TGIF! Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day’s energy and environment news.
Today we’re looking at the EPA’s plans for the future of clean water regulations, President BidenJoe BidenFirst lady leaves Walter Reed after foot procedure Biden backs effort to include immigration in budget package MyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News MORE’s talk with Western governors on wildfires and Secretary Haaland’s call for inclusion of native voices.
LANDING GEAR: Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections
Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandHaaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Interior Department to review proposal for first wind power project off North Carolina coast Overnight Energy: Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas review | Biden admin reportedly aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030 | Lack of DOD action may have caused ‘preventable’ PFAS risks MORE joined other Native American leaders and activists at the National Mall on Thursday to accept the delivery of a totem pole transported across the country as part of a push to protect sites that are sacred to Native Americans.
The event was the final stop in the “Red Road to DC,” a two-week tour from Washington state to Washington, D.C., with visits to sacred locations throughout the U.S. Speaking at the event Thursday, Haaland called for greater inclusion of Native American voices in lawmaking in order to protect the sites.
“The fact that we are all here is not insignificant. When our nation’s capital was established, its policies were intended to exclude us, to assimilate us. Laws and policies were written without considering Indigenous communities’ challenges or their strengths, and we are working hard to undo so many consequences of these actions,” said Halaand, who is the nation’s first Native American Cabinet secretary.
What’s at stake?: Advocates warn that a number of sacred locations across the U.S. are threatened by government actions, which they say violate prior peace treaties. Among these locations is the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE slashed the size of Bears Ears, which the Biden administration has pushed to reverse.
The Snake River in Idaho, another site on the tour, has seen a decline in its salmon population due to dams in the river that native people have long claimed violate their fishing rights.
TESTING THE WATERS: Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections in first step for clean water regulations
The Biden administration said on Friday that it’ll take a two-step approach to decide which U.S. waters should get federal protections from pollution, returning first to pre-Obama protections.
A statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that a “forthcoming foundational rule” would temporarily restore protections that were in place prior to an Obama-era expansion in 2015.
Last year, the Trump administration put forward a rule that undermined both the Obama-era protections and also rolled back some protections, including for wetlands, that had been in place for decades.
LOOKING WEST: Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires
Governors of Western states facing severe fires called for federal action on climate change and forest management on a call with President Biden and Vice President Harris Friday.
Biden began by asking the governors what help the White House could provide at the state level that they were not already receiving. Montana Gov. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteOvernight Energy: Dakota Access Pipeline fined over safety violations | Electric cars to outsell combustion vehicles in US by 2036 | Montana governor mobilizes National Guard to assist with wildfires Montana governor mobilizes National Guard to assist with wildfires Montana governor lifts COVID-19 state of emergency MORE (R) said the fires illustrate the need for more effective forest management in the affected areas.
“I can take you 10 miles west of the state capitol in Helena and show you a forest where 90 percent of the trees are standing dead,” Gianforte said, adding that such circumstances create a “tinder box” in those areas.
Biden agreed, comparing ignitions in poorly-managed forests to “dropping a match in a pool of fuel” and highlighted the additional forest management and Bureau of Land Management funds in the bipartisan infrastructure package backed by the White House.