Overnight Energy — Presented by Chevron — Court says Trump officials overstepped authority by delaying emissions fines | EPA chief meets California regulators | Latest on Zinke, Pruitt ethics controversies

Overnight Energy — Presented by Chevron — Court says Trump officials overstepped authority by delaying emissions fines | EPA chief meets California regulators | Latest on Zinke, Pruitt ethics controversies
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COURT SAYS OFFICIALS EXCEEDED AUTHORITY BY DELAYING EMISSION PENALTIES: Federal appeals judges said Friday that the Trump administration "exceeded its statutory authority" when it moved to indefinitely delay fines for car companies who broke an Obama-era fuel efficiency rule.

A judge for the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to delay the rule in July 2017 was "incompatible" with the law.

"The purpose of the Act is simply incompatible with the notion of indefinite delay, given that the primary objective was to correct for decades of inaction," the court wrote in its opinion.


The New York City–based court ruled in April that the Department of Transportation's (DOT) argument that they had jurisdiction to indefinitely delay the rule while working to repeal the regulation was not legal.

The three-judge panel of the court said it would issue a fully explained opinion "in due course." That opinion was released Friday.

The judges in their opinion disagreed with the NHTSA's multiple claims that the DOT had the authority to suspend the penalties, writing: "None of these arguments persuades us."

"NHTSA offers no authority--statutory or otherwise--for the proposition that an agency has authority to delay a rule because it is engaged in a separate process of reconsideration," the judges wrote. "As the D.C. Circuit 9 recently held, a decision to reconsider a rule does not simultaneously convey authority to indefinitely delay the existing rule pending that reconsideration."

Read more here.

Here's the opinion.




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

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 | Commerce Department led 'flawed process' on Sharpiegate, watchdog finds | EPA to end policy suspending pollution monitoring by end of summer Watchdog: EPA hasn't provided 'sufficient justification' for decision not to recover Pruitt travel spending OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change MORE and Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog Overnight Energy: Trump officials may pursue offshore drilling after election, report says | Energy regulators to delay projects pending appeals | EPA union calls for 'moratorium' on reopening plans MORE both had busy Fridays this week. Pruitt capped off his with meetings out west with the California Air Resources Board, likely discussing the forthcoming new EPA rule on vehicle emissions. Zinke meanwhile keynoted this morning's address at the World Gas Conference, where he talked about "Innovation to drive the energy industry forward."

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.


PRUITT MEETS WITH CALIFORNIA REGULATOR: In other car efficiency rule news, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt met with California's top air regulator on greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars.

Pruitt is in San Francisco on Friday, and the agency said his plans include meetings with regional EPA staff based there and with Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board.

The two regulators planned "to talk about a host of issues including cooperative federalism, car and truck greenhouse gas standards, and [National Ambient Air Quality Standards]," EPA spokeswoman Kelsi Daniell said, referring to the main EPA regulator program on air quality.

Pruitt is expected to announce soon whether he will seek to revoke California's unique authority to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars sold there, separately from the EPA's federal standards.

Pruitt tweeted Friday that it was a "good meeting." "Cooperative federalism means engaging on issues important to states, even when we don't always see eye to eye. Every state's perspective is important."

Nichols stood strong in her own tweet afterward.

"We may have bonded over baked goods but the conversation was all business because we're not backing up or slowing down on #cleanercars & #climateaction," she wrote.

The EPA didn't respond to requests for comment after the meeting.

Read more.


THE WEEK THAT WAS:  The past week saw some new developments in controversies surrounding Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, as well as some movement on regulatory and deregulatory actions from the EPA.

The EPA released some new internal emails under the Freedom of Information Act over the last weekend. They revealed new interactions between the lobbyist husband of Pruitt's landlord and the EPA, and an allegation that Pruitt asked oil executives to help him fill EPA jobs and other developments.

Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - States are pausing reopening Democrats release bilingual ads on police reform bill MORE (R-Pa.), meanwhile, became the fifth Republican lawmaker to call for Pruitt's ouster, over allegations that he tried to bury a report about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water.

Over at Interior, the controversy over Zinke's involvement with a land deal that included former Halliburton Chairman David Lesar is now under investigation by the inspector general.

Meanwhile, Pruitt kept up with his deregulatory agenda.


Just Friday, EPA said it wouldn't write a new rule to comply with the "good neighbor" clean air requirement for the 2008 rule on ozone pollution.

Pruitt also said he would seek to limit the EPA's authority to stop water pollution permits either before the permit is applied for or after it is issued.



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Attorneys for two state officials charged in the Flint, Mich., water crisis say their clients did their jobs, MLive reports.

Paint manufacturers withdrew a controversial California ballot measure that would have established a $2 billion bond to pay for lead paint remediation and similar hazards, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Norway's government is putting 145 million kroner (17.8 million USD) to fight forest crime, the Guardian reports.



Check out Friday's stories ...

-EPA says it doesn't need new 'good neighbor' air pollution rule

-Court: Trump administration exceeded authority by delaying emissions penalties

-Dem calls for hearings on allegations Pruitt retaliated against staffers

-Pruitt to meet with California air regulator amid car rules debate