Overnight Energy: GOP senators push to block climate fund money

LOCAL ISSUES REIGN AT EPA HEARING: Republicans on a House Appropriations Committee panel on Tuesday confronted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyLawmakers rally to keep Pruitt from transparently restricting science EPA says it abandoned plan for office in Pruitt’s hometown Overnight Energy: Pruitt blames staff for controversies | Ex-Obama official to head new Harvard climate center | Electric vehicles on road expected to triple MORE over a slate of issues related to their home states.

McCarthy appeared before the committee's interior and environment subcommittee to present the EPA's budget request on Tuesday. Members took the chance to hit agency rulemaking they say threatens their states.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) joined Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) in complaining about how EPA policies are hurting their coal-country constituents.

"Here you are, asking for more taxpayer money to put toward this job of killing coal," he said, noting the Obama administration's $50 million budget increase for implementing the Clean Power Plan rule.

McCarthy defended the regulation.

"We are not looking to preclude coal from being part of the energy system, and indeed, we project that it will continue to be," she said. "But we do believe that facilities can comply, and we think that states will be able to meet the requirements under the Clean Power Plan."

Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartGOP advances bill demanding documents from FBI GOP lawmaker: Trump could reverse policy of separating families if he wanted to Utah’s leaders try to control Endangered Species Act, take lazy way on traffic planning MORE (R-Utah), meanwhile, focused on the Gold King mine waste spill the agency caused in Colorado last year, asking if anyone had been fired over the incident.

"It was a mistake," she said. "Have I found anyone that didn't act responsibility and that should have know better? So far, the independent analysis that we're seeing has not identified negligence, but we're still continuing to look at that issue and would welcome anyone else doing that as well."

McCarthy testified before both the appropriations panel and the Energy and Environment Committee on Tuesday. Neither hearing featured the fireworks that came the last time McCarthy testified before Congress, when she and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) appeared before the House Oversight Committee on Thursday to discuss Flint, Mich.

Read more here.

GOP SENATORS: NO CLIMATE FUND MONEY: Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act MORE (R-Wyo.) is once again leading a group of Republican senators in demanding that Congress stop the Obama administration's attempts to pay money into the United Nations' Green Climate Fund.

The lawmakers are asking the Senate Appropriations Committee to write into its bill a provision preventing any funds from going to the international body, which uses its money to help developing nations cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

It comes after the State Department paid $500 million into the fund, its first such payment, pointing out that last year's appropriations bill did not set aside money for the fund, but didn't prohibit officials from shifting around money from other places.

"We stand firmly opposed to taxpayer dollars going to the GCF," the senators wrote in the Tuesday letter.

"Congress has never authorized or specifically approved funding for the GCF. Giving billions of dollars to an international climate fund is a significant waste of American resources," they said. "With the United States' national debt exceeding $19 trillion and the difficulty finding resources to make critical investments here at home, we should not be sending taxpayer dollars overseas to international bureaucrats in the name of climate change."

GAS VENTING, FLARING RULE GETS MORE COMMENT TIME: The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is giving the public more time to comment on its proposed limits on venting and flaring natural gas on federal land.

The agency announced Tuesday that the new deadline for comments is April 22. It was originally 14 days earlier, which gave the public the standard 60 days after it was formally proposed.

BLM said it made its decision "after receiving multiple communications from the public requesting an extension of the comment period or opposing such an extension."

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who opposes the regulation, said the 14-day extension is good, but far less than what is needed for people to fully understand and effectively comment on it.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: Neil Kornze, the director of the BLM, will appear before the House Oversight Committee to discuss the agency's oil and gas lease sales.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: A House Natural Resources subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Office of Surface Mining's 2017 budget request. Joseph Pizarchik, the agency's director, will testify.

Rest of Wednesday's agenda...

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the EPA's regional haze program. Industry experts will testify.


Alaska's budget deficit is $300 million higher than previously estimated, due to low oil prices and the expectation of lower oil royalties, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

"There's not too many scenarios" to explain the recent string of bald eagle deaths in Delaware and Maryland, the Delaware News Journal reports.

Kentucky filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen for its understated diesel emissions, becoming the fifth state to do so, the Courier-Journal reports.


Check out Tuesday's stories...

-Judge: EPA 'improperly' withheld Alaska mining documents
-OSHA set to issue silica rule
-Feds: Climate change to impact Western water trends
-GOP lawmakers hit EPA on coal, mine waste spill
-Supreme Court sides with Alaskan moose hunter in hovercraft case
-Feds defend fracking rule against judicial hold

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