With help from Sam Sabin, Gavin Bade and Anthony Adragna.
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— Schumer’s procedural vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill is today, and he’s tired of fighting Republicans who want to see the text first.
— The White House released new guidance on its Justice40 goal of ensuring 40 percent of environmental benefits go to vulnerable communities, and the House Oversight Committee is teeing it up for some scrutiny today.
— TSA unveiled new pipeline cybersecurity mandates in the wake of the Colonial hack. Senate EPW has a hearing on infrastructure cybersecurity today.
WELCOME TO WEDNESDAY! I’m your host, Matthew Choi. Sadly, no one gets the trivia for knowing Makkah Province is the most populous province in Saudi Arabia. For today: Who was the captain of the Titanic? Send your tips and trivia answers to [email protected]. Find me on Twitter @matthewchoi2018.
Check out the POLITICO Energy podcast — all the energy and environmental politics and policy news you need to start your day, in just five minutes. Listen and subscribe for free at politico.com/energy-podcast. On today’s episode: Rep Casten’s “Hot FERC summer”.
THE BIG VOTE: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing ahead with a procedural vote for the bipartisan infrastructure deal today, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing.
With major questions remaining on how to finance the $1 trillion deal and the agreement yet to be set in legislative text, Republicans argue they couldn’t possibly consider something they haven’t read yet or seen cost estimates for. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the bipartisan negotiators, hoped to push the vote till Monday, saying that a failed vote now “certainly is not helpful,” POLITICO’s Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett report.
But Schumer is calling that argument bad faith, pointing out that the majority often uses the procedural vote to twist negotiators to get things going. Democrats did so on the Asian American hate crimes bill and on a U.S. competitiveness bill this year. And with over a month of negotiations and the August recess fast approaching, Schumer said it’s time to get things going in more formal channels. The leader offered bipartisan negotiators more time to deliberate on the details if Republicans vote to get the ball rolling today.
“No one’s voting on anything except to move forward,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday. “This isn’t a deadline … this is not to jam anyone.”
It also isn’t a vote that Schumer settled on lightly. Shortly before cuing up the vote, Schumer met with centrist Democrats to make sure they were on board. As Marianne and Burgess point out: “He wants to make sure that if the entire deal-making attempt falls apart, moderate Democrats he needs to execute the rest of Biden’s agenda don’t blame him.”
When asked about his contingency plan if today’s vote falls through, Schumer merely told reporters, “We hope that our Republican friends vote yes tomorrow. That’s what they should be doing if they believe in a bipartisan bill.” But sources working on the bipartisan discussion told Marianne and Burgess that there was a recovery path if today’s vote fails, as is expected, including a possible procedural vote next week.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin wasn’t clear with Marianne and Burgess on whether a failed BIF would lead to a larger budget resolution passed through reconciliation. “The fate of the budget resolution is tied to the fate of the bipartisan bill,” he told them.
But it isn’t just Republicans who are wary of Schumer’s game plan. Several House Democrats are growing impatient with the way talks are playing out, some even hoping for the deal to collapse. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chair of the House Transportation Committee, reiterated his frustrations Tuesday with the Senate deal that pulls back from several of the more progressive priorities in his surface transportation bill.
“We’re being told, in fact [House Majority Leader] Steny Hoyer basically said we’re gonna take it,” DeFazio said in a press conference Tuesday morning. “I’m not taking it.”
Related: The administration is working to soothe anger among Democratic members who have grown vocal in their dissatisfaction with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, report POLITICO’s Laura Barrón-López and Heather Caygle.
FIGURING OUT 40: The White House released new guidance for agencies on how to meet the administration’s target of ensuring that 40 percent of benefits from environmental, housing and transportation investments flow to disadvantaged communities. The guidelines, released by acting Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy, outlined definitions on what constitutes a vulnerable community, what programs are eligible for consideration and how to calculate benefits from investments.
The House Oversight Committee will meet today to talk about the Biden administration’s environmental justice goals, and Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) will praise the White House environmental justice approach for incorporating the entire government and centering on frontline voices, according to talking points shared with ME.
Ranking member James Comer (R-Ky.) will have some less kind words to say. “Instead of conducting meaningful oversight, we’ve had hearings on increasing work perks for federal workers and proposals to spend billions of dollars on radical environmental policies that will increase energy prices for Americans,” he plans to say according to excerpts shared with ME.
PIPELINE FRUSTRATIONS: TSA unveiled part two of its new cybersecurity mandates for pipeline operators following the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in May. But frustrations are rising because the agency declined to make public the specific cybersecurity measures it’s placing on pipeline operators, Pro’s Eric Geller reports.
Two theories have emerged for why TSA didn’t make the order public: They’re limiting distribution to the impacted stakeholders to keep adversaries in the dark; or the agency, whose pipeline security team has historically been under-resourced, hasn’t actually finalized all of the rules yet.
— That’s a problem, one industry source told Pro’s Sam Sabin, because keeping the rules private makes it more difficult for stakeholders to provide feedback on what’s feasible. And there’s plenty to criticize, the person said.
