Overnight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires

Overnight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires
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TRUMP TO SEEK SENATE CONFIRMATION FOR WHEELER: President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE said he plans to nominate Andrew Wheeler, acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to be the EPA's Senate-confirmed administrator.

Trump made the announcement Friday during a White House ceremony for Medal of Freedom recipients.

He said Wheeler "is going to be made permanent," adding that "he's done a fantastic job and I want to congratulate him."

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"Congratulations, Andrew," Trump added.

The process: Before becoming administrator, Trump will have to submit Wheeler's nomination to the Senate. A majority of senators would then need to confirm Wheeler.

Wheeler became acting administrator in July, when then-EPA chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA knows this pesticide is dangerous, so why did it reverse the ban? Archives investigation finds no ‘secret' Pruitt calendars existed California has sued the Trump administration 46 times. Here are the lawsuits MORE resigned amid numerous spending and ethics scandals. Wheeler at the time was the EPA's deputy administrator, a Senate-confirmed position he assumed in April.

Before working for the government, Wheeler was a lobbyist and lawyer for energy companies such as coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp.

Earlier in his career, Wheeler worked as a senior aide to Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeAllies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency MORE (R-Okla.), who previously led the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The White House did not return a request for comment or to clarify Trump's remarks, nor did the EPA.

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Overnight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House MORE (Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee -- which would handle the initial hearing and vote on Wheeler's nomination -- didn't completely write off Wheeler as a potential administrator.

Carper has made known his preference for Wheeler over Pruitt but also said Wheeler is worse at the job than past Republican administrators William Ruckelshaus and Christine Todd Whitman.

"If the president intends to nominate Andrew Wheeler to be the Administrator of EPA, then Mr. Wheeler must come before our committee so that members can look at his record as acting administrator objectively to see if any improvements have been made at the agency since he took the helm," he said in a statement.

Sierra Club: No way: "Putting a coal lobbyist like Andrew Wheeler in charge of the EPA is like giving a thief the keys to a bank vault," said Michael Brune, the group's executive director. "There shouldn't be a single day when the Administrator of the EPA schemes with corporate polluters to attack public health, but Wheeler has made it a regular habit because he is unable to give up his corporate polluter ties."

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HOUSE VOTES TO STRIP GRAY WOLF PROTECTIONS: The House passed a bill Friday that would remove federal protections for the gray wolf, allowing ranchers, hunters and others to kill the animals.

The Manage Our Wolves Act passed 196-180, mainly with Republican support. It would direct the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to end Endangered Species Act protections for the species and prohibit lawsuits challenging the removal.

The GOP and many western states have long argued that four decades of federal protections have been too successful in bringing the wolf back from the brink of extinction, and the species now poses a significant threat to livestock, pets and humans.

The Obama administration had determined that the gray wolf no longer needs protections, and removed them. But a federal court in 2014 overturned that decision, saying that the FWS didn't show that the species was sufficiently recovered.

Under the GOP's bill, landowners, hunters and others would be allowed to kill gray wolves, unless the states decide to implement their own protections.

"This underscores the extent to which the Fish and Wildlife Service has been hamstrung in implementing the objectives of the Endangered Species Act," Rep. Bruce WestermanBruce Eugene WestermanThe results are in: How the nation voted on criminal justice issues that impact our youth Overnight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires House votes to remove protections for gray wolves MORE (R-Ark.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee's oversight panel, said on the House floor Friday before the vote.

Democrats accused the GOP of overstating the problems with wolves. They said the species, which once roamed nearly the entire contiguous United States before humans decimated the population, is critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems.

"They still inhabit just a fraction of their historic range, and continued protection under the Endangered Species Act is necessary," said Rep. Don Beyer (Va.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources oversight subpanel, and its likely chairman come January, after Democrats won the House majority in last week's elections.

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LAWMAKERS EYE DISASTER FUNDS FOR CALIFORNIA FIRES: Congress is looking to provide emergency disaster funding to California, where wildfires have left at least 60 people dead, but lawmakers say it will take some time.

Returning to Capitol Hill after weeks on the campaign trail, almost all key House and Senate lawmakers this week said California deserved to see a supplemental disaster appropriations bill but couldn't offer many details on the dollar amount or what shape the legislation would take.

"There's been some talk about it. I think we need to meet these emergency needs, like we did for other states," said Rep. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenTop House GOP appropriations staffer moves to lobbying shop Individuals with significant disabilities need hope and action Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for crafting and advancing legislation for disaster recovery.

Lawmakers have limited opportunities to provide the funding state officials say they desperately need as Congress is out of session next week for Thanksgiving.

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OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Volkswagen is planning to put $1.4 billion into a Germany facility to make it Europe's

largest electric car plant, Bloomberg reports.

Federal officials will let Oregon kill some sea lions to save other species, OregonLine.com reports.

United Kingdom Environment Minister Michael Gove is staying put amid a Cabinet upheaval over Brexit, the Guardian reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Friday's stories ...

- Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator

- Lawmakers say Calif. will eventually get emergency funding for fire relief

- House votes to remove protections for gray wolves