Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule

Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule
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Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Wednesday night, and we're busy watching a Congress split on health care; Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE's single-payer bill on the left, and a last-ditch attempt at ObamaCare repeal on the right.

 

THE BIG STORY

The House voted to block implementation of a key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pollution rule.

Lawmakers voted 218-195 to strip funding for an Obama-era EPA effort to limit methane emissions from new oil and gas drilling sites. Eleven Republicans voted against the amendment, and three Democrats voted to block funding for the regulation.

Stripping the methane rule from the books has been a leading goal of the oil and gas industry. Drillers have argued they are able and willing to reduce methane emissions on their own and under state regulations. They say that federal rules will harm their bottom lines.

Republicans have largely backed the industry on the rule.

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What is the rule? The EPA finalized its methane rule in early 2016 as part of an Obama administration effort to reduce emissions of the pollutant, which has significantly more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. The rule was a critical part of Obama's second-term climate agenda.

Why did Congress vote? Essentially, to do what the EPA couldn't. President Trump's EPA has proposed a two-year delay for the rule, and public comment on the proposal closed last month. The agency attempted to halt enforcement of the rule while it works to adopt the two-year delay, but federal judges have blocked an agency proposal to do so.

Devin Henry has more here.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on stabilizing the ObamaCare insurance markets.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will meet to consider a number of President Trump's regulatory nominees, including Joseph Balash for Assistant Secretary of the Interior; Richard Glick and Kevin McIntyre for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; David Jonas for Energy Department general counsel; and Ryan Nelson for Interior Department solicitor.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the FCC's Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone and internet for low-income consumers. Senators will discuss a recent report that found fraud and mismanagement at the program.

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP

Transportation:  Senators are wrestling with whether to include trucks in a congressional effort to speed up the deployment of self-driving vehicles.

The issue has been holding up the final release of Senate legislation to enhance driverless vehicles, with Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneAviation panel recommends Trump roll back safety rules Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule Overnight Tech: Senate looks at self-driving trucks | Facebook to keep ads off fake news | House panel calls Equifax CEO to testify MORE (R-S.D.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersOvernight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule Overnight Tech: Senate looks at self-driving trucks | Facebook to keep ads off fake news | House panel calls Equifax CEO to testify Senators wrestle with including trucks in driverless car bill MORE (D-Mich.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDem asks airlines to cap airfares ahead of Hurricane Maria Trump encourages Rick Scott to run for Senate Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule MORE (D-Fla.) instead releasing a discussion draft last week that still has major gaps that need to be filled in.

Trucking is one of the primary industries expected to be largely transformed by automated vehicles. Companies like Uber are already jumping into the long-haul driverless trucking space.

But there has been widespread concern that the emerging technology could threaten millions of trucking jobs around the country.

Melanie Zanona has the story here.

Environment: West Virginia environmental officials are planning to take a new look at a natural gas pipeline that they previously approved amid national controversy.

The state's Department of Environmental Protection last week withdrew approval for the Mountain Valley pipeline.

The agency wants to examine how the pipeline proposed by EQT Corp. complies with West Virginia's "antidegradation" policy, which seeks to prevent or mitigate environmental degradation.

Timothy Cama has more here.

Cybersecurity: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is ordering federal agencies and departments to stop using software produced by Russian firm Kaspersky Lab, citing potential risks to U.S. national security.

The department says it's concerned about ties between certain Kaspersky employees and the Russian government.

Agencies and departments are to begin removing Kaspersky products from their systems in three months.

Kaspersky has come under intense scrutiny in recent months amid news reports alleging connections between the firm and Russian intelligence. Eugene Kaspersky, the firm's founder, has also been scrutinized for his education at a computer science institute backed by the KGB, the Soviet-era spy agency.

Morgan Chalfant has the story here.

Cybersecurity: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are suing the federal government over warrantless searches of phones and laptops at the U.S. border.

The advocacy organizations announced Wednesday that they have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on behalf of 11 travelers -- 10 U.S. citizens and one permanent resident of the United States -- who had their smartphones and laptops searched without warrants.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Massachusetts, argues that the seizures violate the First and Fourth Amendments.

An NBC News investigation published in March turned up 25 instances in which American citizens said border agents demanded their phones and passwords at airports and border crossings.

Morgan Chalfant has more here.

 

Environment: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing back by two years key deadlines in a 2015 rule limiting 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.

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.

Timothy Cama has the story here.

Cybersecurity: The CEO of the credit reporting company at the center of a massive cybersecurity scandal has been called to testify before congressional lawmakers at the beginning of October.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Equifax CEO Richard Smith on Wednesday formally requesting his testimony before members of the committee on October 3.

Smith will testify before members of the subcommittee focused on digital commerce and consumer protection. He had already agreed to testify before the lawmakers, but the letter represents a formal notification of his invitation to appear before the committee.

Morgan Chalfant has more here.

Cybersecurity: Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain Facebook under fire over Russian ads in election MORE (D-Va.) is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the Equifax breach that compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans.

Warner, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wants the FTC to examine Equifax's cybersecurity practices leading up to and following the breach.

"Press reports and cybersecurity experts have identified a number of security lapses, including in the days following Equifax's disclosure of the breach, that potentially indicate a pattern of security failings," Warner wrote in a letter to FTC acting Chairwoman Maureen K. Ohlhausen.

Ali Breland has more here.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS:

Russia revelations spark demands for new media regulations (Axios)

Ohio justices hear arguments on state abortion regulation (Columbus Dispatch)

States to Trump: Leave retirement rule intact or we'll act (The Wall Street Journal)

Trump to tread lightly on self-driving car rules (The Wall Street Journal)

California wants a say as Trump and car makers talk new mileage rules (The Wall Street Journal)

US derivatives regulator warns EU over clearing houses (Financial Times)

 

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