Benjamin Hulac

Dropped from NDAA, 'forever chemicals' fight to linger into 2020
Getting the EPA to regulate the chemicals could emerge as an issue in next year's elections

House and Senate negotiators dropped from the final defense policy bill language to force the federal government to regulate so-called forever chemicals, pushing into 2020 a partisan debate over how to regulate the toxic legacy of products such as Teflon and fire-resistant clothing.

In a bipartisan summary released Monday night, lawmakers included a provision that would ban the Pentagon from using firefighting foam made with the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS,  after Oct. 1, 2024, except aboard military ships, and would immediately prohibit its use in training exercises at military bases. 

Pelosi: Climate panel is not just ‘an academic endeavor’
Select committee headed by Castor said to be readying recommendations for ‘major’ legislation in 2020

Democrats will unveil major climate legislation in the spring after the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis releases a set of recommendations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday.

Pelosi said House Democrats would follow the conclusions of the committee, which was established at the start of this Congress and has held more than a dozen hearings on climate change and its underpinning science, to draft what she said would be bipartisan legislation.

Senate confirms Brouillette to succeed Perry as Energy secretary
Republican donor and former business executive will take over one of the most technically complicated departments in the federal bureaucracy

The Senate voted 70-15 Monday evening to confirm Dan Brouillette to succeed Rick Perry as Energy secretary. 

President Donald Trump nominated Brouillette, a long-time Republican donor and former business executive for Ford Motor Co. and USAA who worked at DOE during the George W. Bush administration, after Perry said in October he would step down.

California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats
Members want to know if political influence played a role in retaliation against their state

A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has retaliated against their state for political reasons, including by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple transportation projects.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler threatened in a Sept. 24 letter to the California Air Resources Board, the state’s air agency, to withhold federal funding for highway projects if local regulators did not implement plans, known as “state implementation plans,” or SIPs, to improve air quality.

Trump's Energy nominee bats away questions about Perry and Ukraine
Brouillette also tells confirmation hearing about mining potential of the Arctic

President Donald Trump’s nominee to become secretary of Energy distanced himself Thursday from the House impeachment inquiry of the president, telling senators he does not have direct knowledge of efforts to overhaul the board of a Ukrainian government-owned energy firm.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Dan Brouillette, the No. 2 at DOE, said he was aware Secretary Rick Perry met with people interested in changing the corporate structure of Naftogaz, the Ukrainian company.

EPA’s use of science to come under committee’s microscope
Critics say Trump administration proposal will undermine government research

A House committee may take aim Wednesday at the EPA’s plan to censor the science it uses in its policies by forcing the disclosure of private medical and health records, a step science advocacy groups say would undermine government research.

Members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are expected to broach the proposal at the hearing and will likely question Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, a medical doctor and EPA science adviser, over the proposed rule and how the agency uses science broadly.

Report: Extreme heat a grave threat for military bases
At least 17 people have died of heat exposure while training at bases since 2008

Days when the temperature breaks 100 degrees Fahrenheit at U.S. military bases will happen by 2050 nearly five times as often as they do now without action to address climate change, the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a report released Monday.

All told, it will amount to roughly another month of dangerous heat every year, according to the nonprofit group. Unsurprisingly, troops at bases in the Southwest and the South will suffer more than peers elsewhere, including the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz. and the MacDill and Homestead bases in Florida, which are forecast to be the three facilities that see the greatest increases.

Pollution in paradise reaches high court with high stakes
Decision on Hawaii wastewater could have wide impact on Clean Water Act enforcement

A lawsuit with sweeping nationwide implications for the regulation of water pollution makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The case, County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, hinges on the origin of water pollution and the scope of the Clean Water Act.

Trump announces Brouillette as Energy nominee to replace Perry
Brouillette worked at DOE during the George W. Bush administration and has followed Perry’s lead on policy

President Donald Trump said Friday he is nominating Dan Brouillette to be the top official at the Energy Department, replacing Secretary Rick Perry, and the department said it would not comply with a congressional subpoena for records about Perry’s contacts with officials in Ukraine.  

Trump made the announcement about Brouillette on Twitter a day after Perry told the president he would resign from the post this year.  

Schumer says Democrats will force votes on climate policy

Senate Democrats aim to force a floor vote on a Trump administration proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which replaced a significantly more stringent Obama-era regulation, according to Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

The caucus will trigger a vote on the plan as part of a series of roll call votes that Democrats in the chamber plan to highlight bills and issues that they say Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are ignoring, Schumer said Thursday.

