White House Joins European Leaders In Calling For Global Vaccine Program

By MATTHEW CHOI 

With help from Kelsey Tamborrino and Josh Siegel

Editor’s Note:  Morning Energy is a free version of POLITICO Pro Energy’s morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories. 

Act on the news with POLITICO Pro .

— The Biden administration is looking for alternatives for Russian natural gasto alleviate Europe's reliance on the country's resources as tensions mount over Ukraine.

— The House unveiled its competitiveness bill, tightening up trade policy to defend U.S. industry. But that could create conflicts with the Senate's version of the package.

— EPA will roll out a series of new initiatives to help environmental justice communities as the administration fields pressure to take more tangible action.

WELCOME TO WEDNESDAY! I’m your host, Matthew Choi. Congrats to DOE’s Amy Royden-Bloom for knowing Longyearbyen is the largest town in Svalbard. For today’s trivia: Which Quebecois icon represented Switzerland in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest? Send your tips and trivia answers to span data-cfemail="9af7f9f2f5f3daeaf5f6f3eef3f9f5b4f9f5f7"">>[email protected]. Find me on Twitter @matthewchoi2018.

Check out the POLITICO Energy podcast — all the energy and environmental politics and policy news you need to start your day, in just five minutes. Listen and subscribe for free at politico.com/energy-podcast. On today's episode: Baltimore vs. Big Oil: Round 2.

Driving the Day

THE EUROPEAN ENERGY CONTINGENCY:As fears of Russian aggression on Ukraine reach a fever pitch, the Biden administration is working with overseas partners to address one of Europe’s biggest economic concerns in the conflict: access to Russian energy. Russia is the European Union’s top supplier of natural gas, putting Western continental leaders in a bind and tempering their approach to the conflict relative to Washington. The situation is only exacerbated by fuel shortages in Europe this winter, which the International Energy Agency partially blamed on the Russian-made supply tightness.

The Biden administration is working with other natural gas suppliers around the world, including in the U.S., North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, to offer alternative sources and provide a buffer should Russia use its energy resource as political leverage, a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday.

The official wouldn’t further specify where the alternative gas would come from, citing market sensitivities, though it would be from a “multitude” of sources contributing smaller volumes. The administration already made forays with Qatar about potentially supplying liquefied natural gas to Europe, Bloomberg reported over the weekend. Biden will host Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the White House this month where they will discuss maintaining global energy supplies, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Tuesday.

Several U.S. LNG suppliers also got White House calls, Pro’s Ben Lefebvre reports, but with most LNG shipments already under contract, it would be costly for them to divert shipments to Europe.

The White House didn’t mince words in vowing to take aggressive action against any Russian incursions on Ukraine. The administration is considering sanctions “with massive consequences that were not considered in 2014,” an administration official told reporters.

“The gradualism of the past is out,” the official said.

The official emphasized to reporters Tuesday that Russia is equally dependent on Europe purchasing its natural gas to keep its economy afloat. “So, if Russia decides to weaponize its supply of natural gas or crude oil, it wouldn’t be without consequences to the Russian economy,” the official said.

Ben has more on the energy plans, and POLITICO’s Quint Forgey has more on the escalating situation in Eastern Europe.

>

JOIN FRIDAY TO HEAR FROM GOVERNORS ACROSS AMERICA : As we head into the third year of the pandemic, state governors are taking varying approaches to public health measures including vaccine and mask mandates. "The Fifty: America's Governors" is a series of live conversations featuring various governors on the unique challenges they face as they take the lead and command the national spotlight in historic ways. Learn what is working and what is not from the governors on the front lines, REGISTER HERE

.

On The Hill

KEEPING SOLAR COMPETITIVE:

The House introduced the text of its competitiveness bill Tuesday night, dubbed the America COMPETES Act. The package includes a host of incentives for domestic research and development as well as $52 billion in semiconductor funding. But it also includes provisions stiffening trade rules that will cause conflicts with the Senate passed version, Pro's Gavin Bade reports.

