Overnight Energy: Zinke grilled on travel, offshore drilling plans | Pruitt says California can't dictate emissions standard | Dems sound off on elephant trophy policy

Overnight Energy: Zinke grilled on travel, offshore drilling plans | Pruitt says California can't dictate emissions standard | Dems sound off on elephant trophy policy
© Greg Nash

ZINKE FACES TOUGH QUESTIONS: Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWatchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet Lawmakers aim to use spending bill to block offshore drilling Overnight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law MORE testified in front of the Senate Natural Resources Committee on his agency's fiscal 2019 budget request. But Zinke faced a wide range of questions, pushing back on scrutiny over his travel expenses to his offshore drilling plans, a new policy on importing hunting trophies, and even his proposal to hike fees for national parks.

 

Zinke says he "never took a private jet anywhere"...

Zinke said it was misleading to say he flew on private jets when he had flown on chartered King Air and prop planes. He argued that saying these were private jets were "insults and innuendos."

Speaking to ranking member Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellPoll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Protests and anger: Washington in turmoil as elections near Dem senator says Supreme Court vote could be 'career ending' for lawmakers MORE (D-Wash.), Zinke pushed back on her questions over his jet use.

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"I resent the fact of your insults, and I resent the fact that you mislead," he said.

Zinke's uses of chartered planes and jets are under investigation by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General.

Read more here.

 

Florida's offshore drilling exemption is 'different'...

Zinke said his announcement in January to remove Florida from the list of coastal states that might see expanded drilling is due to a unique variety of factors affecting the state.

"Now, Florida's different for three reasons. One is that every member, both sides of the aisle, wrote me an immediate letter, said, 'We don't want it,' " Zinke said responding to a question for Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingHillicon Valley: Hacker tried to sell military docs on dark web | Facebook fined over Cambridge Analytica | US closer to lifting ZTE ban | Trump, Obama lose followers in Twitter purge | DOJ weighs appeal on AT&T merger Senators press federal election officials on state cybersecurity 'Paws for Celebration' event brings rescue animals to the Capitol MORE (I-Maine) on why Florida was exempt and Maine was not.

"Second is your governor. Governor of Maine is for it. And third, Florida has a federal moratorium in place until 2022, which no other state has."

Zinke added that he initially left Florida on the later of state waters under consideration for drilling because otherwise "it would have been arbitrary and capricious." But he added that the final decision on Florida was "still in the process."

Read more here.

 

DEMS PRESS ZINKE TO STOP HUNTING TROPHY IMPORTS: Dozens of House Democrats are asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to halt all trophy hunting import decisions for elephants and other species, expressing "deep concern" over the administration's policy.

The 55 lawmakers, led by House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), complained in a Tuesday letter that Interior's decision to consider trophy import licenses on a "case by case" basis reduces transparency and accountability and will allow more imports of animal parts into the country.

The Democrats expressed "deep concern about the continued misguided approach the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is taking regarding the trophy killing of elephants and lions in African countries and the negative implications it has for this imperiled wildlife."

The letter is the latest opposition, from members of both parties, to FWS's decision to repeal a host of species-wide determinations about trophy hunting imports. Such policies must be based on what would help species conservation. Officials now plan to evaluate each import application individually.

"The American public is tired of this administration constantly pulling a bait-and-switch, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE tweeting one thing to appease the public and the administration reversing course to meet the demands of big industry and the [National Rifle Association]," the lawmakers said, referring to Trump's tweets last year calling trophy hunting a "horror show."

Read more here.

 

PRUITT SAYS CALIFORNIA CAN'T DICTATE VEHICLE EMISSIONS RULES: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA defends FOIA policy after criticism Why did it take so long for Trump to drain the swamp of Pruitt? New EPA chief draws sharp contrast to Pruitt MORE said that when it comes to determining new federal vehicle emission standards, California doesn't have the right to lead.

Speaking to Bloomberg News on Tuesday, Pruitt said, "California is not the arbiter of these issues."

The Golden State currently regulates its own greenhouse gas emissions at the state level. In the past, the state's desire to implement higher emissions standards than those that are federally mandated led it to make a deal with the Obama administration for an exemption.

But Pruitt said that California "shouldn't and can't dictate to the rest of the country" what emissions levels might be.

"We want to hear from those folks in California and hear from the political leadership and try to make some informed decisions, but also say at the same time, we have a job to do," Pruitt told Bloomberg. "We're going to do our job. And if there are steps being taken to impede that, we'll have to address that."

In January, Pruitt said he supported a national fuel standard, sparking speculation he would do away with the waiver system that lets states set tougher requirement.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a vote on six bills regarding federal land.

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: The American Council On Renewable Energy will hold its annual Renewable Energy Policy Forum. Major speakers will include Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (R-Alaska), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Rob Powelson, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate panel to vote Thursday on Trump's pick to lead IRS On The Money: US files complaints at WTO | House leaders get deal to boost biz investment | Mnuchin says US will consider Iran sanctions waivers | FCC deals blow to Sinclair-Tribune merger Senate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks MORE (D-Ore.), Energy Department Undersecretary for Energy Mark Menezes and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseWho is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? Congress can protect midterm elections with the Disclose Act Trump nominee vows to restore 'trust' in IRS MORE (D-R.I.).

 

Rest of Wednesday's agenda ...

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Trump's infrastructure proposal, featuring Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: Pruitt gone, but investigations remain | Interim EPA chief called Trump a 'bully' in 2016 | Court rules for greens in air pollution case Trump coal plan could lead to 1 pollution-related death for every 2 jobs: study On the agenda for US-Russia talks: Energy MORE, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoMcConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Protesters confront McConnell leaving Kentucky restaurant The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Wild night of primaries reshapes 2018 midterms MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: US files complaints at WTO | House leaders get deal to boost biz investment | Mnuchin says US will consider Iran sanctions waivers | FCC deals blow to Sinclair-Tribune merger Ex-cyber officials demand to know security measures for 2020 Census It’s time to confirm the US Export-Import Bank Board for our economic security MORE, Labor Secretary Alex AcostaRene (Alex) Alexander AcostaSmall businesses just scored a win on health-care costs RNC chairwoman, Labor secretary pull out of annual Latino conference New Labor rule will be a big health care boon for small businesses MORE and Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueUS puts business ahead of children’s health Western states brace for most severe wildfire outbreak since 2012 Agriculture chief: Farmers 'understand' trade spat with China MORE.

The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the Energy Department's national laboratories, featuring leaders from a handful of the labs.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on a GOP bill meant to ease various environmental compliance obligations for agriculture.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy will continue its annual Energy Innovation Summit.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

Elections officials in the county surrounding Youngstown, Ohio, won't let an anti-fracking measure onto the ballot this year, WFMJ reports.

Federal officials have set out the timeline to consider Alaska's proposed liquefied natural gas export project, KTOO reports.

Virginia regulators have rejected Dominion Energy's request to block testimony from an expert retained by environmentalists in a proceeding regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Anders Åslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, writes that Russia's reasons for expanding its pipelines are political.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Tuesday's stories ...

-Pruitt: California 'can't dictate to the rest of the country' on fuel emissions

-Zinke defends Florida offshore drilling exemption

-Dems push Zinke to halt trophy hunting imports

-Zinke: I never took a private jet anywhere

-EPA to finish reviewing claims from Colorado mine spill this month