environment

Trump Reduction of National Monuments a Rare Move
Antiquities Act has primarily been used to increase, not reduce protected areas

Part of the Bears Ears monument in Utah. (Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump on Monday signed two executive actions that drastically slash the boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, and criticized former presidents for their use of the Antiquities Act to designate such monuments.

Trump called former President Barack Obama’s designation of Bears Ears an overreach of executive power, even as he unilaterally undid much of the designation himself. President Bill Clinton first designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument in 1996 .

Trump Executive Actions a ‘Disruptive’ Lot
Full effects of president’s unilateral moves still years away, experts say

President Donald Trump after signing an executive order Oct. 12 targeting the 2010 health care law. Experts and lawmakers say his executive actions are among the most “disruptive” of any president. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

The executive actions President Donald Trump has signed have the potential to be among the most “aggressive” and “disruptive” ever issued by a chief executive, according to lawmakers and experts.

Trump and his top aides often describe his use of executive orders, actions and memoranda as the president using his constitutional authorities to “put America first” and plot a policy course to benefit the country’s forgotten men and women. Both were major themes of his 2016 campaign.

Wheelin’ and Dealin’ McConnell in Full Force on GOP Tax Bill
Successful vote on the motion to proceed ignites last-minute scramble to 50 votes

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is assembling the votes for the GOP tax overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans on Wednesday evening got the necessary votes to launch debate on the party’s measure to overhaul the U.S. tax code. But this came after a day of backroom deal-making by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that could lead to several major changes to the current version of the legislation.

The pressure on the Senate GOP is sky-high as the party looks to achieve at least one major legislative victory during President Donald Trump’s first year in the White House.

For Murkowski, Tax Overhaul Isn’t Just Business. It’s Personal
Inclusion of ANWR drilling could put her in new Alaska league

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a conundrum with a clash between two of her key policy goals — drilling in ANWR and protecting access to health care back home. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twelve years ago, Sen. Lisa Murkowski sat at the breakfast table with her youngest son, who was in junior high school at the time. It was a big day. The chamber was set to vote on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, a priority of Alaska lawmakers for the previous three decades.

“My son looks up at me and he says, ‘Mom, I thought grandpa passed ANWR years ago,”’ the Republican senator recalled recently in her Hart Building office, referencing her father, former Sen. Frank H. Murkowski. “You have to kind of say, ‘Well, yeah, they kinda passed it, but it didn’t really pass. And so it’s back before us again and we’re going at it.’”

How Many Gas Pipelines Do We Need?
As demand for natural gas rises, so do questions about pipeline capacity

A natural gas pipeline yard is shown beyond a fence in Skokie, Ill., in this 2003 photo. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images file photo)

BY JACKIE TOTH

When coal-fired and nuclear power plants are retired, they’re usually replaced not by new renewable technologies like solar or wind, but with power plants fueled by natural gas.

Green Energy Industry Says Lower Tax Credit Reneges on Promise
House GOP bill includes provision that removes an inflation adjustment

The House GOP tax bill would remove an inflation adjustment from the renewable energy production tax credit, alarming industry advocates. (Courtesy American Wind Energy Association/Facebook)

Renewable energy advocates are raising alarms that the House Republican tax plan released Thursday would sharply reduce a tax credit that has driven the rapid deployment of wind and solar power over the past two years.

The tax bill includes a provision that would remove an inflation adjustment from the renewable energy production tax credit, likely dropping it from 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour for tax year 2016 to 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Canada Sees ANWR Drilling Threat to Border-Crossing Caribou
But Murkowski says oil development impact on wildlife has been limited

Canada opposes the U.S. proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, citing concerns over its impact on a caribou herd. (Courtesy Derek Ramsey/Wikimedia Commons)

The Canadian government cares about its people — and its caribou. And to protect the latter, the government has come out against the U.S. proposal to open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, citing the feared impact on a caribou herd that migrates across the shared border.

Canada’s opposition, expressed by its embassy in an email to Roll Call, puts the United States’ neighbor on the side of Democrats and environmental groups, both of whom are looking to scuttle Republican attempts to open the refuge using budget reconciliation — a procedural maneuver that enables legislation to pass with only a simple majority in the Senate.

Senate Energy Gears Up for Alaska Drilling Fight
Republicans aim to attach ANWR proposal to tax overhaul effort

Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, right, and Maria Cantwell of Washington, leaders on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, are on opposite sides of the ANWR drilling issue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee prepares for a high-profile hearing Thursday on opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, Republicans are preparing to argue that improvements in drilling technology over the past decade will minimize potential damage to the environment.

That assertion will rile committee Democrats, who plan to raise the specter of oil spills as well as an invasion of drilling infrastructure and manpower in an area described by environmentalists as one of the most pristine habitats on the planet.

Rick Perry Defends Private Travel Costs at House Energy Hearing
Some sites are too remote to be accessed by commercial airlines, secretary says

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies during a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce’s Energy Subcommittee on Thursday. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

BY ELVINA NAWAGUNA

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told lawmakers Thursday that his use of private aircraft for work travel is sometimes justified because his department’s national laboratories and some sites he has to visit are too remote to be accessed by commercial airlines.

GOP Hopes to Undercut Offshore Regulator, Say House Democrats
Republicans are taking aim at an agency created by President Obama after BP oil spill

The site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen from the back of a U.S. Coast Guard cargo plane in 2010. Republicans are re-evaluating a regulatory agency established by Obama in the aftermath of the spill. (Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers are trying to undermine the federal regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the safety and environmental concerns of offshore oil and gas operations, said Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee at a Wednesday hearing.

The complaints stem from a provision in the committee Republicans’ recently released draft bill that would direct the Interior secretary to look for potential “inefficiencies or duplication between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement,” which both regulate aspects of offshore drilling.