Overnight Energy: Interior proposes shrinking Bears Ears | Trump says no to G7 climate statement | EPA delays chemical regulation

Overnight Energy: Interior proposes shrinking Bears Ears | Trump says no to G7 climate statement | EPA delays chemical regulation
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ZINKE: SHRINK BEARS EARS: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is asking President Trump to reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument.

The recommendation came in a memo released Monday, an interim report to Trump following his April executive order asking Zinke to review numerous recent national monument designations for potential changes.

Zinke recommends that Trump use his “appropriate authority” under the Antiquities Act to revise the nearly 1.5 million-acre area protected by former President Obama, to remove some land that shouldn’t be in the monument.

Zinke said some areas in the massive monument deserve Antiquities Act protection, while other areas might need other protections.


“There is no doubt that there are historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of interest or scientific interest within Bears Ears,” Zinke told reporters on Monday. “These items and objects can be identified, segregated and reasonably separated."

But, he added, "if you look at the Bears Ears as a whole, there is a lot more drop-dead gorgeous land than there is historic landmarks, historic structures and other objects."

Zinke avoided making specific recommendations about how to change the monument, saying that would come at the end of his overall monuments review and after more consultation with Congress and native tribes in the area. The goal, he said, is to protect the “historic and prehistoric” features within Bears Ears that warrant such aid.

While presidents have nearly unchecked power to protect federal land under the Antiquities Act, environmentalists and supporters of Bears Ears say Trump does not have the authority to reduce or rescind any previous national monuments. No president has ever shrunk or rescinded a monument previously established under the 111-year-old law.

But Zinke’s memo appears to presume that Trump has that authority, given that it recommends that the boundary “be revised through the use of appropriate authority, including lawful exercise of the president’s authority granted by the Act.”

Read more here.


TRUMP SAYS NO TO G7 CLIMATE STATEMENT: The Trump administration has abstained from signing on to a Group of Seven climate change declaration.

The U.S. did not sign on to a section in the G7 communiqué that addressed the group’s commitment to climate change action, the Paris climate deal and international development funds focused on mitigating the impacts of climate change, according to a joint statement following a meeting of G7 environment ministers.

“The United States will continue to engage with key international partners in a manner that is consistent with our domestic priorities, preserving both a strong economy and a healthy environment,” the G7 communiqué said.

“We the United States do not join those sections of the communiqué on climate and [Multilateral Development Banks], reflecting our recent announcement to withdraw and immediately cease implementation of the Paris Agreement and associated financial commitments.”

The decision comes after Trump vowed earlier this month to pull out of the Paris deal, and two months after Energy Secretary Rick Perry held up a similar G7 energy declaration because of its focus on climate change.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, the U.S. representative to this weekend’s G7 gathering in Italy, said in a statement that the U.S. is “resetting the dialogue to say Paris is not the only way forward to making progress.”

Read more here.


EPA DELAYING CHEMICAL REGULATION: The EPA will delay the implementation of a chemical safety regulation for up to 20 months while it reassesses the rule.

Officials said Monday that the agency would continue to reconsider the safety measure, which came about in part because of an explosion at a chemical plant in Texas in 2013.

The rule, finalized last year, would require chemical companies to better prepare for accidents and expand the EPA's investigative and auditing powers.

But chemical manufacturers say it could create security and compliance problems, and asked Pruitt to reconsider the rule shortly after his confirmation as EPA administrator.

“We are seeking additional time to review the program, so that we can fully evaluate the public comments raised by multiple petitioners and consider other issues that may benefit from additional public input," Pruitt said in a statement on Monday.

Read more here.


WATCHDOG CLEARS EPA IN GOLD KING MINE SPILL: EPA employees generally acted within the bounds of the law and reason during and after the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster in Colorado, an inspector general's report Monday concluded.

Investigators reviewed 16 different questions related to the Gold King spill and largely cleared the EPA in the disaster that caused 3 million gallons of mine waste sludge with toxic heavy metals to flow into a tributary of the Animas River.

The inspector general report released Monday found there wasn’t likely much the EPA could have done differently when its contractor accidentally removed material that was holding back mining waste at a high pressure, nor could it have acted much differently in the response to the spill.

On the key question of whether the EPA should have done more to determine the pressure at the abandoned mine entrance, the report sided with the EPA workers involved.

“We found it reasonable that the EPA had not conducted direct testing of the water level or pressure during the removal site evaluation at Gold King Mine by the time of the release on August 5, 2015,” the report said.

Investigators found that EPA, Colorado and contractor officials working on the site were “qualified, experienced individuals with relevant expertise.”

And the process the EPA used for notifying area officials and those downstream was also reasonable, investigators found.

Read more here.


ON TAP TUESDAY I: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for three Trump nominees.

Annie Caputo and David Wright, nominees for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), are due to testify, as is Commissioner Kristine Svinicki, who has been renominated to her position as NRC chairwoman. The committee is scheduled to vote on Svinicki’s nomination on Thursday.

Also on the agenda is Susan Bodine, Trump’s pick to be assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and the committee’s chief counsel.

ON TAP TUESDAY II: A House Agriculture Committee panel will meet to discuss small water infrastructure.



Michael Gove is the United Kingdom’s new environment minister, to the dismay of environmentalists, the Guardian reports.

Georgia Power has reached a deal to secure billions of dollars in financing and contracting work for its Plant Vogtle plant, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The natural gas industry has started a group dubbed Your Energy to support gas pipelines on the East Coast, the Huffington Post reports.



Check out stories from Monday and this weekend …  

-Dem aims to block Trump properties from receiving federally subsidized flood insurance
-Interior secretary: Trump should reduce size of Utah national monument
-Watchdog: EPA acted legally, reasonably in 2015 Colorado mine spill
-Trump touts 'amazing results' in mining industry
-EPA delays chemical safety rule until 2019
-Researchers break down malware likely used in Ukraine blackout
-Court can’t review Trump’s Keystone approval, lawyers argue
-Trump administration abstains from G7 climate change pledge
-Local governments step up fight with Trump on climate

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