Just hours before the bill text dropped, five U.S. solar manufacturers called on congressional leaders to include legislation to improve antidumping and countervailing duty laws as part of the final competitiveness package, making the case that effective trade laws are crucial to the future success of U.S. solar manufacturing.

The manufacturers wrote they strongly support the Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act of 2021, H.R. 6121/S. 1187, which was introduced last year to strengthen federal trade law and will introduce “necessary tools” to combat anticompetitive practices. That bill was included in the House version Tuesday. The letter was signed by the heads of Q CELLS America, First Solar, Suniva, Auxin Solar and Heliene USA.

BUILDING BACK BBB: As Democrats try to put together their BBB humpty dumpty after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pushed it off the wall last year, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is holding out hope that the party’s legislative agenda will find a way past the finish line — and doesn’t want to dilly dally in making it happen. Speaking with POLITICO Playbook’s Rachael Bade on Tuesday, Hoyer said the package “will be changed, but that’s part of the legislative process.”

Hoyer appeared frosty to the idea of having a yes-no vote on the House version in the Senate — a plan that has been floated by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to get Manchin’s and Republicans’ opposition to the package on the record. The Maryland Democrat preferred focusing on working a bill that’s palatable across the party now and addressing anything else in future legislation.

Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), one of the principal architects of the Clean Electricity Performance Program thwarted by Manchin’s opposition, echoed a similar sentiment at a Clean Energy for America event Tuesday, advocating for figuring “out what has 50 votes,” with a focus on the clean energy tax credits that form the bulk of the climate provisions in the package. As for the CEPP, “I'm not going to be trying to push that over the finish line in 2022. I think the handwriting is on the wall in terms of where we are, but that doesn't mean that we can't make big headway,” she said.

But despite support among scientists and activists, Democrats aren’t doing too hot selling the climate provisions to everyday Americans. Less than 40 percent of respondents to a POLITICO/Harvard poll

felt the climate portions of BBB would make progress — a figure far below respondents’ support for other social spending portions of the package including universal pre-K and paid parental leave. That’s in contrast to the situation in Washington where the climate portions appear to have the highest potential for agreement across the party.

Related:Bridges don’t build themselves: How Democrats' spending flop hurts their infrastructure victory,” via POLITICO’s Jennifer Scholtes, Jessica Calefati and Eleanor Mueller.

Around the agencies

AN EJ ENFORCEMENT CRACK DOWN:The Biden administration is unveiling a series of actions to help environmental justice communities in the South, with stricter enforcement for environmental violations and random checks in industrial facilities.

“We are going to keep these facilities on their toes,” Regan told reporters in a press call

  Tuesday. “We will use all available tools to hold them accountable.”

Regan also announced expansion of EPA's work on ethylene oxide, which is used in chemical manufacturing and medical sterilizations but can cause cancer. Texas has four plants that are major sources of the gas, and Regan said he plans to reject a state assessment that dubbed the chemical safe at levels 4,000 times higher than a 2016 EPA assessment.

The announcement comes as activists have been pushing the administration to put more action behind its rhetoric in helping environmental justice communities. Pro's Alex Guillén and Zack Colman have more.

BACKSTOP OF LAST RESORT: The bipartisan infrastructure package secured for federal regulators the option to overrule states to build what they determine to be critical transmission lines. But don’t expect FERC to bulldoze its will into place anytime soon, Commissioner Allison Clements said Tuesday. Speaking at an event hosted by Resources for the Future, Clements said federal regulators don’t want to go off shutting down state agendas when they are in the middle of collaborating on a pre-rulemaking process. Pro’s Catherine Morehouse has more.

THE SPR FLOWS CONTINUE: The Energy Department announced the release of a further 13.4 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of the administration’s bid to rein in fuel prices. The release comes in the form of an exchange with seven oil majors, which will have to restock the reserve at a later date. It was the sixth exchange under the administration’s release plan and the second largest crude exchange in the country’s history. Pro’s Kelsey Tamborrino has more.

