FEATURED:

Overnight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback

Overnight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback
© Getty Images

EPA WATCHDOG LOOKS INTO HARVEY RESPONSE: The internal watchdog at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking into how the agency handled last year's response to Hurricane Harvey.

The EPA Office of Inspector General on Wednesday announced its investigation, saying the self-initiated project that began in August will explore how the agency managed its Hurricane Harvey funding.

After the hurricane made landfall in Texas in August 2017 as a Category 4 storm, EPA was responsible for disseminating Disaster Relief Funding received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

ADVERTISEMENT

The inspector general's office described its investigation as a way to "improve EPA business practices and accountability, and improve stewardship and operational efficiency," according to a letter sent to EPA staff Tuesday and shared online.

The watchdog asked employees to provide details, including all sources of funding for the hurricane response and the amounts received, a list of mission assignments, a list of expenses related to the response, and property and equipment acquisitions.

The letter did not address why the inspector general decided to open the investigation.

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.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

SCIENCE COMMITTEE ASKS GAO TO EXPAND SEXUAL ASSAULT PROBE: The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO)  to consider sexual assault training measures, reporting methods and the scientific advisor structure in its probe of sexual misconduct within the scientific community.

In a letter that Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithOvernight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Report on new threats targeting our elections should serve as a wake-up call to public, policymakers Overnight Energy: Watchdog faults EPA over Pruitt security costs | Court walks back order on enforcing chemical plant rule | IG office to probe truck pollution study MORE (R-Texas) and Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockElizabeth Warren’s DNA test sounds more like ‘identity theft’ The Memo: Trump chats up media ahead of midterms Comey donates maximum amount to Democratic challenger in Virginia House race MORE (R-Va.) sent to the independent watchdog Wednesday, the committee requested the agency include the new considerations in its study and recommendations on the pervasiveness of sexual assault to scientific grant awardees.

The committee first asked GAO in January to conduct a full review of sexual misconduct in regards to federal grant-making agencies' compliance with current laws.

The new requests follow the release of several independent reports on allegations of a prevalent culture of sexual harassment in the science community, including one from the National Science Foundation.

"No taxpayer dollars should be awarded to a researcher who engages in harassment and inappropriate behavior toward a colleague or a student under their charge. The Committee conducted a thorough investigation and made a series of recommendations to remedy this problem," said Smith. "NSF's final rule is a significant step towards addressing sexual misconduct in the academic and scientific communities."

Read the letter here.

 

GREENS TARGET CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS: A major environmental group is targeting three Republican House candidates from southern California in a new six-figure advertising campaign that focuses on the state's unusually active wildfire season.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Victory Fund rolled out the web-based campaign Wednesday morning with ads criticizing Reps. Steve Knight and Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherMidterms in 2018 become most expensive in history Dems target small cluster of states in battle for House GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters MORE and candidate Diane Harkey for their environmental positions.

Each Republican is running in this year's midterm elections in southern California districts that Democrats believe could flip. Harkey is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaMidterms in 2018 become most expensive in history Dems target small cluster of states in battle for House Painting of Trump with past GOP presidents hung up in White House MORE (R).

In one of the most deadly years for wildfires in California's recorded history, the LCV Victory Fund campaign links their politics to the fires, saying each candidate "sides with polluters" against climate change policies, to the detriment of public health.

"Even as the state takes bold action to fight climate change, Californians still need Congress to stop blocking climate action and supporting pro-polluter policies that make global warming worse," said Pete Maysmith, senior vice president for campaigns at the group, which is LCV's super PAC arm.

"Knight, Rohrabacher and Harkey are putting public health and safety in danger, and voters need to know about their records of blocking efforts to fight carbon pollution and protect clean air," he said. "They are dangerously out-of-step with California voters."

Read more here.

 

And in more West Coast news...

 

CALIFORNIA, NEW MEXICO SUE OVER METHANE POLLUTION ROLLBACK: The Democratic attorneys general of California and New Mexico sued the Trump administration to stop it from rolling back methane pollution standards for oil and natural gas drilling.

Hours after the Interior Department unveiled its final action to weaken the Obama administration's methane rule for drillers on federal land, California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Energy: US greenhouse gas emissions fell in Trump's first year | EPA delays decision on science rule | Trump scolds California over wildfires EPA puts science ‘transparency’ rule on back burner Public charge rule is a cruel attack on children MORE and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed suit in northern California's federal court.

Becerra and Balderas argue that Interior's Bureau of Land Management didn't properly justify their repeal of the key portions of the methane rule, and that the new standard is legally insufficient.

"With this attempt to axe the Waste Prevention Rule, the Trump administration risks the air our children breathe and at taxpayers' expense," Becerra said in a statement.

"We've sued the administration before over the illegal delay and suspension of this rule and will continue doing everything in our power to hold them accountable for the sake of our people and planet."

California's Air Resources Board is also part of the lawsuit.

Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

-SunPower wins big in Section 201 trade case

-Southern Environmental Law Center challenges new Atlantic Coast Pipeline permits

-Massive 2013 oil spill in North Dakota finally cleaned up

 

FROM THE HILL's OPINION SECTION:

OPEC is closely watching the U.S.-China tariff war says Andrew Stanley, an associate fellow with the Center for Strategic & International Studies Energy and National Security Program.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories ...

-Government watchdog probing EPA's handling of Hurricane Harvey response

-Trump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent'

-California, New Mexico sue over Trump methane pollution rollback

-Green group targets California GOP House candidates in new ads

-Berkeley city council passes resolution requiring vegan 'Green Mondays'