds of debris in dead whale

Pelosi: Congress has ‘iron-clad’ commitment to climate crisis

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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