Overnight Energy: Lawyer who coined 'lock her up' to get EPA post | Refinery owned by ex-Trump adviser gets biofuels waiver | Lawmakers press Pruitt on emissions standards

Overnight Energy: Lawyer who coined 'lock her up' to get EPA post | Refinery owned by ex-Trump adviser gets biofuels waiver | Lawmakers press Pruitt on emissions standards
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LAWYER WHO COINED 'LOCK HER UP' TO HEAD EPA OFFICE: Michael Stoker, a former Republican Santa Barbara County supervisor and agriculture attorney, will soon head the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regional office that oversees the entire Pacific Southwest, E&E News reported Monday.

Stoker is perhaps best known for coining the "lock her up" chant about Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonState polling problematic — again 4 reasons why Trump can't be written off — yet 'Unmasking' Steele dossier source: Was confidentiality ever part of the deal? MORE when at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

The phrase was then routinely used by President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE to attack Clinton on the campaign trail.

Stoker was also a reported contender for a spot on the National Labor Relations Board.

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He was nominated in January to serve as director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service but never came before the Senate for confirmation.

Stoker's appointment will fill a long-open vacancy in San Francisco's Region 9 office -- the only regional office yet to receive a political appointee from the Trump administration.

The administration has reportedly struggled to find people interested in taking the appointment. In January it was widely expected that Ryan Flynn, an oil and gas lobbyist from New Mexico, would take on the role but he later told the Los Angeles Times that he was staying put.

Read more here.

 

CONGRESSIONAL LETTERS GALORE: Congress is out of session this week but lawmakers aren't slowing down when it comes to their correspondence.

California vehicle emissions: Energy & Commerce Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court upholds permit for B pipeline under Appalachian Trail | Report finds NOAA 'Sharpiegate' statement 'not based on science' but political influence | EPA faces suit over plan to release genetically engineered mosquito Report finds NOAA 'sharpiegate' statement 'not based on science' but political influence Democrats call for green energy relief in next stimulus package MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Hillicon Valley: Experts raise security concerns about online voting | Musk finds supporter in Trump | Officials warn that Chinese hackers targeting COVID-19 research groups Democrats introduce legislation to ensure internet access for college students MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to EPA administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA looks to other statutes to expand scope of coming 'secret science' rule EPA ordered to reconsider New York efforts to tame downwind pollution OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups | Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects| Russian mining giant reports another fuel spill in Arctic MORE Monday expressing concern over reports that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has drafted a rulemaking that would revoke California's waiver that currently allows the state to implement more stringent vehicle emissions standards if it pleases.

The lawmakers argue that the leaked draft contradicts Pruitt's testimony in front of the House last week that EPA was "not at present" looking into revoking the Golden State's waiver.

Read the letter here.

Ethanol blending: A bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to the EPA chief Monday flagging recent comments by President Trump that he will allow the blending of natural gas and 15 percent of ethanol year-round--known as E15. The group of mostly Republican lawmakers said they looked forward to a new regulatory pathway to address the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) issue. Fossil fuel producers have been forbidden from allowing E15 in the summer months because of the negative environmental impact the fuel creates on the ozone in warmer temperatures.

Read the letter here.

 

EPA GIVES WAIVER TO COMPANY OWNED BY Carl IcahnCarl Celian IcahnVacant Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City to be demolished Icahn warns against Cigna-Express Scripts merger Pruitt’s renewable fuel attacks cost him GOP support in Congress MOREA fossil fuel company owned by former Donald Trump adviser and billionaire Carl Icahn received a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meant to help small refineries struggling to meet fuel standards.

The waiver would exempt Icahn's refinery in Oklahoma from the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which could save it tens of millions of dollars, Reuters reported Monday.

With the waiver, Icahn's company, CVR Energy Inc., can avoid compliance with an EPA biofuel regulation that mandates that businesses spend money to mix oil and gas products with ethanol or buy renewable fuel credits.

The Obama administration had denied the refinery an exemption, according to Reuters.

The law requires the EPA to help small refineries that struggle to meet the RFS without severely damaging their bottom line. But critics say that the program allows too many larger refineries to skirt EPA regulations.

Icahn was an early supporter of Trump's candidacy for the presidency. He also reportedly met with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt while Pruitt was being vetted for the job.

An EPA spokesperson said the agency hasn't changed how it vets waiver requests.

"The criteria used to grant waivers has not changed since previous administrations. EPA follows a long-standing, objectively determined process where the Agency uses a Department of Energy analysis to inform decisions about refiner exemptions/waivers, for refineries that are below the statutory threshold," said Jahan Wilcox, EPA spokesman, in a statement. "EPA decisions on waivers are based on refinery-specific information that is subject to confidential business information protections."

The EPA confirmed that since April 24 it has approved 24 and denied one small refinery exemption request. Four requests remain pending. An agency official said that currently 38 U.S. plants would qualify for exemptions.

Read more here.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election Timeline for GOP's Obama probe report slips as chairman eyes subpoenas GOP hunts for 'Plan B' as coronavirus talks hit wall MORE (R-Iowa) opposes the decision: "President Trump committed to a 15 billion gallon annual volume obligation for ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Administrator Pruitt is breaking that commitment. By handing out 'hardship' waivers to highly profitable, big oil refining companies, Administrator Pruitt is undermining the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard," Grassley said in a statement Monday. "He's also breaking his own promise he made to me and several other senators to support the spirit of the law. Hundreds of millions – and in some cases billions – of dollars in profits isn't my definition of 'hardship.' President Trump promised to support home-grown biofuels, and Administrator Pruitt is breaking that promise."

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Environmentalists are launching a lawsuit over sage grouse protections in Idaho and Montana the Star-Telegram reports.

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog MORE helped a local woman jump start her car, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

Signs show that a court might take up a battle between a billionaire and environmentalists over access to California beachfront, the Mercury News reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and over the weekend...

-Australia announces record investment in Great Barrier Reef protection

-Trump to fill West Coast EPA post with lawyer who coined 'lock her up' chant

-Largest US energy grid operator to study too much reliance on natural gas

-EPA grants waiver to oil refinery owned by billionaire ex-Trump adviser: report

-Interior Dept declines to reimplement grizzly protections near Yellowstone: report

-CEO of chemical industry group to step down