With help from Zack Colman, Anthony Adragna and Ben Lefebvre
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— A little-noticed provision tucked inside the public lands package the House is slated to pass this month could undermine funding for Eastern states to add new forest acreage inside their borders.
— President Donald Trump is planning to unveil final changes to the National Environmental Policy Act later this month.
— The House passed a broad, climate-friendly infrastructure bill on Wednesday with an amendment to address lead pipes throughout the U.S., although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it has no chance of passing the upper chamber.
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TURN TO PAGE 16: A provision tucked into the Great American Outdoors Act, H.R. 1957 (116), could potentially deprive Eastern states of hundreds of millions of federal dollars to add new forest acreage, Pro's Anthony Adragna reports this morning.
That's the long-shot argument House Natural Resources ranking member Rob Bishop (R-Utah), a long-time critic of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, is making to try to derail passage of the legislative package that would permanently fund the conservation program and address deferred maintenance on the nation's public lands.
At issue is a "conforming amendment" that removes a decades-old provision in the original 1964 LWCF Act mandating that "not more than 15 percent of the acreage added to the National Forest System pursuant to this section shall be west of the 100th meridian" unless specifically authorized by Congress.
In theory, that means 85 percent of land acquisition should have been to the east of that line running from North Dakota to Texas that essentially bisects the country into eastern and western halves. The Forest Service had previously said since Congress appropriated the money each year, it was giving its approval and complying with the law. But that changed in April, when it said in an email obtained by POLITICO it would comply with the original law.
In a letter to lawmakers, Bishop warned the conforming provision in the bill was a "wolf in sheep's clothing" for Eastern states.
"For an Easterner, you're taking money away from your own constituents and you're giving them a really bad fiscal policy," Bishop told POLITICO. "I just wonder how many people actually are thinking through what they are talking about."
TRUMP PLANNING NEPA UNVEILING: President Donald Trump is expected to reveal final changes to a bedrock environmental permitting law at a mid-July event in a battleground state, industry sources told ME. The sources said the White House hasn't decided exactly where to unveil alterations to the National Environmental Policy Act, which outlines the process for environmental permitting reviews for federal projects. They said the administration believes the public appearance will underscore a desire for Trump, who participated in a January event on proposed changes, to channel his inner builder.
The NEPA changes cleared the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs this week, but it will take some time for the Federal Register to process the changes. Industry sources said it's not exactly clear what has changed between proposed and final versions, adding that Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Mary Neumayr has kept deliberations completely internal. White House spokesman Judd Deere said the White House has no scheduling announcements at this time and would not comment on ongoing rulemaking.
Many expect proposed measures intended to streamline environmental reviews to remain in the final version, said Chad Whiteman, vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has taken the industry lead on NEPA. Those items include deadlines on environmental impact statements and the less cumbersome environmental assessments, more clearly defining what agencies must consider as part of their reviews and designating lead agencies for projects rather than have individual departments each conduct their own separate reviews.
Democrats and Republicans alike have complained of the long permitting process beleaguering everything from renewable power transmission lines to pipelines. But environmentalists and Democrats are concerned the rule could eliminate public input. They're also worried that the proposal's cutting the need to weigh the "cumulative" effects of projects would eliminate climate change considerations, and exacerbate existing environmental justice issues, Christy Goldfuss, the former Obama CEQ chief now at the Center for American Progress, said in Senate testimony on Wednesday.
EYE ON APPROPS: The House Appropriations Interior-EPA spending subcommittee is scheduled to mark up its fiscal 2021 bill on Tuesday, and Chair Betty McCollum is hoping it will be a legislative weapon for fighting racial injustice and the coronavirus. McCollum spoke to Pro's Jennifer Scholtes on the spending bill, its funding to improve health services for tribal communities and beating back the nation's backlog of park maintenance, as well as the likely fight ahead on a ban on the Confederate flag. Read the full Q-and-A.
MURKOWSKI EYES PENDLEY HEARING: Senate Energy Chair Lisa Murkowski indicated she'd likely move to hold a hearing on the nomination of William Perry Pendley to lead the Bureau of Land Management, though the committee has yet to schedule one. "The Senate process allows for a thorough vetting of nominees, during which members can have in-depth conversations and question Presidential appointees," Murkowski said in a statement to ME. "I am committed to ensuring a thorough but fair process for all nominees who come before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee — including Mr. Pendley."
— Republican Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.), who is up for reelection this year, told Colorado Public Radio Pendley will face "some very tough questions" during his Senate hearing. Gardner was asked whether Pendley's previous comments advocating the sale of public lands and dismissing the Black Lives Matter movement were disqualifying. "We haven't even had the hearing yet, so I look forward to this investigative process," he replied. Gardner's Democratic opponent, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, has tweeted that Gardner "can't claim to support our public lands and stay silent" on the nomination.
HOUSE PASSES GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: The House passed its climate-friendly $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, H.R. 2 (116), by a 233-188 vote Wednesday afternoon, POLITICO's Tanya Snyder reports. Earlier this week, the chamber added amendments to boost energy efficiency programs, establish a clean energy innovation fund and address deferred maintenance at the national labs to the bill that already included billions of dollars for modernizing the electric grid, investing in clean water projects and extending a host of clean energy tax credits. It would also put the Transportation Department squarely in the fight to reduce carbon emissions from the country’s roads and highways.
Taking the lead: Lawmakers also voted Wednesday to include an amendment that would authorize $4.5 billion annually for five years for the federal government to fund the replacement of lead drinking water pipes by a vote of 240-181, as part of the broader infrastructure package.
