Overnight Energy: House moves to block methane rule | EPA delays toxic water standard | Pick for FEMA No. 2 withdraws nomination

Overnight Energy: House moves to block methane rule | EPA delays toxic water standard | Pick for FEMA No. 2 withdraws nomination
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HOUSE VOTES TO BLOCK EPA METHANE REG: Lawmakers approved an amendment Wednesday to block funding for a key Obama administration methane pollution rule.

The House voted 218-195 to strip funding for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) effort to limit methane emissions from new oil and gas drilling sites. Eleven Republicans voted against the amendment, and 3 Democrats voted to block funding for the regulation.

The EPA finalized its methane rule in early 2016 as part of an Obama administration effort to reduce emissions of the pollutant. But under President Trump, the EPA has aimed to scale back the rule, proposing a two-year delay on the regulation while it conducts a further review.

The oil and natural gas industry consider the rule burdensome, and Republicans have worked hard to defund and undo the regulation.

That effort culminated this week in Rep. Markwayne Mullin's (R-Okla.) spending bill amendment designed to block EPA funding for implementation of the rule.

"This rule is currently facing litigation and uncertainty, and Congress must act to block this job-killing regulation estimated to cost the U.S. economy $530 million annually," he said during debate last week.

Read more here.  

 

EPA DELAYS TOXIC WATER POLLUTION STANDARDS: The EPA followed through Wednesday on its proposal to delay by two years some parts of the 2015 regulation on toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants.

The extra two years for compliance, announced Wednesday, are intended to give the EPA time to revise the provisions of the Obama administration regulation, which it said last month it would do. Utilities that operate coal plants had asked for a rollback of the regulation earlier this year.

"Today's final rule resets the clock for certain portions of the agency's effluent guidelines for power plants, providing relief from the existing regulatory deadlines while the agency revisits some of the rule's requirements," EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Court rejects new effort to stop kids' climate lawsuit | Baltimore is latest city to sue over climate change | EPA staffers worried about toxic chemical in Pruitt's desk Pruitt staffers worried about toxic chemical in his desk Andrew Wheeler must reverse damage to American heartland MORE said in a statement.

The delays specifically apply to two provisions in the 2015 regulation that mandated limits or pretreatment for flue gas desulfurization wastewater and bottom ash transport waste, which both come from the burning of coal.

Power plants would have had to start complying with those requirements by as early as November 2018.

Read more here.

 

FEMA NOMINEE OUSTED AMID HURRICANE RECOVERY: Trump's pick to be the No. 2 at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has withdrawn his nomination.

Daniel A. Craig withdrew on Wednesday after NBC reported on a federal probe showing he had falsified government travel and timekeeping records during his time in the Bush administration in 2005.

"Given the distraction this will cause the Agency in a time when they cannot afford to lose focus, I have withdrawn from my nomination," Craig told NBC News.

The joint FBI and Homeland Security probe found Craig had awarded FEMA contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, breaking conflict-of-interest laws. The report, which NBC reviewed, was from 2011 but never made public.

He had previously served as FEMA's Director of Recovery.

Read more here.

 

IRMA BOOSTING SCOTT'S CREDENTIALS: Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is widely expected to challenge Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonPolling analyst: Same Dems who voted for Gorsuch will vote for Kavanaugh Election security bill picks up new support in Senate Senators share their fascination with sharks at hearing MORE (D-Fla.) in next year's midterm elections -- and observers in the state say his response to Hurricane Irma has boosted his political stock.

Scott is term-limited in Tallahassee, and Republicans, including President Trump, have urged him to consider mounting a Senate run next year.

But before Irma, Scott's ability to respond to a hurricane had gone mostly untested, with Florida avoiding a major storm for his entire term. But the governor's preparedness has impressed Republicans and some Democrats, all of whom have long expected Scott to challenge Nelson next year.

Scott "came up to bat having never been through a huge storm," said Anthony Pedicini, a Tampa-based Republican consultant.

"This was a storm that was going to affect the entire state and the most populated portions of the state. This guy has handled it like he's done it every day."

Read more here.

 

SENATE PANEL SCHEDULES HEARING FOR EPA NOMINEES: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled a hearing to consider four nominees for top EPA posts, committee spokesman Mike Danylak said Wednesday.

The Sept. 20 hearing will feature chemical office head nominee Michael Dourson, general counsel nominee Matthew Leopold, water office head nominee David Ross and air office head nominee William Wehrum.

Senators will also consider Jeffrey Baran's nomination for a new term at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he is already a commissioner.

Dourson and Wehrum are likely to get the toughest grilling from Democrats on the panel.

Dourson has worked for the last two decades doing toxicology analysis on behalf of companies that sell chemicals, and has been criticized as being too industry-friendly.

Wehrum is an attorney for many of the industries that the EPA regulates. He led the air office under former President George W. Bush, and Democrats have said he sided with industry too often.

 

ON TAP THURSDAY I: The House will vote on a funding bill that contains $31.4 billion in spending for the EPA and Interior Department.

 

ON TAP THURSDAY II: Neil Chatterjee, the acting Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chair, and Patricia Hoffman, the acting under secretary for science at the Department of Energy, will testify at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on grid reliability.

 

Rest of Thursday's agenda ...

Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPolling analyst: Same Dems who voted for Gorsuch will vote for Kavanaugh Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (D-N.D.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate panel advances Trump IRS nominee Senate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Who is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? MORE (D-R.I.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Lots of love: Charity tennis match features lawmakers teaming up across the aisle Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs MORE (R-W.Va.) and John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoThe law to protect endangered species in America is working Republican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline Overnight 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 MORE (R-Wyo.) will speak at a Center for Climate and Energy Solutions event on carbon capture technology for power plants.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

Officials have discovered a coal seam on fire in Colorado, the Craig Daily Press reports.

A stampede of sea walruses is to blame for dozens of animal deaths in Alaska, the Associated Press reports.

Houston native Beyonce took aim at climate change during a hurricane relief telethon Tuesday night, saying that "natural disasters take precious life, do massive damage and forever change lives," Entertainment Weekly reports.     

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check Wednesdays' stories...

-House Judiciary Dems want panel to review gun silencer bill

-EPA delays toxic waste rule for power plants

-House votes to block funding for EPA methane pollution rule

-Trump FEMA nominee withdraws following NBC report

-West Virginia officials to re-examine controversial pipeline

-Rick Scott's hurricane response boosts potential Senate run

-5 dead, 120 evacuated at Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma

 

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