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Overnight Energy: Climate skeptic confirmed as DOJ environmental lawyer | EPA to phase out air pollution panel | Ad campaign targets mercury rule proposal

Overnight Energy: Climate skeptic confirmed as DOJ environmental lawyer | EPA to phase out air pollution panel | Ad campaign targets mercury rule proposal

FORMER BP ATTORNEY CONFIRMED AS TOP US ENVIRONMENTAL LAWYER: The Senate voted Thursday to confirm a climate change skeptic and former industry attorney to lead the Department of Justice's (DOJ) environment division.

Lawmakers voted 52 to 45 to confirm Jeffrey Bossert Clark to be the assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources. Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchumer to Trump: Future infrastructure bill must combat climate change Overnight Energy: Senate confirms controversial energy pick | EPA plans rollback of Obama coal emissions rule | GOP donor gave Pruitt K for legal defense Senate confirms Trump’s controversial energy pick MORE (D-W.Va.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri GOP Secretary of State launches investigation into Hawley’s time as AG The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Congress to act soon to avoid shutdown Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive MORE (D-Mo.), both running for reelection GOP states, joined all Republicans present in voting to confirm Clark.

Clark is an attorney at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where he has represented numerous industry clients, including oil giant BP in its efforts to fight certain claims from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and spill, and the Chamber of Commerce. He's said climate change science is "contestable."

"Jeff Clark is one of the leading environmental litigators in the country, and has been counsel in many of the most significant environmental and natural resource cases of the past two decades, both here at the Department of Justice and in private practice," Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBarr turned down defense attorney job with Trump: report Paul calls Trump's pick for attorney general's views on surveillance 'very troubling' John Kelly to leave White House at year's end MORE said in a statement welcoming Clark to the department.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey Senate Republican: Criminal justice reform needs more GOP support GOP tensions running high on criminal justice bill Trump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference MORE (R-Ky.) said before the Thursday vote that Clark is imminently qualified for the position.

"Mr. Clark's legal colleagues describe him as one of the most capable lawyers with whom they've ever worked, and no fewer than seven former assistant attorneys general for the environment and natural resources division tell the Senate that his well-rounded background and prior experience in the division make him an excellent choice for this position," he said.

Clark's past experience includes a stint as deputy assistant attorney general in the same DOJ division.

Democrats said Clark's history shows he would further President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorsi sues Mueller for alleged leaks and illegal surveillance Comey: Trump 'certainly close' to being unindicted co-conspirator Trump pushes back on reports that Ayers was first pick for chief of staff MORE's pro-industry environmental record, to the detriment of the climate and public health.

Read more here.

 

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TRUMP TO PHASE OUT AIR POLLUTION REVIEW PANEL: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) next year will end a key review panel meant to advise EPA leadership on the latest science surrounding soot and particulate matter in the air, the New York Times reported Thursday.

The agency will be doing away with the 20-person Particulate Matter Review Panel, a group comprised of experts on air pollutants known to cause respiratory issues, according to the Times. Part of the group's job is advising officials on what level of pollutants are safe to breathe.

The EPA confirmed to the Hill that the review panel was not listed as continuing into 2019. A spokesperson instead said that a smaller, seven-member group, known as the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) will continue to advise EPA leadership. The group is legally obligated to provide advice to the administrator about on quality standards.

The program's deletion comes as the agency is rewriting a number of regulations related to carbon, methane and vehicle emission air pollution.

 

GREEN GROUP ADS TARGET PROPOSED EPA MERCURY RULE: A new television advertising campaign frames the Trump administration's plans to change a major mercury regulation as a threat to children and pregnant women.

Moms Clean Air Force, a program of the Environmental Defense Fund, launched the television ads Thursday to push back against the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) forthcoming proposal to weaken the justification for its 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which regulate coal-fired power plant pollution.

After quoting a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics on the disproportionate impact to children and developing fetuses from mercury pollution, the ad says Trump and EPA chief Andrew Wheeler "Donald Trump and EPA chief Andrew Wheeler are pushing a plan that will allow more mercury pollution."

"Will your member of Congress let it happen," the ad asks.

The ad will run for two weeks on television stations in Washington, D.C., as well as Arizona, Minnesota and Ohio. Those three states have a number of closely watched House and Senate races next month, including races that could decide whether Democrats obtain a majority of seats in the lower chamber.

The EPA announced last week that it would soon propose changing the cost-benefit analysis justification for the mercury rule.

Read more here.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

More big data is needed to help the vulnerable communities hit by storms, three disaster experts write.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Oil hits two-week low as U.S. supplies rise

New York state misses deadline on drinking water protection

Chinese coal city Datong to set up 'no-coal zones' amid pollution battle

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday's stories ...

-Report cites over-pressurization as trigger in deadly Massachusetts gas line explosion

-GOP chairman: FEMA has enough money for Hurricane Michael

-Senate confirms climate skeptic to head DOJ environment office

-Ad campaign targets Trump's mercury rule proposal

-GOP shrugs off dire study warning of global warming