FEATURED:

Overnight Energy: Pruitt gone, but investigations remain | Interim EPA chief called Trump a 'bully' in 2016 | Court rules for greens in air pollution case

Overnight Energy: Pruitt gone, but investigations remain | Interim EPA chief called Trump a 'bully' in 2016 | Court rules for greens in air pollution case
© Youtube screenshot

WHAT'S NEXT FOR PRUITT INVESTIGATIONS?: 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 has left the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but that doesn't necessarily mean an end to the congressional and federal investigations that contributed to his downfall as head of the agency.

The issue: Pruitt was facing dozens of probes by the agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG), the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and others.

What we know: The House Oversight Committee confirmed that it will continue its investigation into Pruitt's lavish travel and security spending, as well as his below-market-rate apartment rental from a lobbyist. The EPA's Office of Inspector General, meanwhile, says it hasn't decided whether to pursue its pending investigations.

What to watch for: Some of the Pruitt probes are likely to proceed but probably not at the same pace or with the same fervor. And for the IG, it will be hard to carry out any punishment now that Pruitt has left.

We break down the state of Pruitt's ethics probes here and look at what is next.

 

EPA'S WHEELER THOUGHT TRUMP WAS A 'BULLY': The incoming interim head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the campaign called President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE a "bully" who "really hasn't been that successful" in business.

Andrew Wheeler, who has been the EPA's deputy administrator since April and will soon be acting administrator thanks to Scott Pruitt's resignation, wrote the comments in a February 2016 Facebook post.

In the post, Wheeler, a former energy lobbyist, wrote a six-part condemnation of Trump. It included comments that "no one really knows what his political beliefs are," "he doesn't really understand how government works," "he has more baggage then all other Republican candidates combined" and "he is a bully."

At the time, Wheeler supported Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Meghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family The Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump MORE (R-Fla.) for president. But he told The Washington Post, which first uncovered the blog post last year, that he came to support Trump later in 2016, after Rubio exited the race, when Trump spoke at an event hosted by coal mining company Murray Energy Corp., one of his lobbying clients.

"I made those comments during my time working on the Rubio presidential campaign," Wheeler said in a statement to The Hill. "In June 2016, I attended a speech from then candidate Donald Trump in Wheeling, WV. He gave a 40-minute energy speech where he didn't use notes or a teleprompter. And as I have stated previously it was the most comprehensive energy speech by a presidential candidate I had ever heard. I then joined the Trump campaign and worked on environmental policy for him."

Why it matters, or doesn't: Wheeler is far from the first Trump administration official to have vocally denounced Trump during the rough 2016 primary campaign.

Pruitt, who had supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, called Trump an "empty vessel" on the Constitution and feared that with him in the White House, "there may be a very blunt instrument as the voice of the Constitution." Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: Political appointee taking over as Interior IG | Change comes amid Zinke probe | White Houses shelves coal, nuke bailout plan | Top Dem warns coal export proposal hurts military The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump, Stormy Daniels trade fire on Twitter | Three weeks to midterms | Pompeo meets Saudi king White House shelves rescue plan for coal, nuclear: report MORE, who was another primary opponent of Trump's, called him a "cancer on conservatism."

By all appearances, former Trump foes can, in the president's eyes, redeem themselves.

Read more on Wheeler's remarks here.

 

Happy Friday! 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.

 

GREEN VICTORY IN BRICK MAKERS CASE: A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that parts of the EPA's latest air pollution rule for brick makers doesn't go far enough.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit accepted arguments from environmental groups, saying that the EPA acted improperly when it downplayed cancer risks from certain pollutants and set low pollutant thresholds for hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride emissions.

The three-judge panel also completely rejected arguments from the brick and tile industries that the 2015 rule was too strong.

While the Obama administration wrote the rule and denied petitions in 2016 to rewrite it, the Trump administration defended it in court and has so far resisted pressure from the brick and tile industries to change it.

Central to the judges' decision is their conclusion that while the EPA's final rule might have set acceptable standards, the agency did not properly justify them.

"The EPA has not provided a sufficient record to determine that there is no cancer risk," Judge David Sentelle, appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan, wrote for the unanimous court.

"This is not merely a situation in which the EPA relies on the results of scientific studies that were unable to demonstrate a cancer risk to 'prove a negative.' Rather, the EPA relies on the lack of any significant studies," he wrote.

Read more on the court's ruling here.

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK: Congress comes back to town next week, just in time for questions about Pruitt's resignation and replacement.

Here's what's going on:

- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's subcommittee on national parks will hold a hearing Wednesday on the Restore Our Parks Act, which would use a portion of revenue from energy development on federal land to boost funding for national parks.

- The full Energy Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on interstate infrastructure for natural gas and electricity.

- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on low-cost infrastructure loans and "the long-term value to U.S. taxpayers."

- The House Natural Resources will hold a markup Wednesday on six bills pertaining to federal land, wildlife and American Indian affairs.

- The Natural Resources Committee's water, power and oceans subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday on four bills on federal water and electricity infrastructure.

- The Natural Resources Committee's federal land subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday on grazing on federal lands.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Southern California braces for record-breaking heat wave, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Hurricane Beryl has formed in the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2018 season, NPR reports.

The director of the Arizona Corporation Commission resigned amid conflict-of-interest concerns, AZCentral.com reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Friday's stories ...

-Greens win court case seeking stronger air pollution rules for brick makers

-Interim EPA chief called Trump a 'bully' during campaign

-EPA officials claim political interference in cancer-causing chemical study: report