With help from Anthony Adragna, Annie Snider and Daniel Lippman.
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— Almost 80 major corporate players are endorsing a clean electricity standard in a letter to Congress obtained by ME.
— The House Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed the bipartisan infrastructure deal as Democrats strategize how to get their priorities across the finish line with a tiny margin for error.
— Gas prices continue to go up as OPEC and its allies continue their stalemate, potentially leading to a particularly pricey vacation season.
HAPPY WEDNESDAY! I’m your host, Matthew Choi. Jude Graham of Penn State gets the trivia for knowing that Natalya Kirillovna Naryshkina was Peter the Great’s mother. For today: How many beats per measure are in a traditional waltz? Send your tips and trivia answers to [email protected]. Find me on Twitter @matthewchoi2018.
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CORPORATE AMERICA UNITE: Nearly 80 major corporate entities are pressing Congress to enact a federal clean electricity standard. The businesses want the power sector to hit an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 — and meet President Joe Biden’s goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.
“Passage of a federal clean electricity standard will drive large amounts of new renewable generation and do so in a way that provides businesses with a clear path and expectations to make needed investments at the scale and speed necessary,” the companies write in a letter, obtained by ME.
Among the notable signatories: Apple, eBay, Etsy, Exelon, General Motors, HP, Johnson Controls, Levi Strauss, Paypal, Salesforce, TechNet and Unilever.
The new push comes as congressional climate hawks, such as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, have said corporate America has not put its weight behind meaningful climate policy, despite its public pronouncements. Whitehouse told POLITICO in mid-May that the business community had “better get off [its] rear end right now” if it was sincere about wanting federal climate change policy.
ELSEWHERE IN THE CORPORATE SPHERE: Exxon Mobil picked up a new lobbying team from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to press its case on energy, corporate and international tax issues, POLITICO Influence reports. The team includes former Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who served on the House Financial Service Committee, and a number of former staffers from the panel. Ex-aides to the Senate Finance Committee and the former chief of staff for Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) will also be on the team.
Newly filed disclosures show Exxon retaining the team back in May — before one of Exxon’s in-house lobbyists, Keith McCoy, created a bombshell with his comments about the company’s climate commitments.
BIPARTISAN BACKING FOR BIPARTISAN PACKAGE: The House Problem Solvers Caucus has formally endorsed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal worked out between a bipartisan cohort of senators and the White House. The group praised the proposal as in line with its own “Building Bridges” framework released last month.
“In light of the bipartisan, bicameral genesis of the framework, we encourage an expeditious, stand-alone vote in the House and thank our bipartisan Senate partners and the Biden Administration for working so closely with us to demonstrate that cooperation is still possible in Washington,” the group said in a Tuesday statement.
Both chambers may be in recess, but the gears are still turning on infrastructure. Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee are meeting this week to work out the kinks on how to fund their initiatives — such as climate change action — under an expected reconciliation measure. The party is still scrambling to keep its members on the same page, which will be no easy feat amid the competing priorities and razor-thin majority it holds.
Senate Energy Chair Joe Manchin has drawn most of the attention for his centrist stances and willingness to buck the more progressive elements, giving him immense sway in the chamber. But other Democrats can — and plan to — leverage their party’s numbers to get their points across, the Associated Press reports. “We’re all Joe Manchin right now,” House Budget Chair John Yarmuth told the AP. The news service has a rundown on how Democrats are trying to keep everyone on board, with party leaders having trillions available to “appeal to lawmakers’ hometown interests to win votes.”
Up next week, a House Appropriations subpanel is taking up the FY 2022 energy and water development spending bill, Pro’s Anthony Adragna reports. The markup will be July 12 at 1 p.m.
BIDEN’S BLM PICK LOSES BACKER: Tracy Stone-Manning, who has faced ire from the right over her past associations with environmental extremists, lost an endorsement from the Dallas Safari Club on Monday. The group wrote to Manchin and Senate Energy Ranking Member John Barrasso objecting to Stone-Manning’s connection decades ago to two environmental extremists who engaged in tree spiking.
Democrats have dismissed the criticisms as partisan ploys to derail her nomination. Stone-Manning testified against the men involved in the tree spiking incident and was never charged with a crime. The National Wildlife Federation, where Stone-Manning currently serves as a senior adviser, told ME in a statement that she was still as “exceptionally qualified to lead the Bureau of Land Management today as she was the day President Biden nominated her.”
HOT MIC! Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was filmed calling climate change “bullshit” during a June lunch with Republican Women of Greater Wisconsin, CNN reports. Johnson has rejected the notion that he’s a climate denier in the past and told CNN that “My statements are consistent. I am not a climate change denier, but I also am not a climate change alarmist. Climate is not static. It has always changed and always will change.”
