Energy & Environment

Republicans Push Back Against States Seen as Too Pro-Regulation
GOP favors independence by state governments unless they don’t like a state’s decision

Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming and ranking Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware talk before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hears from acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in early August, the energy and environment community was watching.

It was Wheeler’s first appearance since his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, resigned after months of ethical, spending and personnel scandals. Washington was eager to see how Wheeler would right the agency.

Gregg Harper, Retiring Congressman and Giddy New Grandpa
After five terms, Mississippi Republican is looking forward to more family time

Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., is not seeking a sixth term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Earlier this summer, Rep. Gregg Harper cleared his calendar to fly home for the birth of his first grandbaby — a little boy named Lee.

Speaking in his Rayburn Building office two weeks later, the Mississippi Republican pulled out his phone to flip through pictures.

Kavanaugh Will Face 4 Female Senators. Why Not More?
Supreme Court hearings shed light on Senate’s gender gap — and other panels skew even more male

The Senate Judiciary Committee has no female Republican senators on it. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

BY ALEX GANGITANO AND JEREMY DILLON

As the Senate Judiciary Committee weighs its next move on Brett Kavanaugh, only four women will have a voice. All of them are Democrats.

He Made Politics a Knockdown Brawl. (Hint: It Wasn’t Trump)
Contrary to the cries of ‘It’s never been worse,’ politics has always been personal, passionate and contentious

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn’t found America with backslaps and empty platitudes. They were as passionate as any politician since, write Heineman and Beebe. (Courtesy White House Historical Association and National Gallery of Art)

OPINION — In the presidential election of 1800, John Adams’ camp, through the Connecticut Courant newspaper, said that should Thomas Jefferson win the presidency, the United States would become a nation where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced.”

Jefferson’s camp in turn accused Adams of being a “gross hypocrite” and “one of the most egregious fools on the continent.”

When Fried Pickles Lead to Better Policymaking
Ace program helps lawmakers build personal and working relationships

From right, Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr and California Rep. Jimmy Panetta visit a farm outside Lexington, Ky., during an exchange trip in June with the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Courtesy Bipartisan Policy Center)

OPINION — A California congressman, born in Mexico, introduces a Republican colleague in America’s heartland to traditional Mexican hibiscus water while attending a Cinco de Mayo festival, like the one he started in his home district. Within 24 hours, they receive a classified defense briefing nearby at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters. In ways both lighthearted and serious, that’s how relationships are built under the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange program, or ACE.

Relationships are foundational. Just as it is hard to trust someone you don’t know, it’s also difficult to disparage a person with whom you’ve broken bread — or shared hibiscus water, eaten fried pickles or tasted olive oil on ice cream. And experiencing the world through the eyes and perspective of another is frequently illuminating.

Senate E-Filing Launches New Era in Campaign Disclosures
Advocates for political money transparency praised the move away from snail-mail reports.

With the signing of a spending bill on Friday, Senators and Senate candidates are required to file campaign finance information to the Federal Election Commission electronically. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

It’s been a good week for advocates of faster, and more, political money disclosure.

With President Donald Trump’s signature Friday, it’s official: Senate candidates now must file their campaign finance reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission, making it easier for reporters, voters and opponents alike to sift through donor and spending disclosures.   

Despite New Tariffs, China Still Not Budging on Trade Tactics, White House Says
Senior official indicates Canada no closer to joining Mexico trade deal than it was when talks started

U.S. and Chinese flags on a table where military leaders from the two countries met in 2014. Four year later, the economic giants are in the midst of a bitter trade dispute. Depsite President Trump’s tariff's little progress has been made, an official said Friday. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle)

The Trump administration is not aiming to “cleve off” the U.S. economy from China’s, but it intends to continue pressuring the Asian giant even though tough moves like repeated rounds of tariffs have yet to bring the fundamental changes President Donald Trump is demanding.

“Our goal is not to totally divorce our economies from each other,” said a senior official who briefed reporters Friday at the White House about trade matters. “Our goal is for China to stop behaving unfairly.”

