Overnight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate

Overnight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate
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GO WEST, YOUNG CABINET SECRETARIES: Four of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE's Cabinet secretaries are escaping the Washington, D.C., August summer heat and heading west for some energy and environment related events.

 

Zinke, Perdue plug 'active' forest management while touring California wildfires: Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Big-game hunters infuriated by Trump elephant trophy debacle Interior moves ahead with opening wildlife refuge next to contaminated nuclear site MORE and Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueAdministration announces plan to streamline oil and gas extraction in national forests The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — How will Obama impact the midterms? Here are the administration officials who have denied they wrote the anonymous NYT op-ed MORE were in California on Monday to promote more aggressive forest management as a solution for the fierce, deadly wildfires in the Golden State.

The secretaries, who together oversee the federal government's main land management agencies, want policies to make it easier to clear brush, log for timber and conduct prescribed burns, without the threat of litigation that they say has slowed such management.

"I've heard the climate change argument back and forth. This has nothing to do with climate change. This has to do with active forest management," Zinke told Sacramento station KCRA in an interview, pushing back against scientists and California leaders who say climate change impacts like drought are exacerbating fires.

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"It doesn't matter whether you believe or don't believe in climate change. What is important is we manage our forests," he told reporters while visiting the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area on Sunday. "This is not a debate about climate change. There's no doubt the [fire] season is getting longer, the temperatures are getting hotter."

 

The big picture: Environmentalists have been pushing back on that argument and accuse the Trump administration of trying to push a massive increase in logging.

Republicans have been pushing "active" forest management for years and accusing greens of risking lives and property.

But now is a particularly important time for the debate, with Congress working on a new farm bill. The House version, as Miranda reported this weekend, includes numerous provisions to ease brush clearing and logging.

 

Sanders hits back at Zinke: Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump rips 'ridiculous' spending bill | FBI dragged into new fight | Latest on Maryland shooting Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE (I-Vt.) criticized Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Monday for saying that the debate over California's wildfires has "nothing to do with climate change."

"No, Secretary Zinke. The record-breaking wildfires in California have everything to do with climate change," Sanders tweeted.

"We must confront the reality that climate change is already destroying tens of thousands of lives, and take concrete steps to avoid its worst consequences."

More on Sanders here.

 

Zinke hits back at protesters: Tweets from Zinke and Perdue show the two meeting with federal, state and local officials, firefighters, fire survivors and others.

Earlier in Zinke's visit, he criticized a protester at a Friday event where he was speaking.

"You know what? You haven't served and you don't understand what energy is. I'd like to see your child have to fight for energy," he said when the protester challenged him on the link between climate change and fires, according to the Huffington Post.

Read more.

 

Happy Monday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. We're glad to be back after the newsletter took a week off.

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.

 

Wheeler in Iowa to talk biofuels: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting chief Andrew Wheeler is in Iowa Monday to talk with agriculture and ethanol industry leaders about the Trump administration's plans for the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

Wheeler tweeted a photo of himself Monday at the Iowa State Fair, flipping pork burgers with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who clashes often with the administration over ethanol.

Cooking pork at the Iowa State Fair is a longstanding tradition for presidential hopefuls trying to cozy up to the Hawkeye State before its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Wheeler's appearance prompted numerous "he's running" jokes from the interwebs.

But EPA spokesman James Hewitt, accompanying Wheeler on the trip, assures us in no uncertain terms that Wheeler is "NOT" running for president.

Hewitt tweeted photos of Wheeler eating the pork with Reynolds and Rep. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungRepublicans blast party's strategy for keeping House majority The Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states MORE (R-Iowa), and later, a cleaned-up Wheeler speaking at an agriculture roundtable.

Ethanol industry leaders are angry over what they see as attacks on the RFS by the Trump administration, including granting waivers to numerous small refineries so they wouldn't have to comply. EPA lost a court case recently over its previous rejections of waiver requests.

The industry also wants the EPA to allow for year-round sales of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, or E15, something Trump has promised.

 

Perry joins North Dakota leaders to tour mine: Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: House panel approves park funding, offshore drilling bills | Green group putting M into races | Perry applauds Russia boosting oil production Perry welcomes efforts by Russia, OPEC to boost oil production The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Hurricane Florence a new test for Trump team MORE, meanwhile, is in North Dakota Monday.

His agenda there includes touring North American Coal's Falkirk Mine and Great River Energy's Coal Creek Station, as well as taking part in a roundtable discussion. He'll join Gov. Doug Burgum (R), Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOvernight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate 74 protesters charged at Capitol in protest of Kavanaugh Big Oil’s carbon capture tax credit betrayal MORE (R) and Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE (R) -- a candidate this year for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls MORE (D).

Perry's also been active on Twitter Monday, tweeting out photos of his travels.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

The National Park Service dropped plans to increase fees for guided rafting trips in the Grand Canyon, the Associated Press reports.

Saudi Arabia cut its oil production in July despite OPEC's deal to boost output, CNBC reports.

A new study says companies that use tax havens are disproportionately responsible for deforestation in the Amazon, BBC News reports.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Bessma Momani, a professor at the University of Waterloo, says Saudi Arabia is trying to assure international oil markets that it will take a rational approach to its oil policies.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

-Sanders blasts Zinke: Wildfires 'have everything to do with climate change'

-Zinke on California fires: 'This is not a debate about climate change'

-Zinke takes forestry fight to fire-ravaged California

-Terminally ill man awarded $289 million in lawsuit against Monsanto