Schumer’s new deadline – POLITICO


With help from Annie Snider, Anthony Adragna, Eric Wolff, Daniel Lippman and Alex Guillén.

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— Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to hold a vote on advancing the bipartisan infrastructure framework on Wednesday, but the framework isn’t even in legislative text yet.

— Democrats want a carbon border fee, but they aren’t sure just how to construct one yet, even as they pledge to protect American workers.

— Germany and the U.S. launched a new energy and climate partnership during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit, despite their differences over Nord Stream 2.

HAPPY FRIDAY! I’m your host, Matthew Choi. Congrats to NAFO’s Kate Gatto for knowing June 25 is Anthony Bourdain’s birthday, aka Bourdain Day. Today’s trivia: Who was king of France when Brooks Brothers was founded (there is no correlation)? Send your tips and trivia answers to [email protected]. Find me on Twitter @matthewchoi2018.

Check out the POLITICO Energy podcast — all the energy and environmental politics and policy news you need to start your day, in just five minutes. Listen and subscribe for free at politico.com/energy-podcast. On today’s episode: The framework for a historic climate action.

IT’S A DATE: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing for a vote Wednesday to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill, twisting lawmakers arms into getting something moving before the August recess. But lawmakers are still negotiating the finer points of the framework, which hasn’t been released as legislative text yet, causing skepticism that they’ll be able to keep up with such a tight timeline.

“We’re not done yet,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who is part of the bipartisan cohort negotiating the bill, told POLITICO’s Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett. “I don’t think we’re going to have any artificial deadlines. I think we’re going to do our best to get it done in an expeditious fashion, but if we were successful in coming to an agreement, it’d be great to have it done before” the August recess.

Such a tight timeline means Senate negotiators need to come to an agreement by next week. But there are still lingering questions on how to finance the proposal, despite lawmakers’ self-imposed Thursday deadline to resolve their outstanding issues. Lawmakers plan to continue negotiations through the weekend.

But there’s skepticism among Republicans about Schumer’s intentions, with several believing it’s a way to sink negotiations and strong arm a Democrat-led agenda. “Why in the world would you vote for something that hasn’t been written yet,” asked Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “I don’t know whether Sen. Schumer is just setting this all up to fail so he can then move to the budget. That may be part of his Machiavellian scheme.”

Schumer is also pushing a Wednesday deadline for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion party-line spending plan to keep the two-track infrastructure strategy on its parallel rails. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed not to take up the bipartisan infrastructure proposal until the Senate passes a budget for their partisan spending package, and Marianne and Burgess report that calculus hasn’t changed with Schumer’s new deadline.

Read more on next week’s infrastructure rush from Marianne and Burgess.

ABOUT THOSE CARBON BORDER TARIFFS: Senior Senate Democrats still don’t have firm details on a carbon border fee as part of their party-line spending measure, but they vowed whatever they come up with will help protect American workers, Pro’s Anthony Adragna reports.

“The devil’s in the details. And we are nowhere near details,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who’s got legislation that he says would help U.S. manufacturing by targeting China, the world’s largest emitter, and pass muster with World Trade Organization rules.

As a refresher: These are a lot of the same questions that came up around Europe’s announcement of a carbon border adjustment this week, which prompted consternation from the Biden administration of possibly tainting the transatlantic climate partnership.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 1989: Tracy Stone-Manning, President Joe Biden’s pick to lead BLM, got dealt a whammy on Wednesday by Senate Republicans and an investigator involved in the 1989 tree spiking incident that has cast a shadow over her nomination. John Blount, one of the environmental extremists who organized the spiking incident, spoke with E&E News about the plot and said Stone-Manning was a tangential character in the event — even though she knew what others were preparing to do and sent a letter on their behalf warning the Forest Service.

“Was she heavily involved in the planning? Did she go put a nail in a tree or anything? Absolutely not,” he told E&E News. Blount said she had agreed to mail the letter well in advance of the tree spiking, though she didn’t follow through exactly on the plan, leading investigators to locate those behind the spiking.

It’s a defense Stone-Manning and her supporters have been pushing as Republicans try to sink her nomination. Republicans on the Senate Energy Committee wrote to Biden urging him to withdraw her nomination for not disclosing that she had been subjected to a federal investigation, and an investigator involved in the incident wrote to the committee that Stone Manning had been uncooperative and “anti-government” at the time.

But count Montana Sen. Jon Tester firmly unimpressed by the former investigator’s revelations. “This is a rehash of everything that’s been brought up,” Tester, who’s read the letter, told reporters. “I have worked with this woman very, very closely. She’s more solid than a lot of the people that are attacking her.”

GERMANY AND THE U.S., ENERGY FRENEMIES: As they try to paper over their spat around the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will deliver Russian gas to Germany, Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a U.S.-German energy and climate partnership Thursday. The plan is vague, but it includes U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, and German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Svenja Schulze.

The partnership will support sustainable energy transformations in developing regions (including Ukraine, which was vehemently opposed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline), concoct policy roadmaps to nullify emissions and share energy technology — and also calls for “preventing the use of energy as a coercive tool.”

“We share the goals of leading the world to develop the innovative tools urgently needed to accelerate global climate action and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in their economies by 2050 at the latest,” the White House wrote in a partnership fact sheet.

