Overnight Energy: Trump to survey Puerto Rico damage next week

Overnight Energy: Trump to survey Puerto Rico damage next week
© Getty Images

TRUMP TO PUERTO RICO NEXT WEEK: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE will travel to assess hurricane damage in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands next week, he said on Tuesday.

The president told reporters at the White House that damage on the ground prevents any earlier travel to the island, which he said has been "literally destroyed."

Trump expressed confidence that "they'll be back" and said the people of Puerto Rico "are important to all of us."

Government officials in Puerto Rico are pleading with the U.S. government for more resources and for Congress to act quickly to pass an aide package.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We need more help. We need more help with resources. We need more help with people being deployed so that we can get logistical support elsewhere," Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) said Tuesday morning.

"And we need Congress to take action so we can have an aid package that is real for the American citizens that live in Puerto Rico and that is flexible so that we can take immediate action."

Trump said his administration has "shipped massive amounts" of food, water and supplies to Puerto Rico, adding that the island "was hit as hard as you could hit."

"When you see 200 mile-an-hour winds, not even Texas had 200 mile-an-hour winds ... literally houses are just demolished, it was like tornadoes. It was like having hundreds of tornadoes. The winds."

Read more here.

 

Dems, White House clash on Puerto Rico response: House Democrats on Tuesday intensified their attacks on Trump's response to the crisis in Puerto Rico, saying the administration's "anemic" response to the devastation left by Hurricane Maria is putting storm victims at risk.

"We're ... concerned about the lack of attention the president has given toward these national disasters, and instead has chosen to tweet about nonsensical things," said Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "It is an unprecedented storm and an unprecedented level of destruction on the islands, and it needs to be met with an unprecedented response.

"And so far ... that [response] has been anemic," he said.

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), a Puerto-Rican native who visited the island on Friday with Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, described the devastation in near-apocalyptic terms.

"I didn't recognize what I saw. ... Pure devastation," she said. "My concern is, based on the behavior of our commander-in-chief, Donald Trump, and the tweets that he put out, that he doesn't grasp the severity of the crisis."

A group of Democratic lawmakers is urging Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTop nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Top nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Overnight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One MORE to send additional military resources to Puerto Rico after back-to-back hurricanes created "harrowing conditions" on the U.S. territory.

The lawmakers said they appreciate the Pentagon's current contributions to disaster relief on the island following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but they "remain deeply concerned" by reports of flooding, and a lack of power and running water on the island.

Trump defended his response efforts during a press conference. 

"We right now have our top people from FEMA, and they have been there," he said. "We are unloading on an hourly basis, massive loads of water and food and supplies for Puerto Rico."

"And this isn't like Florida where we can go right up the spine or like Texas where we go right down the middle and we distribute," Trump said. "This is a thing called the Atlantic Ocean, this is tough stuff."

Read more here and here.

 

In Puerto Rico, 44 percent without water, electricity system 80 percent damaged: Puerto Rico's electricity systems are badly damaged after the storm, the Defense Department reported Tuesday, and nearly half the U.S. territory's residents still lack drinking water.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is "slowly restoring power to customers," according to the most recent update, but 80 percent of the island's electricity transmission lines and 100 percent of its distribution system are damaged. Transmission lines move electricity across long distances, while distribution lines deliver it to homes and businesses.

Only 11 of the island's 69 hospitals have fuel or power. And 44 percent of Puerto Rico's 3.5 million residents are still without clean drinking water, the Pentagon said.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, power has been restored to a key water-production plant, which is now back in operation.

Read more here.

 

PRUITT'S ABOUT TO HAVE A SOUNDPROOF BOOTH: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is spending nearly $25,000 to build a soundproof booth for Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump directs agencies to cut advisory boards by 'at least' one-third Trump directs agencies to cut advisory boards by 'at least' one-third Overnight Energy: Former EPA chiefs say Trump has abandoned agency's mission | Trump in Iowa touts ethanol and knocks Biden | Greens sue Trump over drilling safety rollbacks | FDA downplays worries over 'forever chemicals' MORE.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the agency entered into a $24,570 contract last month for a "privacy booth for the administrator" with Acoustical Solutions, a company that specializes in sound-dampening technology for hearing tests.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told the Post that the booth will be "a secured communication area in the administrator's office so secured calls can be received and made."

"Federal agencies need to have one of these so that secured communications, not subject to hacking from the outside, can be held," she continued. "It's called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). This is something which a number, if not all, Cabinet offices have and EPA needs to have updated."

The EPA already has a SCIF in a separate area of the building, the Post reported, and it's unclear if Pruitt believes that it is out of date or somehow insufficient.

Read more here.

 

INDUSTRY GROUP LAUNCHES 'FRACT CHECK' SITE: An oil and gas industry group unveiled Tuesday a website it's using to fact check statements about hydraulic fracturing.

FractCheck.com includes individual fact checks by politicians, actors and other well-known people, along with quizzes. It's meant to resemble well-known fact-checking websites that have been in vogue in recent years like Snopes and Politifact.

It was launched by FrackFeed, itself a project of Texans for Natural Gas.

"For too long, fractivists and their friends in Hollywood have been able to make wild, unsupported claims about fracking with relative impunity. FractCheck is going to change that," Steve Everley, the group's spokesman, said in a statement. "Celebrities may be rich and famous, but no amount of money can excuse their deliberate falsehoods about fracking."

The site's current content includes "Fract Checks" for statements by, among others, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersConfused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Confused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Biden leads in early voting states, followed by Warren, Sanders: poll MORE (I-Vt.), Susan Sarandon, Sean Lennon and the Sierra Club (all rated false or some variant) as well as President Trump, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Inside Biden's preparations for first debate MORE (R-Wis.) (all true or some variant).

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: A Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee panel will hold a hearing on the future of attendance at National Parks.

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) will speak at a Congressional Advanced Energy Storage Caucus event on the importance of energy security after natural disasters.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

Cabot Oil & Gas Co. settled Tuesday with the remaining families that alleged water contamination from fracking in the infamous Dimock, Pa., case, Reuters reports.

Washington state regulators have denied a permit for the proposed Columbia River coal exports terminal, the Seattle Times reports.

Alaska's Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. is still investigating how oil spilled into the Port of Valdez at the end of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, Alaska Public Radio reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Tuesday's stories ...

-FEMA chief: Feds 'working tirelessly around the clock' to aid in Maria recovery

-Pentagon: 44 percent of Puerto Ricans lack clean drinking water

-EPA spending almost $25,000 for soundproof booth

-Trump on aid to Puerto Rico: 'This is a thing called the Atlantic Ocean, this is tough stuff'

-Dems call for additional Pentagon assets to be deployed to Puerto Rico

-California mulling ban on combustion-engine vehicles

-Dems accuse Trump of 'anemic' response to Puerto Rico crisis

-Trump amends Puerto Rico disaster declaration to offer more federal funding

-Trump to visit hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

-National Guard leaders says he's seen no delay in federal help to Puerto Rico

-Dems probe mine safety record at Trump nominee's company

-Interior secretary: One-third of employees 'not loyal to the flag'

 

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