environment

Democrats weave climate messages into spending bills
Aggressive action on climate change and halting rollback of environmental regulations

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., shepherds action on the House’s environmental spending measure. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are using the budget process to offer a clear contrast ahead of an election year between their embrace of aggressive action on climate change and the rollbacks of environmental regulation championed by Republicans when they controlled the chamber in the 115th Congress.

Many of the provisions they’ve included in the fiscal 2020 spending bills may not survive the GOP-led Senate, but Democrats are aware of national polls showing growing voter concern about the climate crisis.

Trump energy plan faces legal blitz over weaker emissions standards
Democratic state AGs join environmental groups saying they’ll sue the federal government over the rule

Emissions spew from a large stack at the coal fired Brandon Shores Power Plant in Baltimore. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Blue states and green groups are gearing up to sue the Trump administration over its new carbon emissions rule finalized Wednesday, which critics say fails to address climate change and the public health risks associated with pollution from the power sector.

The EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule rescinds the Obama administration’s ambitious Clean Power Plan and replaces it with less stringent guidelines for states and coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions.

Capitol Ink | Inside Job

Trump EPA answer to Obama Clean Power Plan ‘does virtually nothing‘ to curb CO2
The new rule combines a Clean Power Plan repeal with new, less stringent emissions reductions guidelines

A flag hangs over an entrance to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington on April 22, 2017. The EPA finalized a rule Wednesday that would replace the Obama administration’s signature carbon emissions plan, scrapped by President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA finalized a rule Wednesday that would replace the Obama administration’s signature carbon emissions plan and give states more flexibility in emissions reduction, even as environmental advocates worry about the potential for increased pollution and threaten to sue.

The Affordable Clean Energy rule is the Trump EPA’s answer to the 2015 Clean Power Plan, which for the first time set nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants across the country.

James Inhofe and the art of the bipartisan joke
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 78

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe and ranking member Jack Reed have a warm relationship that enables them to move bipartisan legislation, something Inhofe discusses in the latest Political Theater podcast. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. James M. Inhofe is one conservative guy, and he is proud of it, trumpeting vote-tracking organizations that peg him as the most right-wing in the chamber. And yet, the Oklahoma Republican has an equally proud history of working with some of his most liberal colleagues on bipartisan legislation. 

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he and Rhode Island’s Jack Reed, the panel’s ranking Democrat, constructed the highly popular defense authorization bill the last two years. And before that, he worked quite productively with California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the yin to Inhofe’s yang on environmental issues, as leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee. This, despite Inhofe writing a book that claimed global warming was, as the title attested, “The Greatest Hoax.” And yet, “We prided ourselves in getting things done,” he says. 

Interior held back FOIA’d documents after political screenings
Watchdog: ‘Are there bad actors at these agencies that are willfully ignoring the law?’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has defended his department’s protocols on Freedom of Information Act requests, but watchdogs say the process is rife with political considerations and run outside the law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Documents sought under the Freedom of Information Act were withheld by the Interior Department under a practice that allowed political appointees to review the requests, internal emails and memos show.

The policy allowed high-ranking officials to screen documents sought by news organizations, advocacy groups and whistleblowers, including files set to be released under court deadlines. In some cases, the documents’ release was merely delayed. In other cases, documents were withheld after the reviews.

Virginia wins uranium mining ban battle in Supreme Court
The opinion highlighted sharp divisions among justices about how they should evaluate lawmaker motivations

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Virginia to prevent mining of the largest deposit of uranium in the United States. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Virginia to prevent mining of the largest deposit of uranium in the United States, in an opinion that highlighted sharp divisions among the justices about how they should evaluate the motivations of lawmakers.

The case turned on the regulatory line between state and federal authority over the extraction and then further processing of nuclear materials. Six of the justices agreed that a 1954 federal law, known as the Atomic Energy Act, did not preempt a state ban on mining.

Buffeted by trade winds, soybean farmers seek tax credit renewal
Industry ‘would be wiped out‘ if tariffs on Argentine competitors were lifted, Rep. Kind says

Freshman Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer, center, is seeking to restore the biodiesel credit (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One bright spot in an otherwise dreary outlook for U.S. soybean farmers, caught in the ongoing China trade war crossfire, has been the 1.5 gallons of biodiesel — a cleaner-burning alternative to traditional diesel motor fuel — that each bushel of soybeans yields.

Protected on one side by the EPA’s renewable fuels mandate and by steep import tariffs on the other, some biodiesel producers were able to post profits last year despite the lapse of the industry’s coveted $1 per gallon tax credit for the sale or use of the fuel.

Capitol Ink | Trade War Farmer

Military bases unprepared for gathering climate change storm 
Responses to hurricanes, flooding already raising alarm bells in Congress and beyond

Months after Hurricane Michael struck Tyndall Air Force Base in October, the main hangar’s roof is badly damaged. (Elvina Nawaguna/CQ Roll Call file photo)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — A mangled red, white and blue patrol plane still lies across what was once a park here where families played and picnicked, nine months after Hurricane Michael stormed out of the Gulf of Mexico with its 155-mile-per-hour winds.

And beyond that wreckage and other detritus, about 300 of this Air Force base’s nearly 500 damaged buildings are slated to be razed. The Air Force wants at least $4.25 billion to rebuild Tyndall at its current location on the Florida panhandle, a process the 325th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Brian Laidlaw, said could take several years.