Overnight Energy: Fight breaks out over Interior budget

LET THE (BUDGET) GAMES BEGIN: Lawmakers on a House committee sparred Tuesday over President Obama's 2017 budget request for the Interior Department -- and Republicans' inability to so far agree on a budget blueprint of their own.

Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopHouse Natural Resources chairman pledges to retire after next term Trump's monument plan still shrouded in secrecy Greens threaten lawsuit over potential monument reductions MORE (R-Utah), criticized a host of provisions within Obama's $13.4 billion budget request for the department. Bishop said the request was not one he hoped to see in Obama's final year in office.

"This budget could have been a blueprint for future cooperation, and instead I think it's a blueprint for future partisan bickering. It's not what it could have been and I feel bad about that," he said.

But Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the committee's ranking Democrat, looked to turn the tables on Bishop, saying Republicans shouldn't criticize Obama's budget when they've yet to propose one of their own.

"To fail to do your job then criticize those who are doing theirs is hypocritical and irresponsible," he said.

The spat -- which came before Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellChaffetz named Harvard Institute of Politics fellow Don’t rewrite the rules to mine next to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Outdoor gear companies take on Trump MORE testified on the budget request -- likely previews a host of congressional fights during this year's appropriations process, including over the Interior and environment spending bill.

Lawmakers haven't passed a stand-alone spending bill for the agency since 2009, though House Republicans got close to pushing one through last year before a fight over the display of the Confederate flag at national cemeteries sunk the legislation.

"House Republicans have no budget of their own and can't seem to pass appropriations bills," Grijalva said. "But that doesn't seem to stop them from having loud opinions about the administration's proposals."

Read more here.

IS INTERIOR 'DESTROYING' WYOMING? During Tuesday's hearing, Republican Rep. Cynthia LummisCynthia LummisFemale lawmakers flee House for higher office, retirement Despite a battle won, 'War on Coal' far from over Dems on offense in gubernatorial races MORE accused Jewell's department of "destroying" her state of Wyoming's economy by halting a federal coal leasing program.

"In the face of the desire of this administration to literally destroy coal, oil and gas, how is it consistent with getting a fair return on the value of federal lands?" she asked Jewell. "No leasing means no financial return."

The Obama administration in January paused new leases for coal mining on federal land while it works to account for the cost of climate change in lease pricing.

Coal-state lawmakers have slammed the move, saying it will hurt their states' coal industries. Wyoming leads the country in coal produced on federal land.

"I want to tell you I'm grossly offended by what this administration has done to my state," Lummis said Tuesday.

Read more here.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on President Obama's 2017 budget request for the Energy Department. Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizObama energy secretary criticizes Trump on oil reserve Obama energy secretary launches nonprofit Overnight Energy: Zinke, Perry take heat over Trump budget MORE will testify.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: Jewell returns to Capitol Hill, testifying before the House Appropriations Committee on Obama's Interior budget request.

Rest of Wednesday's agenda ...

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will meet to discuss geopolitical impacts of low oil and gas prices.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on three bills related to coal ash disposal, brownfield cleanup and orphaned mine cleanup.

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Interior Department agencies' budget requests and their impacts on mineral leasing. Three agency directors will testify.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy will wrap up its annual summit. Wednesday's events will including Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyTrump plans to roll back environmental rule everyone agrees on EPA chief to visit Colorado mine spill site In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists, Perry is winning MORE, Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsRaising awareness about maternal health worldwide on National Bump Day Senate plans hearing for bills to protect Mueller Entering a new era of African investment MORE (D-Del.) and Rep. Bill FosterBill FosterHouse GOP’s new challengers: Scientists mulling campaigns Dems crowd primaries to challenge GOP reps Lawmakers talk climate for Earth Day, Science March MORE (D-Ill.).


Rajendra Pachauri, former head of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was charged Tuesday with sexually harassing a former employee in India, BBC News reports.

A bill to allow hydraulic fracturing in Florida died when its sponsor pulled it, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

The latest version of a mine safety oversight reform bill in West Virginia would significantly roll back some key safety provisions, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.


Check out Tuesday's stories...
-Bin Laden wanted US to work against climate change
-Obama's energy efficiency rules will last, secretary says
-Spending fight breaks out in Interior funding hearing
-Miners union pleads with senators for pension fix
-EPA moves to ban common pesticide
-House Republican: Obama coal policies are 'destroying my state'
-Senate panel advances bill blocking state GMO labeling rules
-Colo. governor seeks Superfund for site of EPA mine spill

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