With help from Zack Colman, Anthony Adragna, and Alex Guillén
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— President Donald Trump is in Pittsburgh today, where he will likely announce the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. Trump is using his return to a conference he last spoke at during the 2016 campaign to make the announcement.
— The Supreme Court handed the oil industry a loss when it refused to hear arguments against a trio of climate lawsuits. The industry had hoped the high court would block the suits brought under state laws.
— A dozen North East corridor governors are eyeing a gas tax to fund their transition off of fossil fuels. The governors see the tax as a way to fund mass transit and electrification while counteracting the Trump Administration’s fuel economy rollback.
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TALKING PARIS IN PITTSBURGH: With impeachment drama mounting in Washington, President Donald Trump will decamp to Pittsburgh today to address a friendly crowd at an oil and gas conference. Trump last spoke at Shale Insight as a candidate in 2016, when he promised to cut regulations in an effort to unleash the business of extracting and selling fossil fuels.
While there, he “is highly expected” to announce the U.S. will officially begin the process of withdrawing from the Paris climate accord as soon as it can, according to a former administration official who has been in contact with the White House. The location of today's speech provides a callback to Trump's 2017 announcement he would leave the international climate deal, when he said, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
The U.S. is eligible to withdraw on Nov. 4, and beginning the paperwork then would set the U.S. up for a chance to fully break from the pact one day after the 2020 presidential election, as the process takes one year from submitting the withdrawal notice. It would also come just weeks ahead of the U.N. climate negotiations in Santiago, Chile, where diplomats are putting the finishing touches on the rules guiding compliance with the Paris agreement.
OIL GETS 1-2-3 PUNCH AT SCOTUS: Big oil companies lost an intermediate but closely watched battle over climate change at the Supreme Court on Tuesday when the justices declined to save them from three different state-level lawsuits. While such suits are effectively barred at the federal level, some states and cities are testing whether state laws on public nuisance and product liability have opened a door to sue fossil fuel companies. The Supreme Court rejected the companies’ request to halt state-level proceedings in separate cases brought by Baltimore, Rhode Island and Boulder, Colo., while the companies appeal the venue issue in the federal courts. That means the states and cities can get cracking on their lawsuits.
Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis said in a statement that the high court’s decision brings “us one step closer to putting the high costs of adapting to and surviving the harmful consequences of climate change where they belong: on the fossil fuel companies who knowingly caused the crisis in the first place.”
PERRY WATCH: The latest testimony in the House impeachment inquiry offered only a small new nugget about Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s role in what the top U.S. envoy in Ukraine, William Taylor, said were intense efforts by Trump administration officials to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically motivated investigations of Trump's rivals. Taylor said Perry was part of a June 28 conference call in which former U.S. special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said he planned “to be explicit with President Zelensky in a one-on-one meeting in Toronto on July 2” about what Zelensky needed to do to get a White House meeting with Trump.
Perry has been adamant that he never heard former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter mentioned in connection to Ukraine, but he’s also declined to comply with a House subpoena to provide information about the administration’s pressure on Zelensky. It’s not yet clear if Democrats plan to subpoena Perry to testify, though even some Republicans are starting to see his cooperation as important.
WHO EXTENDS THE EXTENDERS?: Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a champion of expanding the electric vehicle credit, told ME’s colleagues at Morning Tax Tuesday that a legislative package of energy-related tax extenders is nearly complete, though it currently doesn’t have any offsets. The expectation is that Democrats will release the bill, essentially laying a marker for the bicameral negotiations over passing tax priorities by the end of the year. But with the next potential legislative vehicle less than a month away — there’s a government funding deadline on Nov. 21 — both Kildee and people closely watching the issue off the Hill said it might not make any sense for the Ways and Means Committee to hold a markup. Outside of the electric vehicle credit, incentives for solar, onshore and offshore wind, and energy storage all appear to be in the mix.
“Timing has been an issue,” said Kildee. “My goal from the beginning was get it done this fall. It may be the cooler section of this fall.”
