Benjamin Hulac

Trump announces Brouillette as Energy nominee to replace Perry
Brouillette worked at DOE during the George W. Bush administration and has followed Perry’s lead on policy

President Donald Trump said Friday he is nominating Dan Brouillette to be the top official at the Energy Department, replacing Secretary Rick Perry, and the department said it would not comply with a congressional subpoena for records about Perry’s contacts with officials in Ukraine.  

Trump made the announcement about Brouillette on Twitter a day after Perry told the president he would resign from the post this year.  

Schumer says Democrats will force votes on climate policy

Senate Democrats aim to force a floor vote on a Trump administration proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which replaced a significantly more stringent Obama-era regulation, according to Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

The caucus will trigger a vote on the plan as part of a series of roll call votes that Democrats in the chamber plan to highlight bills and issues that they say Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are ignoring, Schumer said Thursday.

Impeachment committees subpoena Perry for records
Democrats want Energy secretary to turn over files about interactions with Ukrainian officials

The chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees subpoenaed Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday, demanding records about his interactions with Ukrainian officials, including the president, a central figure in their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

In a letter, Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel requested Perry turn over files about his knowledge of a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy and his activities in and business connections to Ukraine, including with a state-run natural gas company, Naftogaz.

Perry: No plans to resign, urged Ukraine call on energy issues
Several news organizations reported last week that Perry planned to resign by the end of November

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he “absolutely” encouraged President Donald Trump to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in July to discuss energy issues, but not to pressure authorities there to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and said he was not resigning.

Speaking in Vilnius, Lithuania, at an energy conference that included officials from Ukraine, Perry said he told Trump to call Zelenskiy.

If Perry leaves Energy, his deputy seems likely to sustain his policies
Rumors of Perry's impending departure put Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette in spotlight

The No. 2 man at the Energy Department is primed to carry on the agency’s “energy dominance” agenda should his boss, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, step down.

Perry is preparing to step down before the end of November, Politico and other media outlets reported Thursday, a decision that would end the service of one of President Donald Trump’s longest-lasting Cabinet secretaries. Perry’s departure would likely place Dan Brouillette, the deputy secretary, in charge of the Energy Department.

Impeachment panels demand Rick Perry travel, meeting records
Letter makes plain House Democrats view Perry as a key figure in their impeachment inquiry

Chairmen of three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Friday demanded Vice President Mike Pence turn over documents related to the president’s campaign to pressure Ukraine for political objectives, including records from Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the department he runs.

The Department of Energy did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

US ambassador with coal ties arrives as UN begins climate talks
Craft could mold process by which the U.S. gets out of the Paris climate agreement

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York for a climate change summit Monday, America’s new ambassador to the global body was focused on other business.

“Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry: stop,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his opening remarks. Germany announced climate mitigation pledges. Pope Francis delivered a call to action in a video message. French President Emmanuel Macron praised young people for demanding political action to rein in emissions.

As House passes Arctic drilling ban, Interior goes the other way
Trump administration moves to open part of sensitive area to drilling, a win for Alaska Republicans

The Interior Department and the House are moving in different directions on Arctic drilling.

Hours after the House voted 225-193 to block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the agency said it was moving to open a portion of the area to drilling.

EPA offers rollback of methane rules to mixed industry reaction
The EPA wants to reverse Obama administration rules requiring oil and gas companies to capture methane releases at their wells

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday moved to roll back federal methane regulations for oil and gas companies, a decision that drew lukewarm industry reaction and could trigger lawsuits.

The agency is proposing to reverse regulations adopted by the Obama administration that require oil and natural gas companies to install equipment to capture methane gas releases at their wells, pipelines and other sites. Under the proposal, the agency would no longer specifically regulate the potent greenhouse gas that is up to 80 times more powerful, in the short term, than carbon dioxide.

Nuclear power would get support in bipartisan Senate bill
With support from industry, legislation touted as a way to extend the lifespan and efficiency of America’s nuclear plants

A bipartisan pair of senators unveiled nuclear energy legislation Wednesday, describing it as a serious and pragmatic approach to tackle climate change and connecting it to rising greenhouse gas emissions specifically.

Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Martha McSally of Arizona floated the bill, which has support from the nuclear power lobby, as a way to extend the lifespan and efficiency of America’s fleet of nuclear power plants.

Climate panel‘s Casten holds stake in wood-burning energy firm
Renewable biomass energy company cited for water violations

Rep. Sean Casten, a member of a House committee created to address climate change, has a financial stake in a California energy company that burns wood to generate electricity and operates a power plant that repeatedly violated federal water laws.

The first-term Illinois Democrat disclosed a $250,001 to $500,000 stake in Greenleaf Power LLC, a privately held Sacramento, Calif.-headquartered, biomass company, in June, according to his most recent financial disclosure.

Bipartisan bills push carbon tax, as GOP pollster offers Democrats help on climate
Frank Luntz pledged to help Democrats with their climate messaging

Climate change policy may be in for a softer, less polarized atmosphere with Republicans and Democrats teaming up on a flotilla of legislation to tax carbon emissions and decarbonize American industries, and a longtime Republican spin guru pledging to help Democrats with their climate messaging.

For instance, in the Senate, Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Cory Booker of New Jersey joined with Republicans Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Mike Braun of Indiana on Thursday to introduce a bill targeting emissions from the industrial sector.

Pallone promises climate legislation that even Republicans might like
Looks to zero out U.S. carbon emissions by 2050

House Democrats unveiled an agenda to zero out U.S. carbon emissions by 2050 and left open the menu of energy sources and policies they would use to meet that goal.

Speaking to reporters and environmental activists on Tuesday, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the panel would begin working on legislation to reach that target, a threshold scientists say is vital to staving off dramatic climate change.

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

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.

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

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.

Trump denies climate change as his Pentagon prepares for it
CQ on Congress podcast, Episode 156

In this episode of CQ on Congress, former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says President Trump's climate change denial risks an apocalyptic future that will stress the U.S. military. Ben Hulac, author of a forthcoming CQ magazine cover story on how climate change is affecting the Arctic, explains why that could create conflict between world powers.

Democrats want to require Pentagon to study climate change risks on military bases
It’s the latest effort by House Democrats to scrutinize and quantify the challenges a warming planet poses to the military

House Democrats will seek to include in the proposed National Defense Authorization Act language that would require the Pentagon to more aggressively study the risks posed to its bases by climate change, their latest effort to scrutinize and quantify the challenges a warming planet poses to the military.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow unveiled a summary of the measure Thursday, saying it will be included in the chairman’s mark to be offered by Washington Rep. Adam Smith, who leads the House Armed Services Committee that takes up the bill June 12.

Safe climate a constitutional right, young plaintiffs tell court
But government argues case violates Constitution’s separation of powers

PORTLAND, Ore. — A court case brought by 21 children and young adults asserting a constitutional right to safe climate may turn on the judiciary’s view of its own power to create climate policy.

Much of a hearing before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here Tuesday afternoon centered on the judicial role in establishing a response to climate change and what rights a group of young activists have to challenge the government’s role in creating a climate crisis. If successful, the suit could require federal agencies to create a comprehensive climate action plan. The shape of such a plan is still unclear. 

Trump admin. pans Democrats’ plan to protect areas in Alaska and offshore
An Office of Management and Budget letter, dated last week, called it an attempt to ‘block’ activities promoting ‘America’s energy security’

The White House budget office criticized House Democrats over provisions in their spending bills that would block the Interior Department from pursuing lease sales in offshore waters and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an ecologically sensitive region in Alaska.

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved the $46.4 billion Energy-Water and $39.5 billion Interior-Environment fiscal 2020 spending bills.

Bernhardt defends Interior public records review policy
Bernhardt said the so-called ‘awareness review’ policy was legal and ‘very long-standing in the department’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt defended on Wednesday the agency’s policy allowing politically appointed officials to review and comment on public records requests that relate to them.

Appearing before a Senate appropriations subcommittee to testify about his department’s budget, Bernhardt said the so-called “awareness review” policy was legal.