Overnight Energy: Pruitt thank you notes largely went to industry | Whistleblower says Pruitt kept secret calendar | Trump to pick long-awaited parks chief

Overnight Energy: Pruitt thank you notes largely went to industry | Whistleblower says Pruitt kept secret calendar | Trump to pick long-awaited parks chief
© Greg Nash

PRUITT'S THANK YOU NOTES GO LARGELY TO INDUSTRY: EPA administrator 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 has a penchant for the old fashioned--seemingly eschewing email for hand written and typed notes he sends via the mail to those he meets with.

About half of the 40 letters and notes sent by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt have gone to the heads of prominent industry groups, according to documents released under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Sierra Club.

Ten of the letters were sent to fossil fuel industry heads -- including notes addressed to BP, Chevron Corp., the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Gas Association.

Other industry heads who received notes from Pruitt include leaders of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and Waste Management.

The released documents cover the period between Feb. 20, 2017, Pruitt's first day in office, to April 10, 2017. The Sierra Club's request is for the EPA to release documents through all of 2017.

Only one Pruitt email was released, suggesting the EPA administrator is not a frequent user of his official email account.

The Sierra Club, which filed a lawsuit to compel the EPA to release information under the FOIA request after it initially missed deadlines, is asking a court to make the EPA certify that Pruitt didn't send any other emails during the 10-month period of the group's request.

Many of the notes to industry representatives were thank-you notes sent to individuals Pruitt indicated he had met with previously either at EPA headquarters or at events where he spoke.

In a typed April 5 letter to Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, an independent oil producer based in Pruitt's home state of Oklahoma, Pruitt wrote, "Truly, visiting with you and our friends with DEPA blessed and encouraged me. I enjoyed the fellowship very much."

Hamm, a longtime ally of Pruitt's, previously introduced the EPA head before a speaking engagement at the Domestic Energy Production Association.

Read more here.

 

In other Pruitt fireworks…

 

EPA WHISTLEBLOWER: PRUITT KEPT SECRET CALENDAR: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and his aides maintained "secret" calendars in order to prevent controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives from getting out publicly, according to a CNN report.

The news outlet reported on Monday that the findings were revealed by a former EPA official who is scheduled to testify before Congress soon.

The report says that EPA staffers consistently met in Pruitt's office to go through a process in which they would either remove or alter records from the EPA chief's calendar. Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff for operations, reportedly said the reasoning for this was because the meetings could "look bad."

The scrubbing led to a noticeable difference between Pruitt's public calendar and what internal EPA schedules and emails show. CNN notes that more than two dozen meetings, events or calls were removed from his public calendar.

Chmielewski, who said he was forced to leave the agency in February because he questioned its spending and management, said some meetings were purposefully omitted from Pruitt's calendar after they happened. For example, Pruitt's meeting with Cardinal George Pell, who faces multiple charges of sexual offenses related to past conduct, was removed from the calendar.

Read more here.

 

Happy Tuesday and (almost) Independence Day! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

While EPA news caused a number of fireworks today, we hope you're gearing up for the real thing tomorrow.

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.

 

TRUMP TO PICK GRAND TETON BOSS AS PARKS CHIEF: President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE is expected to tap David Vela, the superintendent of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, to lead the National Park Service (NPS), Greenwire reported, citing several sources familiar with the matter.

NPS, the Interior Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Vela told the news outlet that he is "deeply humbled by the rumors and speculation and, if true, would be honored to serve."

The Trump administration's agenda for the NPS has centered largely on strategies for tackling its $11.6 billion maintenance backlog.

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Zinke, Lewandowski join Trump veterans’ lobbying firm Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? MORE wants to take a portion of increased energy production revenues and put them toward NPS maintenance. Numerous Republican lawmakers, as well as some Democrats, support the plan.

NPS is currently being led by deputy director P. Daniel Smith, who took over in January from Michael Reynolds, the previous acting director.

Vela would be the NPS's first Hispanic director. He has worked at NPS since 1981, save for an 11-year break to work in other government positions.

Vela has been the top official at Grand Teton and its John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway for four years. He's also worked in a senior position at NPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., and as director of the agency's southeast region.

Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

A company in northern California is moving ahead with a plan to remove four dams on the Klamath River, the Record Searchlight reports.

A federal appeals court overturned the dismissal of a challenge to a fracking ban in the Delaware River basin in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Greenpeace activists flew a Superman drone and another small remote-controlled aircraft into a French nuclear plant Tuesday to bring attention to plant security measures, Euronews reports.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

-William Murray, federal energy manager at the R Street Institute, says that a proposal by oil refineries to increase the octane level of gasoline after 2022 will bridge the ethanol divide.

-Global affairs and energy experts Carolyn Kissane and Emily Medina say the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as Mexico's next president holds significant consequences for the country's energy sector.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

-Trump to pick Wyoming park boss to lead National Park Service: report

-New emails reveal Pruitt exempted Utah oil companies from smog rules

-Judge extends housing assistance for Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricane

-Saudi Arabia ready to boost oil output

-Woman who publicly confronted Pruitt: Officials should want to hear from the public

-Whistleblower says Pruitt kept secret calendar to hide meetings with industry reps: report

-Pruitt's thank-you notes go largely to industry