Overnight Energy — Presented by Chevron — GOP lawmaker says Pruitt should step down | EPA launches smog standard review | Chairman warns of Chinese threat using environmental laws

Overnight Energy — Presented by Chevron — GOP lawmaker says Pruitt should step down | EPA launches smog standard review | Chairman warns of Chinese threat using environmental laws
© Greg Nash

HOUSE REPUBLICAN WANTS PRUITT OUT: Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland House panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales Overnight Energy: Court rules for Trump in environmental case over border wall | House bill would stop Alaska refuge drilling | Ads target Dems over Green New Deal MORE (R-Pa.) joined a handful of his GOP colleagues Monday in calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA to make formal decision on regulating drinking water contaminant | Utility to close coal plant despite Trump plea | Greens say climate is high on 2020 voters’ minds EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Court tosses challenge to EPA's exclusion of certain scientists from advisory boards MORE to step down.

"Yes, I do," Fitzpatrick said at a news conference Monday in Horsham, Pa., when asked if he thinks Pruitt needs to resign.

"My standard for calling for resignations is an [inspector general] report, an IG study, finding some facts, conclusions of law. And there's way too much stuff now," he continued, according to video recorded by activist environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Fitzpatrick said he made his call due to Pruitt's spending and ethics scandals. But he also said "exhibit A" in the case against Pruitt is a study that the EPA allegedly tried to block from public release into the health effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of man-made chemicals that have been found in drinking water sources lately.

In an email made public last month, an unidentified administration official said the PFAS study drafted by a Department of Health and Human Services agency would be a "public relations nightmare" because it would show health harms at a much lower exposure rate than the EPA had previous estimated.

The congressman and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) called their news conference Monday near a military base in suburban Philadelphia where firefighting chemicals containing PFAS have leached into local water supplies.

Fitzpatrick, a freshman, is facing a tough reelection battle this year in a race that election watchers like the Cook Political Report have declared a "toss-up."

A small club: Despite the growing scandals over the past few months, only four other GOP lawmakers have openly said they want Pruitt out: Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor GOP rep will ‘probably’ support measure to back Paris climate pact MORE (Fla.), Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenComstock joins K Street firm Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (Fla.), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikGOP announces members who will serve on House intel panel Bipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals House votes on 10th bill to reopen government MORE (N.Y.) and Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoLoBiondo launches consulting firm Live coverage: House elects new Speaker as Dems take charge The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — George H.W. Bush lies in state | NRCC suffers major hack | Crunch-time for Congress MORE (N.J.).

What it means: As long as the Republican voices calling for Pruitt's ouster are a small minority, he isn't likely to sweat it. Only Trump's opinion matters, and the president has repeatedly made it clear that he has Pruitt's back.

Read more.

 

Happy Monday! 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.

 

 

IT'S OZONE TIME: The EPA is kicking off the process of reviewing the nation's ground-level ozone pollution standard, a project likely to take years.

In a notice due for publication in the Federal Register Tuesday, the EPA says it's taking comments from the public to prepare initial documents for the review. Those documents will lay out the plan for the review process and the scientific literature on ozone, a component of smog.

The review will take place under new standards that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE set in an April memo. He instructed the EPA, when setting new air quality rules, to consider factors like "adverse public health or other effects that may result from implementation" of the rules and the extent to which areas have background levels of the pollutants that aren't caused by human activity.

Both factors have long been pushed by industry in an attempt to get more lenient air pollution standards written.

Inhaling ozone is linked to respiratory ailments like asthma attacks. Since ozone can be created from pollutants caused by burning fossil fuels, states with areas that exceed the federal standard often look to reduce fossil fuel use, an often-expensive proposition.

The EPA last set a new ozone standard in 2015, declaring that 70 parts per billion is the acceptable level for ambient air.

Read more.

 

BISHOP SAYS CHINESE COULD USE ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS AGAINST MILITARY: House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopSenate votes to extend key funding mechanism for parks Republicans push back at first climate hearings Climate change on front burner after 8 years of GOP rule MORE (R-Utah) said Monday that China's government may be using United States environmental laws to thwart the military.

Bishop, speaking Monday on Hill.TV's "Rising," said potential Chinese actions to undermine the military are one of the main focuses of a series of investigations his panel recently launched into U.S.-based environmental groups.

"There is obviously a great deal of concerns," Bishop told host Buck Sexton, adding that some of the green groups "are claiming that they're suing the government once every 10 days."

"Last time I was in the Pacific in some of our territories, we had a briefing from some of the military that simply said the Chinese know our environmental laws and they use them against us," Bishop continued.

"We're trying to explore how deep that actually goes, whether it's something done on purpose or something just by serendipity. But we're trying to see where that takes us," he said.

Bishop and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) launched the project earlier this month with a letter demanding certain documents and answers from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the dominant U.S. group in environmental lobbying.

NRDC fires back: The group denied that it is working on China's behalf.

"NRDC's work, in the United States and elsewhere, serves the public interest. It is directed by our senior leadership and policy experts, accountable to our independent board of trustees and supported by millions of Americans," Bob Deans, the group's director of strategic engagement, said in a statement after Bishop sent his initial letter. "Any suggestion to the contrary is just false."

Read more.

 

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ON TAP TUESDAY:

The World Gas Conference will kick off. Major speakers Tuesday include Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryThe Hill's 12:30 Report: State of the Union takeaways | Sights and sounds from the night | Virginia attorney general admits he wore blackface Energy Secretary Rick Perry is designated survivor for 2019 State of the Union Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union MORE, Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Darren Woods, Chevron Corp. CEO Michael Wirth and Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyCongress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills MORE (R-La.).

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider four nominees for Energy Department positions.

The House Natural Resources Committee's energy and mineral resources subcommittee will hold a hearing on three bills meant to help develop offshore wind energy.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's energy subcommittee will hold a hearing on the geopolitics of oil and natural gas.

The House Oversight Committee's Interior subcommittee will hold a hearing on Forest Service road closures.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Signs regarding the mysterious spike in chlorofluorocarbon emissions point to a rural town in China, The New York Times reports.

Australia is on track to miss its greenhouse gas emissions target under the Paris agreement, the Guardian reports.

Wastewater from Vermont breweries is adding to Lake Champlain's pollution problems, the Associated Press reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

- House Republican says Pruitt should resign

- EPA to consider changes to smog standard

- Emails indicate Pruitt tried to recruit oil execs for EPA jobs

- Oceanic agency head floats removing climate from mission

- GOP chairman takes aim at environmental review law

- GOP chairman: Chinese may use US environmental laws to undermine military

- Pruitt's office discussed hiring friend of his landlord: report

- Five things to know about efforts to repeal Obama's water rule

- Seattle plastic straw ban to take effect next month