HAPPY MONDAY! 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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SQUAD GOALS: China, the United Kingdom and the European Union all laid out goals to achieve greater emission reductions as part of the Paris climate accord over the weekend at what was likely the last United Nations climate summit without a U.S. presence.
The three powers all vowed to make greater emissions reductions by 2030 during the summit, which marked the fifth anniversary of the global climate accord.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make the nation the “Saudi Arabia of wind power” as part of its goal to cut its emissions by 68 percent by 2030.
The European Union laid out its vision for reducing emissions by 50 percent by the same year.
China, which has been frequently criticized by Republicans in particular for not doing more on climate change, promised to reduce its carbon emissions by 65 percent relative to its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
“In meeting the climate challenge, no one can be aloof and unilateralism will get us nowhere,” President Xi Jinping told the conference by video.
And what’s the U.S. up to?
President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump decries Cleveland baseball team’s reported name change: ‘Cancel culture at work’ Trump says White House staffers shouldn’t be among first to get coronavirus vaccine Michigan to close legislative office buildings Monday due to ‘credible threats of violence’ MORE withdrew the U.S. from the Paris accord, but President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenMichigan to close legislative office buildings Monday due to ‘credible threats of violence’ Adviser says Atlanta mayor turned down Biden Cabinet offer Buttigieg tops list for Biden Transportation secretary: CNN MORE has promised to bring the U.S. back to the agreement.
In a statement, Biden reiterated his promise to join the agreement on Day 1 of his presidency. His climate plan would put the U.S on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050
“I’ll immediately start working with my counterparts around the world to do all that we possibly can, including by convening the leaders of major economies for a climate summit within my first 100 days in office,” he said.
At home, some Trump administration officials bashed the deal.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy: Trump EPA finalizes air rule that critics say favors polluters | Zinke, in official and unofficial portraits, returns to Interior on horseback | Vilsack gets lukewarm response as Biden Agriculture pick from those seeking reformed USDA Trump EPA finalizes air rule that critics say favors polluters OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 MORE noted the U.S. “didn’t receive an invitation to the U.N. climate summit” after Trump formally left the accord this November and boasted of U.S emissions reductions.
“Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord would be a disaster and put us at a strategic disadvantage — especially with China who emits far more greenhouse gases and isn’t required to reduce its emissions until at least 2030,” Wheeler wrote on Twitter.
Read more about the summit here and here.
OPENING UP THE CABINET:
Thank u, next…The Biden team is hunting for a nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after some groups expressed opposition to a favorite to get the nod, California air regulator Mary NicholsMary NicholsBiden eyes new EPA picks as Nichols falls from favor: report McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA MORE.
According to a report from The New York Times, Nichols has fallen out of favor with the transition team following a letter from a coalition of 70 environmental and social justice groups that criticized her for not doing enough to mitigate pollution impacts for low-income communities and communities of color.
The letter, sent earlier this month, said Nichols had a “bleak track record in addressing environmental racism.”
Multiple media outlets have reported a growing list of the potential future EPA administrators, including Michael Regan, currently the head of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, and Richard Revesz, a professor and former dean at New York University School of Law.
Regan also previously worked at EPA under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations before heading to the Environmental Defense Fund as their southeast regional director.
Revesz is an expert in environmental and regulatory law — something that could be key for an administration determined to reverse Trump-era environmental rollbacks.
The transition team did not respond to request for comment nor did the California Air Resources Board, where Nichols’ term expires at the end of the year.
Nichols has often been called the Queen of Green and is considered one of the top environmental regulators in the country.
She pushed back against the criticism in the letter, which argued that the cap and trade program California uses to control emissions allows companies to pay to pollute, saying that the revenues were largely routed to low income and minority communities.
“California is at the forefront of actions anywhere in the nation and the world to direct attention and funding to underfunded communities,” Nichols told the Times in an interview last week.
