Overnight 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 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
© Greg Nash

DEMS PROBE PRUITT TRAVEL: House Democrats are investigating Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittSchwarzenegger: Pruitt is the worst EPA head 'we have ever had' Overnight Energy: Pruitt’s security cost .5m in first year | Watchdog clears Perry's use of military, charter flights Congress should invest in science at the EPA MORE's frequent premium-class travel for official business.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHillicon Valley: Experts worry North Korea will retaliate with hacks over summit | FBI works to disrupt Russian botnet | Trump officials look to quell anger over ZTE | Obama makes case for tighter regs on tech Dem calls for hearing on alleged wireless data disclosures House approves 'right to try,' sends bill to Trump's desk MORE (N.J.), top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, asked Pruitt in a Tuesday letter for various details about all of the first- or business-class flights he has taken on taxpayer dime, the justifications for the flights and which staffers were involved in the process.

"Americans deserve an EPA Administrator more dedicated to first-class protection of human health and the environment than to luxury travel at taxpayer expense," Pallone wrote along with Reps. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoOvernight Energy: House votes to advance Yucca Mountain nuke waste plan | EPA won't reverse danger findings for paint stripping chemical | County sues oil companies over climate House votes to advance Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project Repeating history with octane biofuel standards is a huge mistake MORE (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump to sign 'right to try' drug bill next week House Dems urge Mulvaney to reject proposed rollback of transgender health protections Dems withhold support for immigration petition MORE (D-Colo.).

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"To date, your Agency has failed to provide a clear explanation as to whether your travel since becoming administrator complies with all applicable federal regulations and agency procedures," they said.

The letter came after a week of intense scrutiny into Pruitt's travel habits and news reports about his frequent first- and business-class flights, which have cost taxpayers thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Read more here.

 

White House: Trump has confidence in Pruitt: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: Meetings on potential North Korea summit going 'very well' Freed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela Ivanka Trump to campaign for Devin Nunes in California MORE still has confidence in Pruitt.

Asked at Tuesday's White House briefing if the president still had confidence in Pruitt and Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinWatchdog clears Perry’s use of non-commercial flights, but advises policy change Trump admin gets lowest-ever ethics ratings in Gallup poll Senate panel heading toward June hearing for Trump's next VA pick MORE, Sanders responded, "I have no reason to believe otherwise."

Shulkin has his own travel controversy. An inspector general report last week said he improperly used federal money for a trip to Europe, among other problems.

"As we have said many times before, if somebody doesn't have the confidence of the president, you will know," she continued.

Read more here.

 

Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Pruitt’s security cost .5m in first year | Watchdog clears Perry's use of military, charter flights Pruitt spent .5 million on security during first year as EPA head Pruitt granted extension to file financial disclosure form MORE: TRUMP'S REG ROLLBACK WON'T STAND: Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the Trump administration's moves to strike down regulations issued under President Obama won't carry weight in court.

McCarthy, who led the Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 to 2017, called the recent political targeting of regulations at the agency a "real problem."

"I think the important thing is none of them should be touched unless the administration has a real reason to touch them, other than it was done under the Obama administration, and that is the real problem that we see," McCarthy on Tuesday told BuzzFeed's morning livestream program, "AM to DM."

The former administrator, who has been an outspoken opponent of changes made under current EPA head Scott Pruitt, specifically mentioned the administration's desire to change the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule.

"We see the Clean Water Rule being proposed to be repealed, all that rule really did was do what the Supreme Court and what science told us to do to make sure we are protecting the rivers and streams that are necessary to ensure safe drinking water and fishable and swimmable waters," McCarthy said.

"That is being challenged just because the president told them to do that in an executive order. That's legally not going to hold up."

 

WH ADVISER EXPECTS TRUMP TO REJOIN CLIMATE PACT: The White House has been considering a plan to rejoin the Paris climate agreement by 2020, a former top White House adviser on international energy and environment issues told E&E News Tuesday.

