Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending

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TUESDAY IS BUDGET DAY: The White House is due to roll out its budget proposal on Tuesday, a document expected to call for deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal departments.

Trump officials will send Congress its full 2018 budget on Tuesday after previewing the proposal in March.

That “skinny budget” hinted at the type of cuts Trump will target for the EPA, Department of Energy and the Interior Department. The EPA, for example, could face a budget 31 percent smaller than this year’s, a cut deep enough to zero-out dozens of the agency’s offices and end 3,200 jobs.

The March budget also proposed a 12 percent cut for Interior and a 5.6 percent cut for the Department of Energy.

{mosads}Tuesday’s announcement is only a proposal, and Congress will write the bills that fund the government for the next fiscal year. Trump is said to be looking for a $54 billion cut in domestic discretionary spending and an equal increase in defense spending.

Expect Tuesday’s numbers to garner immediate opposition from Democrats, greens and others, even as Republicans begin the process of deciding how deep they should cut frequent targets like the EPA and other offices.

Check The Hill on Tuesday for more information about Trump’s budget.

Read more about the March cuts here, and the rest of the week’s schedule here.

TRUMP ADMIN NAMES OFFSHORE REGULATOR: The Trump administration appointed Scott Angelle, a former state official in Louisiana, to be its top offshore oil and natural gas drilling regulator.

Angelle, most recently vice chairman of Louisiana’s Public Service Commission, is now the head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the agency said Monday.

“Scott Angelle brings a wealth of experience to BSEE, having spent many years working for the safe and efficient energy production of both Louisiana’s and our country’s offshore resources,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.

Zinke has the power to appoint Angelle without Senate confirmation.

Angelle, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully last year for a House seat in Louisiana’s third congressional district, in the southwestern corner of the state. He lost in the runoff to Clay Higgins, also a Republican.

He also ran for governor in 2015, losing the primary narrowly to then-Sen. David Vitter.

For a brief time in 2010, Angelle was Louisiana’s lieutenant governor under Gov. Bobby Jindal. He led a rally in July 2010 against the offshore drilling moratorium instituted by then-President Barack Obama in the wake of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, while oil was still spilling uncontrolled in the Gulf of Mexico.

Read more here.

STATES TUSSLE WITH INDUSTRY OVER OIL TRAINS: Six state attorneys general are pushing regulators to tighten federal oil-by-rail rules.

The AGs told the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Monday to ban the transportation of highly volatile oil along the nation’s railways.

The request comes two years after Obama administration regulators released new oil-by-rail rules in light of a string of high-profile accidents. But the states said officials should push even more aggressive regulations in the future.

“These trains can carry crude oil through some of our most densely populated areas without any limit on explosiveness or flammability — creating ticking time bombs that jeopardize the safety of countless New Yorkers and Americans,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said in a Monday statement.

But the oil industry argued the opposite on Monday, saying stronger volatility standards wouldn’t have an impact on public safety and that current oil-by-rail regulations are good enough.

“Further proceedings based on crude oil characteristics conflict with Congress’ considered judgment to delay further regulation until the completion of ongoing studies on the transport of flammable materials,” the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers told PHMSA.

Read more here.   

TOMORROW IN THE HILL: As the Trump administration and Republicans prepare for the president’s major infrastructure package, environmental permitting is emerging as a key area for changes.

Cutting down on the years it takes state and local governments to obtain permits under environmental laws is essential to accomplishing Trump’s goal of expanding and fixing the nation’s roads, bridges and airports, Republicans say. Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao are receptive to the idea.

Read more about what could be coming, tomorrow in The Hill.

ON TAP TUESDAY I: Deborah Swackhamer, the chair of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), is due to testify at a House Science Committee hearing on the role of states in EPA rulemaking.

Swackhamer’s testimony comes after two BOSC members resigned in protest of the EPA’s decision not to renew at least scientists’ membership on other scientific review boards.

ON TAP TUESDAY II: A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee panel will meet to consider two bills aimed at EPA ozone regulations.

Rest of Tuesday’s agenda …

James Cason, the acting deputy secretary of the Interior Department, will testify before a House Natural Resources panel on the Cobell Land Consolidation Program.

Another Natural Resources subcommittee will consider four public lands bills.


A federal judge ruled Monday that the proposed Purple Line light rail project in D.C.’s Maryland suburbs needs more environmental review, DCist reports.

Computer servers at Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality were hacked last week, the Oregonian reports.

Climate change is hurting scientists’ efforts to improve water quality at Lake Tahoe, the Associated Press reports.


Check out stories from Monday and the weekend …

-Labor Dept delays Obama-era mine safety rule
-States push for stronger oil train limits
-Former Louisiana official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator
-Week ahead: EPA braces for Trump budget

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 

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