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Overnight Energy: Democrats take on key Trump Interior nominee

Overnight Energy: Democrats take on key Trump Interior nominee

INTERIOR PICK ON THE HOT SEAT: Senators scrutinized the background of a key Interior Department nominee on Thursday, raising concerns about conflicts of interest and his time in the George W. Bush administration.

Democrats prodded deputy secretary nominee David Bernhardt over his lobbying experience and the possible influence he could have over government decisions involving his former clients.

"Mr. Bernhardt is now seeking to come back through this revolving door and be part of regulating and overseeing the same issues for which he was lobbying in the private sector," Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats request info on 'repeated environmental concerns' at Ohio pipeline Booker to stop accepting donations from corporate PACs Gillibrand vows to refuse donations from corporate PACs MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources committee, said.

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Cantwell based her questioning around any role Bernhardt might have played in Trump administration decisions so far this year. Bernhardt said he had not influenced the decisions, but Cantwell suggested he should recuse himself from issues involving former lobbying clients for the entirety of his Interior tenure rather than the one-year term required by his ethics filings.

"If I get a whiff of something coming why that involves a former client or my firm, I will make that item go straight to the ethics office and whatever they decide, that will be it for me," Bernhardt said.

Republicans on the committee said they support Bernhardt's nomination on Thursday, with the chairwoman, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-Alaska), saying she would move quickly to bring his nomination to the floor for a vote.

"I believe Mr. Bernhardt is an excellent choice for deputy secretary," she said.

Read more here.

TRUMP DELAYS HIGHWAY EMISSIONS REPORTING: The Trump administration is delaying enforcement of an Obama administration regulation that would have required state and local officials to measure greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) related to the use of specific highways.

The greenhouse gas reporting requirement was part of a regulation establishing new performance measurement standards for federally funded highways that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) put into place days before former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE left office.

Some of the performance measure regulation will take force, but the FHWA said in a Federal Register notice due for publication Friday that it would delay other parts for a year while officials decide whether they want to rescind or revise them.

"The president's appointees and designees need to further delay the effective date of the sections of the ... final rule pertaining to the GHG measure to have adequate time to review them," the FHWA wrote in the notice.

The FHWA plans to allow a new round of public comments on the greenhouse gas provision for potential revision.

Read more here.

COURT PAUSES METHANE LAWSUIT: A federal court on Thursday formally paused a lawsuit over an Obama administration methane regulation.

The order, from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, halts consideration of an oil industry suit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rules cracking down on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling wells.

Trump administration lawyers asked the court in April to hold the case in abeyance because they had started the process of reviewing the rule, as ordered by a Trump executive order on energy.

The court complied in a one-paragraph order on Thursday.

Read more here.

REPUBLICAN RESOLUTION SAYS EXIT PARIS: Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleySenators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide Lawmakers battle Trump, PhRMA on discount drug rule House rejects Democrat's resolution to impeach Trump MORE (R-W.Va.) introduced a resolution Thursday calling on Trump to exit the Paris climate change agreement.

McKinley said the pact hurts the United States economy with almost no environmental benefit, and it wasn't ratified by the Senate as a treaty.

"The best way to lead on this issue is to prioritize fossil energy research and advance new technologies that will allow countries around the world to use their resources in the cleanest and most efficient manner," he said in a statement.

"Doing so will allow America to create new jobs and claim the mantle of leadership on the world stage in clean energy production," McKinley continued.

Trump had promised to exit the accord last year during the presidential campaign, but amid pressure from some in the administration, the business community and elsewhere, the White House is considering staying in.

Trump is expecting to decide on the accord after this month's Group of Seven summit in Italy.

ON TAP FRIDAY: A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will hold a hearing on a drinking water bill.

AROUND THE WEB:

Record rainfall in California has delayed construction on a new stadium for the NFL's Rams and Chargers, The San Diego Union Tribune reports.

Shares of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dropped Thursday amid reports that the Justice Department was planning to sue the company over diesel emissions, Reuters reports.

Regulators are expected to approve permits for a 300-megawatt, 87-turbine wind farm by this summer, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday's stories ...

-Court pauses lawsuit over Obama methane rule
-Trump admin delays greenhouse gas measurement rule for highways
-Democrats prod Trump Interior nominee over lobbying work
-Science Committee Dems to Trump: Stop depending on fake news
-GOP senators push Trump for DOE research funding

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