Energy & Environment

View from the gallery: Senators sit, spin and fidget during Trump trial
They found more ways to pass time during second day of opening presentations

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch in the Capitol before the start of Thursday’ impeachment trial session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bill Cassidy charted a course along the back corner of the Senate chamber Thursday during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The Louisiana Republican walked through an area usually reserved for staff seating, hands in pockets, retracing a short path over and over again for more than 15 minutes.

When Georgia Republican David Perdue took to standing along his path, Cassidy squeezed by and just kept pacing.

EPA finalizes clean water rollback amid science challenges
New rule removes federal authority over smaller bodies of water that feed larger water supplies. Opponents said states should handle such local regulation

President Donald Trump shows a hat that says “Make Counties Great Again” before signing an executive order in February 2017 to  roll-back of environmental regulations put in place by the Obama administration. (Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images file photo)

The Trump administration on Thursday finalized a rule that significantly reduces the federal government’s role in regulating waterways, fulfilling a campaign promise to farmers and energy interests and handing a win to conservatives who have pushed for changes to the Clean Water Act regulations.

The rule, which redefines what constitutes “waters of the United States,” revises decades-old standards for regulating waterways, a move environmentalists warn will lead to pollution of water that wildlife and people depend on, especially in low-income areas and communities of color. Several current and former EPA and Army Corps of Engineers employees and scientific advisers oppose the move, charging that political appointees blocked the use of scientific information in writing the rule.

House managers stick to script on first day of Trump trial arguments
Democrats lean heavily on witness testimony over eight hours on the Senate floor

California Rep. Adam B. Schiff speaks during a news conference Wednesday with the other House impeachment managers before the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump resumes at the Capitol. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment managers on Wednesday dutifully stayed on message throughout the second full day of the Senate impeachment trial, arguing that the findings of the House’s impeachment inquiry provide ample evidence to warrant the removal of President Donald Trump from office.

The team of seven managers took turns presenting their case, starting with House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, who led the impeachment inquiry.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 22
Coons lauds Schiff for 30 minutes of ‘mastery’; White House defense could begin Saturday

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, followed by Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin, leaves a news conference Tuesday. The Senate rejected all of the amendments Schumer introduced to try to change the rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 10:10 p.m.  

Delaware Democrat Chris Coons said House impeachment manager Adam B. Schiff’s closing 30 minutes was “compelling” and that he showed a “mastery” of the material. Coons also said that there were snacks and coffee in the cloakroom. Coons said there has not been much outreach to him from Republicans.

Abortion policy activism heats up for Roe v. Wade anniversary
Groups gear up for ‘pivotal year’ with emphasis on states

Both sides of the abortion rights debate are doubling down on grassroots efforts to energize voters who share their beliefs about abortion. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Groups pushing for the advancement of abortion rights and those looking to limit the procedure have an ambitious agenda starting this week, foreshadowing a year that could be critical for advocates on both sides of the debate.

In two months, the Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case since 2016, and both sides are revving up for a major presidential election. States are also eyeing a number of new reproductive health bills as their legislatures come back into session.

Potential ballot confusion complicates California special election for Katie Hill’s seat
Voting starts Feb. 3, but there are two elections for the 25th District on the ballot

California Rep. Katie Hill resigned from Congress amid allegations of improper relationships with staffers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An unusual message will soon hit mailboxes and social media feeds in former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill’s Southern California district: “For once in your life, vote twice!”

The tagline will be featured in mailers and a digital media campaign from Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a Democrat running in the special election to replace Hill in the 25th District. The message underscores concerns that voters may be confused by multiple elections for the same office on the same day, March 3.

K Street firms post big earnings gains for 2019
Trade, health care and immigration issues paced lobbying spending last year

Lobbying firms are working with clients about their agendas for 2021, which will be hugely dependent upon who wins the White House this November. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street’s top-tier firms posted sizable gains last year, fueled by technology, pharmaceutical and big-business interests concerned with such policy matters as trade, health care, taxation and government spending.

And lobbyists say impeachment proceedings and the 2020 campaigns haven’t yet derailed the influence industry’s agenda this year.

Court tells teen plaintiffs it can’t force climate policy changes
Majority agreed the teens showed the federal government ‘has long promoted fossil fuel use despite knowing that it can cause catastrophic climate change’

Climate change youth activists demonstrate at the Supreme Court in September.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court said Friday that young climate activists established that government policies worsened climate change but dismissed the activists’ case seeking to force policy changes, ruling it was beyond the court’s power.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel accepted the argument that climate change had accelerated in recent years and that government policies encouraged fossil fuel use even as authorities knew it could have disastrous consequences. But the Constitution doesn’t empower courts to force such sweeping changes to policies at several federal agencies, the majority ruled.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 16
Collins said she may be leaning toward calling at least some witnesses for trial

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., lead the group of House impeachment managers to the Senate side of the Capitol on Thursday to read the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats led by Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer reiterated they want to hear the testimony of four witnesses during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

“We expect we will have votes on these witnesses on Tuesday,” Schumer said Thursday.

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.

Senators make their last pitch to Iowa before impeachment trial
Impeachment trial will mean weeks in Washington ahead of caucuses

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, during the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday with former Vice President Joe Biden in Iowa, a state they may not have much time to visit ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses once President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

For the senators running for president, Tuesday’s debate carried extra importance.

It wasn’t just the last debate ahead of the state’s caucuses — just three weeks away — it was also potentially their last big hoorah in the Hawkeye State before they’re stuck in Washington for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump that’s set to begin next week.

USMCA bill tough vote for Democrats over lack of environmental protections
Even those who oppose the pact agree it’s a significant improvement over predecessor

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., attends a press conference to discuss climate change on Sept. 17, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal.

The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough to protect the environment and address the urgency of climate change. He lamented what he called problematic provisions, including “special protections” for fossil fuel companies. But, he approved of its labor protections and voted in favor of advancing the deal. 

‘Documents don’t lie’ — the other fight over evidence at Trump impeachment trial
With trial to begin next week, it's unclear Democrats have the votes to issue subpoenas

A lone protester holds a sign outside the Capitol on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The high-profile fight over potentially dramatic witness testimony at an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has overshadowed the Senate’s possible demand for a different type of revealing cache of new evidence — withheld documents.

Senate Democrats have pushed to include in the trial documents that the Trump administration refused to turn over during the House investigation. But they need at least four Republicans to vote with all Democrats and independents for the Senate to subpoena witnesses or documents, and it's not clear they have those votes.

Russia, China plan to adjust their tactics to hack, influence 2020 elections
Iran, North Korea, non-state “hacktivists” also pose threats

A woman with her daughter casts her vote at Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Russia, China and other adversaries who see U.S. elections as a key target for cyberattacks and influence operations are evaluating defensive measures used against their previous attempts to adjust future tactics, a top intelligence official said Tuesday.

“I don’t underestimate any of the adversaries that are looking at the U.S. elections,” Shelby Pierson, election threats executive in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told CQ Roll Call in a brief interview after an election security event in Washington. “It’s undoubtedly part of their plan to learn what works and what doesn’t.”

Crypto enthusiasts say new products lend bitcoin credibility
Futures considered crucial to gain buy-in from financial industry

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. Those bitcoin futures trade through regulated exchanges and clearinghouses. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images photo illustration)

The cryptocurrency industry is hailing the emergence of complex bitcoin investment products as a needed step to attract new investors while lending credibility to the digital asset and building a pathway to regulatory clarity.

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. And while the launch of these investment products hasn’t convinced everyone that they will lead to buy-in from a skeptical financial industry, those leading the charge say it’s a crucial step.