Overnight Energy: Head of oil lobbying group to resign | EPA’s Superfund point man won’t testify | Toyota shoots down EPA partnership

Overnight Energy: Head of oil lobbying group to resign | EPA’s Superfund point man won’t testify | Toyota shoots down EPA partnership
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API'S GERARD OUT IN AUGUST: Jack Gerard, the head of the main lobbying group for the oil and natural gas industry, is stepping down in August.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) announced Gerard's planned departure Wednesday, saying his contract will be up after 10 years at the helm.

In a statement, Gerard celebrated the oil industry's accomplishments during his tenure.

"Serving the oil and natural gas industry during this historic time, when an American energy renaissance has made the U.S. the world's leading producer and refiner of oil and natural gas, has been among the most fulfilling professional experiences of my career," he said.


"We have accomplished what few would have imagined: important public policy victories at all levels of government, and a revitalized association that has expanded globally and added significant strength to its advocacy capabilities."

Gerard implied he wouldn't be heading into retirement, saying in the statement that he is "ready for my next challenge."

The departure opens up one of the most powerful and prestigious lobbying positions in Washington, creating the potential for a broader shakeup in the industry. Gerard earned $6.3 million in total compensation from API in 2015, the most recent year for which tax records are publicly available.

"It's certainly one of the most plum jobs in Washington and is likely to create a musical chairs situation at other trade associations, because they certainly will look at CEOs from other associations," said Ivan Adler, a headhunter at the McCormick Group.

And with the slew of Republicans retiring from Congress, even more potential candidates are added to the mix.

Even lawmakers who intend to serve out the rest of their terms "have 6 1/2 million reasons not to," Adler quipped.

Read more here.


EPA OFFICIAL DECLINES TO TESTIFY AT SUPERFUND HEARING: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittLeaked Trump transition vetting documents show numerous officials with 'red flags': Axios Chaos within the EPA exposes Americans to toxins like asbestos How EPA Administrator Wheeler completely misinterprets science MORE's point man for Superfund efforts has declined to testify at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the sites' cleanup efforts scheduled for Thursday.

After previously promising to speak at the hearing, Albert Kelly withdrew his name from the witness list last week, citing "an unavoidable scheduling conflict," according to a Democratic spokesperson for the committee.

Kelly, a former chairman of Oklahoma-based SpiritBank, made headlines last week following news that he had been banned from working in the banking industry for life. The Intercept also reported that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) had fined Kelly $125,000 in May 2017 for violating the law.

According to a consent order obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request, the FDIC believed it had reason to think Kelly "violated a law or regulation, by entering into an agreement pertaining to a loan by the Bank without FDIC approval."

Just two weeks later, Pruitt appointed Kelly his senior adviser and head of the Superfund Task Force.

Read more here.


In other Superfund news: Trump admin highlights 31 sites with business potential: The EPA is highlighting 31 contaminated land sites across the country for their redevelopment and commercial potential.

The agency flagged notable Superfund sites in a list published Wednesday in an effort to direct "interested developers and potential owners" to what they call "formerly contaminated" sites.

Spots listed include the Allied Paper site on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and Eagle Mine in Colorado.

The EPA lists the two among the sites with the "greatest expected" potential to be redeveloped in their communities. In its plan, the EPA says it will work to identify interested businesses and developers to reuse the Superfund sites.

"EPA is more than a collaborative partner to remediate the nation's most contaminated sites, we're also working to successfully integrate Superfund sites back into communities across the country," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in a statement. "Today's redevelopment list incorporates Superfund sites ready to become catalysts for economic growth and revitalization."

Read more here.


TOYOTA SAYS IT WON'T PARTNER WITH EPA DESPITE PRUITT CLAIM: Global automaker Toyota is not partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), despite December comments from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that the two would be working together on a review of the agency's management practices.

Christopher Reynolds, Executive Vice President of Corporate Resources at Toyota, wrote in a Jan. 9 letter to the Environmental Working Group that "at this point there are no definitive plans to move forward with a project" with the EPA.

Reynolds went on to call the discussions Toyota was having with EPA "preliminary."

Reynolds was responding to a letter the Environmental Working Group sent him in December questioning Toyota's decision to work with EPA under their Toyota Production System Support program.

News of the potential partnership came to light while Pruitt was testifying at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Dec. 8.

Read more here.


DOE EMPLOYEE SAYS HE WAS FIRED FOR LEAKING PHOTOS: A former photographer for the Department of Energy said he was illegally fired for leaking photographs of Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryHouse Dems attempt to block Trump admin roll back Obama-era lightbulb rule Shutting down plastics at the source Overnight Defense: Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy | Trump, Macron downplay rift on Iran | Trump mourns West Point cadet's death in accident | Pentagon closes review of deadly Niger ambush MORE meeting with a coal mogul.

Simon Edelman filed a whistleblower complaint earlier this month with the Energy Department's Office of Inspector General, saying the photo leak was protected by the First Amendment.

"In retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights, Mr. Edelman was placed on administrative leave, had thousands of dollars of personal possessions unlawfully seized … and was unlawfully terminated from his job effective December 27, 2017," John Tye, an attorney for Whistleblower Aid who is representing Edelman, wrote in the complaint.

The New York Times first reported on Edelman's complaint Wednesday.

Edelman told The Hill in an interview that he exposed wrongdoing by releasing the photos, since he believes Perry's actions were corrupt and a quid pro quo on behalf of Murray Energy Corp. head Bob Murray.

"I felt that I was doing the right thing by exposing what I had seen and what I had proof of," he said.

Edelman served as a staff reporter for the Department of Energy and had worked at the agency since 2015.

Read more here.


ON TAP THURSDAY I: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on two DOE nominees: Melissa Burnison to be the assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs and Anne Marie White to be assistant secretary for environmental management.


ON TAP THURSDAY II: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on "Modernizing the Superfund cleanup program."


Rest of Thursday's agenda ...

The United States Energy Association will hold its annual "State of the Energy Industry" forum. It will feature executives from numerous industry groups in the energy sphere, like oil, wind, utilities and natural gas.

The House Natural Resources Committee's subcommittee on energy and mineral resources will hold a hearing on the Trump administration's efforts to ease burdens on onshore energy production.



A Dakota Access pipeline protester accused of shooting at police during the 2016 protests has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, the Associated Press reports.

Dozens of bison from Yellowstone National Park destined to be transferred to a tribe escaped from their holding area, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports.

Trader Joe's plans to remove controversial chemicals like BPA from its receipts, the Los Angeles Times reports.



Check out Wednesday's stories ...

- EPA official declines to testify at Superfund hearing

- Interior cheers resignations of national park advisers

- Toyota says it won't partner with EPA despite Pruitt claim

- New York, Connecticut sue EPA over out-of-state pollution

- Former Energy employee says he was fired for leaking photos of Perry with coal mogul

- Trump administration highlights 31 contaminated sites with business potential

- Head of top oil lobbying group to step down