Wednesday, September 28

Overnight Energy & Environment — White House says no to Russia oil ban


Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today we’re looking at the White House’s dismissal of a growing push to ban Russian oil imports and examining a House bill aiming to extend health benefits to veterans who faced toxic exposure.

For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with tips: [email protected] and [email protected] Follow us on Twitter: @RachelFrazin and @BudrykZack.

Let’s jump in.

Biden officials shoot down oil import limits

The White House on Thursday knocked down talk of banning Russian oil imports, warning doing so could further spike the already high price of gas for Americans, after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi Overnight Defense & National Security — US tries to turn down the dial on Russia House passes resolution backing Ukraine; Three Republicans vote ‘no’ Pelosi says deal on Ukraine aid is imminent MORE (D-Calif.) threw her support behind the idea.

“Our objective and the president’s objective has been to maximize impact on President Putin and Russia while minimizing impact to us and our allies and partners,” press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden urges GOP to end blockade on his Fed picks Overnight Energy & Environment — US to release 30M barrels from oil reserve Bipartisan calls grow for end to Russian oil imports MORE said at a briefing with reporters.

“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy and that would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people around the world because it would reduce the supply available,” she continued. “And it’s as simple as less supply raises prices, and that is certainly a big factor for the president at this moment. It also has the potential to pad the pockets of President Putin, which is exactly what we are not trying to do.”

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Psaki said the Biden administration has been taking steps to try and “degrade Russia’s status as an energy supplier over time.”

deputy press secretary Karine Jean PierreKarine Jean-PierreWhite House discouraging Americans from fighting in Ukraine Biden targets Belarus, Russian defense sector with new restrictions White House urges MLB, players association to continue talks after league cancels games MORE made similar remarks on Wednesday, saying, “We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy.”

Read more about Psaki’s comments from The Hill’s Brett Samuels.

PUSHBACK ON CAPITOL HILL

“They’re so wrong,” West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBriahna Joy Gray says Biden’s SOTU was ‘a wish list’ of initiatives ‘he isn’t able to pass’ On The Money — Manchin makes counteroffer to Biden’s big bill Overnight Energy & Environment — Invasion threatens ecological catastrophe MORE told reporters, referring to Jean-Pierre’s comments about the global supply of energy.

Manchin, alongside Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Sights and sounds from Biden’s State of the Union Senate gears up for confirmation of first Black woman to Supreme Court Manchin joins with Senate GOP to block bill guaranteeing abortion access MORE (R-Alaska) and others, introduced yet another piece of legislation aiming to block Russian oil imports on Thursday.

“The United States has the ability to backfill and help all of our allies around the world as they [Russia] use this energy as a weapon,” Manchin said at a press conference. “We have to make sure that we’re doing ours [energy production]. We do it cleaner than anyone else. We do it in a better fashion anybody else. And we have the ability with a reserve to do much more during this crisis.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also came out in support of a ban earlier Thursday: “I’m all for that — ban it,” Pelosi said. “Ban the oil coming from Russia.”

Read more about Pelosi’s comments here and the Murkowski-Manchin push here.

GET ON THE LIST

Stay ahead of the news cycle with The Hill’s new Evening reportfeaturing the day’s top stories and a look ahead to tomorrow.

House passes burn pits bill

The House on Thursday passed legislation that would expand access to health care for veterans exposed to toxins, such as chemicals emanating from burn pits, during their military service.

Lawmakers passed the bill largely along party lines, 256-174. Thirty-four Republicans joined Democrats in support.

Passage of the bill came two days after President BidenJoe BidenBiden hails UN vote: ‘Lays bare Putin’s isolation’ Overnight Defense & National Security — US tries to turn down the dial on Russia Johns Hopkins doctor says children need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 MORE announced during his State of the Union address that the Department of Veterans Affairs will add nine respiratory cancers to its list of service-connected disabilities to expand benefits eligibility for affected veterans.

The bill passed in the House would expand VA health care eligibility for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits by establishing a presumption of service connection for about two dozen types of respiratory illnesses — like chronic bronchitis and asthma — and cancers.

It’s estimated that about 3.5 million US service members have been exposed to burn pits, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonprofit veterans organization. A survey from the nonprofit found that 86 percent of its members reported exposure to burn pits or other toxics, with 89 percent reporting symptoms that might have been caused by that exposure.

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“When our country goes to war, we don’t nickel and tell me the Department of Defense. And we shouldn’t try to pinch pennies when it comes to covering the care for toxic-exposed veterans,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoJon Stewart on Republican opposition to war toxins bill: ‘F— that’ Toxic-exposed veterans have held up their part of the pact — now it’s our turn This week: Democrats set for showdown on voting rights, filibuster MORE (D-Calif.).

The otherside: Republicans argued the legislation could exacerbate VA backlogs and would add too much to the deficit, given its nearly $300 billion price tag over a decade.

“We are not doing right by our veterans by being fiscally irresponsible in their name. And I say that as a veteran myself,” said Rep. Marianne Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee who previously served in the Army.

Read more on the bill’s passage and about one specific piece of it from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Ukraine Is in an Environmental Crisis Too (Wired)
  • Only 6% of G20 pandemic recovery spending ‘green’, analysis finds (The Guardian)
  • Why climate solutions will fail without the help of social scientists (Vox)

ICYMI

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: Enjoy these State of the Union memes.

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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