Millions in Puerto Rico lost power this weekend after Hurricane Fiona hit the U.S. territory. Meanwhile, lawmakers are frustrated with not having seen permitting reform text.
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Fiona slams Puerto Rico, entire island loses power
The entire island of Puerto Rico lost power Sunday as Hurricane Fiona hit the U.S. territory with dangerous winds and flash flood conditions.
The Category 1 storm knocked out Puerto Rico’s power grid when it swept through the southwest coast, affecting the entire island.
As much as 25 inches of rainfall accumulated in some areas of the island over the last two days, according to the National Weather Service.
The power outages at one point affected all of the nearly 1.5 million customers tracked on the island by the site PowerOutage.US. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi (D) confirmed in an update Sunday that the island’s full electrical system was down, affecting Puerto Rico’s entire 3.2 million population, according to translations.
As of Monday morning, the power outage website listed nearly 90 percent of the customers it tracked as being without power.
LUMA Energy, which services the island, reported Monday that power had been restored for about 100,000 customers.
The power company says full power restoration could be days away, as the dangerous conditions are preventing damage assessment and response.
Lack of permitting reform text frustrates lawmakers
Lawmakers are frustrated about being kept in the dark as Democratic leaders strategize how to jimmy an energy deal struck with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) behind closed doors through Congress — while also averting a government shutdown.
Democratic leadership is aiming to use a must-pass government-funding bill to advance an energy permitting proposal by Manchin by the end of the month. But with roughly two weeks standing between Congress and the critical funding deadline, tensions are simmering over the closely-kept negotiations.
“We don’t know what it is. They haven’t released the text, they don’t give us the detailed explanation,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told The Hill this week. “So, I don’t know how you could ask people to vote for something they don’t know what it is.”
“There’s a reason they’re keeping it secret: it’s either still being negotiated or it’s so weak it has no meaning or it’s too strong for other people,” she added.
Only a broad outline of Manchin’s plan has been released.
But in the absence of official text, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are complaining that they don’t know what they’re debating.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) who is leading the left-wing opposition to Manchin’s reforms, said he’d be open to negotiating a package if it will provide protections for communities that face high pollution burdens.
Still, he expressed frustration that the details of Manchin’s proposal haven’t been spelled out.
“We’re negotiating in the dark and all the cards are held by the Senate and we’re just supposed to react,” Grijalva told The Hill.
Keep in touch: He said he’s seeking a meeting with leadership to negotiate and also plans to reach out to Manchin.
Pressed on Thursday whether the text would be released before legislation is unveiled for the funding bill, Manchin told The Hill he believes it will be “released in the CR,” referring to the continuing resolution, which is expected to push the government funding deadline to December as the midterm cycle picks up.
A continuing resolution is a short-term spending bill that keeps spending at present levels.
As for when and how the funding bill will be brought up for consideration, much appears to be up in the air, as top leaders indicate those details are still being hashed out.
Under pressure: Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, speculated that the CR might not drop until “probably closer to the end of the month” — which he noted would up the pressure on both sides to pass a CR before funding lapses.
ANOTHER WRENCH: CONSERVATIVE RESISTANCE
Conservative Republicans in both chambers of Congress are calling on GOP colleagues to reject any government funding deal that could give Democrats the opportunity to pass a new budget before the end of the year, with 42 House Republicans and 14 Senate Republicans signing “Dear Colleague” letters.
The Monday letters come as Congress has 10 days to take action before government funding runs out at the end of the fiscal year after Sept. 30.
Congress is poised to extend government funding through a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at current levels before then. But with the possibility of Republicans winning control of one or both chambers in the midterm elections, the conservatives say that the new deadline made by the continuing resolution should be after the start of the next Congress, when Republicans may have more leverage in setting new funding levels.
“We must not accept anything short of a ‘clean’ Continuing Resolution (‘CR’) that contains no additional spending or extraneous policy riders,” said the Senate letter led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “At a minimum, any agreement on a clean CR must carry over into the beginning of the 118th Congress.”
ON TAP TOMORROW
The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would require energy exploration on public land and waters align with the country’s climate goals
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on responding to a changing Arctic
The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on conservation programs in the farm bill
WHAT WE’RE READING
Researchers Hit With Lawsuits, Records Requests for Fact-Checking Climate Claims (Bloomberg)
Pipeline’s backers have financial, campaign ties (Roll Call)
Nike Touts Its Climate Initiatives. So Why Is Phil Knight Bankrolling A Logging Industry Ally? (HuffPost)
Biden calls Puerto Rico governor amid Fiona devastation
Biden issues emergency declaration as Hurricane Fiona barrels toward Puerto Rico
🐜 Lighter click: Getting antsy
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.