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Overnight Energy: BLM weighs plan to cut environmental reviews | Meet the woman who wants to reinvent recycling | Murkowski says energy plan coming soon


NEPA ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK? The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is mulling a plan that would exempt the agency from considering environmental impacts when weighing how to use large swaths of public lands.

According to a powerpoint slide obtained by The Hill, the plan would “remove [National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)] requirements from the planning regulations.” The document was first reported by Bloomberg. 

BLM’s land-use plans are updated about every 20 years, setting regional goals for what kind of development like grazing or oil and gas drilling might occur on public lands. NEPA helps ensure that those choices are discussed publicly.

“When you go through the planning process and do environmental impact statements, the other part of that is public transparency and public involvement,” said Steve Ellis, who retired from the highest-ranking career position within BLM in 2016.  

“That includes developing this whole suite of alternatives that you consider,” he added.

BLM did not respond to request for comment from The Hill, but told Bloomberg the proposal has not yet been formally proposed as a rule.

“We don’t currently have a timeline to start the rulemaking process for this proposal,” BLM spokesman Jeff Krauss told the outlet. “If we move forward with a proposed rule, we will notify the public, as required by law.” 

Ellis said BLM would be hurt by not having one big overarching environmental analysis, something that might force the agency to consider effects on a more piecemeal basis, potentially sidestepping a look at the cumulative effects of development, including how they impact climate change.

Read more about the proposal here

 

HAPPY SOTU TUESDAY! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news.Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at rfrazin@thehill.com or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.

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And be sure to check back at TheHill.com tonight for our live coverage of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats tear into Trump’s speech: It was a ‘MAGA rally’ READ: Speaker Pelosi’s response to Trump’s State of the Union address Pelosi hammers Trump’s speech: ‘A manifesto of mistruths’ MORE‘s State of the Union.

 

MEET THE WOMAN WHO WANTS TO REINVENT RECYCLING: American recycling is in a time of crisis.

Cities have gone from making a profit with their recycling programs to losing cash or even stockpiling goods while waiting for the market to rebound.

At the same time, consumers are putting more pressure than ever on companies to make their products and packaging more climate-friendly. But in-flux markets give their recyclable packaging few places to go.

The solution Meghan Stasz has come up with is to reinvent the process completely.

“One of the reasons that recycling is not as functional as it could be in the U.S. is because it’s run municipality by municipality,” she said. “There are about 10,000 different recycling programs across the U.S., and that means 10,000 different rules about what you can recycle.”

Stasz, 40, is the vice president of packaging and sustainability for the Consumer Brands Association, which represents the companies that make just about every shelf-stable product in grocery stores.

She’s kicking off a yearlong process to rewrite the rules for recycling, the initial steps of a moonshot effort to redesign the market for recycled goods, organizing a coalition of other food and beverage retail groups around what they’re calling the American Recycling Roadmap.

Fundamentally, the group is hoping to standardize and harmonize the recycling system: making what’s recyclable in San Francisco the same as in St. Louis or Savannah, Ga.

Stasz’s interest in the environment started when she got a job leading nature tours for kids in the Appalachians straight out of college. She later went on to work her way up at the Environmental Defense Fund, where watching the organization’s numerous partnerships with the private sector helped her decide to get her master’s in business administration.

“There was a recognition that partnership between the NGO community and the private sector would get everybody to the place that we want to be faster,” Stasz told The Hill recently. “The private sector, because it operates on such scale, has an incredible opportunity to do a lot of good.”

Reinventing recycling could radically simplify things for the companies represented by the Consumer Brands Association and the other groups, businesses which are tasked with creating packaging that both ensures safe transport and appeals to green-minded consumers.

“Consumers have become very interested in and in some cases very concerned about some kinds of packaging. We’re really seeing this groundswell of interest in making packaging better for the environment,” Stasz said.

Creating that type of packaging is a challenge, however, as businesses are unsure how many of the nation’s recycling programs accept the types of plastics and other materials they use, or if there is a sufficient global market where they can resell it.

Read more on Stasz’s recycling plans here

 

COMING UP NEXT WEEK: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP senators label Trump’s behavior ‘shameful’ but not impeachable Overnight Energy: BLM weighs plan to cut environmental reviews | Meet the woman who wants to reinvent recycling | Murkowski says energy plan coming soon Collins will vote to acquit Trump MORE (R-Alaska) said her energy bill may be ready as soon as next week. 

“What I have been assured for several months now is that the leader is looking for those initiatives that have gone through a good process and that have good bipartisan support and that would be able to move through the floor with a good solid time agreement,” Murkowski told reporters.

The legislation is expected to include many of the more than 50 bills that have already passed out of the committee with bipartisan support, including topics such as energy efficiency, renewables, energy storage, and nuclear energy.

 

REPORT ROUNDUP: The House Natural Resources Committee has released a report summarizing the damage Puerto Rico sustained due to a series of earthquakes that began in late December.

“This report and my staff’s findings confirm what we already know – that Puerto Rico urgently needs federal funds and support to recover from the earthquakes,” committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement. “There is no substitute for adequate government assistance, and the residents of Puerto Rico have waited far too long for the federal aid they need to recover.”

President Trump has thus far refused to release $18 billion in aid Congress appropriated to Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

“It’s time for President Trump to stop discriminating against Puerto Ricans, to release the recovery funds we’ve approved, and support additional emergency funding,” Grijalva said. 

Read the report here

 

THE HUNT FOR GREEN: A hunting advocacy group is auctioning off an Alaskan hunting trip with Donald Trump Jr. and his son. 

Safari Club International (SCI) is auctioning the 7-day excursion in which participants will hunt Sitka black-tailed deer and sea ducks. They will stay aboard a yacht and their trip would include “accommodations, trophy fees for donated species, meals, guide service and field prep.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the “current bid” was listed as $10,000, though a live auction is scheduled to take place this weekend. The trip will take place in November.

The listing said that Trump Jr.’s “passion for the outdoors makes him the number one ambassador for our way of life.”

A spokesperson for Trump Jr. declined to comment on the auction and SCI could not immediately be reached for comment.

More on the fundraiser here.  

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing on “overcoming the health risks of the climate crisis.”

The House Natural Resources Committee will hear about a bill aiming to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will examine management and spending challenges within the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Presidential candidates will participate in a New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will conduct an oversight hearing of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Forget hurricanes and sea rise. This bill could lead to a building boom in the Keys, the Miami Herald reports. 

Indiana House backs slowing coal power plant closures, the Associated Press reports

Michigan AG announces settlement filing in PFAS lawsuit against footwear manufacturer, WILX reports.

Emergency water rights bill heads to Idaho governor’s desk, the Associated Press reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday…

Democratic senators ask banks to prohibit funding for Arctic drilling

The woman who wants to reinvent recycling

Group auctioning off hunting trip with Donald Trump Jr.

Analysis: Last month ‘marginally’ the warmest January recorded

 

FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES: 

Carbon pricing proposal in New York provides path to nation’s clean energy future, writes Richard J. Dewey, president and chief executive officer of the New York Independent System Operator.

President Trump, NEPA needs its State of the Union moment, writes Pinar Çebi Wilber, executive vice president and chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation.



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