TGIF! 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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NO, THAT’S NOT A BODY DOUBLE… John KerryJohn KerryHow solid is the foundation underlying green energy policies? Democrats make historic push for aid, equity for Black farmers OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court nixes Trump move to open 10 million acres to mining | Treasury will reportedly add climate czar | Manchin pushes natural gas in letter to Biden MORE just gave four climate-focused speeches in one day…
Bonjour! The U.S. on Friday officially rejoined the Paris Agreement after former President TrumpDonald TrumpThune: Trump allies partaking in ‘cancel culture’ by punishing senators who voted to convict Biden administration open to restarting nuclear talks with Iran Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors MORE withdrew from the deal.
On his first day in office, President BidenJoe BidenDeath toll from winter weather rises to at least 40: AP On The Money: House panel spars over GameStop, Robinhood | Manchin meets with advocates for wage | Yellen says go big, GOP says hold off Top political donor sentenced to 12 years in prison for illegal campaign contributions MORE signed an executive order that set the country on track to rejoin the global accord, but it took 30 days for the country to formally reenter.
Special envoy for climate John Kerry stressed at an event on Friday that there is still more work to be done.
“We know that just doing Paris is not enough,” Kerry said. “If every country delivered, we’d still see a warming planet Earth.”
Under the Paris deal, the world’s countries agree to attempt to limit the planet’s warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with the further goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.
The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the agreement, arguing that it is burdensome for business and workers.
But Biden has stressed that he sees an opportunity for jobs as the country moves toward clean energy. He has also argued that climate change is among several crises the country currently faces.
Kerry will be leading much of the administration’s climate diplomacy, including at a United Nations conference set for November in Scotland, where countries will formally adopt more stringent climate commitments.
Former President Obama set the goal of reducing U.S. emissions by between 26 and 28 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2025.
Biden administration officials have said that they will announce updated goals before a summit on Earth Day this year.
Read more about the official rejoining here.
From Paris to Munich… Special envoy John Kerry called climate change “among the most complex security issues we’ve ever faced” at the virtual Munich Security Conference on Friday.
Kerry pointed to Texas’s struggle to keep the power on this week amid unusually cold temperatures, an unprecedented number of tropical storms last year that quickly exhausted naming conventions and a melting Arctic creating competition over new shipping passageways as proof people “just have to look out the window” to see the effects of climate change.
“What these extreme weather events translate to on the ground should concern every single one of us,” the former secretary of State said, calling climate change a threat multiplier.
“When we talk about the impacts of climate change, we’re talking about security, energy security, economic security, food security, even physical security. And the question now is, pregnantly, what will the world do about it?” Kerry said, noting the need to limit the planet’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Read more on the speech here.
WASHING AWAY TRUMP’S EFFICIENCY POLICIES? The Biden administration will review several of the Trump administration’s most controversial energy rules, teeing up a possible reversal of policies that eased or erased efficiency regulations for lightbulbs, showerheads and more.
A Friday list from the Department of Energy (DOE) notified the White House of a number of Trump-era policies the department will weigh suspending, revising or rescinding. The move follows a Day 1 order from President Biden mandating a sweeping review of Trump’s environmental policies.
On the list are a number of pet policies of Trump, who often complained about low-flow fixtures and LED lightbulbs on the campaign trail.
One such rule eliminated efficiency standards for about half the bulbs on the market, pushing continued use of less-efficient bulbs expected to cost the average household more than $100 a year and create more pollution as utilities produce energy that otherwise would not be needed.
Another rule targeted by the Biden administration 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 DOE process doesn’t guarantee rules will be reversed and will instead kick off a new notice and comment period.
Read more about the review here.
CLOSE CALL: The top official in charge of Texas’s power grid said Thursday that the state had been just minutes away from a total grid failure early Monday morning when operators made the decision to cut the power and begin rolling blackouts across the state.
Bill Magness, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), told the Texas Tribune in an interview that the state’s grid was “seconds and minutes” from potentially going down, adding that damages caused by the grid failure could have caused uncontrolled blackouts lasting for months.
“It needed to be addressed immediately,” he said, according to the Tribune. “It was seconds and minutes [from possible failure] given the amount of generation that was coming off the system.”
Had grid operators not acted Monday to begin controlled blackouts that have affected millions across the state for days, Magness said, the damage caused by higher power demand than supply could have caused an “indeterminately long” crisis.
“The operators who took those actions to prevent a catastrophic blackout and much worse damage to our system, that was, I would say, the most difficult decision that had to be made throughout this whole event,” he said.
Read more about what Magness said could have happened here.
KEEP IT MOVING: Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerTrump’s Slovenia Ambassador Lynda Blanchard jumps into Alabama Senate race League of Conservation Voters adds racial justice issues to 2020 congressional scorecard The progressive way to ease student debt burdens MORE said in a dear colleague letter that he hopes to rapidly confirm several of President Biden’s nominees, including Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmA bold and comprehensive proposal to act on major crises facing America OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA alleges political interference| Biden seeks delays on Arctic drilling | Biden names pick for deputy Energy chief Biden names pick for deputy Energy chief MORE and Michael ReganMichael ReganCapito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed EPA alleges political interference by Trump officials over toxic chemical OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate advances nomination of Biden EPA pick Regan | Study: Fossil fuel air pollution linked to 1 in 5 deaths worldwide | Biden gets more time to decide on Dakota Access Pipeline MORE, who would lead the Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency, respectively.
“With the cooperation of Republicans, we can confirm these nominations quickly,” Schumer wrote. “President Biden deserves to have his team around him as he tackles the defining crises of our time.”
ON TAP NEXT WEEK:
- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled “Building Back Better: Investing in Transportation while Addressing Climate Change, Improving Equity, and Fostering Economic Growth and Innovation.”
- The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on climate change and the U.S. agriculture and forestry sectors
- The House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on strategies for energy and climate innovation
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Revealed: chemicals giant sold Louisiana plant amid fears over cost of offsetting toxic emissions, The Guardian reports
Jerry Jones’ Company Hits ‘Jackpot’ As Harsh Storms Send Natural Gas Prices Surging, NPR reports
Okla. tribes’ Black Freedmen seek ally in Haaland, E&E News reports
Native Americans ‘Left Out in the Cold’ Under Trump Press Biden for Action, The New York Times Reports
ICYMI:Stories from Friday…
House Democrats criticize Texas’s ‘shortcomings in preparations‘ on winter storms
Biden Energy Dept orders sweeping review of Trump energy rules
Kerry: Climate change among ‘most complex security issues we’ve ever faced‘
Kerry warns the US has 9 years to avoid worst climate consequences
Scientists clone black-footed ferret, first for endangered US species
US officially rejoins Paris climate agreement
Senate committee plans grid reliability hearing after Texas outages
Texas power grid was ‘seconds and minutes’ from total failure, officials say