energy

Craft distillers, retailers wait anxiously for tax extenders
Stakeholders predict layoffs, hiring freezes if deal is not struck by end of year

Rep. Denver Riggleman says it would be “disastrous” for his wife’s Virginia distillery if a 2017 provision that cut excise taxes is not extended past its Dec. 31 expiration date. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman says a looming tax increase on small craft distillers will lead to layoffs at the distillery his family operates in Afton, Virginia, where they make a handful of spirits with colorful names like Strange Monkey Gin and Blackback Bourbon.

And Jeff Quint, a Swisher, Iowa, distillery owner who makes bourbon from corn grown on his family farm, says the demise of the small distillers’ break will force him to rethink new hires he’d been planning.

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

Castor's climate panel is to make recommendations for legislation in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.

Former EPA advisers say agency’s mercury proposal is flawed
Process for devising proposal to weaken Obama-era pollution rule was ‘fatally flawed,’ they say

The EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard targeted emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As the EPA gets closer to finalizing changes to an Obama-era air pollution rule, a group of former agency advisers says the Trump administration’s attempt to weaken the mercury emissions regulations is based on faulty and outdated data.

The Trump administration a year ago proposed a rule that would revoke the EPA’s legal justification for issuing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule that aimed to curb hazardous air emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Impeachment cloud to follow Trump across pond for ‘celebratory’ NATO meeting
‘The politics of this alliance are so difficult,’ former State Department official says ahead of talks

President Donald Trump will meet privately with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at this week’s NATO summit in London. Above, the three leaders at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, in August. (Ian Langsdon/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump’s attendance this week in London for a summit with world leaders comes with a cloud of scandal and controversy hanging over the American president.

White House aides say Trump will use the two-day NATO summit Tuesday and Wednesday to continue pressing member nations to pay more into the alliance’s coffers. He also will urge his counterparts to do more to counter what one U.S. official described as China’s attempts to infect NATO soil with “cheap money” and “cheap investment” that aims to “trap nations in debt, and thus bring diplomatic concessions.”

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

Brouillette before his confirmation hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Nov. 14. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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

California Democratic Reps. Doris Matsui, left, and Anna G. Eshoo, seen after a caucus meeting in the Capitol, both signed on to the letter to the EPA watchdog. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.

Conservationists: Interior ignores court order on sage grouse protection
Judge had ordered agency to use Obama-era rules that Trump tried to weaken to allow oil and gas drilling on sage grouse habitat

During the March to May mating season, sage grouse males display their bulging air sacs to attract mates. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images file photo)

The Interior Department is offering leases to drill for oil and gas in greater sage grouse habitat using a species conservation plan nullified by a federal court last month for being too weak, according to conservation advocates.

The agency is supposed to be adhering to an Oct. 16 order by a federal judge in Idaho who temporarily suspended the Bureau of Land Management’s latest sage grouse conservation plan, which removed protections for the species on millions of acres across the West. The ruling effectively put back into effect plans written under the Obama administration for protecting the bird from increased habitat destruction by wildfires and energy development. 

Democrats plant a flag with bill to eliminate carbon emissions
Proposal has 150 co-sponsors in House but unlikely to move in Senate

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., is the lead sponsor of the bill, which would direct federal agencies to determine how to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats have offered their most ambitious climate legislation since progressives offered the now languishing Green New Deal resolution in February.

The new bill, introduced Thursday with more than 150 Democratic co-sponsors including Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, would have federal agencies determine how to reduce net U.S. carbon emissions to zero by 2050 — and to write regulations to meet that goal.

Disputed butane tax credit could cost nearly $50 billion
Estimate from Joint Committee on Taxation could give stalled tax extenders talks new urgency

Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, told two committees that refiner claims to tax credits for butane blends could cost nearly $50 billion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury now stands to take a $49.9 billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that gasoline mixed with butane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for a 50 cents per gallon federal tax credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to attorneys for the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

Trump comes out swinging, but Fiona Hill fights back in dramatic impeachment finale
Kyiv embassy official says he had ‘never seen anything like’ Sondland cafe call with U.S. president

Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia adviser, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came out swinging Thursday morning, but two witnesses who testified for hours in the impeachment inquiry pulled no punches as they overshadowed the president’s morning attacks.

Testimony by Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia expert, and David Holmes, an official in the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, further undercut several contentions pushed by Trump, GOP lawmakers and the president’s surrogates. Hill, for instance, dismissed a conspiracy theory rejected by American intelligence agencies but espoused by Trump and other Republicans that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.