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Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos

Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos
© Greg Nash

PRUITT: TOXIC SPILL RULE 'UNNECESSARY': The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday formally proposed that it does not need to write a new regulation to limit spills of toxic waste into waterways.

The announcement follows a 2016 settlement in which the EPA agreed to formally consider such a regulation under the Clean Water Act for hazardous substances discharges.

"After engaging the public and analyzing the best available data, EPA believes that additional regulatory requirements for hazardous substances discharges would be duplicative and unnecessary," EPA head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittMcConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant EPA puts science ‘transparency’ rule on back burner Tucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him MORE said in a statement.

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"If finalized, the proposed rule would give the regulated community the clarity and certainty they need to continue to uphold the law and ensure the nation's waterways are protected."

The Environmental Justice Health Alliance and others had sued the EPA in 2015, saying that it never completed its legally required regulatory process on hazardous waste spills as Congress directed four decades ago.

That group slammed the EPA's decision not to regulate.

"Administrator Pruitt decided again today to side with corporate polluters over the public's health and safety -- and especially the health and safety of people of color and low-income families," Michele Roberts, national co-coordinator of group, said in a statement.

"Protecting our water supplies is an increasingly important priority for Americans, and this decision to do nothing about the countless toxic chemical storage tanks which might poison our water puts our communities at undue risk."

Why it matters: Thursday's action should come as little surprise. It corresponds with Pruitt's longstanding preference to avoid regulating when possible.

But once the EPA finalizes the action -- after 60 days of public comment and analyzing those comments -- Pruitt is very likely to face lawsuits from environmentalists and others who want the regulation and believe EPA's decision was flawed.

Read more.

 

Happy Thursday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

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.

 

SENATE BLOCKS WATER RULES REPEAL: The Senate voted Thursday to block a measure by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist Senators warn Trump that Saudi relationship is on the line MORE (R-Utah) that would have repealed former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaLive coverage: Gillum clashes with DeSantis in Florida debate Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Republicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat MORE's landmark water pollution rule.

The amendment would have prohibited funding in a major spending bill from being used by the Army Corps of Engineers to enforce the Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States.

The rule was developed alongside the Environmental Protection Agency. Multiple federal courts have put it on hold, and the Trump administration is working to repeal it.

Senators voted 62 to 34 to table the amendment, effectively blocking it.

Republicans have consistently opposed the water rule, but 20 GOP senators voted with most Democrats block Lee's amendment, since it would break a deal that Senate Appropriations Committee leaders made to avoid controversial policy provisions in spending bills.

"I have no doubt about it, I can't find many people on this side of the aisle who approved of the Waters of the United States regulation of the previous administration," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellEx-lawmaker urges Americans to publicly confront officials Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Democrats slide in battle for Senate MORE (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor.

"It's on the way to the ash heap of history right now under this administration. So this is not about Waters of the United States or whether we are for it or against it. This is about whether we want to get away from annual omnibus appropriation bills, and this is the first test here," he said, referring to the process of passing spending bill as massive packages, written in conference negotiations.

Lee nonetheless pushed ahead.

"It is not unusual to have policy in an appropriations bill. It happens with some regularity."

Read more.

 

Dems don't want environmental riders: Most of the Senate's Democratic caucus -- 38 Democrats and two independents -- signed into a letter Thursday that pushes for the Senate to keep appropriations bills this year free of environmental riders as they continue to work through the legislative process.

They want the Appropriations Committee leaders, Sens. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDisasters become big chunk of U.S. deficit Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Florida politics play into disaster relief debate MORE (R-Ala.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE (D-Vt.), to maintain their pact to avoid riders.

"As you know, the inclusion of such unrelated policy riders has undermined the Senate's ability over the years to pass appropriations bills," they wrote.

"To help maintain regular order and to ensure bipartisan support, we urge you to keep the FY 2019 appropriations bills free of controversial anti-environmental policy riders."

Read the letter.

 

EPA SPENT THOUSANDS ON 'TACTICAL' PANTS AND POLOS FOR PRUITT SECURITY: EPA spent nearly $3,000 on "tactical pants" and "tactical polos" for Pruitt's security apparatus, according to new disclosures cited Wednesday by The Intercept.

Records obtained by the outlet through the Freedom of Information Act show that Pruitt spent $2,749.62 on the clothing items as part of his security expenditures.

The disclosures showed that Pruitt spent a $288,610 on various security items, bringing the total amount of public money Pruitt has spent on security items to $4.6 million.

The amount marks a $1.1 million increase from the administrator's security costs from last month, according to the outlet.

The director of the EPA's Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training, Henry Barnet, told The Hill that the purchases were routine for the department's security personnel.

"These are routine expenditures for our Criminal Investigative Division (CID) and Protective Security Detail (PSD) agents to have proper attire for search warrants, arrests, disaster responses, and training. This attire is not used for protection work," Barnet said in a statement.

Read more.

 

ON TAP FRIDAY:

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's environment subcommittee will hold a hearing on the roll of advanced biofuels in the EPA's Renewable Fuels Standard.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

The lava lake at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is gone, thanks to the Kilauea volcano's eruption, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The CEO of Crescent Petroleum says the oil industry needs "another Iraq or North Sea" worth of oil every year to satisfy demand, CNBC reports.

Thirteen bald eagles mysterious found dead in Maryland in 2016 were poisoned by a banned chemical, The Washington Post reports.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Mike Carr, executive director of New Energy America, says even the GOP wants Scott Pruitt out.

Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, previews the OPEC meeting, arguing that Russia and Saudi Arabia are running the show.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday's stories ...

- Senate blocks bid to stop Obama water rule

- Mining set to begin in land Trump removed from national monument

- EPA says no new rule needed on toxic waste spills

- Trump to Puerto Rico governor: I think we've helped you a lot

- Pamela Anderson urges Putin to abandon plans to capture orcas

- Utility expects $2.5B in costs from California wildfires

- GOP senators call for probe of federal grants on climate change

- New disclosures show Pruitt spent nearly $3K on 'tactical' pants and polos: report