Overnight Energy: Trump deciding on Obama pollution treaty | Greens threaten lawsuit over climate report | EPA chief once called Trump an 'empty vessel'

Overnight Energy: Trump deciding on Obama pollution treaty | Greens threaten lawsuit over climate report | EPA chief once called Trump an 'empty vessel'
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WH WEIGHS SUPPORT FOR GREENHOUSE GAS TREATY: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE hasn't yet decided whether to support a treaty amendment that seeks to phase out the use of certain potent greenhouse gases, an adviser said.

George David BanksGeorge (David) David BanksWhite House nominating new science adviser with extreme-weather background Proxy advisors do need to be regulated GOP senators push Trump to submit pollution treaty amendment for Senate approval MORE, Trump's adviser for international environmental policy, said at a Monday event that he and colleagues are still analyzing the 2016 pact to see if they'll recommend that the president support it.

The Kigali Amendment, negotiated in part by the Obama administration, changed the 1987 Montreal Protocol to work toward a global phaseout of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), commonly used in refrigerants and air conditioning. They are hundreds of times more potent as greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide.


Domestic companies that make and use the chemicals support the amendment, as do environmental groups.

"While the administration recognizes that the amendment enjoys broad industry support, we need to carefully think this through and do our best to understand the economic, legal, political, the environmental aspects of the amendment," Banks told a gathering at the Hudson Institute Monday.

"Before we provide a recommendation to the president, we will need to have ... really -- really good economic information, we're going to have to have a real command of it," he said.

"We understand that there's broad industry support. But we really want to understand, in a more concrete way, a few things: how this benefits U.S. companies, how it preserves and creates U.S. jobs and how it can help the trade balance and help foster exports to other countries."

Banks said if Trump does support the agreement, he would submit it to the Senate for ratification, which would require a two-thirds majority vote.

Read more here.


PRUITT CALLED TRUMP AN 'EMPTY VESSEL' IN OLD INTERVIEW: The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once called President Trump an "empty vessel" when it comes to his knowledge of the Constitution, CNN reported on Monday.

Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas EPA inspector general to resign Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog says agency failed to properly monitor asbestos at schools| Watchdog won’t investigate former Superfund head’s qualifications| Florence causes toxic coal ash spill in North Carolina MORE criticized then-candidate Trump's ability to uphold the Constitution as president in an interview with an Oklahoma radio show in February 2016.

"I think he's an empty vessel when it comes to things like the Constitution and rule of law," Pruitt said on the "Exploring Energy" radio show. "I'm very concerned that perhaps if he's in the White House, that there may be a very blunt instrument as the voice of the Constitution."

Pruitt at the time of his comments was backing Jeb Bush's Republican presidential campaign.

Pruitt, who served as attorney general in his home state of Oklahoma, also compared Trump to former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTime for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation Getting politics out of the pit To cure Congress, elect more former military members MORE, saying in the interview that Obama at least had the wherewithal to know how to hide his "unlawfulness."

"This president, the one we have there now, has at least tried to nuance his unlawfulness," Pruitt said. "He at least sits back and says, 'How do we break the law and so where it's really tough to show that we have?' I'm not sure that Donald Trump would."

The newly unearthed interview is the second to come to light in the past week in which Pruitt criticizes Trump.

Read more here.


GREEN GROUPS THREATEN LAWSUIT OVER DELAYED CLIMATE REPORT: An environmental group on Monday threatened to sue the State Department if it doesn't produce its overdue U.S. Climate Action Report to the United Nations.

In a letter, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) asked Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonPompeo working to rebuild ties with US diplomats: report NYT says it was unfair on Haley curtain story Rubio defends Haley over curtains story: Example of media pushing bias MORE to produce the seventh annual report on climate change that is mandated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The report was due Jan. 1.

"The State Department has failed to submit the Seventh Climate Action Report by the mandated due date, much less issue any statements of the report's preparation, draft texts, and notifications of public comment opportunities for the report's final issuance -- a process that has, in the past, taken over a year," the letter read.

The report is a requirement for countries that are part of the UNFCCC, which was created with the goal of stabilizing the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Participants, of which the U.S. is one, are obligated to submit "national communications" on their greenhouse gas emission inventories and develop mitigation plans.

This year's Climate Action Report would need to contain both the national communication and a biennial report, according to the letter sent by the CBD.

"Accordingly, unless the State Department commits to complete these steps expeditiously, the Center for Biological Diversity intends to file suit to compel the State Department's action to issue the final report for UNFCCC compliance," the letter read.

Read more here.


ALASKA TO PILOT INTERIOR DEPARTMENT RESTRUCTURING: The Department of Interior (DOI) appears to be moving full speed ahead with an ambitious reorganization plan and will pilot the first regional office concept in Alaska.

In a letter first obtained by E&E News Friday, the director of Interior's Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Todd Wynn, expanded on the department's proposed restructuring, which would include "revamped boundaries" for 13 proposed regional hubs.

The seven-page document containing a list of 39 "frequently asked questions" was sent to state and local stakeholders Jan. 19 and detailed plans to initiate the change in Alaska because the state has a "large geographic area, most bureaus are active there, all existing regional offices are already in the same city, and there is only one state government with which to interact."

The document said the new plan to change the long-standing boundaries would "provide better management on an ecosystem basis to include critical components such as wildlife corridors, watersheds, and trail systems."

It also said the new regional hubs will "take effect" in the second half of fiscal 2018, from April 1 to Sept. 30.

The city locations within the regions have not yet been determined. The letter promised that the new structure would add more managers in the long term and that the revamping was not expected to negatively affect or close national parks, wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries or Bureau of Indian Affairs offices, specifically.

Read more here.


ON TAP TUESDAY I: The Energy Information Administration will roll out its Annual Energy Outlook for 2018 at an event hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies.


ON TAP TUESDAY II: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on three bills regarding national monuments, including a bill to create a national monument honoring Civil Rights icon Medgar Evers in Mississippi.

The House Education and Workforce Committee's workforce protections subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer and its pesticide review process, with an emphasis on glyphosate.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's energy subcommittee will continue its series of hearings on Department of Energy (DOE) modernization with a hearing on nuclear infrastructure.



Esmond Bradley Martin, an American conservationist fighting the ivory trade, was found stabbed to death in Kenya, the Associated Press reports.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) threatened to sue the Trump administration if his state's waters are opened up for offshore drilling, the Seattle Times reports.

Researchers have traced an outbreak of lethal pneumonia to Flint, Mich.'s drinking water crisis, NPR reports.



-Ramón Luis Nieves, managing member of RL Legal & Consulting Services and a former senator for the District of San Juan, says that Puerto Rico's plans to privatize its energy market could lead to another government controversy like the Whitefish scandal.

-Daniel Raimi, a senior research associate at Resources for the Future, makes the case that fracking could ultimately be beneficial to the economy and to the environment.



Check out Monday's stories ...

-EPA to jumpstart 'war on lead' with strategy meeting

-Trump withdraws nomination of climate skeptic for top environmental post

-EPA chief once called Trump an 'empty vessel' in interview

-Trump undecided on supporting Obama pollution treaty, adviser says

-Alaska to pilot first Interior Department restructuring: report

-Green group threatens to sue State Dept. over absent climate-change report