>

STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING : What's really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who's up, who's down, and who really has the president’s ear in our West Wing Playbook newsletter, the insider's guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won't find anywhere else, subscribe today.

In the Courts

BALL COULD BE IN BALTIMORE’S COURT: Federal appeals judges seemed skeptical of fossil fuel companies’ arguments to keep a climate-centered case out of state courts. The case brought by the city of Baltimore demands several energy firms pay damages due to their roles in producing planet-warming emissions, putting coastal cities like Baltimore at risk of more natural disasters. The city hopes to pursue the case in a Maryland court, while the firms are pushing for it to be moved to federal courts — each side thinking their preferred venue would offer a more favorable outcome.

The energy firms argued the case addresses a global issue, far outside the jurisdiction of a single state’s judiciary. They also asserted the case impacts their ability to produce oil and gas on the outer continental shelf under the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. But the appellate judges appeared to find the argument specious.

“Are you saying that basically any suit that would involve your ability to engage in exploration of oil would be something that would be federal jurisdiction?” Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals asked, noting that lots of litigation could curb funds for offshore energy exploration. “I mean, that's a circular argument, a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

No matter how the appellate court rules, the sides are likely to re-escalate the case to the Supreme Court. Alex has more.

MOUNTAIN VALLEY HITS ANOTHER SNAG: A federal appeals court sent permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline back for review, citing errors in U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s environmental review in the last days of the Trump administration. Environmentalists have been fighting the project, which would transport natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia via Jefferson National Forest. Ben has more.

IN THE STATES

WHEELER REFLECTS ON TRUMP EPA: Former Trump EPA chief Andrew Wheeler is defending his legacy on addressing climate change in response to criticism from green groups and former agency officials over his nomination to be Virginia’s top new environmental official. The Supreme Court’s surprising decision to take up a case next month reviewing EPA’s authority to regulate carbon from power plants shows that the Trump administration's narrow approach to regulating those emissions was correct, Wheeler said in testimony Tuesday before a Virginia state Senate committee.

"We didn't have a lot of leeway on what to do on climate change," Wheeler said, arguing Congress hasn’t passed a law strictly directing federal agencies to curb carbon emissions from the power sector.

Democratic state senators have signaled they have the votes to block Wheeler’s nomination for secretary of Natural Resources, concerned he would bring to Virginia a deregulatory agenda of weakening environmental and climate change rules.

Wheeler also acknowledged the Virginia legislature would have a say on whether Gov. Glenn Youngkin can remove the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade market among states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that aims to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector. Youngkin signed an order in his first days as governor to “reevaluate” Virginia’s membership in RGGI.

“There are other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we decide to leave [RGGI],” Wheeler said. “Part of that decision would be up to the legislature.” Wheeler vowed to implement Virginia’s Clean Economy Act, which made it the first state in the south to target 100% clean power.

The Grid

—”Feinstein calls California's proposed rooftop solar cuts 'concerning',” via POLITICO.

— “Justice for PFAS exposure races a ticking clock,” via The Hill.

— “FTC moves to block Lockheed Martin-Aerojet mega merger,” via POLITICO.

— “State board OKs giving GM $824 million to lure $7 billion in EV investments,” via Crain’s Detroit Business.

— “Chinese leader stresses green transition and energy security,” via POLITICO.

THAT’S ALL FOR ME!

Source : https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-energy/2022/01/26/weaning-off-of-russia-00002231

2803
The Vaccine Project Newsletter: What a year! A tumultuous timeline and 10 takeaways

Source:MM&M

The Vaccine Project Newsletter: What a year! A tumultuous timeline and 10 takeaways

Hope seen once the omicron wave increases global immunity

Source:KRQE

Hope seen once the omicron wave increases global immunity