George David BanksGeorge (David) David BanksMain Street investors have been marginalized for too long Former Trump adviser heads effort to crack down on climate shareholder resolutions Top Trump energy adviser resigns MORE, who left the White House last week after reportedly learning that he would not be granted a permanent security clearance because of past marijuana use, said that while working with the administration, he had a plan in place for the U.S. to ultimately re-enter the international accord.

"There's nothing in it for the president this year. There's nothing in it for the president next year," Banks said. But in 2020, "he's going to want victories."

Under Banks's proposed plan, prior to the 2020 Group of Seven Summit, Trump would ask Congress to formalize the emissions proposal with legislation.

The idea would be that Trump could escape criticism previously lobbed at President Obama for joining the Paris agreement without consulting the Senate. Additionally, the plan, according to Banks, would essentially put Congress in the driver's seat on climate regulations, taking the power away from the executive to enter future agreements.

"If you want to have some control over the regulatory agenda -- you know, putting regulatory reform aside -- then what you want to do is to have the ability to approve or disapprove the number because that controls what regulation is pursued to implement and make the target a reality," Banks told E&E of the emissions agreement the U.S. would make when reentering the accord. "That's what I would argue. It's in the Republican Party's interest to do that."

Banks said he will promote his plan more openly now that he's no longer in the White House.

"I don't think that U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement can ever be effective without congressional support," he said.

Read more here.

 

GOP SLAMS PROCESS BEHIND LEAD AMMO BAN: Two key House Republicans contend in a Tuesday report that the Obama administration used a rushed, "disorderly" process to ban lead ammunition from hunting on federal land in the final weeks of former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer GOP lawmaker says Obama got elected because he was black To woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? MORE's tenure.

At issue is a director's order from Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe published on Jan. 19, 2017, the last full day of the Obama administration, banning lead ammunition and tackle from federal wildlife refuges and other areas where hunting is allowed.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyWhite House lawyer’s presence at FBI meetings sets off alarm bells for Dems Dems after briefing: 'No evidence' spy placed in Trump campaign House GOP sets three FBI interviews in Clinton probe MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs MORE (R-Texas) say their investigation showed that Ashe and his staff skipped many of the usual steps in writing the policy, a process that started less than a month before it was released.

"Documents obtained by the committee show that the Order resulted from a disorderly, last-minute process undertaken by the departing administration in a unilateral attempt to impose a policy that lacked public input and did not cite to scientific support," the committee report said.

The committee said that one man -- adviser Noah Matson -- largely ran the process, with little input from states, hunters' groups and others usually involved in such policies, like communications and law enforcement officials within the FWS.

Furthermore, the FWS skipped steps like publishing the proposed policy in the Federal Register and gathering public comment on it.

Gowdy and Farenthold said the lead ban is an example of why the Congressional Review Act needs to be changed to allow Congress to overturn regulations more easily.

Read more here.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

The state of Minnesota is going to court to try to get 3M to pay $5 billion over alleged water pollution, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

Federal water officials are telling California farmers to expect low water volumes this year, the Sacramento Bee reports.

A Pennsylvania court ruled that the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline isn't subject to local regulation, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

 

OPINION:

- Devin Hartman, electricity policy manager at R Street Institute, and Nicolas Loris, an economist at the Heritage Foundation, say that the Department of Energy should not subsidize energy losers.

-Professors Brent Stephens and Richard Corsi argue that cutting EPA indoor air pollution research will cost lives.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Tuesday and the long weekend ...

-GOP lawmakers: Obama admin 'hastily' wrote lead ammunition ban

-White House: Trump has confidence in VA, EPA chiefs

-Former WH adviser: Trump will want to rejoin Paris climate pact by 2020

-Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class flights

-Obama EPA chief: Trump regulation rollbacks won't hold up legally

-Mich. utility to phase out electricity production by coal by 2040

-Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism

-Pruitt postpones Israel trip amid controversy over first-class travel