McConnell says no chance: The majority leader has already indicated the Senate won't consider the measure, calling the House package "a multi-thousand-page cousin of the Green New Deal masquerading as a highway bill," Anthony reports for Pros.
ADDED TO THE HOUSE NDAA: The House Armed Services Committee added several measures related to PFAS contamination to its annual defense reauthorization bill, H.R. 6395 (116), during a marathon markup that stretched late into last night. The biggest debate related to the toxic chemicals emerged over an amendment from Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin that would require the Defense Department to follow the most stringent standard in cleaning up PFAS contamination from defense facilities, whether at the state or federal level. The committee ultimately adopted the amendment by a 31-25 vote.
The panel also adopted an en bloc package of amendments by voice vote that included an amendment by Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) ensuring periodic health testing of military members for PFAS exposure and another en bloc package that included an amendment from Slotkin expressing support for DoD research and development to identify an alternative to firefighting foam with PFAS.
2 ADDED TO SCIENCE PANEL: The House Science Committee announced the additions of GOP Reps. Mike Garcia and Tom Tiffany to the committee. In special elections, Garcia replaced former Rep. Katie Hill in California, while Tiffany replaced former Rep. Sean Duffy in Wisconsin.
PALLONE PRAISES CLIMATE REPORT: Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone never sent a formal release but praised the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis' report unveiled Tuesday as validating his committee's approach to draft legislation aiming to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. "We all agree we must enact thoughtful, ambitious policy changes to get the country to net-zero climate pollution by 2050 and build a clean economy that invests in workers and advances environmental justice," Pallone said in a statement. "The Select Committee's work will be hugely helpful in getting that done, and I look forward to working with Chairwoman [Kathy] Castor as Energy & Commerce continues to refine and expand the CLEAN Future Act."
WHEELER RESPONDS TO DEMS' CLIMATE ROADMAP: EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler called House Democrats' new climate plan, which calls for eliminating pollution from cars by 2035, unrealistic during an appearance on Fox Business on Wednesday. "They're actually going to turn around the economic growth that President Trump has delivered to the American people," he said, adding that it will force U.S. car manufacturing jobs to China and other countries.
The administrator touted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that went into effect Wednesday as a job creator that will be undercut by Democrats' recommendations in what he called their Green New Deal, which Wheeler said "will drive those jobs out of the United States and force Detroit to make cars that Americans don't want to buy."
"It's going to decimate the autoworkers, as well as the oil and gas industry, as well as American farmers because you won't be able to use biofuels after 2035 either," he said. Democrats' plan calls for developing a low-carbon fuel standard to build on the Renewable Fuel Standard.
About that: Pro DataPoint's Patterson Clark shows in a new graphic how House Democrats' plan would target fossil fuels.
SPLIT DECISION IN MICHIGAN PIPELINE CASE: Enbridge must keep shut the eastern leg of its Line 5 oil and propane pipeline in Michigan but can resume deliveries on the western leg, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James Jamo ruled late Wednesday. The ruling was a win of sorts for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who requested the restraining order on Line 5 after Enbridge reported damage to the eastern leg last month. That segment of the dual pipeline must remain closed until the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration completes its investigation of the accident, Jamo ruled.
The judge also ruled that Enbridge could reopen the western leg for now, but only so the company can inspect if that section of the 540,000 barrel-a-day pipeline was damaged as well. Nessel in a statement took the ruling as a win in the state's fight to revoke the decades-old easement allowing the line to traverse the Strait of Mackinac. "The Court based its decision on the grounds argued by the Attorney General — the requirements of the 1953 easement mandating that Enbridge at all times exercise the 'due care' of a reasonably prudent person for the safety and welfare of all persons and of all public and private property," Nessel said in a statement.
OIL HITS BOTTOM? U.S. oil production seems to have stabilized after months of decline, according to EIA data. About 11 million barrels of day came out of wells during the week ended June 26, the same level the EIA recorded for the previous week. That's still a huge drop compared to the 13.1 million barrels recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in mid-March, but it shows that the worst could be behind the industry. Still, the latest report showed one potentially worrying data point: Gasoline sales fell slightly to less than 8.6 million barrels a day, potentially poking a hole in the industry’s hopes that state economies would flourish after opening up.
ICAO ADOPTS 2019 BASELINE: A deal announced this week will see the CORSIA global emissions scheme altered in light of the coronavirus pandemic, allowing airlines significantly more room to emit emissions, POLITICO Europe's Saim Saeed reports. Countries at the International Civil Aviation Organization agreed late Tuesday to use 2019 as the only year to set the baseline for emissions. The move could save airlines potentially billions in offset payments.
— David Lesar was named president and CEO of CenterPoint Energy. Lesar joined CenterPoint Energy as a director in May. He was the chairman of the board and CEO of Halliburton Company from 2000 to 2017 and executive chairman of the board from June 2017 until December 2018.
— "Inquiry prompted by Trump's Hurricane Dorian claim is being blocked, investigator says," via The New York Times.
— "Hilcorp quietly takes over BP's stakes in Prudhoe Bay and other Alaska oil fields," via Alaska Public Media.
— "Trump's fence sparks fear of 'catastrophic' flooding" via E&E News.
— "Want jobs and clean energy? This overlooked technology could deliver both," via Los Angeles Times.
— "U.S. transfers care for towns polluted with asbestos to state," via Associated Press.
— "Saudi money, U.S. pressure coaxes Iraq on OPEC oil cut compliance," via S&P Global Platts.
THAT'S ALL FOR ME!