White House unveils federal efficiency, climate plans

Source: By Kelsey Brugger, E&E • Posted: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

The White House on Wednesday announced a new suite of climate actions to compel the federal government’s antiquated building stock to electrify — soon. On a press call, White House officials laid out actions to decarbonize the federal government — a major energy consumer — in the coming years and decades. The White House officials struck a familiar tone, selling their policies as ways to create jobs and save taxpayers money. “We are focused on what we can get done in this decisive decade,” said Ali Zaidi, the White House climate adviser. “As with every sector, when we look at the opportunity, what we see is jobs and opportunity for U.S. industry.”

New powers, flexibility await Senate Democrats next year

Source: By Timothy Cama, Marc Heller, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

After winning an outright majority in the Senate on Tuesday, Democrats are delighted at the prospect of being able to move legislation and confirm nominees more easily. Many of President Joe Biden’s nominees have been stuck in limbo for months due to the current 50-50 partisan split in the Senate. A number of them are crucial to agencies such as EPA, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy and even an obscure mine safety and health commission. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D-Ga.) runoff win Tuesday will give Democrats 51 seats in the new Congress next month, ending two years in which committees frequently deadlocked on key votes, necessitating a long process to bring measures to the full Senate for passage.

What’s next for Manchin’s permitting bill

Source: By Nick Sobczyk, Jeremy Dillon, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

Sen. Joe Manchin isn’t giving up on trying to pass his overhaul of federal environmental rules, but the changes he’s made to the bill may have further alienated Democrats while doing little to assuage skeptical Republicans. It leaves Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, with slim chances of getting the bill — and the Mountain Valley pipeline — over the finish line before the end of the year. “It looks pretty grim,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a climate hawk who was supportive of Manchin’s draft permitting legislation in September.

Biden wants industry to fix the climate mess it helped create

Source: By Corbin Hiar, Kelsey Brugger, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

Over the last century, the American economy has been a major driver of climate change. Now President Joe Biden wants to redirect the nation’s industrial strength towards addressing the problem. Aided by historic climate spending legislation, the Biden administration is attempting to use the federal government’s immense purchasing power to catalyze an economic transformation that would boost domestic industries while effectively eliminating the nation’s planet-warming emissions by 2050.

5th Circuit may back Biden social cost of carbon

Source: By Niina H. Farah, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

A federal appeals court appeared poised Tuesday to uphold the Biden administration’s use of an interim climate metric to estimate the costs of rising greenhouse gas emissions. In oral arguments, a three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seemed skeptical that Republican-led states challenging the federal government had suffered any direct harm from agencies using the interim social cost of greenhouse gases. The court had blocked an order from a lower bench earlier this year that briefly halted agencies’ use of the interim estimates, but until yesterday, the 5th Circuit had not ruled on the substance of the arguments raised by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) and a coalition of other states.

White House reviewing governors’ E15 volatility petition

Source: By Cindy Zimmerman, AgWired • Posted: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

The White House Office of Management and Budget is now officially reviewing the request from nine Midwest governors to eliminate the 1-psi RVP waiver for E10 in their states, according to the dashboard. This means the petition remains on track for approval before summer 2023, just as Administrator Regan outlined a few months ago.

U.S. Gas Prices Are Now Lower Than a Year Ago

Source: By Isabella Simonetti, New York Times • Posted: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

After months in which gasoline prices in the United States have been one of the most visible symbols of inflation, they have a new distinction: Prices at the pump are now lower than they were a year ago. The reversal of the price escalation that accompanied Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will ease pressure on American consumers dealing with the high cost of other essentials.

OMB Reviewing Nine States’ E15 Requests

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

The White House Office of Management and Budget has launched an official review of a request by governors in nine states to change federal law to allow permanent year-round E15 sales, according to a posting on the OMB’s website. The move comes as agricultural groups are pushing Congress to pass a year-round E15 bill before lawmakers adjourn for the year. OMB reviews typically take up to 60 days to complete. Currently year-round E15 sales are curtailed by the EPA in high-ozone regions of the country from June to September.

EV Transition Threatened as Battery Prices Rise for First Time

Source: By David R Baker, Bloomberg • Posted: Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

The global average price for lithium-ion battery packs climbed 7% to $151 per kilowatt-hour, according to BNEF’s annual battery price survey. Never before in the 12 years BNEF has surveyed battery prices have they recorded an annual increase, instead dropping sharply as production grew. But this year’s rising costs for lithium, nickel and the other metals batteries contain have halted that decline and will keep prices around $152/kWh in 2023, BNEF predicts. Not until 2024, when more lithium production is expected to come online, are prices forecast to drop again. 

How Warnock’s win changes the climate game for Senate Dems

Source: By Adam Aton, Scott Waldman, E&E News • Posted: Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Top Democrats will regain subpoena power. Committee work should get easier. And Sen. Joe Manchin will lose some leverage — even as the West Virginia Democrat gains more leeway to buck President Joe Biden. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock’s victory over Republican Herschel Walker in Tuesday’s Georgia Senate runoff means Democrats will have a 51-seat majority in the next Congress, ending the longest period in history with an evenly divided Senate.