Energy & Environment —Biden EV pitch faces headwinds

The administration’s aggressive electric cars push may meet its match, a former Interior secretary may be headed back to Congress and Biden takes aim at Big Oil. 

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. 

Hurdles remain as Biden’s EV push comes to life 

President Biden’s push for more electric vehicles (EVs) on the road and more charging stations around the U.S. is gaining fresh traction while Americans continue to face historically high gas prices at the pump. 

The president has been focused on an ambitious climate agenda, which has largely stalled in the Senate, but federal funding for electric vehicle infrastructure manufacturing was passed in the bipartisan infrastructure law, which the president signed in November. 

  • The law included $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers
  • Since then, the Biden administration has allocated funding to kick-start programs with the goal of making electric vehicles more prevalent on American roads by the end of the decade. 

“I think the amount of money makes me optimistic. Of course, most of it is being distributed to the states, and the states are going to have to use that infrastructure money strategically. And that I believe is going to mean a heavy emphasis on making charging access available to apartment dwellers,” said Jenny Carter, assistant professor at the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment. 

The goal: Biden’s targeted goal of 50 percent EV sale shares in the U.S. by 2030 also includes manufacturing a network of 500,000 chargers that will help make EVs accessible to all Americans for both local and long-distance drives. 

The White House has stressed its focus on equity in its push to get more EVs on the road, while electric cars are largely still considered an item for the wealthy or solely for people who can afford and have the space for chargers at their homes. 

“The challenge with electric vehicle charging, if you look at how people currently charge who own EVs, it’s all at home. People who own EVs tend to be higher income and have a garage or driveway,” said Tim Johnson, chair of the Master of Environmental Management Energy and Environment Program at Duke University. 

“Building our public charging network is critical really for half the U.S. households. What the administration is doing, yes, I think from the charger standpoint and the money going in, it’s critical. It compliments what the manufacturers are doing,” he added. 

Read more from The Hill’s Alex Gangitano. 

SPECIAL FEATURE

This week The Hill is exploring what’s next for electric and autonomous vehicles in the series “Driving Into the Future. Articles from Hill reporters and opinion contributors will be posted throughout the week here

Zinke clinches GOP nomination for House seat 

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is on track to return to the House of Representatives. 

Zinke is projected to beat out four other Republicans, including his main rival — surgeon Al Olszewski — in the GOP primary for Montana’s 1st Congressional District. The win makes him the heavy favorite to represent the district in Washington next year.  

The primary took place on Tuesday. The Associated Press called the race on Thursday at 7:52 p.m. ET. 

A refresher:

  • Zinke represented Montana’s at-large congressional district from 2015 until 2017, when former President Trump tapped him to lead the Interior Department
  • He resigned as Interior secretary in 2019 amid multiple investigations into his travel and potential conflicts of interest
  • The allegations of wrongdoing have fueled attacks from Zinke’s primary rivals, who have raised questions about his ethics and behavior while serving in public office

Despite those controversies, Zinke is seeking to return to Washington, and he has the support of his former boss. Trump endorsed his congressional bid last month during a tele-rally for Zinke. 

Read more from The Hill’s Max Greenwood. 

Biden: ‘Exxon made more money than God this year’

President Biden on Friday called out Exxon for raking in large profits while addressing high inflation and calling on Congress to act to tackle it. 

“Why don’t you tell them what Exxon’s profits were this year? This quarter? Exxon made more money than God this year,” he said in remarks at the Port of Los Angeles. “Exxon, start investing. Start paying your taxes.” 

  • Biden has called on Congress to pass tax reform to make the wealthiest Americans and big corporations pay what he argues is their fair share as a way to reduce inflationary pressures
  • His remarks follow the release of data from the Labor Department earlier on Friday that showed the consumer price index rose 1 percent last month alone and 8.6 percent in the 12-month stretch ending in May

“But make no mistake about it, I understand inflation is a real challenge to American families. Today’s inflation report confirmed what Americans already know: Putin’s price hike is hitting America hard. Gas prices at the pump, energy and food prices account for half of the monthly price increases since May,” Biden said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The president said that there are more than “9,000 permits for drilling” but that the oil companies “are not drilling.” 

“Why don’t they drill more? Because they make more money not producing oil. Prices go up on the one hand. No. 2, the reason they are not drilling is they are buying back their own stock, should be taxed quite frankly. Buying back their own stock and not making new investments,” he said. 

Read more from The Hill’s Alex Gangitano. 

Price hikes from oil spiked monthly, annual inflation 

Consumer prices growth spiked in May as another surge in oil prices spurred inflation higher across the U.S. economy, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. 

  • The Labor Department’s consumer price index (CPI), a closely watched gauge of inflation, rose 1 percent last in May alone and 8.6 percent in the 12-month stretch ending in May
  • Inflation landed far higher than the 0.7 percent monthly inflation rate projected by economists and jumped rapidly from a 0.3 percent monthly increase in prices in April
  • The annual inflation rate also rose from 8.3 percent in April, where economists expected it to remain last month, to 8.6 percent
  • May’s annual inflation marked the fastest yearly growth in prices since inflation hit 8.9 percent annually in December 1981

“Inflation is hitting not only the volatile food and energy categories, which themselves look to persist at high levels, especially food, but has moved deeply into services and shelter costs, while remaining high in goods categories we thought were cooling off,” said Robert Frick, chief corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, in a Friday analysis. 

Rising prices for shelter, gasoline, and food powered most of the May spike in inflation, particularly after a brief dip in oil prices eased some pressure in April.

Energy prices rose 3.9 percent last month alone after falling 2.7 percent in April. Gasoline prices rose 4.1 percent in May and are now almost 50 percent higher than they were in May 2021. 

Read more from The Hill’s Sylvan Lane 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK

   Tuesday 

  • The Senate Energy Committee will vote on whether to advance the nominations of David Applegate to direct United States Geological Survey, Carmen Cantor, to lead Interior’s insular and international affairs and Evelyn Wang to direct the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The votes will be immediately followed by a hearing to examine short term and long terms solutions to extreme drought in the western United States. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille C. Touton will testify. 
  • The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing titled “State Perspectives on Methane Pollution.” New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) will testify. 

   Wednesday

  • The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will hold a hearing to examine a series of coastal and water-related bills 
  • The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Role of Climate Research in Supporting Agricultural Resiliency”

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • 3M’s ‘Forever Chemicals’ Crisis Has Come to Europe (Bloomberg
  • Exxon Mobil hit an all-time high this week. Here’s what comes next for the energy colossus, according to analysts (CNBC
  • Louisiana is bracing for an LNG boom. The projects will emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases. (The Acadiana Advocate
  • In Bolivia’s Amazon, wildcat gold mining boom stokes tension over environment (Reuters

And finally, something offbeat and off-beatLet him in. 

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 next week.  

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