Energy and environment – Interior in the hot seat after court halts sale of drilling

Welcome to Wednesday Energy and Environment Night, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today we look at the crossroads of the Biden administration after a court halted drilling lease sales, the EPA asking the Postal Service to reconsider its order of gas-powered vehicles, and New England senators calling for further study on offshore wind.

For The Hill, we are Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with advice: [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow us on twitter: @RachelFrazin and @BudrykZack.

Let’s go.

Interior under pressure after drilling sale canceled

The Interior Department is under pressure from both the fossil fuel industry and environmentalists over an assessment of an offshore drilling lease sale first approved by the Trump administration.

The cancellation of the Gulf of Mexico offshore lease by a federal judge was a victory for the Biden administration, but the decision now rests with the Interior Department on how to proceed.

The agency faces a difficult decision on whether to cancel, modify or maintain the sale without being able to blame the outcome on Trump-era calculations.

The story so far: The development is the latest in a saga of legal challenges over this particular offshore drilling lease sale.

The lease sale, known as Lease Sale 257, was originally approved at the end of the former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: ‘RINO’ Graham ‘wrong’ in pardoning Jan. 6 rioters Jan. 6 panel probing Trump’s role in efforts to seize voting machines: Overnight Energy & Environment report – Virginia panel votes against Wheeler MOREits mandate. It was then carried out by the Biden administration after a June ruling against its pause on new oil and gas leases.

Last week, Obama-appointed Judge Rudolph Contreras struck down the sale and the leases won during it, saying the Trump administration’s assessment failed to take into account how the sale would alter global demand for fossil fuels, potentially exacerbating climate change.

So where does that leave the government? In his decision, Contreras gave the Biden administration wide leeway on how to approach the solution to this problem, writing that he would “cancel the 257 lease sale and give the agency the opportunity to remedy its …mistake as she wishes in the first place.”

“The Court does not specify how BOEM must do this, within what time frame or what ultimate conclusion it must reach, leaving such matters to the discretion of the agency,” he said, referring to the Bureau of Ocean. EnergyManagement.

Learn more about the ongoing saga here.

EPA URGES USPS TO STOP PURCHASING GASOLINE VEHICLES

The Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality on Wednesday asked the US Postal Service to reconsider plans to purchase a gasoline-powered fleet of up to 165,000 trucks.

In letters to the Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyBiden arms stiff progressives on Postal Service It takes green to go green: Fueling the president’s plan to decarbonize the government’s big climate goal Biden faces challenge with federal workforce MORE Obtained by The Hill, EPA Associate Administrator for Policy Vicki Arroyo and Chairman of the CEQ Brenda MalloryBrenda MalloryOvernight Energy & Environment – Biden seeks to overthrow Trump on Arctic drilling Biden environment aide leaves White House Overnight Energy & Environment: White House to restore parts of energy protection law environment lifted by Trump MORE noted that the USPS fleet is one of the largest in the federal government.

What’s the problem? DeJoy, a Trump appointee and a longtime donor to the former president, endorsed the current vehicle purchase plan, which requires only a tenth of new Postal Service trucks be electric. Oshkosh, the beneficiary of the USPS vehicle contract, is estimated to reduce fuel consumption by only about 18%, burning about 110 million tons of gasoline per year.

“The Postal Service’s proposal as currently designed represents a critical missed opportunity to more quickly reduce the carbon footprint of one of the world’s largest government fleets,” Arroyo wrote. “A 10% commitment to clean vehicles, with virtually no fuel efficiency gains for the remaining 90%, is clearly inconsistent with international, national and many state GHG emission reduction targets, as well as with specific national policies to move at a deliberate speed towards clean, zero-emission vehicles[.]”

Learn more about letters here.

Senators call for economic impact study

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) led a group of all senators representing the Gulf of Maine in a letter Wednesday asking the Biden administration to thoroughly research the impact of planned offshore wind energy projects on local economies.

King was joined on the bipartisan letter by Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeySenate Democrats call for DOJ crackdown on counterfeit masks Lawmakers plead for Nobel Peace Prize to honor Opal Lee New bill would end energy poverty in the United States and help families recover adapt to rising temperatures MORE (D-Mass.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate Democrats call for DOJ crackdown on counterfeit masks Can Joe Rogan save free speech? Overnight Healthcare – Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Approved MORE (D-Mass.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP can’t escape Trump-fueled election controversies McConnell, Biden discuss Supreme Court pick Senate Democrats unveil proposed voter count law reform MORE (R-Maine), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense & National Security – Governors Warned About Vaccination Mandate This Week: Democrats Return to Russian Tensions, Supreme Court Fight Looms Senators Edge Closer to Russia Sanctions Deal MORE (DN.H.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanDemocrats urge cryptomining firms on energy consumption Voters in swing state worried about Build Back Better’s impact on inflation: Poll Democrats say move to filibuster is only a matter of time MORE (DN.H.).

“We recognize the potential of our states to generate significant clean, renewable energy and to house new industry and a new workforce through the responsible development of offshore wind power off our coasts,” the senators wrote. in a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Director Amanda Lefton.

“However, it is essential that BOEM undertakes additional outreach and research to inform the agency’s planning process before proceeding with lease sales and to improve the ability to assess, forecast, monitor and to manage the potential environmental impacts of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine,” they added.

The senators noted “additional data gaps” on the predicted economic impacts of offshore development plans, calling for “region-specific research” on those effects.

The Biden administration has set a goal of having 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power in service by 2030, with broader plans for leases along the east and west coasts, Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of Mexico. Maine. Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb Haaland Interior weighs rising fees for upcoming public land drilling auctions Overnight Energy & Environment – Lummis delays Biden picks EPA Overnight Energy & Environment – Biden officials announce clean energy plans MORE said in October that the department could hold up to seven offshore wind lease sales by 2025. The United States currently has only two operating offshore wind farms that include 42 megawatts of wind capacity.

Read more about the letter here

WHAT WE READ

  • A winter storm is heading towards Texas. Here’s what that means for the power grid. (The Texas Grandstand)
  • The United States will put the Nevada flower on the endangered species list, dealing a blow to the lithium mine (Reuters)
  • Europe’s plan to call natural gas “sustainable” triggers backlash from climate activists (CNN)
  • Biden administrator. is betting on renewable energies to reorganize Puerto Rico’s electricity system (NBC)

And finally, something quirky but ON-beat: IIs anything not an NFT these days?

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Discover The Hill’s energy & environment page for the latest news and coverage. Well see you tomorrow.

Betty K. Park