Overnight Energy: Greens sue Trump over Keystone XL | House passes EPA science bill

Overnight Energy: Greens sue Trump over Keystone XL | House passes EPA science bill
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TRUMP HIT WITH KEYSTONE LAWSUITS: A coalition of environmental groups is suing the Trump administration over its approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The groups sued over the decision on Thursday, saying the permit Trump issued last week is based on outdated information, and arguing Keystone needs to go through another environmental review before the project can move forward.

"The Keystone XL pipeline is nothing more than a dirty and dangerous proposal that's time has passed," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.

"It was rightfully rejected by the court of public opinion and President Obama, and now it will be rejected in the court system."

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Trump's State Department approved Keystone one week ago using a three-year-old environmental assessment. Opponents of the project argue the review is out of date, and officials need to conduct a new study before the project can move forward.

Such a review could take years, further delaying the controversial project.

The lawsuit is the second filed over Trump's decision to approve the pipeline. The Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance sued over Keystone XL this week, also alleging the project didn't go through a proper environmental review before receiving its approval.

Read more here.

HOUSE PASSES EPA SCIENCE BILL: The House on Thursday passed a bill to change membership requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board.

The legislation from Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) would open the door for more industry voices on the board, expand financial and conflict of interest disclosure requirements and give the public the chance to more readily comment on the board's actions.

It passed the House on a 229-193 vote.

"This is a bill that is built on the policies we should uphold regardless of which side of the political aisle we are on, or who happens to be president," Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the bill's sponsor, said.

The bill "ensures the best experts are free to undertake a balanced and open review of regulatory science."

Democrats said the bill, if enacted, would open the door to improper industry influence over the science the EPA uses to write regulations.

If the bill had been law in the 1990s, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) contended, "Big Tobacco likely would have succeeded in coopting the Science Advisory Board."

Thursday's vote came one day after the House voted to restrict the type of science and data the EPA uses to write regulations.

Read more here.

Trump EPA accidentally criticizes his own order: The EPA's press office made an embarrassing slip-up Thursday, accidentally criticizing Trump's executive order on climate change and energy in a release meant to praise it.

The Thursday morning release tried to quote more than a dozen Republicans, associations and others in support of Trump's Tuesday order to begin rolling back the Clean Power Plan and other Obama policies.

But the opening quote mistakenly had Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoState Department under fire as 13K Americans remain stranded abroad Senators balance coronavirus action with risks to health Heidi Klum says she tried to get a coronavirus test: 'I just can't get one' MORE (R-W.Va.) tearing into the order.

"With this Executive Order, President Trump has chosen to recklessly bury his head in the sand. Walking away from the Clean Power Plan and other climate initiatives, including critical resiliency projects is not just irresponsible -- it's irrational," it quoted Capito as saying.

"Today's executive order calls into question America's credibility and our commitment to tackling the greatest environmental challenge of our lifetime."

That actually came from Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrat calls on EPA to withdraw 'secret science' rule Blame game heats up as Senate motion fails Democratic senators, attorneys general slam proposal to roll back protections for birds MORE (Del.), the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee and a harsh critic of Trump's environmental agenda.

"Sen. Carper is happy to lend his words to a good cause," a Carper spokeswoman said.

Capito, by contrast, cheered Trump's order on Tuesday.

"Stopping this disastrous plan will preserve America's coal industry, expand our manufacturing renaissance that is reliant upon affordable energy, and protect American families from unprecedented hikes in their electric bills," she said in a statement.

Read more here.

TRUMP TO DECIDE FATE OF PARIS DEAL IN MAY: The Trump administration will decide by late May whether to stay in the Paris agreement.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that aides "are currently reviewing issues related to the agreement."

The administration expects to announce a final decision by May 26 -- the beginning of a conference in Italy for the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries -- or even sooner, Spicer said.

The president promised last year on the campaign trail to "cancel" the 2015 agreement, which former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCivil rights leader Joseph Lowery dies at 98 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - House to pass relief bill; Trump moves to get US back to work Obama thanks Fauci, Stephen Curry during Instagram Live session MORE helped formulate. The pact consists of non-binding greenhouse gas emissions cuts agreed to by nearly 200 nations.

Trump has been under pressure from conservatives, top White House adviser Stephen Bannon and others to fulfill his campaign promise and formally exit the agreement.

But others close to the president want to maintain the United States' position in the pact, even if Trump doesn't want to abide by the 26 percent to 28 percent emissions cut that Obama promised.

Read more here.

VATICAN WARNS TRUMP ON CLIMATE: The Vatican is asking Trump to listen to "dissenting voices" and change his views on climate change.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, a key advisor to Pope Francis, said the United States stands to lose global influence over climate policy to China is Trump doesn't reconsider his position on the science behind climate change.

"Fortunately, in the United States, there are dissenting voices, people who are against Trump's positions," Turkson said, according to Reuters.

"This, for us, is a sign that little by little, other positions and political voices will emerge and so we hope that Trump himself will reconsider some of his decisions."

Pope Francis published an encyclical in 2015 urging the world's Catholics to focus on protecting the environment and confronting climate change. He addressed the issue during a speech to Congress that fall.

ON TAP FRIDAY: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will speak at a Federalist Society luncheon.

AROUND THE WEB:

UK greenhouse gas emissions are down 42 percent from 1990 levels, the Independent reports.

Even utilities in Oklahoma, Pruitt's home state, don't plan to revive their coal-fired power plants despite Trump's climate order, KOSU reports.

Employment in Texas's solar sector grew 34 percent last year, Fuel Fix reports. The state has the third-most solar jobs in the country.

Trump is portrayed as the villain in the new trailer for Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes unexpected step to stem coronavirus Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives MORE's next climate documentary film, An Inconvenient Sequel.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday's stories ...

-Florida Republican blasts agency for changing manatee protections
-Volkswagen settles with 10 states for $157M
-Trump to decide by late May whether to stay in Paris climate pact
-EPA mistakenly criticizes Trump's executive order
-Green groups sue Trump over Keystone XL approval
-House approves EPA science committee overhaul
-EPA head won't ban controversial pesticide
-GE CEO slams Trump over climate efforts

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