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— The winner of the presidential race is still unknown with the key battleground states not yet called.
— On the Hill, votes are also still being tallied in several key races, but Democrats have notched a win in Colorado, while Republicans kept their Senate seats in Iowa and Montana.
— Despite the presidential outcome, the U.S. officially exited the Paris climate agreement today.
GOOD MORNING, FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF ELECTION DAY. I’m your host, Kelsey Tamborrino. Congrats to the League of Conservation Voters’ Tiernan Sittenfeld for getting the trivia win. Georgia was the first state to lower the voting age to 18. For today: The 20th Amendment changed the inauguration’s date to Jan 20. Before that, when were previous inaugurations held? Send your tips and answers to [email protected].
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.
WATCHING AND WAITING: After a long night of return-watching, we still don’t know who will lead the country for the next four years — a period of time scientists say will be crucial in determining whether the world will lock in the worst effects of climate change.
As of early this morning, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a slight lead over President Donald Trump, but key states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania remain undecided — as predicted. As Pros know, Trump’s closing pitch to voters was that Biden would crush the oil and gas industry, particularly the fracking industry in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Biden refuted that, and has promised to transition the U.S. economy to net-zero emissions no later than 2050 with “good-paying” union jobs.
As the nation watches, Biden, who ran on taking on the existential threat of climate change, cautioned that the final results might not be known until this morning, or even later. “We feel good about where we are, we really do,” Biden told a crowd in Delaware. Trump falsely claimed victory during a press conference at the White House. He called for “all voting to stop,” hinting without evidence of massive voter “fraud” and vowing to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Should Trump pull off the win, he’d embark on a second term looking to enshrine the deregulation his administration started in the first four years. A Trump win also cements America’s withdrawal from the international fight against climate change.
Green groups are already framing the fight to come. “Even as votes for the presidency and other races are still being counted, here’s what we do know: The challenges we face in our communities — from the climate crisis to inhumane systematic racism to the horrors of Covid-19 — won’t be solved by the outcome of any one election,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement this morning. “We must continue to mobilize, to organize and to win dramatic progress for our air, water, climate and environmental justice no matter the outcome.”
PARIS IS WATCHING: Despite not yet knowing who will be in the White House come January, the Trump administration still formally exited the Paris climate accord today, after launching its exit one year ago. If Biden wins, that exit will be short-lived, as he’s pledged to rejoin the global agreement on Day 1 of his administration.
Whether Trump or Biden wins will be crucial to the next stage of the agreement. Most of the nearly 200 other nations signed onto the Paris accord are expected to update their climate pledges next year, and many of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters are waiting for the outcome of the election to decide how far they go in boosting their commitments. That’s particularly crucial as international leaders are hoping other nations make more ambitious national pledges in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Already, China, South Korea, Japan and the European Union have announced ambitious targets.
“If the president is reelected — and if the U.S. consequently stays out of Paris and doesn’t significantly ramp up its climate effort — global ambition will likely suffer,” wrote Center for Climate and Energy Solutions’ senior adviser Daniel Bodansky and Executive Vice President Elliot Diringer. “With the world’s second largest (and largest historical) emitter retreating once again from the global climate effort, some countries may find it more difficult politically to strengthen their emission reduction pledges and others might use U.S. withdrawal as a convenient excuse not to do so. The longer the United States stays out, the more difficult it will be to move forward.”
Colorado: Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) captured incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner‘s seat last night in a race that centered on public lands and conservation. Gardner sought to soften his environmental record by touting his work on conservation issues like shepherding the Great American Outdoors Act, H.R. 1957 (116), into law.
Montana: Public lands were also key in the Montana race, where GOP Sen. Steve Daines held back a challenge from Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Daines also touted his action on the Great American Outdoors Act on the trail, while Bullock featured his efforts fighting William Perry Pendley at the Bureau of Land Management and vowed to keep “our public lands in Montanans’ hands.”
Iowa: Sen. Joni Ernst beat back a challenge from Democrat Theresa Greenfield. Throughout the campaign, the pair sparred over their support for the state’s biofuels industry. Ernst has vowed to continue to defend the Renewable Fuels Standard program.
Texas: Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, in one of the most energy-dependent districts, won her reelection race. Also in Texas, Mike Siegel, who was backed by the Sunrise Movement, lost a rematch against GOP Rep. Michael McCaul.
Oklahoma: Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn (Okla.) — whose endorsement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stirred controversy — lost her race against Stephanie Bice.
