Overnight Energy: Panel advances controversial Trump nominee | Ex-coal boss Blankenship to run for Senate | Dem commissioner joins energy regulator

Overnight Energy: Panel advances controversial Trump nominee | Ex-coal boss Blankenship to run for Senate | Dem commissioner joins energy regulator
© Texas Public Policy Foundation

TRUMP NOMINEES HEAD TO SENATE FLOOR: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday advanced the nomination of an outspoken climate skeptic to lead the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

Senators voted 11-10 to send the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White to the Senate floor. Members also advanced Andrew Wheeler, Trump's nominee to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in another party-line vote.

Hartnett White is a think tank official and former Texas environmental regulator who dismisses the science behind the influence of carbon emissions and other pollutants on the Earth's warming trend.

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Both parties criticized her nomination for CEQ during a contentious committee hearing earlier this month, and Democrats ripped into her -- and the Republicans who support her nomination -- before a vote on Wednesday.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSome of us Midwesterners think maybe Amy Klobuchar would do OK as president Banking panel showcases 2020 Dems Gorka: John F. Kennedy wouldn't be allowed in Democratic Party MORE (D-Calif.) called the nomination process "morally bankrupt," while Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyWarren, 2020 Dems target private immigration detention center operators Merkley seeking to change Oregon law so he can run for president and Senate in 2020: report ICE has record number of people in custody: report MORE (D-Ore.) said the Hartnett White nomination was a "disservice."

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator Dem senator expresses concerns over potential Nielsen ouster MORE (D-Del.) said Hartnett White is a nominee "whose views are extreme, whose words are staggeringly inappropriate, and who shows remarkable disrespect for science, the environmental laws on the books and the federal government."

"A nominee who can't follow the thread from carbon pollution to ocean warming to sea level rise, who imagines science that is not there and ignores science that is there, is a preposterous nominee," Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill 3 ways House Dems can fight climate change when sweeping policy is off the table Hillicon Valley: Trump eyes staff shake-up | Amazon taps NYC, Northern Virginia for new offices | What it will mean for DC | Tech firms buck Trump on cyber pact | Defense official warns against hacking back MORE (D-R.I.) said.

Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Leadership elections in Congress | Freshman lawmakers arrive | Trump argues he can restrict reporter access MORE (R-Wyo.) and Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump and Congress on collision course with military spending Overnight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator MORE (R-Okla.) defended her nomination, noting endorsements she has received from the Chamber of Commerce and former Department of Energy officials.

"We've had a lot of name-calling here and I'm sure that makes everybody on the left feel better," Inhofe said.

"We have people out there who are singing her praises, and you don't need to get down to the mud and name-call on these things."

Read more here.

 

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BLANKENSHIP JUMPS INTO WEST VIRGINIA SENATE RACE: A former coal company executive who was convicted for conspiracy to violate federal mine safety laws is running for the Senate in West Virginia.

Don Blankenship was CEO of Massey Energy Co. at the time of a 2010 disaster at its Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners. He was later convicted of charges stemming from the probe into the explosion.

Conrad Lucas, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, confirmed Wednesday that Blankenship is running. Charleston, W.Va., television station WCHS first reported the news, saying Blankenship had filed paperwork for the race.

Blankenship will face West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE in the Republican primary.

If he wins the GOP nomination, he will face incumbent Democrat Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSotomayor: Kavanaugh now part of the Supreme Court ‘family’ Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader MORE, who was governor at the time of the disaster and a leading figure in denouncing Blankenship. Blankenship, in turn, has charged that Manchin was central to a political campaign against him.

Blankenship is a high-profile figure in West Virginia, due largely to his leadership at Massey, the disaster, his conviction and his frequent claims that the conviction was purely political and he is innocent.

Read more here.

 

ENERGY REGULATOR SWEARS IN DEM: Democrat Richard Glick formally joined the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Wednesday, bringing the board one step closer to being fully staffed.

The Senate confirmed Glick and Republican Kevin McIntyre to FERC on Nov. 2, though neither were sworn in to the panel until Glick was formally added on Wednesday.

McIntyre, Trump's pick to lead the commission, has yet to join FERC, though acting Chairman Neil Chatterjee said Tuesday that it's "simply a matter of timing, prioritization, getting documents signed" before McIntyre is sworn in.

"There is no conspiracy here. There is no intentional delay or dragging things out to some nefarious end," Chatterjee told reporters Wednesday.

"People have to unwind their own professional obligations in their current jobs before they can transition over. Last week was Thanksgiving. I'm certain that both of the confirmed nominees wanted to spend time with their families."

Read more here.

 

NAVAJO GENERATING STATION GETS TEMPORARY LIFELINE: The coal-fired Navajo Generating Station has obtained the approval it needs to stay open through 2019.

The Salt River Project, an Arizona utility that partially owns the plant and is negotiating on behalf of the other owners, announced Wednesday that the federal Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs had completed their environmental review of the lease extension.

The plant's owners, which include Reclamation, lease the plant's land from the Navajo Nation. They had originally planned to close it this year, but the Trump administration and the Navajo Nation pushed for a renewal, and the other utilities involved agreed to it.

"A great deal of hard work from a number of dedicated individuals representing the Navajo Nation, the owners and the federal government made this important step possible," Mike Hummel, deputy general manager of the Salt River Project, which manages the plant, said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP THURSDAY I: The House is scheduled to vote on a bill reviving a proposal to mine for precious metals in northern Minnesota.

The bill would undo Obama administration efforts to block a mining firm's proposed copper and nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA).  

 

ON TAP THURSDAY II: David Bernhardt, the deputy secretary of the Interior Department, will testify before the House Appropriations Committee.

 

Rest of Thursday's agenda ...

Sens. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump and Congress on collision course with military spending Overnight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator MORE (R-Okla.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump’s backing may not be enough on criminal justice reform Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill Senators return to Washington intent on action against Saudis MORE (R-Utah), and Rep. Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithTexas New Members 2019 Pro-environment Democrats gain influence in Congress and states, but lose key GOP allies Overnight Energy: Trump expects to weigh in on Zinke's future soon | EPA relaxes air permitting standard | House Science panel in for big changes | Update on midterm ballot measures MORE (R-Texas) will speak at a Heritage Foundation event on climate and energy policy.

FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee will speak at a Natural Gas Roundtable luncheon.

Two House Natural Resources subcommittees will hold separate hearings on a total of four bills.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION PAGE:

Three supporters urge the House to approve the Minnesota mining bill. 

Rice University Professor Bill Arnold analyzes the crude oil market.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

High Country News explores the different ways North Dakota has developed oil around state and national parks.

OPEC and Russia are closing in on a deal to extend oil production cuts, Reuters reports.

Donald van der Vaart, former secretary of North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality, quit the agency Wednesday after public fights with its Democratic leadership, the Raleigh News-Observer reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories...

-Arizona coal plant to stay open through 2019

-NOAA nominee vows to leave family-run weather company

-Democratic commissioner sworn in to energy regulatory board

-Convicted ex-coal boss Blankenship to run for Senate

-Senate panel advances controversial environmental nominee

-Keystone pipeline spill blamed on damage from its construction

 

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