Energy & Environment

Senate E-filing Launches New Era in Campaign Disclosures
Advocates for political money transparency praised the move away from snail-mail reports.

With the signing of a spending bill on Friday, Senators and Senate candidates are required to file campaign finance information to the Federal Election Commission electronically. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

It’s been a good week for advocates of faster, and more, political money disclosure.

With President Donald Trump’s signature Friday, it’s official: Senate candidates now must file their campaign finance reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission, making it easier for reporters, voters and opponents alike to sift through donor and spending disclosures.   

Despite New Tariffs, China Still Not Budging on Trade Tactics, White House Says
Senior official indicates Canada no closer to joining Mexico trade deal than it was when talks started

U.S. and Chinese flags on a table where military leaders from the two countries met in 2014. Four year later, the economic giants are in the midst of a bitter trade dispute. Depsite President Trump’s tariff's little progress has been made, an official said Friday. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle)

The Trump administration is not aiming to “cleve off” the U.S. economy from China’s, but it intends to continue pressuring the Asian giant even though tough moves like repeated rounds of tariffs have yet to bring the fundamental changes President Donald Trump is demanding.

“Our goal is not to totally divorce our economies from each other,” said a senior official who briefed reporters Friday at the White House about trade matters. “Our goal is for China to stop behaving unfairly.”

North Dakota Senate Race Could Come Down to Fossil Fuels
The problem? Heitkamp and Cramer have strikingly similar stances on energy

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer are vying for North Dakota’s Senate seat. They’re also racing to show off their energy chops. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The two candidates for the Senate seat in North Dakota — a toss-up race with massive implications for control of the chamber next Congress — are touting their Capitol Hill energy policy chops to gain an edge in one of the tightest races in the 2018 midterm election.

The race has triggered an escalating argument between Democratic incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and her GOP challenger Rep. Kevin Cramer over which one is the best champion of the state’s fossil fuel industries that rank among the most productive in the nation.

Ocelots, Butterflies in Path of Border Wall
As DHS waives its way across Texas, Congress is rethinking a thirteen-year-old law

Barriers at the southern border hem in more than people, environmentalists say. Wildcats, tortoises and other animals can get trapped. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

When rains pushed the Rio Grande River to flood stage in 2010, an existing border wall acted as a flood barrier, protecting some lowlands but also trapping some animals. A 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club noted the discovery after the flooding of shells from “hundreds” of Texas tortoise, which that state lists as a threatened species.

“Animals caught between the river and the flood wall that could not escape around the edges of the floodwalls likely perished,” said the report. Endangered species like the ocelot and jaguarundi, both small wildcats, also might have died, according to the report.

Cruz, O’Rourke Steal Spotlight, but House Races in Texas Are Heating Up Too
Democrats eye multiple pickup opportunities in Lone Star State

Democrats say energy around Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign could help their House candidates in Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Texas Senate race has been grabbing headlines lately, but Democrats hoping for good news in November from the Lone Star State might want to focus further down the ballot, where several contests could be critical to House control.

Both parties have ramped up their activities in a handful of competitive Texas districts, with the Republican and Democratic campaign committees launching television ads in key races last week.

EPA Watchdog to Step Down as Scott Pruitt Probes Continue
Arthur Elkins had contradicted the former administrator’s account of his security detail

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies during a hearing in May. The inspector general who led multiple investigations of his spending habits is retiring this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA’s inspector general, who led multiple investigations into former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and management practices at the agency, will leave in October, his office announced Tuesday.

Arthur A. Elkins Jr., who has been EPA inspector general since 2010, said in a news release that he will retire on Oct. 12, but did not indicate whether his departure is related to issues at the agency. Before becoming inspector general, Elkins worked as associate general counsel in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel.

A Workhorse and a Hard Charger Aim for Transportation Top Spot
Sam Graves and Jeff Denham mostly align on policy, but couldn’t vary more in style

An airplane takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport at sunrise on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The personalities of the two candidates angling to be the next top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee may be the starkest difference between them.

As Steering Committee members decide committee leadership posts later this year, they’ll have to choose between behind-the-scenes operator Sam Graves of Missouri and Jeff Denham, a hard-charging Californian best known for nearly forcing House leadership’s hand on immigration votes by advancing a discharge petition earlier this year. 

Spending Vote Deal and No Brett Kavanaugh Markup Means Quick Senate Exit
Senators set to vote to fund government through at least Dec. 7

Reporters question Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process as he returns to his office from the Senate floor on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators made another quick exit from the Capitol on Tuesday.

The chamber was always going to be closed for business Wednesday, in observance of Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown Tuesday. But getting the next two-bill spending package done and ready for the House next week could easily move up the departure.

Carbon Dioxide Isn’t Just a Problem. It’s a Lucrative Product
America needs to invest in the next big thing — direct air capture and storage

America should invest in technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, Dorgan writes. Above, haze surrounds Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley, California, in 2017. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — While some experts butt heads over how to slash global carbon emissions, others are experimenting with ways to suck already-emitted gas out of the atmosphere and either store it or roll it back into useful products.

This technology, called direct air capture and storage, is among several strategies that could revolutionize the energy industry and make cleaning up the environment an increasingly profitable enterprise.

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.

Capitol Ink | Washington Paper Towel Monument

Trump, White House Will Let Senators Resolve Kavanaugh Fracas
President sharply questions top Judiciary Democrat Feinstein’s tactics

President Donald Trump greets Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his family while announcing his nomination to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump and his White House staff have handed Senate Republicans the reins, hoping they can steer Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh around sexual misconduct allegations and onto the high court.

Trump remained silent about allegations made by Kavanaugh’s accuser for most of Monday before the president backed delaying the confirmation process — which had included a planned Thursday vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee — so senators can hear from Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford. But Trump also called the notion of withdrawing the nomination “ridiculous.”

Former Rep. John Dingell Suffers Heart Attack
Longest serving member reportedly in good spirits

Former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., speaks at an event held by the Capitol Historical Society to honor the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Statuary Hall in the Capitol Wednesday evening May 23, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Former Michigan Rep. John Dingell suffered a heart attack Monday morning, according to his wife and congressional successor Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell.

“It appears John Dingell had a heart attack early this morning,” Debbie Dingell said in a statement. “He’s alert and in good spirits, cracking jokes like always. He’s in the process of being admitted to Henry Ford Hospital. Our sincere thanks to all the medical professionals and nurses at our sides. We’ll know more later.”

Trump Tweet Jeopardizes Bipartisan Puerto Rico Bill
Grijalva: ‘It makes people that want to work on compromise become really suspicious’

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the president’s Puerto Rico tweets have fanned the flames of suspicion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s comments defending his administration’s response to the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last year may have stymied chances for a bipartisan bill to reduce politicization and patronage at the territory’s publicly-owned electric utility, which some see as a key impediment slowing modernization of the island’s grid.

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah and ranking member Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona both say that action is needed to create safeguards to protect the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority from political influence.

Pelosi, Dems Slam Trump Over Hurricane Response
A year after Maria and Irma, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands still need help, they say

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says the Trump administration has a moral obligation to do better than it has in its response to Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had long been planning to convene a press conference Friday to talk about the ongoing recovery needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands a year after two hurricanes hit the American territories. She didn’t know President Donald Trump would fire off tweets Thursday accusing Democrats of inflating the hurricane’s death toll.

But the president choosing to “add salt to the wounds,” as Pelosi described it, only underscored her message that the federal response to Hurricane Maria has been woefully inadequate.