Minnesota: Michelle Fischbach, a GOP recruit and former lieutenant governor, won her race against incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee — who would have played a key role in shaping agriculture-related provisions in any future climate change legislation.
Oregon: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the chair of the Transportation committee and a key figure should Congress consider a massive infrastructure package early next year, won his reelection bid.
New Mexico: Republican Yvette Herrell beat Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D), who distanced herself throughout the campaign from some of the more progressive ideas in the caucus, including a fracking ban.
South Carolina: Republican Nancy Mace beat Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham (D), who ran heavily on climate change and his efforts to stop offshore drilling permanently off the South Carolina coast.
TOO SOON TO CALL
In the House: No word yet in the race between Democratic challenger Christina Finello and Republican incumbent Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), co-chair of the House’s PFAS Task Force and one of the few GOP lawmakers to support a carbon tax. Republican David Valadao’s challenge to Democratic Rep. T.J. Cox for his old seat in California has also not been called.
COURT WEIGHS DAKOTA PIPELINE APPEAL: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hold oral arguments today in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ appeal over the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The D.C. Circuit will weigh the Corps’ appeal of a lower court ruling that vacated easements issued to the project. The court said in August the pipeline can remain in operation while it considers the appeal, but rejected a request to stay the lower court’s ruling vacating the easements, pending appeal.
A Trump reelection and reversal by the D.C. Circuit Circuit of the lower court’s ruling would be a best-case scenario for the pipeline project, according to a Tuesday note from ClearView Energy Partners. But the appeal faces an uphill climb, ClearView said. “Going into oral argument, we think it might be more likely than not that the panel hearing the case could uphold the lower court’s ruling on both issues. In our view, the panel hearing the case — Judge David Tatel (appointed by Bill Clinton), Judge Patricia Millett (appointed by Barack Obama) and Senior Judge David Sentelle (appointed by Ronald Reagan) — may not bode particularly well for the Corps’ cause.”
ON THE LIST: Advocates say the Trump administration missed a Nov. 2 deadline to supply Congress with a list of projects that should receive funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund as directed by the Great American Outdoors Act, which the president and Senate Republicans alike have touted as an example of their conservation credentials in the lead-up to Election Day. Under the law, the administration was required to send lawmakers both the LWCF list and a list of deferred parks maintenance projects for fiscal 2021.
The Interior Department sent the deferred parks maintenance list to committees on the Hill Tuesday morning, but has not submitted the LWCF list, a House Democratic aide told ME. However, Interior spokesperson Ben Goldey told ME that per the law, the department met its deadline. According to the letter sent to lawmakers, the department identified priority deferred maintenance projects that are ready to be implemented by the department, including the Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park. The language of the law stipulates that when it comes to LWCF, the “president shall submit to Congress detailed account, program, and project allocations.” OMB did not immediately respond to questions from ME.
House Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva said (D-Ariz.) and conservation groups expressed concern over the absence of the LWCF list. Grijalva said in a statement to ME that Congress “sent clear instructions” to the administration to transmit a detailed LWCF project list. Grijalva also added that the deferred maintenance list does “not even come close to following the letter of the law. … I’m glad to see Grand Canyon identified on this list, but based on the total lack of information, for all I know Secretary [David] Bernhardt could be proposing uranium mining as a water improvement project.”
ENGIE OFFICIALLY KILLS U.S. DEAL: French trading house Engie officially walked away from a proposed LNG deal with a U.S. supplier, the company said Tuesday. Engie, partly owned by the French government, broke off talks over a potential $7 billion deal after putting the negotiations on hold earlier this year, Pro’s Ben Lefebvre reports. The 20-year contract would have given NextDecade a boost in its quest for funding to build its proposed Rio Grande export plant in Texas.
“ENGIE has decided not to pursue commercial negotiations with NextDecade about this gas supply project,” Engie spokesperson Sandrine Deparis said.
NextDecade’s failure to sell the gas out of its proposed export plant signals that U.S. energy companies may have a harder time selling natural gas in Europe as countries place greater emphasis on cutting methane emissions as a way to combat global climate change. The French government was concerned that the Texas oil fields from which NextDecade would have acquired the gas for export were too lax with their efforts to curb methane emissions, sources told POLITICO in October.
— “What a Biden administration would mean for Trudeau’s climate agenda,” via POLITICO.
— “How Jeff Bezos is spending his $10 billion Earth Fund,” via The Atlantic.
— “Baker Hughes to acquire carbon-capture company,” via Houston Chronicle.
— “Can clean energy help plug the hole in the oil patch? ‘The transition is well underway,’ says advocate,” via The Dallas Morning News.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!