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Overnight Energy: Trump still has confidence in Pruitt | Pruitt headed back to Capitol Hill | Trump sits down with automakers

Overnight Energy: Trump still has confidence in Pruitt | Pruitt headed back to Capitol Hill | Trump sits down with automakers

TRUMP SAYS HE HAS CONFIDENCE IN PRUITT: President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE told reporters Friday that he still has confidence in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Democratic lawmaker calls for DOJ investigation of entire Trump administration MORE amid continuing ethics and spending controversies.

Asked by CNN's Ryan Nobles at a White House meeting with Pruitt, automaker executives and others whether he has confidence in the EPA head, Trump responded, simply, "Yes, I do."

Democrats, environmentalists and even some White House officials such as chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE have pushed Trump to fire Pruitt amid a slew of ethics and spending controversies.

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But Trump has thus far repeatedly stood by the embattled EPA chief. Pruitt's aggressive deregulatory agenda -- including ongoing work to roll back emissions rules for cars -- has continued to please conservatives and Trump.

"The president is pleased with the job that he is doing as EPA administrator," White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters on Thursday. "However the issues that have been raised -- I think you guys are all familiar with -- they have raised some concerns and we are hopeful and expecting that Administrator Pruitt will be able to answer those."

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About the auto exec powwow: The remarks came at the beginning of a meeting with 10 automaker executives, which Trump said would touch on the administration's efforts regarding fuel economy regulations and his desire to get more cars produced in the United States.

A proposal that leaked last month said the administration wanted to freeze standards in 2020, rolling back the Obama administration's plan to keep ramping up the standards.

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"We're working on CAFE standards, environmental controls," Trump told reporters. "We're working on how to build more cars in the United States. We have a great capacity for building. We're importing a lot of cars, and we want a lot of those cars to be made in the United States."

The heads of Washington's two main automaker associations were pretty tight-lipped about the substance of the meeting in a statement afterward.

"We thank President Trump for inviting us to the White House to discuss the automotive sector. He is passionate about our industry and we appreciate his interest and shared commitment to American jobs and the economy," the Auto Alliance's Mitch Bainwol and Global Automakers' John Bozzella said in their joint statement.

"The administration will soon issue a range of proposals for future fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations, and we look forward to reviewing their notice of rulemaking and providing comments along with other stakeholders. We also appreciate the president's openness to a discussion with California on an expedited basis."

 

NEXT WEEK: PRUITT BACK ON CAPITOL HILL: Scott Pruitt is due to return to Capitol Hill for a hearing next week on the EPA's budget.

He'll testify Wednesday to the Senate Appropriations Committee's subpanel for EPA and the Interior Department, which is chaired by Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump administration denies permit for controversial Pebble Mine Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (R-Alaska).

It'll be Pruitt's first Senate appearance since his series of high-profile ethics controversies started becoming public in March. Pruitt faced House lawmakers in a pair of hearings last month, when the controversies were high on the agenda but appeared to walk away relatively unscathed. Previously House Republicans appeared to be turning on the administrator whose controversies splashed across news shows for weeks, but most seemed satisfied with his appearance and promises to learn from previous mistakes.

Next week's panel of Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallFormer Sen. Carol Moseley Braun stumps for Interior post: 'A natural fit for me' Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline MORE (D-N.M.), are likely to use the hearing to continue to grill Pruitt on his spending and ethics decisions especially in the wake of four key political employees at the agency resigning.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is putting nearly $100 million into a new effort against wildfires, Capital Public Radio reports.

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China's environmental watchdog is preparing to crack down on dumping waste on soil and in water, Reuters reports.

The United States' oil rig count rose for the sixth straight week, MarketWatch reports.

 

RECAPPING THE WEEK:

The New York Times published EPA documents detailing threats to Scott Pruitt, who has used safety concerns to justify his spending on first-class travel and extra security. One of the nation's top lobbying groups for automakers urged the administration to keep raising fuel efficiency standards. Senators who met with Trump said that he is backing changes to the ethanol mandate. Democratic states asked a court to issue a ruling on Obama's landmark climate change rule. The House voted to advance the nuclear waste storage project at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. And California became the first state to mandate solar panels on new homes.

 

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Friday's stories ...

-EPA: Pruitt's meeting with Cardinal charged with sexual assault was not a 'one-on-one' dinner

-Trump says he still has confidence in Pruitt

-Trump to meet with automakers on push to relax efficiency rules