Elvina Nawaguna

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

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

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.

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

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.

Legal pot makes it harder to recruit truck drivers, industry leader says
Companies find applicants withdraw when they learn of hair sample tests for drug use

As the trucking industry struggles with a driver shortage, the president of a major lobby placed part of the blame on wider acceptance by states of marijuana use.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear told lawmakers at a Wednesday hearing that legalization of recreational marijuana by states is making it harder for the industry to find drug-free drivers. Still, low pay and poor working conditions are also hurdles to industry recruitment, according to a union leader.

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 administration lifts summer restrictions on higher-ethanol gasoline
Lifting the rule delivers a lifeline to soybean farmers hit hard by the president’s tariff war with China and by recent flooding in the Midwest

The Trump administration on Friday finalized at the 11th hour a rule that would allow expanded sales of higher ethanol gasoline, even as the oil industry prepares to challenge the change in court.

The rule opening up year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, or E15, would deliver a lifeline to soybean farmers hit hard by the president’s tariff war with China and by recent flooding in the Midwest that deluged farms.

Trump to Democrats: OK new NAFTA before public works bill
‘Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,’ the president said

On the eve of his second meeting with congressional Democrats about a potential $2 trillion public works bill, President Donald Trump told them such legislation should take a back seat to his trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. “Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” the president continued.

FAA Nominee Faces Questions Over Boeing at Confirmation Hearing

Former Delta Air Lines executive Stephen Dickson told lawmakers he would review the system used by the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the safety of aircraft and over-reliance on automation by pilots if he is confirmed to lead the agency.

“I would never certify an airplane I wouldn’t put my family on,” Dickson told lawmakers at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he appeared Wednesday for his confirmation hearing.

White House stalls on endorsing $2 trillion for public works
Two sides will meet again in three weeks to discuss ways to pay for massive plan

Updated 7:13 p.m. | Congressional Democrats said President Donald Trump agreed to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package after a Tuesday morning meeting, but White House officials later said the administration is not ready to endorse a specific spending amount.

“We agreed on a number, which was very, very good,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said outside the White House following the meeting. “Originally, we had started a little lower but even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion. There was goodwill in this meeting and that was different from other meetings that we have had.”

Schumer: Gas tax hike should be tied to 2017 tax cut rollback
Democrats seek a plan going beyond highways, tackling clean energy and making infrastructure resilient to climate change

Updated 6:50 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants President Donald Trump to consider rolling back parts of his signature 2017 tax cuts as a condition for advancing legislation to raise the federal fuel tax, according to a person close to the New York Democrat, a demand that will complicate efforts to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill before the 2020 elections.

“Unless President Trump considers undoing some of the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy,” the person said, “Schumer won’t even consider a proposal from the president to raise the gas tax, of which the poor and working people would bear the brunt.”

Pelosi, Schumer head to the White House for infrastructure talks
Pelosi said in a letter the meeting will focus on advancing bipartisan action on a bill to grow the economy and create jobs

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer are expected to meet with the president at the White House on Tuesday to try to set a path to passage of a public works package as the 2020 elections draw nearer.

In a Friday letter to fellow lawmakers, Pelosi said the meeting will focus on advancing “bipartisan action on a bold infrastructure bill to create jobs and grow our economy in a green and modern way.”

Chao defends delayed 737 Max decision, to House appropriators
The FAA’s handling of the crash raises questions about how the agency operates

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao defended to House appropriators the administration’s decision not to immediately ground the Boeing 737 Max after an Ethiopian Airlines crash last month, even as other countries did so right away.

While Chao was appearing before the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee to defend the administration’s budget request for her agency, Chairman David E. Price, D-N.C., and ranking member Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., both said they wanted to understand more about the Federal Aviation Administration's process for certifying the model of the Boeing plane.

An overeager legal strategy may endanger Trump’s energy goals
In haste to pass its “energy dominance” agenda, the administration has suffered dozens of losses in court

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was unhappy with an April 5 ruling by Sharon Gleason, a federal judge in Anchorage, Alaska, who found that President Donald Trump had unlawfully lifted a ban prohibiting drilling in the Arctic Ocean, dealing the president’s fossil-fuel energy agenda a major blow.

“I strongly disagree with this ruling,” said Murkowski, who wants to open her state’s land and water to increased oil and gas leasing. “I expect this decision to be appealed and ultimately overturned.”

Trump contradicts his own plan to slash Great Lakes preservation funds
His budget proposed a 90 percent cut to the initiative’s budget, but Trump told supporters he would fund the program

For the third year in a row, President Donald Trump has proposed nearly wiping out funding for the Great Lakes preservation program. And yet on Thursday night, less than a month after proposing to slash 90 percent the initiative’s budget, Trump told supporters at a rally in Michigan that he would fund the program.

The reality is, Congress controls the federal purse strings and has in the past disregarded his calls for those sharp cuts, instead continuing to approve the funding at higher levels. A key appropriator called Trump’s assertions that he supports the program “phony.”

Senate Democrats dodge vote on Green New Deal resolution
Republicans had hoped to force 2020 presidential hopefuls into a tight spot

Senate Democrats backed away from a Green New Deal resolution offered by Republicans, even though it copied the version introduced and cheered by many Democratic lawmakers, including those running for president.

With all Republicans voting in the negative on the procedural vote, the resolution introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was thwarted, 0-57, preventing further action on the measure.

The ABCs of the Green New Deal
If climate change is the fulcrum propping up the plan, economic inequality is the foot stomping down on the raised end of the seesaw

Since the dangers of greenhouse gases became clear, American politicians have whittled away at climate change in incremental steps: energy-efficiency policies, U.N. climate treaties, basic research, fuel-consumption standards.

But they have not enacted a comprehensive plan to address climate change at the scale and with the speed climate scientists say is required to insulate humanity from what is to come.

This Democrat seeks GOP support with new climate action plan
Paul Tonko hopes to win over Republicans by tying solutions to job creation, technological advancements and other policies

A House Democrat hopes he can win over GOP support for a climate action by tying solutions to job creation, technological advancements and policies that do not create uncertainty for industry and families.

Rep. Paul Tonko who chairs the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, said Thursday he plans to tap into the apparent willingness of more Republicans recently to talk about climate change and come up with solutions both parties can agree on.

On the campaign trail, climate change can no longer be ignored
Democrats try to out-green each other as presidential race heats up

The 2020 elections are still many months away, but 17-year-old Michael Minsk is already following it closely as more candidates enter the race. Eager to vote for the first time next year, the high school junior is looking for a candidate promising bold action on climate change.

“Climate change is definitely one of the issues I will be voting on along with other social and economic problems,” said Minsk, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. “I am tired of corruption in government that prevents politicians from acting on it, so I want someone that will stand up and make changes.”

Graves sees a positive role for GOP in new select climate committee
Louisiana Republican is optimistic some bipartisan ideas can come out of the panel

Rep. Garret Graves says he wasn’t keen on joining the select committee to address climate change formed by the new Democratic House majority in January.

But on Feb. 28, weeks after the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis had been formed and long after the Democrats had announced their roster, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appointed the Louisiana Republican as co-chairman.