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— The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee tackles the debate over mandatory funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.Story Continued Below
— The Senate has begun formal debate on the annual defense policy bill that lawmakers are hoping will provide a lift for a legislative package on PFAS chemicals.
— FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee wants to hear from state regulators on their ideas for grid resilience and fuel security as the commission mulls whether federal intervention is needed.
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SENATE PANEL STEPS INTO LWCF FRAY: Senators on the Energy Committee will examine the implementation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund this morning amid internal Republican divisions over mandatory funding for the landmark conservation program. Some opponents are concerned it would take away their oversight of how money is spent.
Assistant Interior Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Susan Combs and acting Deputy U.S. Forest Service Chief Chris French will both testify, along with experts from the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers, the National Wildlife Federation and the Property and Environment Research Center.
Bill to watch: Energy ranking member Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced S. 1081 (116), the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, with 40 co-sponsors. The measure would provide full, mandatory funding for the program at a level of $900 million, while nixing the requirement that funds must be appropriated. The bill’s co-sponsors include four GOP senators up for reelection in 2020 in key races, two of whom are on the ENR panel — Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Steve Daines (Mont.).
“Permanent funding is the next step Congress must take after our historic achievement earlier this year to permanently reauthorize the LWCF program,” Manchin will say today in his opening statement. He’ll add: “I recognize that passing bills that provide meaningful dedicated funding will be a challenge, but there is broad, bipartisan support for both the deferred maintenance and LWCF funding bills.”
The hearing follows recent action in the House on the issue. The Natural Resources Committee last week advanced H.R. 3195 (116), sponsored by Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), to make permanent annual LWCF funding. The push follows a massive public lands bill signed by the president this year that tackled permanent reauthorization of the program but left its funding subject to the annual appropriations process.
— Catch up: The U.S. Government Accountability Office last week released a report on how LWCF appropriations were spent over the past five years that was requested by Chairman Lisa Murkowski.
LIFE COMES AT YOU PFAS: The Senate last night adopted, 86-6, a motion to proceed to the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1790 (116), kicking off formal debate on the annual defense policy bill that senators eyed to include language addressing toxic PFAS chemical contamination in drinking water.
Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly filed cloture on a substitute amendment adding dozens of non-controversial amendments offered by Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). McConnell also filled the amendment tree — a procedural tactic that prevents other amendments from being called up on the floor — and filed cloture on the underlying bill.
McConnell previously said that the bill would be open to amendment, but the procedural tactic used Monday evening hamstrings Democrats, who want an amendment to limit President Donald Trump’s ability to wage a war against Iran without Congress’ consent, as POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine and Burgess Everett report. If Democrats banded together, they could block the measure from moving forward given the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to end debate.
HITCHING A RIDE ON THE MINIBUS: The House on Monday adopted an amendment to the fiscal 2020 minibus, H.R. 3055 (116), aimed at preventing the shipment of liquefied natural gas by rail, Pro’s Brianna Gurcillo reports. The amendment by House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) prohibits funds from being used to implement part of an executive order that instructs DOT to propose and finalize a rule to “treat LNG the same as other cryogenic liquids and permit LNG to be transported in approved rail tank cars.”
DEMS WANT ANSWERS ON BURIED USDA CLIMATE STUDIES: Democratic senators are demanding answers following a POLITICO investigation that found dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change have not been publicized at the Agriculture Department.
2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar sent a letter Monday to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressing “deep concern and alarm” over the report, POLITICO’s Helena Bottemiller Evich reports. The Minnesota Democrat asked the department to explain its justification for not publicizing certain studies and to immediately release “any [Agricultural Research Service] study related to climate science that was ignored, downplayed, or its findings held back.”
Klobuchar isn’t the only one. Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) tweeted the Trump administration “should not be burying vital research that will help us understand and combat the effects of climate change.” Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also tweeted: “While our farmers fight against #ClimateChange, #USDA is shamefully fighting against #science.”
CHATTERJEE FLOATS STATE TASK FORCE ON RESILIENCE: In January of last year, FERC quashed a coal and nuclear support proposal from the Energy Department, and in turn opened up a larger discussion on grid resilience and fuel security and whether federal intervention is needed. On Monday, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said he wants to hear from state regulators on just that.
Chatterjee told a group of state regulators Monday that a task force featuring FERC and state commissioners could help build on the record in FERC’s resilience proceeding, Pro’s Gavin Bade reports. “I don’t want to get ahead of my colleagues or you all, but that’s a discussion I’d like to have in the coming days and weeks,” Chatterjee said at the annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners. A task force would be “a prudent way to continue to build off the record that we’ve constructed,” he added.
Chatterjee told POLITICO he is satisfied with the responses from PJM and ISO-NE, which have already studied the issue of fuel security. But he said he is also weighing whether to ask the nation’s four other grid operators under his jurisdiction to do similar fuel-security analyses. That move could prove controversial with consumer groups, Gavin reports, many of which view the PJM fuel security debate as a cover for large generators to secure higher payments for their power plants.
UNIONS, GREENS OUTLINE NET-ZERO PLATFORM: The BlueGreen Alliance — a coalition of labor unions and environmental associations whose members include the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club — outlined a platform Monday to guide the development of climate change policy, Pro’s Ben Lefebvre reports.
The platform calls for reducing U.S. emissions to net-zero by 2050 while also promoting investment in clean-tech infrastructure and public workforce. It also calls for growing labor union membership, investing in workplace training and improving workplace safety.
MAIL CALL! The Carbon Capture Coalition sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee’s energy task force Monday with recommendations for reforming the so-called 45Q tax credit for carbon dioxide sequestration. In the letter, the coalition recommends that Congress amend the Internal Revenue Code to prevent disallowance of 45Q under the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax, among other recommendations.
WHERE’S PERRY? Energy Secretary Rick Perry is back on the Hill this morning to discuss research and development at the Energy Department at a House Science Committee hearing.
KEEPING UP WITH THE CRAFTS: New emails reported by the Associated Press show a “blurring of roles” between Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and current U.S. ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, and her husband, coal magnate Joseph Craft. In one email described by the AP, the coal baron replied “Thanks!!” to a December 2017 email from EPA officials that was addressed to “Ambassador Craft.”
TRUMP NOMINATES ONE TO CHEMICAL BOARD: Trump on Monday sent to the Senate his nomination for Katherine Andrea Lemos to be a member of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
— “Hidden oil spill: New study contradicts owner’s claims,” via the Associated Press.
— “Emails show scramble to dump Stonewall pride flag: ‘Oy vey’,” via E&E News.
— “A leader of America’s fracking boom has second thoughts,” via The Wall Street Journal.
— “British company that services wind turbines wants to move U.S. operations to R.I.,” via the Providence Journal.
— “The polygamist accused of scamming the U.S. out of $500 million,” via Bloomberg Businessweek.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!