And offsets? Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on Ways and Means, said he fully expected House Democrats to target oil-and-gas incentives, which would be more for messaging and have zero chance in ending up in a final deal.
Across the Rotunda: Staff for Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) briefed Republicans on the panel on tax extenders on Tuesday morning. Grassley, who is himself a fan of some alternative energy incentives, has been pushing to retroactively restore the temporary preferences that expired at the end of 2017 for a couple years (i.e., for the next two months). “I can’t give you the details because we’re negotiating,” he said.
SHELBY UPBEAT ON MINIBUS: Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby told reporters he’s optimistic the chamber will clear a four-title minibus, H.R. 3055 (116), including funding for EPA and Interior, by the end of this week. Shelby said he’s unaware of amendments to the package. Of course, the chambers would still have to resolve differences in their versions after this one clears the Senate, but Shelby’s still feeling upbeat. “We’re making progress,” he said.
67 DEMS THREATEN NDAA OVER TACKLING PFAS: A group of 67 House Democrats and one Republican threatened to oppose the National Defense Authorization Act if it does not address PFAS contamination. The group sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees insisting that the bill retain House-passed provisions requiring rules against PFAS discharges into water and designating PFAS as hazardous for purposes of the Superfund, Pro’s Annie Snider reports.
HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE TO DIVE INTO OIL INDUSTRY AND CLIMATE: A Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee will meet today to look into the oil industry’s approach to cliamte change. The witness list includes Exxon critics and plaintiffs like whistleblower Ed Garvey and activists Naomi Oreskes and Sharon Eubanks.
E&C TO GET CORNY, EXPECT PUNS: Puns from your ME host, of course. The Environment and Climate Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Tuesday it will hold a hearing on Oct. 29 to look into EPA’s expanded use of small refinery waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
WOTUS REPEAL PUBLISHED; OPEN THE LEGAL FLOODGATES: The Waters of the U.S. rule officially came off the books Tuesday when the administration's repeal was published in the Federal Register. Now comes the lawsuits. The Pacific Legal Foundation, on behalf of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, was first out of the gate, suing because the repeal restores previous rules from 1986 and guidance from 2008, Annie reports. The foundation argues the old rules are too expansive.
IS BREATHING SOOT BAD FOR YOU? EPA SCIENCE BOARD UNCERTAIN: A panel of EPA scientists offered mixed conclusions on whether science backs reductions in particulate, or soot, pollution in the air. As Pro’s Alex Guillén reports, EPA staff issued a policy assessment suggesting the current standard be slashed by a third to protect the public health. But two members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee raised questions about whether the science supported such a conclusion. “The [policy assessment] provides no valid scientific information about how changing PM air quality standards would change (or, in the recent past, has changed) public health risks,” wrote CASAC Chairman Tony Cox. CASAC members also wondered whether the tight schedule set by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler would allow enough time for their comments to matter.
LANNY ERDOS TAPPED TO LEAD OSMRE OFFICIALLY: Trump has nominated Lanny Erdos to become the director of the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation and Enforcement within the Interior Department. Erdos has filled the roll in an acting capacity since early September. He previously spent over 30 years working for the state of Ohio.
A GAS TAX TO END ALL GAS TAXES: A bipartisan group of a dozen northeastern and Mid-Atlantic governors are considering a plan to impose a gas tax to fund investment into mass transit, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and other infrastructure improvements in an effort to ween themselves from fossil fuels. Pro New York’s Marie French reports the plan will be modeled on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a northeastern cap and trade collective that has reduced power plant emissions in six northeastern states.
“In the face of continued inaction and all out climate denial from the Trump Administration, regional, cooperative efforts… are critically important to reduce the pollution that causes climate change and build a robust clean energy economy,” said New York Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos in a statement. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, New York, Maine and New Hampshire are all working on the program.
— Nevada leaders say Trump’s pick for energy secretary must keep promise to remove plutonium, Reno Gazette Journal
— Exxon’s Climate Fraud Trial Opens to a Packed New York Courtroom, Inside Climate News
— Prosecutors flagged possible ties between Ukrainian gas tycoon and Giuliani associates, Washington Post