Overnight Energy: Obama takes Atlantic drilling off the table

DON'T DRILL, BABY: President Obama took the possibility of Atlantic offshore drilling off the table Tuesday, reversing an earlier proposal to allow it.

In the latest version of the Interior Department's drilling plan for 2017 through 2022, there are no leases in the Atlantic, a major victory for environmentalists and coastal communities who opposed them.

"We heard from many corners that now is not the time to start leasing off the Atlantic coast. This includes many local communities whose livelihoods depend on fishing, tourism and shipping activity," Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellInterior Dept. officials call CNN correspondent 'a f---ing idiot' Zinke and his wife took security detail on vacation to Turkey, Greece: report Zinke: I never took a private jet anywhere MORE told reporters Tuesday.

"When you factor in the conflicts with commercial and national defense activities, market conditions and opposition from local communities, it simply doesn't make sense to move forward with the Atlantic lease sale in the near future."

In January 2015, the administration floated the idea of a single lease sale, in 2021, in an area of the outer continental shelf stretching from the coast of Virginia to Georgia.

Though the governors in each state supported the drilling conditionally, many residents, businesses and others did not.

The drilling plan released Tuesday, which still must be made final later this year, also keeps open the possibility of Arctic Ocean leases, but puts strict environmental standards on them. It retains 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the most productive offshore drilling areas in the world.

Read more here.

FLINT BLAME GAME: Some of the key figures in the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis faced the House Oversight Committee Tuesday to answer for their contributions to it.

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional administrator Susan Hedman, former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley and former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling each defended their action, with mixed reactions from the lawmakers.

Hedman and Earley were the main targets of lawmakers' scorn.

"I did not sit on the sidelines, and I did not downplay any concerns raised by EPA scientists or apologize for any memos they wrote," said Hedman, who's under fire for not taking more action than she did to stop the contamination. "In fact, I repeatedly asked for a final memo about lead in a form that EPA could publicly release."

But Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzChaplain controversy shifts spotlight to rising GOP star Ingraham’s ratings spike a wake-up for advertisers Boehner to campaign for House GOP candidates MORE (R-Utah), the committee's chairman, said Hedman takes some of the top blame for the problem.

"Ms. Hedman and the EPA communicated to the mayor that it was safe to drink the water, and that message was then conveyed to the citizens," he said. "EPA had every opportunity to make the right move, but they didn't."

"There were numerous red flags that should have led the state to agree to return to the Detroit water system," Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said, faulting Earley's management. "The response was always the same: it was not in the emergency manager's financial plan for the city to return to the Detroit water system."

Read more herehere and here.

UTILITY INDUSTRY, LABOR LEADERS TO GET AWARD:  Edison Electric Institute head Tom Kuhn and former International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers head Ed Hill are due on Tuesday to get an award for their efforts to improve relations between electric utilities and labor unions on major energy issues.

The award is named after John Dingell, the former congressman and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, and is presented by Rep. Debbie Dingell (R-Mich.), his wife and the current occupant of his district's seat.

The award is presented by the National Labor and Management Public Affairs Committee, a coalition the two groups formed in 2008 to coordinate issues that both groups see as priorities.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: Two subcommittees of the House Oversight Committee will host a hearing on the renewable fuel standard. Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA's transportation and air quality office, will testify, along with experts and stakeholders.

ON TAP TUESDAY II: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on its effort to write a new Water Resources Development Act. Two top Army Corps of Engineers officials will testify.

Rest of Wednesday's agenda ...

Kathryn Sullivan, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will testify in support of her agency's 2017 budget request at a House Science Committee hearing on it.

The House Natural Resources Committee will consider 14 bills in its jurisdiction.

The House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Interior and EPA will hold a hearing on the National Park Service's budget request for fiscal 2017.


The owner of a California tomato packing company is challenging the state's punishments for the waste and odors from his plant, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Oregon officials are rejecting requests from lawmakers to delay emergency toxic air rules to deal with Portland's pollution problem, the Oregonian reports.

Thailand's biggest annual water fight has new restrictions thanks to the country's severe drought, Reuters reports.


Check out Tuesday's stories ...

- Lawmakers lash out at key figures in Flint crisis

- Chaffetz, Obama regs chief spar over water rule subpoena

- Former EPA official: Agency did nothing wrong in Flint

- Obama rescinds Atlantic coast drilling plan

- Former EPA official says she was falsely accused in Flint crisis

- Report: Obama to back off Atlantic coast drilling plan

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