Overnight Energy: House bill would cut $528M from EPA | Pruitt wants televised climate debate

Overnight Energy: House bill would cut $528M from EPA | Pruitt wants televised climate debate
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HOUSE REJECTS TRUMP EPA CUTS: House appropriators released an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spending bill Tuesday that rejects the deep cuts President Trump proposed for the agency.

The bill would cut EPA funding by $528 million, or about 6.5 percent, next year. President Trump had proposed a budget that would have slashed agency spending by 31 percent, ending 50 department programs and eliminating 3,200 of the agency's 15,000 jobs.

House Republicans have long tried to pare down the size of the EPA's budget. But the cuts Trump proposed were significantly higher than they were willing to accept, a fact they often repeated before releasing their bill on Tuesday.

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The EPA spending is within a $31.4 billion bill that also provides funding for the Interior Department, Forest Service and related agencies.

The bill is $824 million less than current levels, but $4.3 billion higher than Trump's budget. Appropriators will mark it up at a subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.   

Read more here.

 

CLIMATE DEBATE -- ON TV?: EPA chief Scott Pruitt put forward a new idea Tuesday: Pit scientists against each other to debate climate change on television.

The proposal, broached in an interview with Reuters, is part of Pruitt's "red team/blue team" idea to use government resources to challenge consensus climate science.

"There are lots of questions that have not been asked and answered," Pruitt said regarding climate science.

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"Who better to do that than a group of scientists ... getting together and having a robust discussion for all the world to see?" he said, according to Reuters.

Asked if the debate should happen on television, Pruitt continued, "I think so. I think so. I mean, I don't know yet, but you want this to be open to the world. You want this to be on full display. I think the American people would be very interested in consuming that. I think they deserve it."

Pruitt's boss, President Trump, was a well-known reality television star before running for president, having hosted "The Apprentice" for more than a decade.

Read more here.

 

EPA MOVES FORWARD ON PEBBLE MINE: The EPA Tuesday took a step toward rolling back the Obama administration's proposed restrictions on Alaska's Pebble Mine.

The agency released a formal regulatory proposal that would scrap its 2014 plan to block the Pebble project under the Clean Water Act.

Under Obama, the EPA sought to preemptively block the controversial mine due to its potential impact on salmon and other species in Bristol Bay and its tributaries.

But in May, the Trump administration settled a lawsuit by mine developer Pebble Limited Partnership by saying it would scrap that proposal.

"The proposal reflects the administrator's decision to provide [Pebble] with additional time to submit a permit application to the Army Corps and potentially allow the Army Corps permitting process to initiate without having an open and unresolved Section 404(c) review," the EPA wrote in its Tuesday notice, referring to the section of the Clean Water Act under which Pebble would need a permit to dump waste from the mine into waterways.

"A withdrawal of the proposed determination would remove any uncertainty, real or perceived, about [Pebble's] ability to submit a permit application and have that permit application reviewed."

The notice will be published in the Federal Register soon, kicking off a 90-day public comment period before the EPA can take final action to withdraw the 2014 determination.

Read more here.

 

CALIFORNIA ADVANCES CAP AND TRADE: California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and state legislative leaders said Tuesday that they have reached a deal to extend the state's landmark cap-and-trade program aimed at dramatically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

The new deal will extend the program, initially authorized in 2006, by 10 years. It would help the state meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, Brown's office said.

The two bills that will begin moving through the legislature on Tuesday include a program aimed at cutting pollution in some of the state's dirtiest neighborhoods, as well as higher penalties against companies that pollute.

They would also require industrial facilities like oil refineries to replace outdated technology with cleaner machines within the next six years.

Lawmakers worked for months to come to an agreement that could bring together the liberal and centrist factions inside the Democratic Party in Sacramento.

Read more here.

 

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COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER TRUMP NOMINEES: A Senate committee is scheduled to vote on three Trump administration nominees on Wednesday.

The Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee will meet to vote on Annie Caputo and David Wright's nominations to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and Susan Bodine's nomination to be the assistant administrator of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Caputo is a senior advisor to committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report Latest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say MORE (R-Wyo.) and Wright is a former utilities regulator in South Carolina. If both are confirmed by the full Senate, the NRC will have a full roster of five commissioners after Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki was confirmed to a new term last month.

Democrats have raised concerns about Bodine's nomination, saying her work in the private sector would imperil the agency's enforcement work.

Read more here, and follow along tomorrow at The Hill.   

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The House Appropriations Committee will consider the panel's $37.56 billion energy and water spending bill on Wednesday morning. In the afternoon, the committee's Interior and EPA subcommittee will meet to discuss the spending bill released Tuesday.

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ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: A House Natural Resources Committee panel will hold a hearing on offshore oil and gas development.

 

Rest of Wednesday's agenda ...

A House Science Committee panel will hold a hearing on the U.S. Fire Administration and fire grant programs.

Democrats on the Science Committee will host a roundtable discussion on the national security implications of climate change.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

Consol Energy Inc. detailed a plan Tuesday to split into two separate companies focusing on coal and natural gas, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) vetoed legislation that would have kept net metering for solar power, the Portland Press-Herald reports.

North Carolina regulators approved a plan Tuesday to store even more coal ash in the state, the Charlotte Observer reports.  

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Tuesday's stories ...

-Rick Perry to visit Mexico

-EPA moves to roll back proposed restrictions on Alaska mine

-House bill would cut EPA funding by $528M

-EPA head suggests climate science debate on TV

-California Dems reach deal on cap and trade

-Trump administration to reconsider penalties for car efficiency violations

-Trump Navy secretary nominee: Climate change is real and poses a threat

-Trump triggers fight over Yucca waste site

-United States going it alone on climate change: What it means

 

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