Good morning! We were up late on the Hill last night (more on that below) but we hope you got some rest. 😴 Here's what to know: 

House Democrats aim to pass their massive social spending bill today

House Democrats delayed their plans to pass President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending plan — including its historic investment in addressing climate change — until this morning after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) spent hours bashing the bill on the floor.

Democrats had originally hoped to pass the Build Back Better Act, which contains the biggest clean energy investment in U.S. history, on Thursday evening. But McCarthy had other plans.

In a meandering speech that began at 8:38 p.m. and lasted more than eight hours, the California Republican railed against the bill and asserted it would lead to higher prices at the pump. “House Democrats are focused on the Green New Deal; House Republicans are focused on lowering gas prices,” McCarthy said at one point.

Shortly after midnight, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) sent Democrats home for the night, asking them to reconvene at 8.am. today to finish debate and vote on the legislation. 

Still, Democrats projected confidence that they had the votes to pass the measure today before recessing for Thanksgiving, with only one lawmaker — Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine.) — publicly saying he will oppose it. 

Even if the House passes the legislation, however, it will probably undergo changes in the Senate, where centrist Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has objected to a number of its climate provisions, including an extra tax credit for buyers of electric vehicles assembled with union labor. 

CBO releases BBB score

Moderate Democrats had insisted on seeing a full cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office before voting on the bill. But several members of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition said yesterday afternoon that they would vote “yes” after reviewing the CBO numbers.

  • In welcome news for Democrats, the CBO found that the bill would only slightly increase the federal deficit.
  • Notably, the CBO also projected that Democrats' plan to block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would cost $35 million. In 2017, the CBO had estimated that the Republican tax law allowing leasing in ANWR would raise $2 billion.

Speaking to reporters yesterday evening, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a senior member of the Blue Dog Coalition, expressed support for the climate portion of the package, demonstrating its broad popularity across the caucus. 

“I want to make sure that we protect climate provisions that are in the bill because it's so critically important to my community in Florida,” Murphy said.

About that methane fee

One of the bill's more controversial climate provisions would impose a fee on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can leak from oil and gas wells.

  • Specifically, the bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency to establish methane emissions thresholds for petroleum and natural gas facilities, and to impose a fee on emissions that exceed the thresholds. The fee starts at $900 per ton of methane in 2023 and increases to $1,500 per ton by 2025.
  • Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) argued that the methane fee would further increase energy costs for Americans this winter. “If we are taxing natural gas, we're taxing Americans who use natural gas to heat their homes,” he said on the House floor yesterday afternoon.

But Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said that such rhetoric is a “boogeyman that the Republicans come up with.”

“Those are not even projections that are based on anything other than political rhetoric,” Grijalva told reporters yesterday evening. “If there was fact involved, hey, you could debate it. But there is no fact involved.”

Grijalva added that he hopes the climate provisions in the bill's natural resources title aren't watered down in the Senate, despite Manchin's own concerns about the methane fee. "I would hope that there is much of the integrity of what we've done — the committee and this Congress — and that section is preserved," he said. 

A close up of McCarthy's climate record

It's worth a look at McCarthy's record on climate and clean energy, as the California Republican appears to be jockeying for House Speaker, should Republicans take back control of the House in the 2022 midterms.

  • In April, McCarthy co-sponsored the Trillion Trees Act from Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.). The legislation would plant 1 trillion trees globally by 2050 and incentivize the use of wood products to store carbon.
  • But while the minority leader has supported nature-based climate solutions like planting trees, he has not called for phasing out the burning of fossil fuels, which climate scientists say is a primary driver of global warming.
  • McCarthy has received $269,741 in donations from the oil and gas industry in the 2021-2022 campaign cycle, according to OpenSecrets. Jaco Oil Co., an oil and natural gas company headquartered in Bakersfield, Calif., was one of the five biggest contributors with a $27,400 donation.

Agency alert

Biden officials want to restrict development in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today will propose the reinstatement of a Bill Clinton-era ban on logging and road building in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports. The Trump administration stripped those protections last fall. 

The proposed rule would protect critical habitat and ensure the storage of carbon dioxide in the trees of North America’s largest temperate rainforest. “The trees there absorb at least 8 percent of the carbon stored in the entire Lower 48 states’ forests combined,” Eilperin writes.

The rule has the support of Alaska Native leaders, environmentalists and tour operators. But Alaska’s governor and congressional delegation have argued that it will hurt the state’s timber industry. The public will have 60 days to comment on the rule, which will be formally published on Tuesday.

On the Hill

Senate confirms Chuck Sams as NPS director

The Senate approved the nomination of Charles “Chuck” F. Sams III to lead the National Park Service by unanimous consent. An enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Sams will be the first Native American head of the park service.

Sams most recently served on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, an advisory council in Oregon focused on developing a power plan and fish and wildlife conservation program.

His confirmation marks the first for National Park Service director since 2009, when the Senate confirmed Jonathan Jarvis, who served through the Obama administration. The National Park Service saw four acting directors under the Trump administration, the Hill's Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk report.

The global climate

EVs are a sticking point at Biden’s meeting with Canada and Mexico

Biden on Thursday met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the White House, in the first trilateral summit since 2016. While the meeting was largely friendly, Biden’s counterparts have expressed dissatisfaction with the U.S. president’s legislative agenda, in particular a proposed tax write-off up to $12,500 for consumers who buy vehicles assembled in union shops using American-made batteries.

Canadian and Mexican officials say the provision would hurt the cross-border supply chain and undermine the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact, The Post's Ashley Parker, Kevin Sieff and Amanda Coletta report.

The power grid

Hydrogen produced using fossil fuels results in major emissions

Hydrogen has been touted as the clean energy of the future, but a study finds that making hydrogen from fossil fuels produces “substantial” greenhouse gas emissions, even when carbon capture technology is employed, The Post’s Rachel Pannett reports.

While some countries are giving priority to hydrogen made out of renewable energy, known as “green hydrogen,” other countries, including the United States, have made the case for a technology-neutral approach. That could pave the way for hydrogen made from natural gas and other fossil fuels, known as “blue hydrogen.” The bipartisan infrastructure package signed into law this week includes $8 billion to create regional hydrogen hubs in the United States.

Extreme events

The Pacific Northwest is experiencing climate whiplash

An atmospheric river brought heavy rainfall to the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia on Nov. 15, resulting in massive flooding and mudslides. (John Farrell/The Washington Post)

The Pacific Northwest and British Columbia have been bombarded with climate-fueled disasters: First an unprecedented heat wave at the end of June, then a rash of wildfires, and most recently devastating floods and landslides, The Post's Kasha Patel, Amanda Coletta, Jason Samenow and Laris Karklis report.

In Whatcom County, Wash., water rose above some first-floor windows earlier this week. The city’s Facebook page estimated that 75 percent of homes incurred damage. On Wednesday in Vancouver, flooding and mudslides destroyed large sections of key rivers and bridges and essentially choked the city off from the rest of the province. 

The heavy rainfall in recent days was driven by a 2,600 mile long strip of water vapor, stretching from Hawaii, known as an atmospheric river. Scientists say climate change is making atmospheric rivers stronger and abrupt changes between intense dryness and extreme wet conditions more common. 

Viral

Endangered sea lions are returning to New Zealand and popping up in strange places, including a golf course and community pool. Young sea lions can be “just really cheeky and they’ll like to play games,” said Laura Boren, a science adviser for the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Thanks for reading!