Overnight Energy: Interior sending officers to southern border | Dem AGs want EPA to halt plan restricting use of science | EPA documents show secrecy push

Overnight Energy: Interior sending officers to southern border | Dem AGs want EPA to halt plan restricting use of science | EPA documents show secrecy push
© Greg Nash

INTERIOR TO SEND OFFICERS TO HELP BORDER PATROL: The Interior Department is sending its law enforcement officers to help the Department of Homeland Security secure the U.S.– Mexico border, according to an internal email obtained by The Hill.

The announcement from the U.S. Park Police (USPP) Planning Unit and National Park Service (NPS), sent last Thursday, says that officers from both agencies will assist the Border Patrol along the southwest border starting May 13 as part of "Secretary [Ryan] Zinke's offer of assistance to the Department of Homeland Security."

USPP officers are traditionally tasked with policing NPS property around Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco.

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The details: According to the guidance, officers will be sent in rotating groups and spend "approximately 21 days" at two national park and monument sites located on the U.S.–Mexico border: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and Amistad National Recreation Area in Texas.  

Who is going?: Interior will "most likely" be first sending in officers that are part of the department's two emergency management units -- the NPS Special Event Tactical Team (SETT) and USPP Emergency Support Functions (ESF)-13, the guidance said.

Read more here.

 

DEMS PUSH PRUITT TO HIT BRAKES ON SCIENCE PLAN: Eight Democratic attorneys general are pushing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA rule proposes to expand limitations on scientific studies Overnight Energy: Fight between EPA watchdog, agency lawyers heats up | Top EPA official under investigation over document destruction | DOJ issues subpoenas to automakers in California emissions pact Top EPA official under investigation in document destruction MORE to stop his proposal to restrict the science the agency could use in writing and enforcing regulations.

The group, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), hinted that they might sue the EPA if it moves forward with the rule that they and other critics say is an attempt to stop the EPA from using some major findings on health, pollution and other issues.

"In light of the far-reaching impact the proposal could have on EPA's mission to protect public health and the environment, we ask that you withdraw the proposed rule and convene a process to first consult with the National Academy of Sciences and other independent scientists and science organizations before deciding whether any proposed changes to EPA's current use of scientific evidence are in order," they wrote.

Background: The proposal released last month sought to improve transparency in scientific decisionmaking and stop the use of "secret science." Scientific findings and data used by the EPA would have to be reproducible and completely available to anyone wishing to scrutinize it.

Read more here.

 

EPA DOCS SHINE LIGHT ON SECRECY PUSH: New internal EPA documents are shedding light on the agency's attempts to keep Administrator Scott Pruitt's activities secret, especially before they take place.

The documents, first reported on Monday by The New York Times and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Sierra Club, also show that EPA staff often frame potential reporters or attendees at events as either "friendly" or "unfriendly."

In one example, in planning an Iowa event on Pruitt's work to roll back an Obama administration water pollution rule, a cattle farmer helping to organize the event told the EPA that he was planning it as a "town hall meeting," which would allow attendees to ask questions.

"With a crowd of 300 people plus open press, we have to stick with the questions we currently have," Pruitt's scheduling director, Millan Hupp, replied, the documents show.

"My sincere apologies for causing any difficulty but we cannot do open q&a from the crowd."

Read more here.

Pruitt's former chief bodyguard pushes back: The former head of Pruitt's security detail is pushing back on reports that he was responsible for the escalation in security spending for the EPA head.

Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta, who retired last week, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that his alleged role is a "false narrative," like many in recent weeks surrounding Pruitt.

"I believe at the end of the day these are disgruntled employees, staffers who for whatever reason decided to air false, dirty laundry to the press and it received some traction," Perrotta said of the news. "But as time will go forward and information is uncovered on the various allegations, people will realize they were falsified and intentionally used to mislead the American people."

"These people just wanted to create a false narrative," he said.

Perrotta has been accused of pushing agency officials to let Pruitt buy first-class tickets on the taxpayers' dime, get Pruitt a new SUV, hire a private Italian security firm for $30,000 and other steps in the name of security.

The agency has defended the unprecedented security by pointing to what they say have been unprecedented threats directed toward the EPA head.

 

SHIMKUS EXPECTS EASY HOUSE PASSAGE OF YUCCA BILL: Rep. John ShimkusJohn Mondy ShimkusShimkus announces he will stick with plan to retire after reconsidering Shimkus says he's reconsidering retirement Shimkus says he's been asked to reconsider retirement MORE (R-Ill.) expects that the House will vote this week to easily pass his bill aimed at getting the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site built.

The bill passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 49 to 4 last year, and Shimkus, who chairs the panel's subcommittee on environment, thinks a similar margin will pass the bill later this week on the House floor.

"I think people are ready to do something, rather than nothing," he told reporters Monday. "I'm expecting a pretty good vote.

The bill would take numerous steps to move along the Yucca process that Congress first called for in 1987. It would establish a new office at the Energy Department to shepherd the process, make utility ratepayer fees go straight to a fund to pay for it, complete a land transfer from the Department of Defense and authorize interim facilities to temporarily store waste while it is being built.

The project has long faced opposition from Nevada leaders. Reps. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenHillicon Valley: Facebook to remove mentions of potential whistleblower's name | House Dems demand FCC action over leak of location data | Dem presses regulators to secure health care data Senators introduce bill to create 'parity' among broadband programs Senators introduce cybersecurity workforce expansion bill MORE (D-Nev.) and Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus KihuenMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Nevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 MORE (D-Nev.) both plan to introduced amendments meant to stop the project.

What about the Senate? But Shimkus is less sure about the Senate. Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.) is up for reelection this year, and Senate leaders are unlikely to force him to vote on the project he opposes.

"I think they're going to be excited about a big, bipartisan bill that comes through," Shimkus said sarcastically when asked about what the Senate will do when the House sends the legislation to the upper chamber.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

The New York Times reports on the battle between Patagonia and the Trump administration.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is willing to go all out in his fight against offshore oil and natural gas drilling, including leading a "citizen fleet," the New York Post reports.

Greens are warning that a proposed merger of two major United Kingdom grocery chains would be destructive to the environment, the Guardian reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and over the weekend.

-Interior sending officers to assist patrolling the US, Mexico border

-Dem AGs ask Pruitt to halt 'transparency' proposal to restrict EPA science

-Documents show EPA secrecy push under Pruitt

-Pruitt aides' scrutiny of public records requests slowing releases: report

-Upheaval at Pruitt's EPA as departures mount