North Dakota Senate Race Could Come Down to Fossil Fuels
The problem? Heitkamp and Cramer have strikingly similar stances on energy

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer are vying for North Dakota’s Senate seat. They’re also racing to show off their energy chops. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The two candidates in the North Dakota Senate race — a tight matchup with massive implications for control of the chamber next Congress — are touting their Capitol Hill energy policy chops to gain an edge in one of the closest contests of the midterms. 

The race has triggered an escalating argument between vulnerable Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp and her GOP challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer, over which one is the best champion of the state’s fossil fuel industries that rank among the most productive in the nation.

Ocelots, Butterflies in Path of Border Wall
As DHS waives its way across Texas, Congress is rethinking a thirteen-year-old law

Barriers at the southern border hem in more than people, environmentalists say. Wildcats, tortoises and other animals can get trapped. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

When rains pushed the Rio Grande River to flood stage in 2010, an existing border wall acted as a flood barrier, protecting some lowlands but also trapping some animals. A 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club noted the discovery after the flooding of shells from “hundreds” of Texas tortoise, which that state lists as a threatened species.

“Animals caught between the river and the flood wall that could not escape around the edges of the floodwalls likely perished,” said the report. Endangered species like the ocelot and jaguarundi, both small wildcats, also might have died, according to the report.

Cruz, O’Rourke Steal Spotlight, but House Races in Texas Are Heating Up Too
Democrats eye multiple pickup opportunities in Lone Star State

Democrats say energy around Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign could help their House candidates in Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Texas Senate race has been grabbing headlines lately, but Democrats hoping for good news in November from the Lone Star State might want to focus further down the ballot, where several contests could be critical to House control.

Both parties have ramped up their activities in a handful of competitive Texas districts, with the Republican and Democratic campaign committees launching television ads in key races last week.

EPA Watchdog to Step Down as Scott Pruitt Probes Continue
Arthur Elkins had contradicted the former administrator’s account of his security detail

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies during a hearing in May. The inspector general who led multiple investigations of his spending habits is retiring this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA’s inspector general, who led multiple investigations into former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and management practices at the agency, will leave in October, his office announced Tuesday.

Arthur A. Elkins Jr., who has been EPA inspector general since 2010, said in a news release that he will retire on Oct. 12, but did not indicate whether his departure is related to issues at the agency. Before becoming inspector general, Elkins worked as associate general counsel in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel.

A Workhorse and a Hard Charger Aim for Transportation Top Spot
Sam Graves and Jeff Denham mostly align on policy, but couldn’t vary more in style

An airplane takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport at sunrise on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The personalities of the two candidates angling to be the next top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee may be the starkest difference between them.

As Steering Committee members decide committee leadership posts later this year, they’ll have to choose between behind-the-scenes operator Sam Graves of Missouri and Jeff Denham, a hard-charging Californian best known for nearly forcing House leadership’s hand on immigration votes by advancing a discharge petition earlier this year. 

Spending Vote Deal and No Brett Kavanaugh Markup Means Quick Senate Exit
Senators set to vote to fund government through at least Dec. 7

Reporters question Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process as he returns to his office from the Senate floor on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators made another quick exit from the Capitol on Tuesday.

The chamber was always going to be closed for business Wednesday, in observance of Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown Tuesday. But getting the next two-bill spending package done and ready for the House next week could easily move up the departure.

Carbon Dioxide Isn’t Just a Problem. It’s a Lucrative Product
America needs to invest in the next big thing — direct air capture and storage

America should invest in technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, Dorgan writes. Above, haze surrounds Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley, California, in 2017. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — While some experts butt heads over how to slash global carbon emissions, others are experimenting with ways to suck already-emitted gas out of the atmosphere and either store it or roll it back into useful products.

This technology, called direct air capture and storage, is among several strategies that could revolutionize the energy industry and make cleaning up the environment an increasingly profitable enterprise.

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.