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Energy & Environment — Biden to make more climate moves this week 

The Department of Agriculture says it will plant more trees as the White House eyes additional climate mitigation actions. Meanwhile, California is stepping up its own climate goals. 

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. 

Biden to announce steps on wildfires, extreme heat

The Biden administration this week will announce actions aimed at reducing wildfire risk and protecting people from extreme heat, according to a White House official. 

What do we know? The official said the actions Biden will announce include new resources for communities that deal with extreme heat and new initiatives that expand access to “more affordable sources of clean energy” in an email to The Hill.  

What else? The administration will also announce investments through the bipartisan infrastructure law to help “eliminate the backlog of reforestation needs” and help communities plan for and mitigate wildfire risk.  

The Agriculture Department on Monday said that it would try to plant more than
1 billion trees over the next 10 years and also try to eliminate the reforestation backlog. The White House official said the administration will announce additional steps related to wildfires this week.  

The upcoming actions were previously reported by E&E News. 

The steps come after the spotlight shifted to the Biden administration on climate action after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) backed away from climate talks in the Senate.  

Biden last week announced steps related to expanding offshore wind energy and heat funding, adding his administration would announce additional executive actions aimed at climate change “in the coming days.” 

  • But many climate advocates described last week’s steps as insufficient and are likely to view the latest steps in a similar light. 
  • Several progressives have called on Biden to declare a climate change emergency. Last week, Biden said that the issue was an “emergency” but stopped short of a formal declaration that would unlock additional climate powers. 

Read more about the upcoming moves here. 

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES PLANS TO PLANT 1 BILLION TREES 

The Biden administration on Monday outlined plans to plant 1 billion trees as part of efforts to address an extensive reforestation backlog.  

How so? The effort, spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, will build on existing reforestation efforts using funds from the bipartisan infrastructure law and the bipartisan Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act. 

Without the two laws, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, the department would only have been able to address about 6 percent of the reforestation backlog.   

  • “Forests are a powerful tool in the fight against climate change,” Vilsack said in a statement. “Nurturing their natural regeneration and planting in areas with the most need is critical to mitigating the worst effects of climate change while also making those forests more resilient to the threats they face from catastrophic wildfire, historic drought, disease outbreaks and pest infestation.”  
  • “Our reforestation efforts on national forests only increase through strong partnerships with other federal agencies, tribes, state and local governments, communities and organizations,” added US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “We recognize that successfully increasing reforestation on national forests is dependent on these strong partnerships.” 

The Forest Service has this year significantly expanded reforestation funds, putting about $100 million toward such efforts this year, at a time when unprecedented wildfires remain a looming threat.  

The announcement is the latest of a number of forestry-related moves by the federal government. 

In April, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting old-growth forests. In August, before Biden took office, the U.S. officially signed onto an effort to plant one trillion trees worldwide, with a goal of at least 855 million in the U.S. by 2030. 

Read more about the announcement here. 

California ups climate goals, faces fires

A burgeoning blaze near Yosemite National Park forced the evacuation of thousands of residents over the weekend, prompting California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to declare a state of emergency just a day after announcing a set of ambitious new climate goals.

Newsom issued a state of emergency for Mariposa County on Saturday due to the impacts of the Oak Fire, which his office said had destroyed homes, threatened critical infrastructure and led to the evacuation of 3,000 residents.

  • At the time of the declaration, the blaze had burned more than 11,500 acres — a figure that grew to 16,791 acres by Monday morning, according to Cal Fire. The fire was 10 percent contained on Monday.
  • Newsom’s emergency declaration came less than a day after he launched new statewide climate targets for renewable energy, clean buildings, carbon removal and clean fuels.

The specifics: As part of the new targets, the governor called for the state to ensure that its 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan provides the tools necessary to achieve California’s 2030 climate goals, as well as state carbon neutrality, no later than 2045, in a letter sent to the chair of the California Air Resources Board.

In his state budget proposal in January, Newsom allocated $22.5 billion for combatting the climate crisis over the next five years. In May, he revised the figure to add another $9.5 billion.

On Friday evening, however, the governor announced that he would be accelerating the state’s clean energy targets while working with the legislature “to enshrine carbon neutrality into state law,” according to his office.

  • Among the new targets proposed in his letter to the California Air Resources Board was a goal of producing at least 20 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2045. 

Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Operatives working with Florida utility plotted primary challenge for Miami senator (The Orlando Sentinel and Floodlight) 
  • The audacious PR plot that seeded doubt about climate change (The BBC) 
  • Colonial Pipeline spill 30 times bigger than previously thought (WRAL) 
  • Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change (The Associated Press) 

ICYMI

🐢 I love it when you call me Big Papa.

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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