Overnight Energy: Senate begins moving Trump's energy, environment team

Overnight Energy: Senate begins moving Trump's energy, environment team
© Greg Nash

ZINKE, PERRY TO GET COMMITTEE VOTES: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources will vote on two Trump administration nominees on Tuesday, pushing ahead the confirmation process for President Trump's energy and environment team.

The committee will consider Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to be Interior secretary and Rick Perry to be secretary of Energy.

Energy Committee members held confirmation hearings for both Zinke and Perry the week before Trump's inauguration, and neither are seen as particularly controversial nominees. Even so, some Democrats expressed concerns about their positions on climate science, public land ownership under the Trump administration and possible cuts to research funding, meaning there is plenty of potential for dissenting votes on Tuesday.


Neither nominee, though, draws as much Democratic and environmentalist anger as Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt, whose confirmation is due up in the Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday.

With the committee votes -- as well as Monday's procedural vote on former ExxonMobil Corp. chief Rex Tillerson's nomination to be secretary of State -- the Senate has a full slate of energy-related nominations to consider this week.

Read more about the hearing -- and a preview of the week -- here.

EX-TRUMP AIDE SAYS PARIS DEAL 'DEFINITELY' OUT: A former Trump administration transition aide said Trump will "definitely" pull the United States out of the Paris agreement.

Myron Ebell, who led Trump's transition efforts for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told reporters in London on Monday that the president would stick to his campaign promises, including to stopping the country's participation in the Paris accord.

"I expect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpAt center of Qatar crisis, a billion ransom Chaffetz: Threats against lawmakers should be taken seriously Warren cautions Dems against infighting MORE to be very assiduous in keeping his promises, despite all of the flack he is going to get from his opponents," Ebell said, according to the Independent.

"The U.S. will clearly change its course on climate policy. Trump has made it clear he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. He could do it by executive order tomorrow or he could do it as part of a larger package," he said, according to Reuters. "There are multiple ways, and I have no idea of the timing."

Trump's stance on Paris has been unclear. He promised to "cancel" it during the campaign, but said after the election that he has an "open mind" on it.

Read more here.

SENATE MOVES TOWARD CONFIRMING TILLERSON: The Senate voted nearly along party lines Monday to move forward on considering Rex Tillerson's nomination to be secretary of State.

Tillerson made it through a cloture vote, 56-43, which kicks off up to 30 hours of debate over his confirmation. Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSunday shows preview: Senate healthcare debate heats up Zinke hits Dems for delaying Interior nominees Manchin faces primary challenge from the left MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampSenate Dem undecided on 2018 reelection run Trump ‘regulatory czar’: Two-for-one rule can work Congress should just say no to more green energy handouts MORE (N.D.) and Mark WarnerMark WarnerPolicymakers forget duty to protect taxpayers from financial failures Donna Brazile: Congress has duty to halt Trump on Russia sanctions Lawmakers told of growing cyber threat to election systems MORE (Va.), as well as Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingZinke hits Dems for delaying Interior nominees Angus King: I’m sure Flynn will 'appear before the committee one way or another' GOP senators pleased with Ivanka Trump meeting on family leave, child tax credits MORE (Maine) voted to proceed.

Democrats are pressuring Tillerson to come out against the travel restrictions that Trump signed on Friday and that were greeted by protests and anger internationally.

The former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO is still facing the same questions he has since his nomination regarding his positions on Russia's aggression, human rights violations and the conflicts of interest that his connections to Exxon could present.

Nonetheless, Tillerson is likely to get the 51 votes he needs for confirmation thanks to the support of several conservative Russia hawks in the GOP.

Read more here.

LAWMAKERS TARGET ENERGY REGS: Both chambers of Congress are starting the process of challenging numerous energy and environmental regulations through the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

The act has been used successfully only once before. But the combination of numerous rules made final in President Obama's last months, and the GOP control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, mean many rules can be targeted.

