OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Svinicki nomination to move forward in Senate

Meanwhile, Republicans are putting increased pressure on Democrats to quickly approve Svinicki’s nomination, arguing that the commission can’t function without its entire membership.

Svinicki’s first term expires June 30.


NEWS BITES:

CPR blasts Obama's executive order

The liberal Center for Progressive Reform blasted a new executive order President Obama signed Thursday aimed at “eliminating outdated requirements and unjustified costs” of regulations.

The executive order is part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to ensure regulations aren’t overly expensive and burdensome. The order comes amid aggressive attacks by industry groups on the administration’s regulatory agenda, including new Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules.

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CPR has long been critical of White House regulatory oversight efforts, arguing they give industry groups an opportunity to weaken important public health regulations.

“Going on a hunt for existing regulations to weaken cannot help these busy and under-resourced agencies in their efforts to adopt important new protections for the public as they become inundated in requests from regulated industries to scale back their efforts to protect public health and safety,” CPR President Rena Steinzor wrote in a blog post on the group’s website.

Read the blog post here.

Hastings slams IG drilling probe, says docs wrongly withheld

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) is alleging that the Interior Department’s inspector general is wrongly withholding documents from his panel, which is probing the controversial 2010 Interior report that endorsed a temporary freeze on deepwater drilling after the BP spill.

The 2010 report erroneously suggested that outside engineers had endorsed the moratorium. Administration officials say the error was inadvertent, but Hastings has subpoenaed the administration for more information.

Hastings sent a sharply written letter to acting IG Mary Kendall Thursday stating that documents provided thus far show that her inquiry into the 2010 report fell short, and that both Interior and the IG's office are not being forthcoming enough with the committee.

“Documents recently obtained from your office raise serious questions about the thoroughness and independence of the IG's investigation, including whether the lead investigators were able to obtain, or were directed not to obtain, all internal Department documents necessary to independently confirm witness statements and other facts at issue in the investigation, as opposed to only a select few documents provided by the same senior Department officials subject to the investigation or publicly available documents,” Hastings writes.

The letter follows the release of emails — first reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune — showing an investigator in the IG’s office believes a White House staffer intentionally edited the report to suggest the drilling ban endorsement by the outside reviewers.

The emails obtained by the committee, now available here, also show that the IG's office investigator, Richard Larrabee, expressed frustration that he could not obtain all the records he wanted during the probe of Interior-White House communication about the report.

Associate Interior Inspector General Kris Kolesnik told the Times-Picayune that the IG’s office stands behind the report and that the office received full cooperation.

The IG’s report concluded that late-night White House edits left the incorrect impression about the outside reviewers, but that Interior had not intentionally sought to mislead.

Administration officials say they incorrect impression was inadvertent and corrected when it was revealed to Interior, and note that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar apologized to the outside engineers. Interior officials also say they have tried to accommodate Hastings's document requests.

But Hastings says more information is needed from Interior and the IG.

“This lack of responsiveness and transparency about what really led to the moratorium and the incorrect peer review language necessitated the issuance of subpoenas to both the Department and the IG. I am deeply frustrated by the Department's — and now the IG's — reliance on vague and unsubstantiated claims of confidentiality as justification to refuse to comply with these duly issued and authorized subpoenas,” he writes to Kendall in the May 10 letter.

The decision to issue the subpoenas was made on a party-line committee vote, but Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the committee, has called the subpoenas a politically motivated “fishing expedition.”

State Department official to talk energy

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is hosting a talk title “Energy in the Americas” Friday at 9 a.m. Carlos Pascual, the State Department’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, will speak at the event.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

Here's a quick roundup of Thursday's E2 stories:

- Mica: ‘Great progress’ on including Keystone pipeline in highway bill
- Sen. DeMint knocks Obama as 'hypocritical' on energy tax breaks
- McKibben: Activists should be ‘willfully naive’ in oil subsidy, climate battle
- Republicans: Senate should confirm regional EPA officials

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Andrew Restuccia, arestuccia@thehill.com.

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