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 TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate 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 ZinkeUndoing the damage Pruitt and Zinke did to our environment The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown The Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government MORE and Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueGOP lawmaker fires back at Trump over farm aid Trump announces second round of farm aid to offset trade damage ‘Flexibility’ in school meal standards could imperil child health 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) SandersKlobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Dem pollster says it's 'misstated wisdom' to assume competitive primaries damage presidential nominees Group launches campaign to 'Draft Beto' for 2020 White House bid 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 YoungIowa New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote Dem Axne beats GOP Rep. Young in Iowa 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 PerryConservative policy adviser says judge's move to strike down ObamaCare was a 'case of judicial activism' Trump names Mulvaney acting chief of staff Chris Christie declines White House chief of staff role 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 HoevenGOP lawmakers say Trump should tamp down trade rhetoric GOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally Trump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill MORE (R) and Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerDem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches North Dakota New Members 2019 Rick Scott appears with GOP senators, ignores voter fraud question as recount continues MORE (R) -- a candidate this year for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates 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