Overnight Energy: Watchdog finds Pruitt didn't break law over trade group's ad | EPA cancels three meetings on car emissions proposal | Fallout from Trump's proposed power plant rule

Overnight Energy: Watchdog finds Pruitt didn't break law over trade group's ad | EPA cancels three meetings on car emissions proposal | Fallout from Trump's proposed power plant rule
© Greg Nash

WATCHDOG FINDS Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump admin appeals ruling ordering EPA to ban pesticide Government watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels MORE DIDN'T BREAK LAW BY APPEARING IN BEEF AD: A government watchdog is absolving former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt of any wrongdoing after critics questioned his involvement in an advertisement for beef.

A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released Wednesday found that Pruitt did not violate any publicity or propaganda and anti-lobbying laws when he appeared in a National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NBCA) video in 2017.

"EPA's use of its appropriations for the then-Administrator's interview and appearance in an NCBA video did not violate the publicity or propaganda, grassroots lobbying, or Interior anti-lobbying provisions," the GAO report read. "Because the then-Administrator's appearance in the video did not constitute a communication that was self-aggrandizing, purely partisan, or covert, EPA did not violate the publicity or propaganda prohibition."

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During a national tour with local stakeholders in 2017, Pruitt granted an interview with NBCA to speak about his proposed changes to the Water of the United States rule. The interview was then posted to the NBCA website and its social media pages with overlays giving a call to action.

EPA contended that the agency had no control of the marketing of the video and was not involved in its creation beyond the interview.

"This is part of our state action tour, where we've gone out across the country, visiting with farmers and ranchers, stakeholders with respect to our redefining of what a Water of the United States is under the Clean Water Act," Pruitt says in part in the video.

Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDems fight to protect Mueller amid Rosenstein rumors Rep. Cummings: Will Kavanaugh take lie detector test and ask for FBI investigation? Graham to renew call for second special counsel MORE (D-Md.) and three other Democratic members of Congress initially requested the investigation.

Pruitt resigned from the EPA in July following a number of controversies tied to his spending of taxpayer dollars and ethics.

Read more here.

 

Happy Wednesday! 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.

 

EPA CANCELS THREE HEARINGS ON NEW VEHICLE EMISSIONS RULE: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is canceling public hearings slated for Washington, D.C., Detroit and Los Angeles to discuss its proposed weakening of Obama-era vehicle efficiency standards.

The change of plans announced in the Federal Register on Tuesday came as the EPA announced another proposed change to an Obama carbon pollution rule.

The EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will instead hold two public hearings on the proposal, known as the SAFE Vehicles Rule, in Pittsburgh and Fresno, Calif., on Sept. 21 and 24 respectively.

The Trump administration's Aug. 2 issuance of the rule, which aims to put a freeze on toughening standards for vehicle emissions first put in place under the Obama administration, sparked controversy. The administration argues that the emissions goals were too lofty and placed an unnecessary economic burden on car and light-weight truck manufacturers.

Read more here.

 

DEMS, CRITICS REACT TO TRUMP PLAN REPLACING OBAMA CLIMATE RULE: The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled its plan to replace former President Obama's Clean Power Plan regulations, which imposed new restrictions on coal-fired power plants that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE vowed to unravel.

The announcement received its fair share of pushback. Here are some notables:

-Democratic lawmakers called the plan a threat to human health

-California Gov. Jerry Brown called it a "declaration of war against America."

-Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said the plans show Trump is an "unindicted co-conspirator in the premature death of 1,400 people"

-Various energy and environmental agencies across 14 states signed onto a letter sent Tuesday to EPA head Andrew Wheeler opposing the new Affordable Clean Energy rule. Signers included California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols and former acting administrator Catherine McCabe, Politico reports.

 

ON TAP THURSDAY:

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee will meet to consider the nomination of William Cooper to be general counsel and Lane Genatowski to be Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at the Department of Energy.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Karen Selby, a patient advocate at The Mesothelioma Center, says a new EPA rule wrongly determines that some asbestos exposure is safe.

Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash, both professors at University of Washington, Seattle, say that increased fires are making smoky Seattle summers the new norm.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Air quality reaches unhealthy levels near Portland, Ore. due to fires, The Willamette Week reports.

Scientists discover water ice on the moon's surface, NBC reports.

Environmental groups sue U.S. Coast Guard over Great Lakes oil spill response plans, the Detroit News reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Wednesday...

-Government watchdog finds ex-EPA chief Scott Pruitt didn't violate law appearing in beef association ad

-EPA cancels three hearings on new vehicle emissions rule