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Overnight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord

Overnight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord
© Greg Nash

DEMS PROBE PRUITT TRAVEL: House Democrats are investigating Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittMcConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant EPA puts science ‘transparency’ rule on back burner Tucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him MORE's frequent premium-class travel for official business.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneDems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Hillicon Valley: Facebook rift over exec's support for Kavanaugh | Dem worried about Russian trolls jumping into Kavanaugh debate | China pushes back on Pence House Democrat questions big tech on possible foreign influence in Kavanaugh debate MORE (N.J.), top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, asked Pruitt in a Tuesday letter for various details about all of the first- or business-class flights he has taken on taxpayer dime, the justifications for the flights and which staffers were involved in the process.

"Americans deserve an EPA Administrator more dedicated to first-class protection of human health and the environment than to luxury travel at taxpayer expense," Pallone wrote along with Reps. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoDems damp down hopes for climate change agenda NY rep mourns limo crash victims: ‘So much pain in a very small spot of the world’ A bipartisan approach to protecting racehorses MORE (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteLive coverage: Social media execs face grilling on Capitol Hill Women poised to take charge in Dem majority Bipartisan leaders of House panel press drug companies on opioid crisis MORE (D-Colo.).

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"To date, your Agency has failed to provide a clear explanation as to whether your travel since becoming administrator complies with all applicable federal regulations and agency procedures," they said.

The letter came after a week of intense scrutiny into Pruitt's travel habits and news reports about his frequent first- and business-class flights, which have cost taxpayers thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Read more here.

 

White House: Trump has confidence in Pruitt: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE still has confidence in Pruitt.

Asked at Tuesday's White House briefing if the president still had confidence in Pruitt and Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinOvernight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Former VA chief Shulkin: 'Chaos' probably a 'pretty accurate term' to describe Trump White House Veterans group sues to block advisers known as ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd’ from influencing VA MORE, Sanders responded, "I have no reason to believe otherwise."

Shulkin has his own travel controversy. An inspector general report last week said he improperly used federal money for a trip to Europe, among other problems.

"As we have said many times before, if somebody doesn't have the confidence of the president, you will know," she continued.

Read more here.

 

Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyCalifornia commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 Overnight Energy: Watchdog faults EPA over Pruitt security costs | Court walks back order on enforcing chemical plant rule | IG office to probe truck pollution study EPA unveils new Trump plan gutting Obama power plant rules MORE: TRUMP'S REG ROLLBACK WON'T STAND: Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the Trump administration's moves to strike down regulations issued under President Obama won't carry weight in court.

McCarthy, who led the Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 to 2017, called the recent political targeting of regulations at the agency a "real problem."

"I think the important thing is none of them should be touched unless the administration has a real reason to touch them, other than it was done under the Obama administration, and that is the real problem that we see," McCarthy on Tuesday told BuzzFeed's morning livestream program, "AM to DM."

The former administrator, who has been an outspoken opponent of changes made under current EPA head Scott Pruitt, specifically mentioned the administration's desire to change the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule.

"We see the Clean Water Rule being proposed to be repealed, all that rule really did was do what the Supreme Court and what science told us to do to make sure we are protecting the rivers and streams that are necessary to ensure safe drinking water and fishable and swimmable waters," McCarthy said.

"That is being challenged just because the president told them to do that in an executive order. That's legally not going to hold up."

 

WH ADVISER EXPECTS TRUMP TO REJOIN CLIMATE PACT: The White House has been considering a plan to rejoin the Paris climate agreement by 2020, a former top White House adviser on international energy and environment issues told E&E News Tuesday.

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, who left the White House last week after reportedly learning that he would not be granted a permanent security clearance because of past marijuana use, said that while working with the administration, he had a plan in place for the U.S. to ultimately re-enter the international accord.

"There's nothing in it for the president this year. There's nothing in it for the president next year," Banks said. But in 2020, "he's going to want victories."

Under Banks's proposed plan, prior to the 2020 Group of Seven Summit, Trump would ask Congress to formalize the emissions proposal with legislation.

The idea would be that Trump could escape criticism previously lobbed at President Obama for joining the Paris agreement without consulting the Senate. Additionally, the plan, according to Banks, would essentially put Congress in the driver's seat on climate regulations, taking the power away from the executive to enter future agreements.

"If you want to have some control over the regulatory agenda -- you know, putting regulatory reform aside -- then what you want to do is to have the ability to approve or disapprove the number because that controls what regulation is pursued to implement and make the target a reality," Banks told E&E of the emissions agreement the U.S. would make when reentering the accord. "That's what I would argue. It's in the Republican Party's interest to do that."

Banks said he will promote his plan more openly now that he's no longer in the White House.

"I don't think that U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement can ever be effective without congressional support," he said.

Read more here.

 

GOP SLAMS PROCESS BEHIND LEAD AMMO BAN: Two key House Republicans contend in a Tuesday report that the Obama administration used a rushed, "disorderly" process to ban lead ammunition from hunting on federal land in the final weeks of former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaLive coverage: Gillum clashes with DeSantis in Florida debate Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Republicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat MORE's tenure.

At issue is a director's order from Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe published on Jan. 19, 2017, the last full day of the Obama administration, banning lead ammunition and tackle from federal wildlife refuges and other areas where hunting is allowed.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyRosenstein to appear for House interview next week House GOP sets deposition deadline for Fusion GPS co-founder Collusion bombshell: DNC lawyers met with FBI on Russia allegations before surveillance warrant MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdFormer aides alleging sexual harassment on Capitol Hill urge congressional action AP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Ex-lawmakers see tough job market with trade groups MORE (R-Texas) say their investigation showed that Ashe and his staff skipped many of the usual steps in writing the policy, a process that started less than a month before it was released.

"Documents obtained by the committee show that the Order resulted from a disorderly, last-minute process undertaken by the departing administration in a unilateral attempt to impose a policy that lacked public input and did not cite to scientific support," the committee report said.

The committee said that one man -- adviser Noah Matson -- largely ran the process, with little input from states, hunters' groups and others usually involved in such policies, like communications and law enforcement officials within the FWS.

Furthermore, the FWS skipped steps like publishing the proposed policy in the Federal Register and gathering public comment on it.

Gowdy and Farenthold said the lead ban is an example of why the Congressional Review Act needs to be changed to allow Congress to overturn regulations more easily.

Read more here.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

The state of Minnesota is going to court to try to get 3M to pay $5 billion over alleged water pollution, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

Federal water officials are telling California farmers to expect low water volumes this year, the Sacramento Bee reports.

A Pennsylvania court ruled that the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline isn't subject to local regulation, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

 

OPINION:

- Devin Hartman, electricity policy manager at R Street Institute, and Nicolas Loris, an economist at the Heritage Foundation, say that the Department of Energy should not subsidize energy losers.

-Professors Brent Stephens and Richard Corsi argue that cutting EPA indoor air pollution research will cost lives.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Tuesday and the long weekend ...

-GOP lawmakers: Obama admin 'hastily' wrote lead ammunition ban

-White House: Trump has confidence in VA, EPA chiefs

-Former WH adviser: Trump will want to rejoin Paris climate pact by 2020

-Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class flights

-Obama EPA chief: Trump regulation rollbacks won't hold up legally

-Mich. utility to phase out electricity production by coal by 2040

-Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism

-Pruitt postpones Israel trip amid controversy over first-class travel