Impeachment committees subpoena Perry for records
Democrats want Energy secretary to turn over files about interactions with Ukrainian officials

The chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees subpoenaed Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday, demanding records about his interactions with Ukrainian officials, including the president, a central figure in their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

In a letter, Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel requested Perry turn over files about his knowledge of a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy and his activities in and business connections to Ukraine, including with a state-run natural gas company, Naftogaz.

Perry: No plans to resign, urged Ukraine call on energy issues
Several news organizations reported last week that Perry planned to resign by the end of November

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he “absolutely” encouraged President Donald Trump to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in July to discuss energy issues, but not to pressure authorities there to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and said he was not resigning.

Speaking in Vilnius, Lithuania, at an energy conference that included officials from Ukraine, Perry said he told Trump to call Zelenskiy.

If Perry leaves Energy, his deputy seems likely to sustain his policies
Rumors of Perry's impending departure put Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette in spotlight

The No. 2 man at the Energy Department is primed to carry on the agency’s “energy dominance” agenda should his boss, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, step down.

Perry is preparing to step down before the end of November, Politico and other media outlets reported Thursday, a decision that would end the service of one of President Donald Trump’s longest-lasting Cabinet secretaries. Perry’s departure would likely place Dan Brouillette, the deputy secretary, in charge of the Energy Department.

Impeachment panels demand Rick Perry travel, meeting records
Letter makes plain House Democrats view Perry as a key figure in their impeachment inquiry

Chairmen of three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Friday demanded Vice President Mike Pence turn over documents related to the president’s campaign to pressure Ukraine for political objectives, including records from Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the department he runs.

The Department of Energy did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

US ambassador with coal ties arrives as UN begins climate talks
Craft could mold process by which the U.S. gets out of the Paris climate agreement

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York for a climate change summit Monday, America’s new ambassador to the global body was focused on other business.

“Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry: stop,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his opening remarks. Germany announced climate mitigation pledges. Pope Francis delivered a call to action in a video message. French President Emmanuel Macron praised young people for demanding political action to rein in emissions.

As House passes Arctic drilling ban, Interior goes the other way
Trump administration moves to open part of sensitive area to drilling, a win for Alaska Republicans

The Interior Department and the House are moving in different directions on Arctic drilling.

Hours after the House voted 225-193 to block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the agency said it was moving to open a portion of the area to drilling.

EPA offers rollback of methane rules to mixed industry reaction
The EPA wants to reverse Obama administration rules requiring oil and gas companies to capture methane releases at their wells

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday moved to roll back federal methane regulations for oil and gas companies, a decision that drew lukewarm industry reaction and could trigger lawsuits.

The agency is proposing to reverse regulations adopted by the Obama administration that require oil and natural gas companies to install equipment to capture methane gas releases at their wells, pipelines and other sites. Under the proposal, the agency would no longer specifically regulate the potent greenhouse gas that is up to 80 times more powerful, in the short term, than carbon dioxide.

Nuclear power would get support in bipartisan Senate bill
With support from industry, legislation touted as a way to extend the lifespan and efficiency of America’s nuclear plants

A bipartisan pair of senators unveiled nuclear energy legislation Wednesday, describing it as a serious and pragmatic approach to tackle climate change and connecting it to rising greenhouse gas emissions specifically.

Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Martha McSally of Arizona floated the bill, which has support from the nuclear power lobby, as a way to extend the lifespan and efficiency of America’s fleet of nuclear power plants.

Climate panel’s Casten holds stake in wood-burning energy firm
Renewable biomass energy company cited for water violations

Rep. Sean Casten, a member of a House committee created to address climate change, has a financial stake in a California energy company that burns wood to generate electricity and operates a power plant that repeatedly violated federal water laws.

The first-term Illinois Democrat disclosed a $250,001 to $500,000 stake in Greenleaf Power LLC, a privately held Sacramento, Calif.-headquartered, biomass company, in June, according to his most recent financial disclosure.

Bipartisan bills push carbon tax, as GOP pollster offers Democrats help on climate
Frank Luntz pledged to help Democrats with their climate messaging

Climate change policy may be in for a softer, less polarized atmosphere with Republicans and Democrats teaming up on a flotilla of legislation to tax carbon emissions and decarbonize American industries, and a longtime Republican spin guru pledging to help Democrats with their climate messaging.

For instance, in the Senate, Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Cory Booker of New Jersey joined with Republicans Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Mike Braun of Indiana on Thursday to introduce a bill targeting emissions from the industrial sector.