Overnight Energy: Trump to order review of auto emissions rule

Overnight Energy: Trump to order review of auto emissions rule
© Getty

TRUMP TO TAKE ON AUTO REGS: President Trump is planning to start the process of potentially weakening greenhouse gas emissions limits for cars this week.

Trump is traveling to Michigan on Wednesday, where he'll sign an executive order asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reopen the formal review process for the greenhouse gas rules, sources familiar with the plans said.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed Trump's Detroit trip during a briefing on Monday. He said Trump will "meet with auto executives and workers and manufacturing suppliers, highlighting the need to eliminate burdensome regulations that needlessly hinder meaningful job growth."

The order would instruct the EPA to reopen a formal review that the Obama administration completed in January to examine whether the aggressive greenhouse gas emissions standards set in 2012 should continue to be strengthened during the 2022 to 2025 model years, or weakened.


The auto industry has pushed Trump repeatedly to revise the rules, saying that while it is possible to comply with them, it would be unnecessarily expensive. Automakers also object to the Obama administration closing out the review process in January, when it was scheduled to close in 2018.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt told CNBC last week that the administration would announce an effort "very soon" on the greenhouse gas and efficiency program.

"I think what was concerning to me, and I think concerning to the president, is how that process occurred," he said, referring to the timing of the review.

Read more here.

MEET 'WAYNE TRACKER': Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an alias email account to discuss climate change issued while he was CEO of ExxonMobil Corp., according to New York's attorney general.

In a letter to a state judge, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office on Monday said his investigation into the company's climate science revealed Tillerson used an email account under the name "Wayne Tracker" between at least 2008 and 2015.

That account discussed "materials regarding important matters, including those concerning to the risk-management issues related to climate change," the attorney general's office wrote in its letter.

Officials contended Exxon did not turn over the Wayne Tracker emails while replying to a subpoena seeking information about Exxon's knowledge of climate change. Exxon has denied allegations from Schneiderman and others that it misled the public about climate change.

Tillerson told a Senate committee in January that the U.S. should stay in the Paris climate deal. A Trump administration decision on the fate of the deal is still pending.

Read more here.

METEOROLOGISTS TO PRUITT: YOU'RE WRONG: The nation's top organization for meteorology is refuting EPA head Scott Pruitt's recent comments on the role of carbon dioxide in climate change.

Pruitt questioned mainstream climate science last week, saying in a CNBC interview, "I would not agree that [carbon dioxide is] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."

The American Meteorological Society wrote a letter to Pruitt on Monday saying he is wrong.

"In reality, the world's seven billion people are causing climate to change and our emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the primary cause," the group's executive director, Keith Seitter, wrote in the letter.

"This is a conclusion based on the comprehensive assessment of scientific evidence. It is based on multiple independent lines of evidence that have been affirmed by thousands of independent scientists and numerous scientific institutions around the world," Seitter said. "We are not familiar with any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion."

He added that "mischaracterizing the science" is not a good place to start in constructive policy debates surrounding climate, and offered his organization's assistance in helping Pruitt to understand the data.

Read more here.

COAL GROUPS ASK TRUMP TO PROTECT RESEARCH: Coal-mining firms, labor unions and their energy-industry allies are asking Trump to spare a critical research office from budget cuts this year.

In a letter to Trump, the groups said the White House should protect the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy from funding cuts as part of its budget proposal.

"Public-private partnerships through the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy are responsible for many innovative breakthroughs since its creation in 1977," the letter said.

"In light of recent calls for dramatic cuts to the federal budget, we want to stress that every dollar allocated to fossil energy research is an investment in the long-term future of America's coal and fossil fuel industry."

Trump officials have identified the Office of Fossil Energy as one of several Energy Department programs that could be axed. More details about the administration's budget proposal are due out later this week.

Read more here.

ON TAP TUESDAY: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on how to improve energy infrastructure. Witnesses will represent industry, labor and analysts.

But the D.C. area is due to get a major storm with snow, rain or a mixture starting Monday night, so that may be postponed.


Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk is betting that he can fix Australia's energy crisis in 100 days, or his services are free, Bloomberg reports.

Major Wall Street investment firm BlackRock Inc. is rolling out numerous efforts to push companies to take action on climate change, Reuters reports.

Perhaps the world's most famous underwater research vessel -- by virtue of the name, "Boaty McBoatface," chosen for it by British voters -- is due to set out on its first mission later this week, NPR News reports.  


Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

-NY attorney general: Tillerson used 'alias' email to discuss climate at Exxon
-Coal industry urges Trump to protect fossil fuel research
-Trump to order review of car emissions regulation
-Meteorologists refute EPA head on climate change
-Week ahead: Agencies brace for Trump budget
-How the EPA chief could gut the agency's climate change regulations

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