Overnight Energy — Presented by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance — Trump expected to push pipelines next year | Lawmakers want answers on cancelled wildlife refuge enforcement program | Interior implements new rules for science

Overnight Energy — Presented by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance — Trump expected to push pipelines next year | Lawmakers want answers on cancelled wildlife refuge enforcement program | Interior implements new rules for science
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TRUMP LOOKING TO PUSH PIPELINES NEXT YEAR: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE is likely to make a renewed push to permit and build oil and natural gas pipelines next year, his top economic adviser said Thursday.

Larry Kudlow said a new pipeline push would be both a continuation of Trump's aggressive energy deregulation streak and his ongoing infrastructure agenda.

"We need infrastructure, including pipelines," Kudlow said at an Economic Club of Washington event. "We need east to west, we need west to east."

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Why now? Kudlow said the need for pipeline is especially strong in the natural gas industry, where drillers, thanks to the boom in fracking and horizontal drilling, are producing more gas than there is pipeline capacity to carry.

He said an executive from an unnamed energy company that drills in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico came to the White House Wednesday and spoke with both him and Trump.

"He's got more than he knows what to do with. They're burning it off, flaring," Kudlow said of the unnamed executive.

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Happy Thursday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

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LAWMAKERS DEMAND ANSWERS ON WILDLIFE REFUGES: Two Democratic members of Congress are asking for answers from the administration regarding news that the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is cancelling a key law enforcement program at National Wildlife Refuges.

Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, and Carol Shea-PorterCarol Shea-PorterThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority New Hampshire New Members 2019 Democrat Chris Pappas wins New Hampshire House seat MORE (D-N.H.) wrote a letter to the head of the National Wildlife Refuge System expressing concern over the ending of the dual-officer program.

"We are concerned that removing dual status officers, even if they are replaced by some full-time officers, will lead to less geographic coverage for the more than 560 refuges across the United States to and to an increase in violations in the System," the lawmakers wrote to Chief Cynthia Martinez.

The Hill first broke the story Tuesday that FWS was ending its decade's old dual-officer program, that trained wildlife refuge managers in law enforcement capabilities in order to police the often remote public lands.

The phase out of 51 managers serving as dual-officers began Monday and will continue through January, according to the FWS. The agency said 15 full time officers will be hired in 2019 to replace the dual-officers but critics fear the numbers will not be enough to patrol the millions of acres in the refuge system.

The nation has more than 560 national wildlife refuges spread across 20.6 million acres of public land. Unlike national parks, mining, drilling, hunting and farming are all regulated activities on certain refuges.

In their letter the lawmakers asked Martinez to provide them with more details as to how they will replace the law enforcement roles held by the dual-function officers. The duo requested information on steps taken to make sure refuge managers are adequately protected by those who may wish to misuse the system and how full time officers will be distributed throughout the various refuges.

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INTERIOR IMPLEMENTS NEW OPEN SCIENCE POLICY: The Interior Department has implemented a new policy that it says is meant to boost transparency and integrity of the science that its agencies use to make decisions.

The policy, outlined in an order issued last week by Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, mandates that officials only use scientific studies or findings whose underlying data are publicly available and reproducible, with few exceptions.

Like a similar policy that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed, critics say the new "Promoting Open Science" policy is meant to restrict Interior's ability to write regulations or make other decisions, by putting unnecessary restrictions on officials' ability to use sound science.

Interior's policy has potential reverberations across the department's diverse agencies that oversee areas like endangered species, offshore drilling, American Indian relations and geology.

Bernhardt wrote in his order that the policy fits with President Trump's executive orders on promoting energy production and reducing regulations, as well as past Interior policies on science.

He said the order is intended to ensure Interior "bases its decisions on the best available science and provide the American people with enough information to thoughtfully and substantively evaluate the data, methodology, and analysis used by the Department to inform its decisions."

"This order came about in response to perennial concerns that the department has not been providing sufficient information to the public to explain how and why it reaches certain conclusions, or that it is cherry picking science to support pre-determined outcomes," Interior spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort said in a statement.

"The goal is for the department to play with its cards face-up, so that the American people can see how the department is analyzing important public policy issues and be confident that it is using the best information available to inform its decisions."

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OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

-Trump plans ethanol boost amid farm belt voters in Iowa

-Texas water resort closed, tested for 'brain-eating amoeba' after man's death

-Astronomers may have discovered first moon outside our solar system

 

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday's stories ...

-Democrats want answers on cancellation of officer program at wildlife refuges

-Interior Dept. implements new science policy

-Massachusetts ranked most energy efficient state, Wyoming worst: study

-Trump likely to make pipeline push next year, aide says

-Seven Russian intelligence officers indicted on conspiracy charges