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 CantwellTrump rips media for not covering 'permanent separations' by undocumented immigrants Energy commission sees no national security risk from coal plant closures OPEC and Russia may raise oil output under pressure from Trump MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources committee, said.

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 MurkowskiHeitkamp ad highlights record as Senate race heats up Icebreaking ships are not America’s top priority in the Arctic 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families 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 ObamaTrump's tariffs are a case of crony capitalism Obama to visit Kenya, South Africa for Obama Foundation in July Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos 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 McKinleyOvernight Health Care: Drug exec apologizes for large opioid shipments | Schumer vows to be 'relentless' in tying GOP to premium hikes | House panel advances VA reform bill Distributor executive apologizes for large opioid shipments The costs of carbon taxes are real — and crippling 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.


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.


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

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill