Overnight Energy & Environment

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 Zinke 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 Cantwell (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 King (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 Trump 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 Pruitt 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 Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Rob Powelson, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Energy Department Undersecretary for Energy Mark Menezes and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (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 Perry, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

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


Tags Alex Acosta Angus King Cars Donald Trump Elaine Chao elephant trophy emissions EPA gas Lisa Murkowski Maria Cantwell Offshore drilling oil private jets Rick Perry Ron Wyden Ryan Zinke Scott Pruitt Sheldon Whitehouse Sonny Perdue Wilbur Ross

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video