Energy & Environment — Newsom positions himself as climate leader

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has emerged as a national climate leader, spurring some presidential chatter.

Today we’ll also take a look at Europe as it braces for extreme heat.

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Newsom plants flag on climate, stirring 2024 talk

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is positioning himself and his state as a national leader on climate issues amid speculation of a possible 2024 White House bid.

Newsom, even as the Biden administration is increasingly stymied by the Supreme Court and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), hopes to show how the Golden State can lead the way on tackling climate change while Washington is in a quagmire.

  • Newsom’s history on climate: Newsom’s state budget package, unveiled in January, included $22.5 billion to combat climate change. In May, he revised the proposal to add another $9.5 billion.

  • Newsom also stood up for the state’s tailpipe emissions standards during a legal standoff with the Trump administration, which attempted to repeal a federal waiver allowing the rules. The waiver was restored by Biden-appointed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan in 2022.

California leading the way on green issues is nothing new, but Newsom, at a time when Democrats are increasingly looking for choices beyond Biden, has a unique chance to carve out a role for himself.

The story so far: “Under previous governor Jerry Brown [D], California was a beacon of climate leadership at a time when we lacked it at the national level under the previous administration,” Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, told The Hill in an email. “Here Newsom is working with the administration to advance the cause of climate action, and the California tailpipe emissions standards are a good example of that. California is setting an example that other states will hopefully follow.”

A number of states have voluntarily adopted California’s tougher emissions standards, most recently Virginia under then-Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Newsom also has been one of the most public Democratic critics of the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia vs. EPA, in which the high court ruled the Obama-era Clean Power Plan was not legally authorized as a method of regulating power plant emissions.

  • California has “historically been the one that responds most aggressively” among the states on climate issues, Severin Borenstein, faculty director of the Energy Institute at Haas at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Hill in an interview.   

  • Under Newsom, “we’re doing it again with everything from grid decarbonization to electric vehicles, to decarbonizing buildings,” Borenstein said, as well as local initiatives like moving to ban natural gas hookups.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision, Newsom has increasingly framed his state as a bulwark against inaction at the federal level.

Read more about some of Newsom’s moves here.

UK, France brace for ‘heat apocalypse’

British and French authorities are preparing for intense heat this week as the countries brace for what they call a “heat apocalypse,” which could lead to record-breaking temperatures.

  • In the United Kingdom, temperatures were forecasted to reach 41 degrees Celsius, or 106 F, for the first time, with British authorities issuing a “red extreme” heat warning in a large part of England. If those temperatures are reached it would break England’s record-setting 38.7 Celsius (101.7 F), which was set in 2019.

  • Meanwhile, across the channel: France also issued its highest possible alert level along its Atlantic coast, with French authorities warning of a “heat apocalypse.” Temperatures are predicted to top 40 degrees Celsius or 104 F and the heat is expected to last until Tuesday.

“Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the U.K.,” Nikos Christidis, a climate attribution researcher at the U.K.’s Met Office, said in a statement. “The chances of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence.”

He noted that the possibility of exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in the U.K. in a given year had rapidly increased.

The heat has been detrimental in other areas of Europe, with rapidly spreading wildfires in France, as well as Spain and Portugal, leading to mass evacuations. In response to the fires, France’s Interior Ministry deployed additional firefighters and water-bomber planes to the most severely hit regions.

Read more from The Hill’s Rachel Scully.


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Monday called legislation the “best option” to tackle climate change as President Biden has said he will take it on through regulation.

On Friday, Biden urged the passage of a health care-only reconciliation package, saying he’d handle climate change through strong executive action.

  • Wyden said, however, that these actions are vulnerable to legal challenges. 

  • “While I strongly support additional executive action by President Biden, we know a flood of Republican lawsuits will follow. Legislation continues to be the best option here.”

And, the senator called for the continuation of climate talks in Congress as key swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) said he didn’t want to immediately move forward with climate legislation.

Wyden, whose panel controls tax legislation, emphasized the importance of clean energy tax incentives that would have been restored in a new statement.

He said that without the certainty provided by the credits Democrats have been discussing, “investment in clean domestic energy will fall far short of what is necessary to reduce carbon emissions and secure lower prices for American consumers.”

Read more about his comments here.


Interior Secretary Deb Haaland broke her leg Sunday while hiking in Shenandoah National Park, the Department of the Interior said Monday.

The department said that the break to Haaland’s left fibula was confirmed during a medical evaluation on Monday morning. She was expected to work virtually Monday afternoon.

“She is grateful to Park staff, the U.S. Park Police, and the team at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for their excellent care,” the department said.

The Interior department oversees the National Park Service, and Shenandoah is among the 63 national parks administered by the service.

Haaland had tested positive for COVID-19 last month. When her positive test was announced, her department said she was experiencing mild symptoms.

Read more here.


The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing to examine federal regulatory authorities governing the development of interstate hydrogen pipelines, storage, import, and export facilities.


  • ‘Things Are Going to Break’: Texas Power Plants Are Running Nonstop (Bloomberg)

  • A shale well met an abandoned well a mile away. How did it happen? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Russia’s Gazprom tells Europe gas halt beyond its control (Reuters)

  • Fed up with net-zero climate goals, activists call for ‘real zero’ (ABC News)
    EPA knocks Colorado’s system for issuing air quality permits to minor polluters like drilling sites, gold mines (The Denver Post)

🍉 Lighter click: Staying cool

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.


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