HAPPY TUESDAY! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.
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ENEGIZED ABOUT GRANHOLM: President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHogan on Republicans who won’t accept election result: ‘They are out of runway’ Biden rips Trump’s refusal to concede after Electoral College vote Senate GOP warns Biden against picking Sally Yates as attorney general MORE has selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) to be his Energy secretary, Politico reported Tuesday.
Granholm led the state from 2003 to 2011, which included a period of economic distress during the Great Recession.
According to her official bio, Granholm had worked to diversify Michigan’s economy, which had been largely based on auto manufacturing, including by growing the state’s alternative energy sector.
Read more on her selection here.
HOLY ROLLBACKS, BATMAN: The Trump administration’s race against the clock to finalize its rollbacks was evident Tuesday as the administration rolled out three more rollbacks.
Let’s get critical… The Trump administration on Tuesday narrowed habitat protections for endangered species, finalizing its second major rollback to the Endangered Species Act.
The latest rule narrows the definition of habitat to areas that can currently support a species, a move environmentalists say ignores the changing climate or efforts that could be made to modify a landscape.
Environmentalists argue the government must be able to step in to protect land that could support an animal in the future, by protecting forests, for example, that in a few decades would have enough old growth trees to house spotted owls that currently dwell elsewhere.
“Habitat protections are essential if we want our incredible wild species, who are dwindling to shockingly low numbers, to continue to exist. Many endangered species occupy only a tiny fraction of their former range and need larger areas — often outside their current habitat — in order to survive and thrive in the long term,” Alex Petersen, a conservation advocate with Environment America, said in a release.
The rule from the Fish and Wildlife Service would only allow habitat that “currently or periodically” houses a species. The agency said the new rule would “bring greater clarity and consistency to how the Service designates critical habitat.”
Numerous studies have found the globe is in the midst of an extinction crisis, with species dwindling as their habitat shrinks due to logging, agriculture, human expansion and climate change.
“The underlying problem is so much habitat in the U.S. has been degraded for decades, and this rule still doesn’t let them protect habitat that needs to be restored, so that eliminates so much land needed for recovery where animals might need to move in response to climate change,” Stephanie Kurose, an endangered species policy specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Hill.
“This is just another giveaway to industry.”
To address a pet peeve… The Trump administration on Tuesday finalized its rollback of standards for showerheads following a string of public complaints from the president about low-flow fixtures designed to save water.
The DOE rule changes the definition of a showerhead, essentially allowing different components within the device to count as individual fixtures, sidestepping requirements that allow no more than 2.5 gallons to flow through per minute.
The measures were both widely opposed by green groups and consumer groups, who say consumers would use more energy and water by switching to the new products, wasting both resources and money.
“There is absolutely no need to change current showerhead standards,” David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports and a former DOE official during the Obama administration, said when the rule was first proposed.
“Thanks to the standards, consumers have access to showerheads that not only score well on [Consumer Reports] tests and achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, but also save consumers money by reducing energy and water consumption,” Friedman added.
You may remember President TrumpDonald TrumpHogan on Republicans who won’t accept election result: ‘They are out of runway’ Biden rips Trump’s refusal to concede after Electoral College vote Top GOP senators acknowledge Biden as president-elect after Electoral College vote MORE has a bit of a fixation on fixtures…
“Showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect,” Trump said to laughter at an event in July on rolling back regulations.
Spin cycle… The DOE rule was joined by another that allows a new class of products to meet lower standards if they wash and dry in under 45 minutes. The new washer and dryer rule sidesteps existing efficiency regulations for washing machines and dryers — many of which come with a quick-wash cycle — that manufacturers are already meeting.
Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said both rules showed the department’s “commitment to reducing regulatory burdens and safeguarding consumer choice.”
“With these rule changes, Americans can choose products that are best suited to meet their individual needs and the needs of their families,” he said in a release.
In the washer and dryer rule in particular the agency stressed the value in the time consumers would save with the shorter cycles.
Green groups see it as waste of resources and money.
“It’s ridiculous for the Department of Energy to call these ‘quality of life’ improvements when they’ll actually harm America’s quality of life by needlessly increasing consumer water and energy bills and climate-warming carbon pollution while exacerbating water shortages,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a Tuesday statement.
Read about the endangered species rollback here and the energy efficiency rollbacks here.
NOT A ROLLBACK, BUT NOT A ROLL FORWARD EITHER: The Trump administration on Tuesday declined to give the monarch butterfly protections for threatened species for now, but left the door open for protections in the future.
The Fish and Wildlife Service determined that adding the butterfly to the list of threatened and endangered species was “warranted” but that it is unable to do so because it needs to devote its resources to higher-priority species.
The agency determined that 161 species that are on the waiting list for protections, or 64 percent of species on the list, are a higher priority than the monarch.
Read more on the monarch here.
AND ROLLING ON AHEAD: The Trump administration will propose a finding that bolsters a plan by a company to test for oil, stating that the plan wouldn’t cause new and significant impacts to a wildlife refuge in Alaska.
The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday will formally propose a draft finding that a seismic testing plan won’t have a new, significant impact on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
The testing in question was proposed for this winter by the Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation. The corporation’s proposal, published in October, said that it would cover 450,592 acres of federally managed lands, including an area where polar bears and other wildlife may be found.
However, the new proposed finding only covers about 260,416 acres of federally managed lands, which would represent a significant reduction from the original proposal.
The administration found that the seismic testing “would not have any new significant effects on the quality of the human environment” when compared to “the impacts associated with seismic activities” that were analyzed as part of an environmental impact statement used to open up the area for leasing.
Read more on the ANWR drilling progression here.
#1 FAN: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger (R) once again went to bat for California air regulator Mary NicholsMary NicholsThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Mastercard – US inoculations begin; state electors certify Biden; Barr is out OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Countries roll out 2030 Paris Accord goals amid US absence | Biden eyes new EPA picks as Nichols reportedly falls from favor | Kerry faces big job on climate, US credibility Biden eyes new EPA picks as Nichols falls from favor: report MORE amid reports she is no longer a top contender to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Biden administration.
“I always just made it very clear that I think the only reason that is excusable for you to leave, is if you go to some higher position, which is to run the EPA in Washington,” Schwarzenegger said at an event celebrating Nichol’s tenure leading the California Air Resources Board, which will end later this month.
“And so I’ve been pushing for that idea with everyone that I know to make it clear that you’re the best,” he said.
WHAT WE’RE READING:
New Mexico’s Deb HaalandDebra HaalandOn The Money: Bipartisan group unveils two-part 8B COVID package | The push for stimulus checks | Progressives frustrated with representation in Biden Cabinet OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Countries roll out 2030 Paris Accord goals amid US absence | Biden eyes new EPA picks as Nichols reportedly falls from favor | Kerry faces big job on climate, US credibility Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape MORE emerges as Biden’s top choice to lead U.S. Interior, Reuters reports
Study: 140+ toxins still used in plastics, E&E News reports
Spotted owls could go extinct without more federal protection. But they’re not going to get it, Trump officials say, The Washington Post reports
ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday and Monday night…
Trump administration will propose finding no new, significant environmental impacts of Arctic oil testing plan
Trump administration rolls back efficiency standards for showerheads, washers and dryers
Trump administration narrows protection of habitat for endangered species
Trump administration punts on protections for monarch butterfly
Fed joins global network to fight climate change through financial system
Utah mink becomes first wild animal in US to test positive for coronavirus
Government spending bill to include bipartisan energy provisions