The European Union (EU) has a plan to phase out all Russian oil by the end of the year, Republicans in Congress are seeking mandatory disclosures on financial climate risks, and the Pentagon will stop burning chemicals “forever”.
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The EU proposes a ban on Russian oil imports
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen officially proposed a ban on all Russian oil imports until the end of 2022 in a Wednesday speech to the European Parliament because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“When [European] Leaders meeting at Versailles agreed to phase out our dependence on Russian fossil fuels,” von der Leyen said, citing earlier steps to divest Russian coal imports.
“To be clear: it will not be easy because some member states are heavily dependent on Russian oil. But we just have to do it, so today we will propose to ban all Russian oil from Europe.”
What is covered? The European leader went on to say that the ban would apply to all imports, “by sea and by pipeline, crude oil and refined”.
- Von der Leyen said the exit would be done in an “orderly manner” that would reduce market disruption and buy time to consider alternatives. The EU will end crude oil imports in the next six months and refined imports by the end of 2022, she added.
- “In this way we maximize the pressure on Russia while at the same time minimizing the collateral damage to us and our partners around the world, because in order to help Ukraine we must ensure that our economy remains strong,” she said.
What’s at stake: EU member states get around a quarter of their gas consumption from Russia. Data from the International Energy Agency shows that the EU bought about 2.3 million barrels of Russian oil a day in 2021, or about half of all exports.
- While the EU has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia since the country invaded Ukraine, it has not previously followed the US and UK in outright bans on oil imports.
- Both US and European Brent crude prices edged higher on Wednesday, with US crude at $108 while Brent was at $110 a barrel on Wednesday afternoon, despite long-awaited EU proposals.
The proposed ban would still require a vote by all EU member states.
While von der Leyen did not identify the concerned members because of their dependence on Russian energy, Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs tweeted Wednesday morning: “We see no plans or guarantees on how a transition based on the current proposals could be handled and how energy security.” the HU would be guaranteed.”
Congress last month passed legislation codifying a US ban on Russian oil imports, though Europe has struggled to follow suit quickly.
Read more about the announcement here.
Republicans target SEC climate proposal
Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are targeting the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed rule that would require companies to disclose information about their contribution to climate change.
In a letter Wednesday, first received by The Hill, the panel’s 19 Republicans asked for a briefing and documents on the proposal.
“The American people have a right to know what impact, if any, the rule will have on their ability to access affordable goods and services,” they wrote.
They also called the proposed rule “too broad an extension of the SEC’s authority” and said it “contradicts the agency’s mission.”
Lawmakers asked for communications from the committee regarding the proposal, as well as communications to the White House National Economic Council and outside groups that may have taken place.
What does that mean? As members of the minority party, Republicans are limited in their scrutiny powers, but the issues they are focusing on now may shed light on what they will pursue when they retake the majority next year.
The Hill has reached out to the SEC for comment.
The regulation in question would oblige companies to disclose to investors both ways in which climate change could threaten their financial stability and information about their own contributions to climate change.
When it was proposed in March, SEC Commissioner Allison Lee defended it, noting that “physical and transition risks from climate change may arise in financial markets in the form of credit risk, market risk, insurance or hedging risk, operational risk, supply chain risk, reputational risk and liquidity risk.” .”
Read more about the letter here.
PENTAGON STOPS BURNING ‘CHEMICALS FOREVER’
According to a new memo, the Department of Defense will stop burning toxic chemicals forever until it officially issues guidance on how to dispose of the substances.
In last week’s memo, Paul Cramer, who serves as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Facilities and Environment, said the military would issue a “temporary ban” on burning a class of chemicals known as PFAS.
“Because the Department of Defense has not yet finalized the necessary guidance…The Department of Defense must immediately cease contracting activities for the incineration of PFAS material,” including fire-fighting foam, he wrote.
PFAS refers to a class of chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancer and other diseases. They have been used in a variety of household products such as waterproof clothing and non-stick pans, and also in military firefighting foam.
The Air Force said in 2017 that burning these chemicals as a means of disposing of them could produce “environmentally unsatisfactory” by-products, including those that could be toxic or contribute to climate change.
PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals” because of their tendency to linger in both the human body and the environment.
Read more about the memo here.
- That’s what the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Wednesday kigali amendment, an international agreement aimed at gradually ratifying the use of super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) down to the full floor. HFCs are gases that warm the planet and can be hundreds or thousands of times stronger than carbon dioxide. They are often used as refrigerants. According to a spokesman for the Republican committee, the amendment was advanced by an oral vote, but Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) asked to be included as voting against the motion. However, Congress has already passed legislation that would phase out the use of HFCs in 2020.
- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously pushed it ahead on Wednesday Water Resources Development Lawa bill passed every two years that allows for flood control and ecosystem restoration.
ON TAP TOMORROW
The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing to consider proposed fiscal 2023 budget estimates and rationale for the Department of Energy. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm is to testify.
WHAT WE READ
- For marine biologists, Haitian gangs make work dangerous (The Associated Press)
- Further Delay and Cost Increase for Mountain Valley Pipeline Announced (The Roanoke Times)
- Volkswagen extends coal use due to Russian energy ‘threat’ (CNBC)
- Japan says it needs nuclear power. Can host cities ever trust him again? (The New York Times)
- Feds appeal gray wolf reclassification as endangered (MLive)
And finally, something fancy and offbeat: Away from the script
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
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