Overnight Energy: GOP Sen. Collins to vote against Trump EPA pick

Overnight Energy: GOP Sen. Collins to vote against Trump EPA pick
© Greg Nash

COLLINS A NO ON PRUITT: Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (R-Maine) became the first Republican to oppose President Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday.

Collins told Maine Public Radio she will oppose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's nomination to head the EPA when the Senate considers his nomination, possibly as early as this week.

"I have significant concerns that Mr. Pruitt has actively opposed and sued the EPA on numerous issues that are of great importance to the state of Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions," Collins said.

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"His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency's critical mission to protect human health and the environment."

Democrats have raised a host of objections to Pruitt's nomination, including his litigious history against the EPA, his position on the science behind climate change and his ties to fossil fuel industries in Oklahoma.

Green groups have targeted Collins and other Republicans in an effort to block Pruitt, but their efforts have not yielded enough opposition to put his nomination in jeopardy. In fact, Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (D-W.Va.) seems likely to support Pruitt, giving him a buffer when the Senate votes on confirmation.

Read more here.

Trump considering EPA executive orders: Trump could attend Pruitt's swearing-in as head of the EPA following his confirmation and sign a series of executive actions directed at the agency's operations.

According to a report from Inside EPA, Trump will sign executive orders that could take aim at the agency's climate work, which expanded under former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUK judge denies Assange bid to delay extradition hearing Trump's eye-opening scorecard on border security Why Americans should look at the Middle East through the eyes of its youth MORE. If he signs them at the EPA during a swearing-in ceremony for Pruitt, it will mirror the day he signed his controversial ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, which he released at a Pentagon ceremony for Defense Secretary James Mattis.

An administration official told The Hill details about a potential Trump visit to the EPA haven't been confirmed, and Inside EPA's source wouldn't detail what executive actions he could sign, except to say they will "suck the air out of the room."

During the presidential campaign, Trump pledged to undo much of the regulatory work the EPA undertook under Obama.

Read more here.

GOP MULLS CHANGES TO ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT: Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee laid out their issues with the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday, kicking off an attempt to "modernize" the law.

Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTo stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US GOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-Wyo.) said at the hearing that he hopes to change the law to give more voice to landowners, industry groups and others who think species protections hamper businesses and other land uses.

For the first time in years, the GOP controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, affording lawmakers a potential opportunity to change what for decades has been a bedrock environmental law.

But the GOP lawmakers sought to clarify repeatedly that they support the goals of the ESA and want also to improve how it saves threatened plant and animal species.

"The Endangered Species Act isn't working today. We should all be concerned when the Endangered Species Act fails to work," Barrasso said. "States, counties, wildlife managers, homebuilders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders are all making it clear that the Endangered Species Act is not working today."

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperInstead of raising the gas tax, stop wasting money on frivolous projects To stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists MORE (Del.), the panel's top Democrat and the only one able to ask questions due to a party caucus meeting, did not completely rule out changes to the act.

But he warned that the law's purpose must remain, and he would prefer to implement policies that have bipartisan consensus, something few of the Senate GOP's ideas enjoy.

Read more here.

DAKOTA ACCESS DEVELOPER, TRIBE FACE OFF IN HEARING: Developers of the Dakota Access pipeline and the tribe opposing the project pointed the finger at the government -- and each other -- during a House hearing on Wednesday.

An Energy Transfer Partners official told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that "political decisions" in the Obama administration delayed construction on the controversial pipeline.

But he said the Standing Rock Sioux tribe declined to discuss the project in its early stages as well.

"Requests for consultation were mostly denied," Dakota Access project director Joey Mahmoud said. "We had some conversations with the tribal chairman, but at the same time we were not able to have meaningful consultation due to lack of engagement."

The tribe, though, replied that the company improperly "argues it is the victim here."

"Dakota Access is a multibillion-dollar pipeline company in which the president of the United States has been an investor and whose CEO has been a campaign contributor to the president," Standing Rock councilman-at-large Chad Harrison said. "When in history has such a company been a victim of an improvised Indian tribe? The answer is never."

The hearing broke little ground in the ongoing dispute over the project, which developers hope to have up and running within two months. Two tribes in the region are suing against it, hoping to block the pipeline.

Read more here.

BREWERS AGAINST PRUITT: Dozens of craft beer brewers wrote to the Senate Wednesday adding their voices to the chorus against Pruitt.

The breweries focused their ire on Pruitt's opposition to Obama's Clean Water Rule and his litigation against it. This threatens the clean water that they need to make beer, they argued.

"Mr. Pruitt has challenged virtually every important EPA safeguard in recent years, often falsely accusing the agency of overstepping its authority," they wrote. "We need an EPA administrator who will enforce our laws to protect our resources and our communities, not someone who tries to weaken safeguards on behalf of polluters."

The letter included some well-known brands like Brooklyn Brewery, Goose Island and New Belgium Brewing Co., along with numerous smaller companies.

ON THURSDAY I: A Energy and Commerce Committee panel will hold a hearing on "modernizing" energy and environment laws, including the Clean Air Act.

ON TAP THURSDAY II: The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the "past, present and future" of NASA. Harrison Schmitt, an Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. Senator from New Mexico, will testify.

AROUND THE WEB:

California allowed oil companies to illegally inject wastewater into protected water supplies, CBS San Francisco reports.

The former editor of a government natural resources magazine in Wisconsin said a proposal from Gov. Scott Walker (R) to end the publication is an attack on climate science, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

China rejected a shipment of coal from North Korea the day after Pyongyang test-fired a new missile, Reuters reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories ...

-Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist
-GOP Sen. Collins to vote against Trump's EPA pick
-Interim EPA head says hiring freeze hurting the agency
-Tribe, Dakota Access developer face off at House hearing
-GOP considers ways to 'modernize' endangered species law
-Report: Trump aiming to sign executive orders on EPA
-Conservative groups fight carbon tax proposal
-Pipeline foes race against clock

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