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Overnight Energy: Pruitt used security detail to run errands | Dems want probe into Pruitt's Chick-fil-A dealings | Yellowstone superintendent says he was forced out

Overnight Energy: Pruitt used security detail to run errands | Dems want probe into Pruitt's Chick-fil-A dealings | Yellowstone superintendent says he was forced out
© Greg Nash

PRUITT USED SECURITY DETAIL TO BUY LOTION, RUN ERRANDS: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief's search for his favorite lotion took place with his security team in tow, according to a new Washington Post report.

Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA puts science ‘transparency’ rule on back burner Tucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Overnight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports MORE's 24-hour security detail were tasked with running mundane errands for him that included driving Pruitt to locate his favorite lotion at Ritz Carlton Hotels and taking his clothing to the dry cleaner, the Post reported Thursday.

In the lotion search, two sources told the Post, Pruitt directed his agents to drive him to multiple Ritz-Carlton hotel locations in search of his preferred scented substance.

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Pruitt has been criticized by lawmakers for multiple reports of using his staffers' time for personal errands, including sending his scheduler Millan Hupp to look at condos for him and search for a used mattress at the Trump International Hotel.

In testimony given to House committee staff and released to the public this week, Hupp confirmed that she spent hours of her personal and work time helping Pruitt search for a condo -- a quest that she said lasted months. Hupp resigned from her post at the EPA on Wednesday.

Agency spokeswoman Kelsi Daniell said in a statement, "Administrator Pruitt follows the same security protocol whether he's in his personal or official capacity."

An EPA spokesperson clarified that Pruitt's security detail drives him to all errands at his request

We've got more on the latest Pruitt controversy here.

 

Happy Thursday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Over here, everyone is talking about lotion, so were coming to you with a PSA to also remember SPF in this swampy D.C. heat.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

 

DEMS SEEK PROBE INTO PRUITT'S CHICK-FIL-A DEALINGS: Three Democratic senators want the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) internal watchdog to examine reports that Administrator Scott Pruitt used his position to try to get work for his wife.

Democratic Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Hillicon Valley: Officials warn of Chinese influence efforts | Dow drops over 800 points | Tech stocks hit hard | Google appeals B EU fine | James Murdoch may be heading for Tesla | Most Americans worried about election security For everyone’s safety, border agents must use body-worn cameras MORE (N.M.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports Trump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths MORE (Del.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Democrats won’t let Kavanaugh debate die Senate poised to confirm Kavanaugh after bitter fight MORE (R.I.) pointed to news this week that Pruitt tried to get his wife Marlyn Pruitt a Chick-fil-A franchise and successfully got her an event-planning gig. The Democrats say they're concerned that there may be other similar incidents.

"While reviews of public emails have turned up these two instances of Administrator Pruitt pursuing business opportunities for his family, we are concerned that there could be other, as yet unknown, business pursuits as well," they wrote Wednesday to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins.

Elkins's office is already looking into allegations that Pruitt used his staff at EPA for personal tasks, which could violate federal law.

"We would like you to either supplement that investigation or open a new one to review whether the administrator used his position -- acting in his own capacity or through his official staff -- to pursue private business opportunities to enrich himself or any members of his family regarding these two cases and any other financial opportunities for Administrator Pruitt's family," the Democrats wrote.

Pruitt has defended his unsuccessful work to get his wife a franchise of the chicken restaurant owned by an outspoken Christian family.

More on this Pruitt controversy here.

 

YELLOWSTONE SUPERINTENDENT GIVEN ULTIMATUM TO LEAVE: The superintendent of Yellowstone National Park revealed on Thursday that he was being forced out of his post by the Trump administration and that he will be replaced by August.

Superintendent Dan Wenk told The Associated Press that National Park Service acting Director Paul Smith told him that a new superintendent would fill Wenk's position by August.

Wenk cited an ongoing disagreement between himself and Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeHUD official quits amid Interior Department watchdog controversy Overnight Energy: Outdoor retailer Patagonia makes first Senate endorsements | EPA withdraws Obama uranium milling rule | NASA chief sees 'no reason' to dismiss UN climate report Interior Department sued over withholding details on trophy permits, endangered species MORE over the number of bison the park can handle.

"I feel this is a punitive action but I don't know for sure," Wenk told the AP, adding that he was not provided with an official reason for his departure.

Montana ranchers have raised concerns over the number of bison in Yellowstone, citing the risk of disease and overgrazing in portions of the park.

Wenk said that Zinke, who served as a Montana congressman prior to joining the administration, and his staff have argued that the bison population is too high.  

However, Wenk argues that the number of bison, presently more than 4,000, is sustainable.

We explain here.

 

EPA WEIGHING COST-BENEFIT CHANGES: Pruitt floated major changes Thursday to how the agency weighs the benefits and costs of regulations on air pollution and other subjects.

The EPA put out a formal notice that it is soliciting ideas for overhauling its regulatory cost-benefit analysis, heeding requests from industry groups who complained that the Obama administration improperly boosted the benefits and downplayed the costs of the agency's rules.

Why this is big: The initiative could have wide-ranging implications both for future regulatory actions and for rules already on the books, since the agency is specifically asking whether to reexamine existing rules with new standards.

Cost-benefit analysis is often legally required when an agency writes a regulation, and it can dictate whether the agency moves forward in implementing it or scraps it altogether.

But the exact process of cost-benefit analysis is mostly up to the wishes of the administration in charge at the time.

"Many have complained that the previous administration inflated the benefits and underestimated the costs of its regulations through questionable cost-benefit analysis," Pruitt said in a statement.

"This action is the next step toward providing clarity and real-world accuracy with respect to the impact of the agency's decisions on the economy and the regulated community."

We break it down here.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Mike Carr, executive director of New Energy America, says that Iowa could be a renewable energy leader.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

A natural gas pipeline in West Virginia exploded early Thursday, though no one was injured, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports.

The Trans Mountain oil pipeline project that Canada's government recently agreed to buy would allow the country to export its oil to China and reduce its dependence on the United States market, CNBC reports.

Deutsche Bank is looking to sell about $3 billion in energy investments, Bloomberg News reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Thursday...

-Dems seek watchdog probe into Pruitt's Chick-fil-A dealings

-Yellowstone superintendent says Trump administration is replacing him

-Pruitt used security detail to search for his favorite lotion: report

-EPA to consider changing how it weighs costs, benefits of regulations

-Dem presses Trump to get 'Buy American' provisions into water bill

-More than 100 bipartisan lawmakers urge Pruitt to scrap 'secret science' rule

-Coal mogul offered 6 suggested executive orders to Trump

-White House asked Pruitt not to eat lunch at West Wing mess hall so often: report

-$2.5 billion in solar projects canceled or frozen after Trump solar panel tariffs: report

-Judge rules EPA must provide evidence used for Pruitt's climate change claims