The announcement came amid last Merkel’s visit to the White House on Thursday. She and Biden had some fond buddying to do, reminiscing about their lengthy relationship and common commitment to democracy. But they were still very much not on the same page on Nord Stream 2. Biden told reporters that he had reiterated his concerns about the Russian pipeline into NATO territory, but conceded “good friends can disagree.” POLITICO’s Maeve Sheehy has more on Biden and Merkel’s appearance.

DOE PROMISES ZERO DAY PERMITTING FOR ROOFTOP SOLAR: The Energy Department unveiled a new platform Thursday to automatically review and approve permit applications for residential solar panels. The app, dubbed the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus or SolarAPP+, is meant to cut down on the soft costs of solar installations as part of the administration’s push for more green energy. Despite dramatic decreases in solar costs over the past 10 years, lengthy permitting processes continue to discourage homeowners from installing solar.

The soft costs of deploying residential solar — meaning the sales, permitting and other costs beyond the actual panels and equipment — made up about two-thirds of residential solar costs in 2018, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper celebrated DOE’s announcement Thursday, calling for SolarAPP+ funding in Congress’ infrastructure plans.

The program has already been tested in California and Arizona last year. Tucson’s average permitting time was reduced from 20 business days to none, according to DOE. The app will automatically approve applications that meet permitting requirements and send others on for further review.

UNFOLDING CRISIS: EPA on Wednesday issued a rare administrative order to water officials in Clarksburg, W.Va., after the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources discovered high blood lead levels among residents in May, and drinking water samples tested far above the federal action level for lead under the Safe Drinking Water Act, sometimes by orders of magnitude. The EPA order states that the lead levels “pose an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health” of residents exposed. The agency is ordering water officials to identify homes and businesses with lead service lines and provide clean water to impacted customers.

GREENS LOSE BID TO PROD BIDEN ON WOTUS: Environmental groups led by the Southern Environmental Law Center lost their legal bid to push the Biden EPA into moving faster to overturn the Trump administration’s contentious rule that decreased the number of streams and wetlands receiving federal Clean Water Act protection. In a short ruling without explanation Thursday, a federal judge in South Carolina agreed to remand the Trump Navigable Waters Protection Rule back to EPA for reconsideration but left it on the books in the meantime, as the Biden administration had requested.

Greens had opposed the Biden administration’s request and instead wanted the judge to rule directly on the Trump-era rule. While they support the Biden EPA’s plan to craft its own definition of protected waters, they say the agency is moving too slowly to take it off the books. They still have another legal shot, though, with a federal judge in Massachusetts still considering a similar request from groups including the Conservation Law Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

PERSONNEL DEPT: Phil Giudice, a top deputy of National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy, is no longer serving in the White House, POLITICO’s Daniel Lippman reports.

THE FORD 150 LIGHTNING CLUB: EPA Administrator Michael Regan got his own hand at testing out Ford’s new flagship EV pickup, and apparently reached one hundred and six miles per hour. When asked how his security felt about him driving those speeds, EPA spokesman Nick Conger replied: “They’re huge believers in an all electric future.” Regan joins the ranks of Biden and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of 150 Lightning joy riders.

WHAT HAPPENED AT FERC: The commission kicked off the revision process for transmission rules during its July public meeting, calling for comment on developing transmission siting, regional coordination, funding for projects and oversight on customer costs, Pro’s Eric Wolff reports.

The commission also denied a request from an Ohio utility for a bonus for new transmission projects as a reward for joining PJM and sent a five-year-old Total subsidiary case to an administrative court over a $213 million penalty, which Eric goes into here. The commission did not, however, rehear challenges to its five-year oil price index, with Chair Rich Glick suggesting to reporters that he pulled the item because he didn’t have the votes needed to reverse the December order setting the index.

CLEAN CAR STANDARD: A cohort of 30 energy and environment groups urged Biden to implement long-term vehicle emissions standards to spur the transition to EVs and reach a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. The groups pushed Biden to direct EPA to set long-term emissions standards by the end of 2022 that are not “undermined by complex credit schemes that reward automakers for reductions on paper that aren’t matched in real world performance.” EPA is currently considering near-term standards that go through model year 2026.

The signatories include Ceres, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, Consumer Federation of America and others. Read their letter here.

A DRY HALLOWEEN IN THE WEST: Drought conditions will continue in much of the Western U.S. through October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. That could spell even worse wildfires for what has already been a devastating season, Pro’s Zack Colman reports. NOAA predicted worse drought conditions in Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Washington and Colorado, but improvements in portions of Arizona and New Mexico. Zack has more for Pros.

Miles Grant is joining Denterlein as a vice president in its Boston office. Grant was previously director of media relations at Woodwell Climate Research Center and director of communications at the National Wildlife Federation.

— “White House announces ransomware task force — and hacking back is one option,” via POLITICO.

— “Oil-Demand Rebound Could Spur Inflation, Pressure Debt-Laden Nations, OPEC Says,” via The Wall Street Journal.

— “Fresh travel curbs amid COVID-19 surge mars outlook for Asian refiners,” via Reuters.

— “Facebook blocks highly targeted Iran-linked hacking campaign,” via POLITICO.

— “Parts of the Amazon Go From Absorbing Carbon Dioxide to Emitting It,” via The New York Times.

THAT’S ALL FOR ME!





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