Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Flint aid attached to water bill

NEW LIFE FOR $220 MILLION FLINT AID: The $220 million aid package for Flint, Mich., and other cities with water contamination crises is back on the Senate’s radar.

The bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2016, unveiled Tuesday by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) included the entire aid package that was pulled weeks ago from consideration when it was tied to the Senate’s energy bill.

{mosads}”What happened in Flint has shown us how vulnerable some of our water systems are, and this bill is a perfect vehicle to upgrade our water infrastructure,” said Boxer, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said she was “pleased we have successfully found a new path forward to get urgently needed help for families in Flint and other communities across the country with serious lead and water issues,” and that the WRDA inclusion is an important step, and I am not giving up until this gets done.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) had held up the previous Flint package over objections to its cost and how it was paid for.

But since the new package isn’t an amendment, it won’t require unanimous Senate consent to bring it up for a vote.

Read more here.

EPA to examine water regs after Flint: The EPA said Tuesday it would be launching a national assessment of water infrastructure and regulations in light of Flint.

The EPA will begin discussing — with state regulators, utilities and groups outside government — steps they can take to implement safe drinking water laws, focusing on everything from state and federal oversight of drinking water and ways to help low-income communities disproportionately affected by water problems.

The White House will also conduct a study of the science and technology behind drinking water rules and issue recommendations for federal regulators.

An agency blog post said officials will look to wrap up the effort by the end of the year.

Read more here.

THE HILL’S ‘THE FUTURE OF ENERGY’: The Hill this week published our special magazine on energy and environment policy, “The Future of Energy in the United States.” Keep an eye out for the print version of it, or check out all the stories here.

In it, we explore in depth some of the major issues dominating the national energy policy sphere, including water scarcity, litigation over President Obama’s environmental agenda and the low price of oil. We’ll be highlighting some of the stories this week.

AMERICA FACES A WATER CRISIS: The United States is on the verge of a national crisis that could mean the end of clean, cheap water.

Hundreds of cities and towns are at risk of sudden and severe shortages, either because available water is not safe to drink or because there simply isn’t enough of it.

The situation has grown so dire the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence now ranks water scarcity as a major threat to national security alongside terrorism.

The problem is being felt most acutely in the West, where drought conditions and increased water use have helped turn lush agricultural areas to dust.

But dangers also lurk underground, in antiquated water systems that are increasingly likely to break down or spread contaminants like lead.

The crisis gripping Flint, Mich., where the water supply has been rendered undrinkable, is just a preview of what’s to come in towns and cities nationwide, some warn.

Read more here.

Elsewhere in the energy magazine …

-The ‘Keystone-ization’ of everything
-Ernest Moniz’s creative energy
-Pentagon looks to reduce $4 billion energy bill

MITSUBISHI JOINS VW IN AVOIDING FEDERAL TESTS: Japanese automaker Mitsubishi said Tuesday it will appoint a panel of former prosecutors to investigate improper fuel efficiency testing at the company, something officials acknowledge has been going on for 25 years.

The automaker says it hasn’t complied with Japanese fuel efficiency testing standards since 2002, and that its improper testing methods date back to 1991.

Mitsubishi said last week that the fuel efficiency of 625,000 of its vehicles had been exaggerated by up to 10 percent. The company’s president apologized for the scandal on Tuesday.

“Customers bought our cars based on incorrect fuel-economy data,” Tetsuro Aikawa said. “I can’t help but apologize.”

Mitsubishi’s admission is the second time in a year a major automaker has been accused of improperly reporting data to government agencies, after the EPA and others hit Volkswagen last fall with skirting federal emissions testing.

Read more here.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The Senate will hold a cloture vote on its energy and water spending package. The bill, if approved this week, will be the first piece of spending legislation passed for the 2017 fiscal year. The Senate considered a couple of amendments to the legislation on Tuesday; read more here.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will continue marking up a host of bills, including legislation to reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration.

Rest of Wednesday’s agenda …

A House Natural Resources Committee panel will hold a hearing on hydropower.

Another Natural Resources Committee will meet to consider the Bureau of Land Management’s role regulating methane emissions.

Darryl DePriest, the chief counsel for the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration, will testify on the impact of EPA water rules during a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship hearing.


The Chernobyl disaster was 30 years ago on Tuesday. The New York Times looks at the containment unit designed to encase what remains of the destroyed reactor.

Climate change is, in the case of some commodities, causing a bumper crop, The Week reports.

The Surface Transportation Board Tuesday rejected a proposed 42-mile rail line to haul coal from a mine near the Montana-Wyoming border, the Associated Press reports.


Check out Tuesday’s stories:

-EPA launching new water infrastructure effort after Flint
-National parks facing stronger air pollution regs
-Senate votes to increase wind energy funding
-Senate unveils $9B waterways bill with aid for Flint
-$220 million Flint aid package included in water bill
-Mitsubishi admits to decades of improper fuel testing
-Senator seeks to block Obama from buying Iran’s nuclear material

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@digital-stage.thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@digital-stage.thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill

Tags Barbara Boxer Debbie Stabenow Ernest Moniz Mike Lee

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