A coalition of states and environmental groups is suing the Postal Service, Republican corporations want a climate metric blocked, and California says Big Oil is to blame for plastic pollution.
This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news on energy, the environment and more. For The Hill we are Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forwarded this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.
The Post is suing for gas-powered trucks
Sixteen states and a coalition of environmental groups on Thursday announced a lawsuit against the US Postal Service over its decision to upgrade most of its fleet to fossil-fuel vehicles.
Environmental groups and climate hawks in Congress have blasted Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s decision to buy new gas-powered vehicles rated at 8.6 miles per gallon.
Of the up to 165,000 vehicles, Swiss Post has committed to making only around 10 percent electric. President Biden signed an executive order in December setting the goal of carbon neutrality across the federal government, which would be very complicated unless the Postal Service — the federal government’s largest single fleet — transitions to renewable energy.
Who is on board? Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include EarthJustice, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Attorneys General of California, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
New York City and the Bay Area Quality Management District also joined the challenge.
“The Postal Service has a historic opportunity to invest in our planet and in our future. Instead, it relies on outdated technology that is bad for our environment and our communities,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) said in a statement.
“Once this purchase is complete, for the next 30 years we will be stuck on our neighborhood streets with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles, serving homes in our state and across the country. There will be no reset button. We will go to court to ensure the postal service is compliant with the law and considering greener alternatives before making this decision.”
What are they claiming? In the lawsuit, plaintiffs allege that DeJoy used “grossly flawed” techniques in the environmental analysis that led to the order.
The lawsuit alleges that the Postal Service inflated the cost of batteries to justify the lack of electrification and underestimated gas prices. The analysis was conducted prior to recent increases in gas prices and was based on a forecast gas price of $2.19 per gallon.
The lawsuit also alleges that the Postal Service underestimated the mileage per charge of electric vehicles, projecting 70 miles per charge, despite currently available vehicles achieving up to 200 miles per charge.
“DeJoy’s environmental process was so shaky and flawed that it failed to meet the basic standards of the National Environmental Policy Act,” Adrian Martinez, a senior attorney for Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign, said in a statement.
“We are going to court to protect the millions of Americans who breathe in neighborhoods overwhelmed with pollution. Mail delivery in this country should be electric for our health and for our future.”
Read more about the lawsuit here.
Red states want to block climate accounting measures
A group of Republican-led states Thursday asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a court order blocking a key climate accounting measure introduced by the Biden administration amid a potentially high-stakes legal battle to regulate climate change.
Led by Louisiana, GOP-led states urged judges to revive a February federal judge’s ruling that banned the Biden administration’s use of a metric known as the “social cost” of gases to warm the planet temporarily stopped to quantify the climate costs and benefits of regulation actions.
That decision by Trump-appointed US Judge James Cain in Louisiana was overturned by a federal appeals court in New Orleans last month.
what are they arguing about In court documents filed Thursday, Republican attorneys general from 10 states turned their fire on the contentious metric officially known as the estimate of the social cost of greenhouse gases, first introduced under then-President Obama.
“The estimates are a power grab designed to manipulate America’s entire federal regulatory apparatus through speculative costs and benefits so that the government can impose its preferred policy outcomes on every sector of the American economy,” the group of GOP-led states wrote in their letter .
Obama-era figures gave far more weight to climate damage than figures used under the Trump administration. These “social costs” have been used to quantify the climate benefits of regulation – or conversely, the climate costs of deregulation – in government rulemaking. Higher greenhouse gas costs can be used to justify stricter regulations.
Read more from The Hill’s John Kruzel.
California AG investigating fossil fuel companies
California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) said Thursday he intends to launch an investigation into the fossil and petrochemical industries over their contribution to global plastic pollution.
Bonta also said he intends to subpoena ExxonMobil as part of that process.
“The public has been aggressively deceived by some of the largest and most influential companies in the world,” Bonta said at a Thursday news conference.
“The fossil fuel and petrochemical industries have engaged in a 50-year campaign of deception that has harmed our environment, our people and our natural resources,” he added.
The research aims to identify companies that either caused or exacerbated the plastic pollution crisis. Bonta said his office will investigate “the industry’s historical and ongoing efforts to deceive the public and whether and to what extent these actions may have violated the law.”
“We will have no hesitation in holding these companies accountable if the law has been broken,” he added.
Speaking to reporters at Dockweiler State Beach in Los Angeles, Bonta said plastic and other debris needed to be cleaned daily from this sand, which he described as “a small example of a much bigger problem.”
Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Usadin.
ON TAP TOMORROW
EPA Administrator Michael Regan will testify before the House Energy and Trade Committee on the agency’s budget
WHAT WE READ
- Permian Basin Oil Field Running Out of Workers, Materials and Cash (The Wall Street Journal)
- Florida governor vetoes net metering law opposed by rooftop solar advocates (Tampa Bay Times)
- Shell tightens restrictions on Russian oil purchases (Reuters)
- Lake Mead plunges to an unprecedented low, exposing the original 1971 water intake valve (CNN).
And finally, something fancy and offbeat: Make up for lost time.
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Visit The Hill’s energy and environment page for the latest news and reports. we will see you tomorrow
SEE THE FULL VERSION HERE