Read more here
McCarthy in the mix…The Biden team is also reportedly weighing former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyEPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump replaces head of energy regulatory commission | Biden climate agenda would slam into Senate GOP roadblocks | Emails show Park Police reliance on pepper balls, outside police forces during Lafayette protests MORE for a role with the administration, though her name has been floated both for EPA and a role in the White House overseeing domestic climate policy to match the special envoy role given to John KerryJohn KerryKerry faces big job on climate, US credibility Overnight Energy: Trump EPA finalizes air rule that critics say favors polluters | Zinke, in official and unofficial portraits, returns to Interior on horseback | Vilsack gets lukewarm response as Biden Agriculture pick from those seeking reformed USDA Biden to champion climate action in 2021 MORE.
Read more here.
Not in love with the shape of you: Some progressives are getting increasingly frustrated with how President-elect Joe Biden’s potential Cabinet is shaping up, venting that the incoming administration does not properly reflect the role progressives played helping Biden get to the White House.
Liberal groups and lawmakers bristled at Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeAdviser says Atlanta mayor turned down Biden Cabinet offer Biden leans on Obama-era talent for top posts Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape MORE (D-Ohio) getting passed over for Agriculture secretary in favor of Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE, who held the role in the Obama administration. And there is growing concern the Biden team will pass over Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandProgressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape Castro says ‘there’s still work to do’ on Biden Cabinet diversity OVERNIGHT ENERGY: McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role | Haaland, eyed for Interior, stresses need for Native American representation | Haaland backers ask Udall to step aside in bid for Interior post MORE (D-N.M.), a progressive favorite, for Interior secretary.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2021: Reality politics vs. liberal fantasy Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape Perdue, Ocasio-Cortez spar on Twitter over Georgia races MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape Perdue, Ocasio-Cortez spar on Twitter over Georgia races Ocasio-Cortez hits back at those who call her radical: ‘Shoutout to my fellow radicals’ MORE (D-N.Y.) this week took issue with some of the Cabinet picks and urged Biden to include more progressives in his remaining selections.
Biden’s Cabinet picks so far have mostly consisted of establishment figures and longtime allies such as Tony Blinken for secretary of State, Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenBiden leans on Obama-era talent for top posts Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape Matt Yglesias says Biden Cabinet picks give ‘extraordinary level of look back’ to Obama administration MORE for Treasury secretary, Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughWhat the veteran community needs — a leader who puts accountability first Biden leans on Obama-era talent for top posts Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape MORE for secretary of Veterans Affairs and ex-Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive things to watch when the Electoral College votes Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape Sirota: Health care industry coalition aimed at ‘demonizing’ Medicare for All, public option MORE adviser Neera TandenNeera TandenMaking America dull again Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape Asian lawmakers: ‘Unacceptable’ if Biden doesn’t name AAPI Cabinet ‘secretary’ MORE for the Office of Management and Budget.
While the choices have largely succeeded in not upsetting the Democratic base, there is bubbling skepticism among progressive groups that Biden will commit to including picks for top Cabinet positions that will represent their views.
“I think the Biden people have been a little bit less concerned about satisfying progressives. I think they’re a little more concerned about not alienating progressives,” said one Democratic strategist close to the transition.
Sanders told Axios earlier this week that he felt Biden would not have won the White House without the backing of the progressive movement, which deserved “important seats” in the administration.
The Biden team has defended its choices, arguing that the Cabinet is the most diverse in history and will be ready to tackle a whirlwind of crises upon taking office.
Read more here.
KERRYING ON WITH CLIMATE DIPLOMACY: Former Secretary of State John Kerry faces a major undertaking in regaining U.S. credibility on climate issues as President-elect Joe Biden’s special envoy on climate.
Kerry will take a newly formed position on the National Security Council and will be America’s face abroad as the U.S. rejoins the Paris Climate Accord on Day 1 of the new administration.
But even those who say Biden couldn’t have chosen a better lead on climate say it will be difficult for the U.S. to overcome its deficit on climate action — both in its reputation and on emissions.
Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat and one of the chief architects of the Paris agreement, said she was “totally delighted” Kerry was appointed to the role but said the Biden team will have to make good on its promises.