The industry source, who has received a copy of the specific measures, said pipeline operators have issues with several aspects: First, it’s unclear if some of the rules make sense or are applicable to some pipelines’ current set ups, so there’s a chance they could hinder operations in order to install new operational equipment. And second, the deadlines are too tight, with operators required to implement about 80 rules within a 30 to 180 day period.
— Although the source declined to share specific requirements under the new standards because they are negotiating with TSA, the person did say that the measures fall into two categories: IT items such as things related to securing desktop or email systems, and operational technology issues that focus on the pipelines themselves. The latter is where most of the concerns lie since not all pipelines are built the same.
“In some cases, TSA wants changes made that on some pipeline equipment is impossible to make,” the source said, raising questions about whether companies will have to replace out-of-compliance equipment. That could present problems in finding enough of the new equipment and whether the agency’s deadlines would account for testing and installation.
PIPELINE PAST AS PROLOGUE? Shortly after TSA announced its new pipeline cyber rules, CISA attributed a spearphishing campaign that targeted pipeline companies between 2011 and 2013 to state-sponsored Chinese hackers. The announcement appeared to be an attempt to encourage pipeline operators to toughen up their security defenses based on TSA’s new rules.
— Thirteen of the 23 natural gas pipelines targeted in the attack were compromised, while three had near-misses. CISA said it was unclear whether intruders gained access to the remaining seven.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a hearing on cybersecurity for critical infrastructure today, with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who both serve as co-chairs of Cyberspace Solarium Commission, among the witnesses. The committee will focus on vulnerabilities in the nation’s water systems and highways.
LAWMAKERS URGE BIDEN TO CONTEST MEXICAN ENERGY LAWS: A bipartisan group of 15 lawmakers called on Biden to push the Mexican government to roll back what they call protectionist policies that limit American entry into the energy market there. In a letter led by Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), the groups says the Mexican government is undermining the “spirit and letter” of the USMCA with recent reforms that favor state-backed energy companies like PEMEX over would-be American investors in fossil fuel and renewable energy projects.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador approved legislation last February that would give preference to state-owned power plants in electricity dispatch, prioritizing them over foreign-owned generators, the lawmakers wrote. And in May he approved a hydrocarbon reform law that increases regulatory power over foreign drillers and gives new preferences to PEMEX.
The Mexican government’s moves “lay out an unleveled playing field for private investors vis-a-vis Mexico’s state owned enterprises,” wrote the lawmakers, including Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla). They thanked U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai for bringing the issue up at the last meeting with her Mexican counterpart and asked the president to “address these violations” in any future consultations with Mexico City.
LOOKING LIKE 50-50: An evenly divided Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker appears to be the most likely outcome on Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management. “Every Republican — I’ve talked to all 50 Republicans in the United States Senate — we are united in voting against her,” Senate Energy ranking member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday on Fox Business.
SCHUMER IS DOWN FOR THE CORPS: Schumer promised to include provisions for a Civilian Climate Corps in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, saying that he will fight for the “biggest, boldest CCC possible,” Zack Colman reports for Pros. The proposal has wide support among Democrats, with over 80 Democratic lawmakers across the party’s ideological spectrum pressing party leadership Tuesday for a CCC.
BIOFUELS BATTLE BILL: Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would eliminate volume requirements for corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard but leave in place volume obligations for advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biodiesel.
“The federal corn ethanol mandate no longer makes sense when better, lower-carbon alternatives exist,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Corn ethanol achieves little to no reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s time to end the mandate and instead support more advanced biofuels and biodiesel that won’t contribute to climate change or drive up the cost of food.”
Meanwhile, the White House is delaying an annual rulemaking on biofuel mandates, Reuters reports, as it balances the interests of fuel refiners and the agriculture sector. While corn growers praise the current fuel standards for creating a major market for corn-based fuels, petroleum refiners contend they are driving up costs.
Other hearings today: The House Ways and Means Committee is meeting today to discuss forced labor in supply chains. A number of electric and renewable alternatives rely on components whose production has been tied to allegations of forced labor in China and other developing countries. A Senate Foreign Relations subpanel is holding a hearing today on combating climate change in East Asia and the Pacific. And the House Science Committee will discuss the impacts of extreme heat on the country.
NORD STREAM 2 IS HAPPENING: The Biden administration appears to have pretty much given up on shutting down the Russian pipeline, and is focusing now on repairing its relationship with Germany, which has defended the project, POLITICO’s Betsy Woodruff Swan, Alexander Ward and Andrew Desiderio report. And the administration is quietly telling Ukraine not to openly contest the U.S.-German effort to strike a new agreement over the project.
BACK IN BLACK: Oilfield service group Halliburton Co. reported better than expected quarterly profits on Tuesday and more notably said the rebound in oil prices has the industry looking up. The company expects double-digit growth abroad and is seeing domestic activity at pre-pandemic level. More here from Bloomberg News.
Notable quotable: “We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space. And keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is. That’s going to take decades to achieve, but you have to start. And big things start with small steps.” — Jeff Bezos after coming back from space.
— “BlackRock barges into corporate boardrooms,” via POLITICO.
— “Japan goes nuclear in bid to stay cool during Summer Olympics,” via Reuters.
— “Shell appeals against Dutch emissions order,” via Financial Times.
— “Republicans raise ethics complaints over Biden water policy,” via E&E News.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!