Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: EPA plans to restrict use of science data for regs | Pruitt’s Italy trip cost more than $84K | Perry insists he’s staying at Energy

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COSTS SOAR FOR PRUITT’S ITALY TRIP: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $30,000 on security related expenses during his travel to Italy last summer, official documents show.

New EPA travel documents show Pruitt’s personal security detail racked up $30,553.80 in travel expenses between June 5 and 12 of last year. Added to previously disclosed costs, the documents put the total taxpayer cost of the trip above $84,000.

During that time period, Pruitt was visiting Italy for meetings at the Vatican and to meet with international energy ministers at a summit. The administrator heavily photographed and tweeted about his time abroad.


Travel vouchers previously obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) put the cost to taxpayers above $53,000 for the Italy trip, but did not include costs for his 24-hour security detail.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the cost for Pruitt’s security detail followed protocol.

“Administrator Pruitt’s security detail followed the same procedures for the G7 environmental meeting in Italy that were used during EPA Administrators Stephen Johnson, Lisa Jackson, and Gina McCarthy’s trips to Italy. EPA’s security procedures have not deviated over the past 14 years,” Wilcox said.

Read more here.


Pruitt’s used his security detail for what?…

Separately Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to EPA’s inspector general asking the watchdog to investigate whether Pruitt’s security detail costs are “excessive or inappropriate and whether it detracts from the agency’s ability to investigate environmental crimes,” according to a letter first reported by the Washington Post.

The letter cited instances where Pruitt used his 24/7 detail on personal travel, including one trip to the Rose Bowl and another to Disneyland.


PRUITT TO TAKE ON ‘SECRET SCIENCE’: The Trump administration is planning to put new restrictions on the kind of scientific studies and data that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can use to craft its regulations.

The EPA wants to stop using scientific findings whose data and methodologies are not public or cannot be replicated, the Daily Caller reported Tuesday.

It aligns in part with a years-long effort by House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to stop the use of “secret science” at the EPA.

Critics have said the effort could hamper the use of health studies for which privacy is a concern, or external studies for which the EPA does not own the data.

“We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record,” Pruitt told the Daily Caller. “Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”

Pruitt said studies completed outside of the EPA could be particularly impacted, but the EPA’s own research might also need to change.

“If we use a third party to engage in scientific review or inquiry, and that’s the basis of rulemaking, you and every American citizen across the country deserve to know what’s the data, what’s the methodology that was used to reach that conclusion that was the underpinning of what — rules that were adopted by this agency,” he told the Daily Caller.

E&E News first reported Pruitt’s intentions Friday, based on a closed-door speech he gave to the conservative Heritage Foundation recently.

Read more here.


PERRY PROMISES TO REMAIN AT ENERGY: Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry promised that he won’t be making moves to take over the Department of Veterans Affairs anytime soon. Speaking to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Tuesday, Perry told members “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Just FYI, I’ll be here, I’m not going anywhere,” Perry told the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

This was the second time Perry denied rumors that he might be replacing VA secretary Richard Shulkin.

Speaking with reporters after a congressional hearing last week, Perry called the idea that he would move to the VA “fake news” and said he is staying at the Energy Department “until the foreseeable future — happily,” The Associated Press reported.


ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The House Natural Resources Committee will vote on four bills in its jurisdiction, relating to federal lands and insular affairs.


ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear from three Nuclear Regulatory Commission members at an oversight hearing on the agency.


Rest of Wednesday’s agenda …

The House Appropriations Committee’s subpanel on Commerce, Justice and Science will hold a hearing on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fiscal 2019 budget request.



McDonald’s Corp. put out its first strategy to fight climate change Tuesday, with a goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by about a third by 2030, Reuters reports.

When air pollution levels hit historic highs in Delhi last year, Indian government officials bought air purifiers for themselves, the Times of India reports.

Mining giant Glencore bought two coal mines in Australia for US $1.7 billion, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.



Check out Tuesday’s stories …

-EPA proposes tweaks to oil refinery pollution rules

-Lawmakers push prevention measures ahead of new wildfire season

-Animal rights groups lodge suit against Interior for new elephant trophy policy

-Cost of Pruitt’s Italy trip rises above $84,000

-Pruitt to restrict the use of data to craft EPA regulations


Tags Disneyland elephant trophy EPA flights Gina McCarthy Interior Department Italy Lamar Smith Maria Cantwell Rick Perry Scott Pruitt Scott Pruitt Security detail Sheldon Whitehouse

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