GETTING HOT: Gas prices are expected to rise 10 to 20 cents by the end of August, bringing the national average to over $3.25 this summer, according to a new analysis by AAA. That prediction comes as the rally in crude prices took a breather on Tuesday, with U.S. futures prices slumping more about $2 by the close after touching a new six-year high earlier in the day.
The fluctuations come as OPEC and some of its key allies abandoned their meeting after failing to reach an agreement on when to increase crude oil supplies into the market as global demand climbs. Gas prices are already climbing with the uptick in leisure travel, global oil demand and confidence that the vaccine rollout will continue. And even if the OPEC drama gets solved soon, it usually takes a few weeks for the price of crude oil to be reflected at the pumps.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the administration was keeping an eye on the OPEC+ negotiations and that it was speaking with officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other relevant members. Psaki added that “we’re encouraged by the ongoing conversations” (the U.S. is not a party in the talks), but didn’t specify individuals involved in the discussions.
AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee told ME that the price should see some relief by the autumn, even if crude prices remain at their current levels, as gas prices normally slip after Labor Day.
TOUCHING DOWN IN FLINT: The Biden administration is continuing to showcase its push to remove all lead from drinking water systems under a massive infrastructure bill, with EPA Administrator Michael Regan headed to Flint, Mich., today. Regan is slated to tour the Flint Community Water Lab, which provides residents still distrustful of the city’s water after the lead contamination crisis five years ago with independent tap water testing. Regan will also participate in a roundtable with community leaders.
CYBER PRESSURE: Biden is meeting today with “key leaders” from multiple agencies, including State, DOJ, Homeland Security and the intelligence community, to “discuss ransomware and our overall strategic efforts to counter it,” Psaki told reporters Tuesday. Pressure is building on the administration to take a firmer stance on cyber attacks after another Russia-based attack was disclosed Friday on IT management software maker Kaseya. Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin to get cyber attacks originating in his borders in check during their last summit in June, which came on the heels of the Colonial Pipeline fiasco.
The Kaseya attack differs from the hacks earlier this year impacting meatpacking and fuels in that it doesn’t go after critical infrastructure. POLITICO’s Eric Geller has more.
TAKING THE STATES’ LEAD: Center for American Progress has a new report out today laying out how state action can offer an example for Congress and the administration to promote job growth while addressing climate change. It cites state and city-level investments into union-heavy sectors, including public transportation and energy efficiency, as well as jobs-centered provisions for state climate bills in Oregon, Maine, New York and Virginia.
“Clean energy investments, tax incentives, and performance standards are powerful tools for deploying solar, wind, and other forms of zero-carbon energy at the state level. These policy tools can also be effective means of ensuring companies respect workers’ right to unionize and promoting high-paying jobs,” the report says.
KEEPING BIOMASS SUSTAINABLE: The Energy Transitions Commission, a group of major industrial companies and clean energy advocates, released a report Tuesday predicting demand for biomass will likely exceed sustainable supply unless policies shift to only prioritize biomass in sectors where there are no other options. The report recommends rapidly scaling up alternative sources of clean energy and carbon capture technology and tempering biomass usage unless there are major changes in land use, consumption of agricultural goods and other technology. Over consumption of biomass can lead to environmental damage, such as deforestation and biodiversity loss, in order to meet demand, the report says.
“Biomass can make a really valuable contribution to the world’s decarbonization. But truly sustainable biomass is limited in volume; so its use must be restricted to priority sectors where alternative decarbonization options don’t exist,” Nigel Topping, UK High Level Climate Action Champion, COP26, said in a statement. Some of those sectors include materials manufacturing and aviation. Read the report here.
— Urvi Parekh, head of renewable energy at Facebook, and Martin Torres, managing director and head of the Americans for the Renewable Power Group at BlackRock, are joining the American Council on Renewable Energy’s board of directors.
— Mark Sokolove has been named marketing director for solar company Hanwha Q CELLS North America. He most recently was EVP at Tigercomm.
— “Fox’s New Channel Changes the Climate for Weather TV,” via The New York Times.
— “U.S. completes 90 percent of Afghanistan withdrawal,” via POLITICO.
— “Oil Companies Are Ordered to Help Cover $7.2 Billion Cleanup Bill in Gulf of Mexico,” via The Wall Street Journal.
— “Botswana issues licence for first large scale solar power plant,” via Reuters
— “China Puts Most Powerful Agency in Charge of Climate Policies,” via Bloomberg.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!