Overnight Energy: Zinke grilled on travel, offshore drilling plans | Pruitt says California can't dictate emissions standard | Dems sound off on elephant trophy policy

Overnight Energy: Zinke grilled on travel, offshore drilling plans | Pruitt says California can't dictate emissions standard | Dems sound off on elephant trophy policy
© Greg Nash

ZINKE FACES TOUGH QUESTIONS: Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeMontana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone Overnight Energy: Navajo coal plant to close | NC dam breach raises pollution fears | House panel to examine endangered species bills Navajo-owned coal plant to be shut down despite Interior push to keep open MORE testified in front of the Senate Natural Resources Committee on his agency's fiscal 2019 budget request. But Zinke faced a wide range of questions, pushing back on scrutiny over his travel expenses to his offshore drilling plans, a new policy on importing hunting trophies, and even his proposal to hike fees for national parks.


Zinke says he "never took a private jet anywhere"...

Zinke said it was misleading to say he flew on private jets when he had flown on chartered King Air and prop planes. He argued that saying these were private jets were "insults and innuendos."

Speaking to ranking member Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellPartisan politics at independent agency draws bipartisan rebuke Senators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Poll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade MORE (D-Wash.), Zinke pushed back on her questions over his jet use.


"I resent the fact of your insults, and I resent the fact that you mislead," he said.

Zinke's uses of chartered planes and jets are under investigation by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General.

Read more here.


Florida's offshore drilling exemption is 'different'...

Zinke said his announcement in January to remove Florida from the list of coastal states that might see expanded drilling is due to a unique variety of factors affecting the state.

"Now, Florida's different for three reasons. One is that every member, both sides of the aisle, wrote me an immediate letter, said, 'We don't want it,' " Zinke said responding to a question for Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingRestoring our national parks would be a bipartisan win for Congress Restore our parks Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash MORE (I-Maine) on why Florida was exempt and Maine was not.

"Second is your governor. Governor of Maine is for it. And third, Florida has a federal moratorium in place until 2022, which no other state has."

Zinke added that he initially left Florida on the later of state waters under consideration for drilling because otherwise "it would have been arbitrary and capricious." But he added that the final decision on Florida was "still in the process."

Read more here.


DEMS PRESS ZINKE TO STOP HUNTING TROPHY IMPORTS: Dozens of House Democrats are asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to halt all trophy hunting import decisions for elephants and other species, expressing "deep concern" over the administration's policy.

The 55 lawmakers, led by House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), complained in a Tuesday letter that Interior's decision to consider trophy import licenses on a "case by case" basis reduces transparency and accountability and will allow more imports of animal parts into the country.

The Democrats expressed "deep concern about the continued misguided approach the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is taking regarding the trophy killing of elephants and lions in African countries and the negative implications it has for this imperiled wildlife."

The letter is the latest opposition, from members of both parties, to FWS's decision to repeal a host of species-wide determinations about trophy hunting imports. Such policies must be based on what would help species conservation. Officials now plan to evaluate each import application individually.

"The American public is tired of this administration constantly pulling a bait-and-switch, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE tweeting one thing to appease the public and the administration reversing course to meet the demands of big industry and the [National Rifle Association]," the lawmakers said, referring to Trump's tweets last year calling trophy hunting a "horror show."

Read more here.


PRUITT SAYS CALIFORNIA CAN'T DICTATE VEHICLE EMISSIONS RULES: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE said that when it comes to determining new federal vehicle emission standards, California doesn't have the right to lead.

Speaking to Bloomberg News on Tuesday, Pruitt said, "California is not the arbiter of these issues."

The Golden State currently regulates its own greenhouse gas emissions at the state level. In the past, the state's desire to implement higher emissions standards than those that are federally mandated led it to make a deal with the Obama administration for an exemption.

But Pruitt said that California "shouldn't and can't dictate to the rest of the country" what emissions levels might be.

"We want to hear from those folks in California and hear from the political leadership and try to make some informed decisions, but also say at the same time, we have a job to do," Pruitt told Bloomberg. "We're going to do our job. And if there are steps being taken to impede that, we'll have to address that."

In January, Pruitt said he supported a national fuel standard, sparking speculation he would do away with the waiver system that lets states set tougher requirement.

Read more here.


ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a vote on six bills regarding federal land.


ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: The American Council On Renewable Energy will hold its annual Renewable Energy Policy Forum. Major speakers will include Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski says she’ll wait until Ford testifies before making decision on Kavanaugh Alaska gov, lieutenant gov come out against Kavanaugh The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh MORE (R-Alaska), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Rob Powelson, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: NYT says Rosenstein wanted to wear wire on Trump | Twitter bug shared some private messages | Vendor put remote-access software on voting machines | Paypal cuts ties with Infowars | Google warned senators about foreign hacks Overnight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Google says senators' Gmail accounts targeted by foreign hackers MORE (D-Ore.), Energy Department Undersecretary for Energy Mark Menezes and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Senate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents MORE (D-R.I.).


Rest of Wednesday's agenda ...

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Trump's infrastructure proposal, featuring Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryPartisan politics at independent agency draws bipartisan rebuke Overnight Energy: House panel approves park funding, offshore drilling bills | Green group putting M into races | Perry applauds Russia boosting oil production Perry welcomes efforts by Russia, OPEC to boost oil production MORE, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Kathy Griffin offers her guesses on anti-Trump op-ed author A fuel-economy change that protect freedom and saves lives MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossWilbur Ross ordered to give deposition in 2020 census case: report The seafood trade deficit is a diversionary tactic Wilbur Ross is wrong; the pain from the trade war is coming MORE, Labor Secretary Alex AcostaRene (Alex) Alexander AcostaHow private sector can fight opioid epidemic Federal mine safety official accused Trump of illegally putting miners in danger Here are the administration officials who have denied they wrote the anonymous NYT op-ed MORE and Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueAdministration announces plan to streamline oil and gas extraction in national forests The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — How will Obama impact the midterms? Here are the administration officials who have denied they wrote the anonymous NYT op-ed MORE.

The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the Energy Department's national laboratories, featuring leaders from a handful of the labs.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on a GOP bill meant to ease various environmental compliance obligations for agriculture.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy will continue its annual Energy Innovation Summit.



Elections officials in the county surrounding Youngstown, Ohio, won't let an anti-fracking measure onto the ballot this year, WFMJ reports.

Federal officials have set out the timeline to consider Alaska's proposed liquefied natural gas export project, KTOO reports.

Virginia regulators have rejected Dominion Energy's request to block testimony from an expert retained by environmentalists in a proceeding regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.



Anders Åslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, writes that Russia's reasons for expanding its pipelines are political.



Check out Tuesday's stories ...

-Pruitt: California 'can't dictate to the rest of the country' on fuel emissions

-Zinke defends Florida offshore drilling exemption

-Dems push Zinke to halt trophy hunting imports

-Zinke: I never took a private jet anywhere

-EPA to finish reviewing claims from Colorado mine spill this month