The House is working this week to vote to overturn the Interior Department's stream protection rule on coal mining, the EPA's methane venting and flaring rule for oil and natural gas drilling and the Securities and Exchange Commission's rule regarding energy companies' foreign government payments.

The Senate is teeing up its own CRA actions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellGOP at decisive moment on Planned Parenthood Opioid crisis threatens GOP ObamaCare repeal Trump making calls to senators on healthcare bill MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoSanders: GOP healthcare bill is a 'moral outrage' Opioid crisis threatens GOP ObamaCare repeal Sanders to headline 'Don't Take Our Health Care' bus tour MORE (R-W.Va.) introduced a resolution on the stream rule Monday. Senators have previously proposed resolutions on the EPA methane rule and the SEC disclosure rule.

Meanwhile, Sen. John BarrassoJohn BarrassoSunday shows preview: Senate healthcare debate heats up A frantic scramble before possible healthcare vote next week Overnight Healthcare: Senate GOP leader expects health vote next week | Senate Republicans consider deeper Medicaid cuts | Dems vow to block Senate work MORE (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Rob BishopRob BishopAnother deal on power debt won’t help Puerto Rico's economy Interior secretary: Trump should reduce size of Utah national monument Watchdog: EPA acted legally, reasonably in 2015 Colorado mine spill MORE (R-Utah) introduced measures Monday targeting the Bureau of Land Management's methane venting and flaring rule, which applies specifically to federal land.

NO DAKOTA ACCESS TIMELINE YET: A government lawyer on Monday told a federal judge the Army Corps of Engineers has no timetable for issuing the easement required to move the Dakota Access pipeline forward.

Trump ordered the Army Corps last week to issue an easement allowing construction on the most controversial stretch of the 1,170-mile $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. But it's not clear when that easement will come out.

"The Corps and the Army are continuing to make decisions under the order," attorney Matthew Marinelli told a federal judge on Monday.

"I can't give you a timetable for the completion of that decision-making process."

Marinelli said senior Army Corps officials were meeting on Monday to discuss how to follow that order.
"My clients are actively working toward responding to that presidential memorandum," he said.

Read more here.

TRUMP TRANSITION HEAD TELLS EPA TO PREPARE FOR CHANGE: A top Trump administration official told EPA employees on Monday to prepare for changes at the agency, but he disputed media reports about the extent of those changes.

"Changes will likely come, and when they do, we will work together to implement them," Don Benton, a senior White House adviser for the EPA transition team, wrote in an internal email obtained by The Hill.

"One thing I am certain of is that the transition team is committed to working with you to carry out the core mission of the EPA – To Protect Human Health and the Environment."

Reports last week indicated the Trump team is considering deep spending reductions at the agency, as well as a huge cut to staffing there.

Benton disputed those reports in his email.

"I cannot tell you today what the final decisions from the White House, from our new Administrator, and from the Congress will be," he wrote. "I can tell you that despite what you read and see on TV, no final decisions have been made with regard to the EPA."

ON TAP TUESDAY: House Rules Committee members will meet to approve the Congressional Review Act resolution against the Bureau of Land Management's methane rule.


Activists in Oakland on Monday protested against a developer's lawsuit to block a city rule banning coal imports, the East Bay Times reports.

Arizona's Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal plant in the western United States, could close this year, Grist reports.

D.C. residents: Keep your eyes out for Ollie, a National Zoo bobcat that escaped from her enclosure Monday morning, the Washingtonian reports.


Check out Monday's stories ...

-McConnell pushes for action on 'harmful' coal-mining rule

-Trump will 'definitely' pull out of Paris climate deal, ex-aide says

-Lawyer: No timetable for allowing Dakota Access construction

-Auto dealers want Trump to weaken car emissions rules

-Week ahead: House prepares to quash last-minute Obama energy rules

-Malia Obama joins Dakota Access Pipeline protests

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