Overnight Energy: Groups want Senate to probe Interior watchdog controversy | Puerto Rico eyes plan for 100 percent clean energy | Dems say Congress already rejected part of EPA car emissions plan

Overnight Energy: Groups want Senate to probe Interior watchdog controversy | Puerto Rico eyes plan for 100 percent clean energy | Dems say Congress already rejected part of EPA car emissions plan
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WATCHDOG GROUPS SEEK SENATE INVESTIGATION INTO INTERIOR IG FLAP: An outside group wants the Senate to investigate how a Trump administration official was apparently incorrectly reported to be the next internal watchdog for the Interior Department.

The Campaign for Accountability, which has worked to investigate many Trump administration officials, sent a formal complaint to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Congressional authority in a time of Trump executive overreach Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban MORE (R-Iowa) Thursday seeking a probe. Grassley's panel has wide-ranging oversight responsibilities over inspectors general.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonHarris, Waters release 0 billion affordable housing bill NY attorney general to investigate alleged Long Island housing discrimination Ben Carson accuses Maxine Waters of 'shamelessness,' hypocrisy on homelessness MORE told staff earlier this month that his politically nominated assistant secretary for administration, Suzanne Israel Tufts, would leave to becoming acting inspector general for Interior.

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Following backlash from Democrats and government ethics groups, Interior later said Carson's email was "false" and Tufts would not work at Interior. She then resigned from HUD.

"It seems someone tried to push out Interior's IG to protect Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks Interior disbands advisory board that floated privatization at national parks Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics MORE from the myriad investigations into his ethical lapses," Daniel Stevens, the Campaign for Accountability's executive director, said in a statement.

Tufts would have replaced Mary Kendall as the top official in the Interior inspector general's office. Under Kendall, the office has numerous ongoing investigations involving Zinke.

Read more here.

 

Happy Thursday! 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.

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PUERTO RICO MOVES TO MAKE ISLAND RUN ON 100 PERCENT CLEAN ENERGY BY 2050: The Puerto Rican government is considering committing the island to a 100 percent renewable energy grid by 2050, according to a new plan introduced Wednesday.

The plan, introduced as an adjustment to the territory's energy bill by Governor Ricardo Rosselló, specifies that the island will stop the use of coal for electricity by 2028, prioritizing solar instead. The bill also would exempt solar panels used for energy storage from sales taxes.

The bill "will guide a resilient, reliable and robust energy system, with fair rates and reasonable for all classes of consumers," according to the draft text.

Additionally, the energy bill would end the monopoly status of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the island's utility that declared bankruptcy last July following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. Large swaths of Puerto Rico were without power for months after the storm destroyed the island's electric grid.

Following its electricity woes, Puerto Rico announced in January it was moving to privatize its grid in an effort to improve its "deficient service."

In a video Rosselló posted to Facebook, the governor called PREPA "a great burden for our people, who today are hostage to its deficient service and high costs." The island's power system is 28 years older than the average U.S. system.

Read more here.

 

DEMS SAY CONGRESS ALREADY REJECTED PART OF EPA EMISSIONS ROLLBACK PLAN: A trio of Senate Democrats says Congress has specifically rejected the Trump administration's argument that California doesn't have the authority to set its own greenhouse gas emissions for cars.

Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperLobbying World Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder MORE (D-Del.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenators grill safety regulator over self-driving cars Hillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract House, Senate announce agreement on anti-robocall bill MORE (D-Mass.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping GOP senator wants Violence Against Women Act passage by year end MORE (D-Calif.) wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting head Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDemocratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe Lawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Democratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials MORE with what they say is evidence that lawmakers turned down the opportunity to preempt California's authority in 2007, when debating a major energy conservation bill.

It is a pushback against the administration's proposal, released this summer, to revoke California's authority. That revocation is part of a larger proposal, dubbed the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule, that would stop federal car efficiency and emissions rules from getting stronger between 2021 and 2026, as the Obama administration had envisioned.

"As elected officials who were deeply involved in the negotiation of the fuel economy provisions of [the Energy Independence and Security Act], we can attest to Congress' intent that California's authority under the Clean Air Act be preserved," they wrote.

The senators said their evidence demonstrates "unequivocally that in the month before EISA was enacted, there were reported efforts on the part of the automobile industry, some members of Congress and the Bush administration to preempt, limit or otherwise constrain both EPA's and California's authority under the Clean Air Act."

All the efforts were "rejected" and didn't make it to the final law, they said.

When the 2007 bill was being debated, some in industry and some lawmakers were worried that the EPA, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and California would have overlapping or conflicting regulations on car efficiency.

Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Two hikers die after falling from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park

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ConocoPhillips posts big earnings, revenue gains

Injury rates jump at coal giant Murray's West Virginia mines

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday's stories ...

-Jerry Brown joins Doomsday Clock group

-Group seeks Senate investigation into Interior watchdog flap

-Dems: Congress rejected part of Trump's car emissions rollback

-Puerto Rico moves to make island run on completely green energy by 2050

-Trump switches out energy commission chairman