“The U.S. will have to do its homework at home first — at home, first — in order to regain credibility. Yes, the Biden administration has put out their plans, but we’re going to have to see the plans being enacted, we’re going to have to see the rollbacks of the rollbacks, we’re going to have to see, as he’s already spoken about, climate change being inserted into every single department,” she said.
Kelley Kizzier, a former EU climate negotiator who now leads international efforts at the Environmental Defense Fund, said the U.S. will have to take a number of actions that “require more than the stroke of a presidential pen if we’re going to have credibility.”
“It’s a plan that requires cooperation with Congress, and I know that’s a heavy lift, but we need to start immediately. The world needs to know the U.S. is not getting a free pass on climate,” Kizzier said.
But even as the U.S. settles its affairs at home, part of the problem is the rest of the world has chugged along.
“Rejoining Paris is good but a return to the status quo from five years ago? The rest of the world has moved on,” said Sarah Millar, a climate advisor who previously worked for the United Kingdom government and in the European Parliament in Brussels.
Read more about the challenges Kerry will face here.
ENERGY BILL WATCH: Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerTrump faces bipartisan, international pushback on Western Sahara recognition Members of both parties hail Supreme Court decision Committees reach bipartisan deal to protect patients from surprise medical bills MORE (D-N.Y.) said Monday that a bipartisan energy bill will be included in an omnibus appropriations bill this week.
“The appropriations bill will include several important pieces of related legislation. One that doesn’t get enough attention is a bipartisan energy bill,” Schumer said on the Senate floor, apparently referencing a proposal from Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiWindow quickly closing for big coronavirus deal Sasse: Supreme Court ‘closed the book’ on election ‘nonsense’ Murkowski ‘really disappointed’ with House lawmakers supporting election challenge MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBipartisan group splitting 8 billion coronavirus proposal into two bills Manchin says bipartisan coronavirus relief bill will be unveiled Monday Sunday shows preview: Nation gears up for inoculation following FDA approval of Pfizer vaccine MORE (D-W.Va.) that was stalled earlier this year.
“Earlier this year during the debate over the energy bill, Senate Democrats insisted that a provision to reduce [hydrofluorocarbons] HFCs, a very harmful greenhouse gas that is driving our climate change problem, must be included in the bill,” he added. “I’m very happy to report that we have made very good progress towards an agreement on HFC reduction. We are about to get it done, and that’s one of the biggest victories to fight global warming in a very long time.”
CLIMATE COMMITTEE, CONTINUED: House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHoyer calls on VA Secretary Wilkie to resign after watchdog report Bipartisan group splitting 8 billion coronavirus proposal into two bills 2021: Reality politics vs. liberal fantasy MORE (D-Calif.) announced Monday that the House’s Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will continue on into the next Congress.
“The climate crisis is the existential threat of our time, jeopardizing our public health, our economy, our national security and the whole of God’s creation,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Recognizing the urgency of this crisis and its priority for House Democrats, it is a privilege to once again name Congresswoman Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Progress toward managing rising seas US to exit Paris accord whether Trump or Biden wins MORE as Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis for the 117th Congress.“
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Pollution, poverty and pandemic collide: A community on edge, E&E News reports
Exxon Mobil begins defense of itself, and a Big Oil future, as activists circle, CNBC reports
Mexico proposes phasing out Roundup pesticide by 2024, The Associated Press reports
ICYMI: Stories from Monday and the weekend…
Supreme Court gives New Mexico a win in water dispute with Texas
Biden eyes new EPA picks as Nichols falls from favor: report
Countries roll out 2030 Paris Accord goals amid US absence
Biden eyes Gina McCarthy as domestic ‘climate czar’: report
Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape
Challenges persist for Biden after delayed transition start
Kerry faces big job on climate, US credibility
UN Secretary-General says countries aren’t doing enough to combat climate change
FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES:
Brian DeeseBrian DeeseBrian Deese v. The Greens? Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on struggling economy MORE v. The Greens? asks Jonathan Lesser, president of Continental Economics and an adjunct fellow with the Manhattan Institute.