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 GrassleyDem calls for Cohen to testify before Senate panel over explosive report Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries 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 CarsonTop Trump official resigned over White House plan to withhold disaster-relief funds from Puerto Rico: report Trump taps Commerce watchdog to be new Interior inspector general DOJ probing whether Zinke lied to Interior investigators: report 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.

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: Major California utility PG&E filing for bankruptcy after wildfires | Zinke hired at investment firm | Barclays to avoid most Arctic drilling financing Zinke takes job at investment firm Trump taps Commerce watchdog to be new Interior inspector general 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.

 

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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 CarperIRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries Dems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Last-minute deal extends program to protect chemical plants MORE (D-Del.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Overnight Energy: Watchdog investigating EPA enforcement numbers | EPA's Wheeler faces Senate grilling | Interior's offshore drilling staff returning to work during shutdown EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-Mass.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinBuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress Feinstein grappling with vote on AG nominee Barr MORE (D-Calif.) wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting head Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoWhite House announces reduced delegation to travel to Davos amid shutdown Hillicon Valley: Dem blasts groups behind Senate campaign disinformation effort | FCC chief declines to give briefing on location-data sales | Ocasio-Cortez tops lawmakers on social media | Trump officials to ease drone rules Trump administration proposes allowing drone flights at night, over populous areas 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

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