Overnight Energy — Sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board — Trump EPA to roll out plan for fighting lead exposure | Top Interior lawyer once said women shouldn't be NFL referees | California moving toward electric bus fleet by 2040

WHEELER: TRUMP EPA'S LEAD STRATEGY COMING NEXT WEEK: The Trump administration is planning next week to roll out a formal, multi-agency strategy to fight exposure to lead among children.

Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler told The Hill in an exclusive interview Friday that he will unveil the strategy Wednesday alongside Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonKristol-backed group releases ad showing GOP voters blasting Trump over coronavirus response White House slams pastor leading Cabinet Bible studies for linking homosexuality, coronavirus Conservative group hits Trump for coronavirus response in new ad MORE.

Wheeler didn't divulge details about the plan, but it is expected to be a general strategy, not a regulatory proposal itself. It is the result of nearly a year of work by the EPA, Department of Health and Human Services and 15 other federal agencies.


"This is going to be, I think, a very welcomed report that we have to show what the federal government is going to be doing on lead," he said. "And I think it is going to be received very well. I'm hopeful."

As part of the EPA's contribution toward the administration-wide effort, the agency has been working on a regulation to potentially crack down on lead in drinking water pipes. It also proposed in June to crack down on lead content in the dust from old paints after a federal court admonished the agency for not taking action on clear scientific concerns.

The Lead and Copper Rule, the EPA's regulation dictating how water utilities must work to reduce corrosion, was written in 1991 and has not been significantly revised since then. The EPA said in October that it would put out a proposal to revise the rule in February 2019.

Greens react: Erik Olson, senior director for health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said there are numerous ways the Trump administration could fight lead, like taking lead out of aircraft fuels and certain outdoor paints, strengthening rules for cleaning up lead contamination and new standards for lead in food.

"There are a variety of uses of lead that still have not been restricted," he said. "If they wanted to be aggressive, they could address each one of those major sources."

But he doubts the strategy will go that far.

"What am I expecting, just knowing this group, many of whom have very close ties and come from the industries they're regulating? Our expectations are extremely low."


We've got more on the rollout here.



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TOP INTERIOR LAWYER ONCE SAID WOMEN SHOULDN'T BE NFL REFEREES BECAUSE THEY PMS: A top government lawyer for Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeThe case for transferring federal lands back to Native Americans International hunting council disbands amid litigation Europe deepens energy dependence on Russia MORE once said in recently surfaced online comments that female cops have an "inferiority complex" and that the NFL should not allow a "power tripping woman with a case of PMS" to officiate football games.

James Voyles, who serves as senior counsel in the Office of the Secretary at the Interior Department, argued in now deleted Facebook posts from 2011, a year after he graduated from college, that women shouldn't be allowed to work as referees in NFL games because they would control "the last male sanctuary." When contacted by The Hill on Thursday, Voyles apologized for the remarks.

"I offer my sincere apologies for the statements made on social media several years ago. I have nothing but the upmost respect for the brave women in uniform and am grateful for their service," he said Thursday through an Interior Department spokesperson. "These statements were written seven years ago, were flippant social media posts, and do not reflect who I am or what I stand for. As a husband to a strong wife, a father to a wonderful daughter, and as a dedicated co-worker and friend, I regret these remarks and value and respect the women in my life."

Voyles's comments in 2011 were in response to a post asking people to weigh in on the NFL's announcement that it was considering allowing women to officiate NFL games.

"Do we really want to let a power tripping woman with a case of PMS from hell controlling the last male sanctuary? i submit that i do not!" Voyles wrote at the time.

The NFL hired Sarah Thomas, its first full-time female official, in April 2015.

The NBA hired its first female referee in 1997, and women began officiating college football games in 2017. A woman has not umpired an MLB game.

Voyles backed up his opposition to female referees in the NFL by making a comparison to women who are police officers.

"Has anyone here ever meet a female cop? have you ever had that distinct and degrading experience of being interrogated by that kind of inferiority complex? do we really want to open that can of worms on the NFL?" he asked.


In another post, Voyles said female referees would have a negative impact on the game's dynamic.

More on his posts here.


CALIFORNIA COMMITS TO ALL ELECTRIC BUS FLEET BY 2040: California officials voted Friday to fully transition the state's public bus fleet to electric power by 2040.

The California Air and Resource Board (CARB) voted unanimously to make California the first state with such a commitment.

The new rule will ultimately require the production and purchase of more than 14,000 new zero-emission buses.

The decision comes at a time when the nation is at a crossroads on how to deal with worrisome reports that suggest the effects of climate change will soon be inevitable if greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly curbed in the next decade.


While the Trump administration has questioned how much the U.S. is responsible for cutting back emissions with other countries like China emitting at higher rates, California leaders have taken the lead in adopting new climate-aiding measures.

The latest move was championed by environmentalists.

"This is the biggest public transportation breakthrough since we switched from trolleys to diesel buses a century ago," said Jimmy O'Dea, a senior vehicles analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a statement.

"Bus riders, bus drivers and anyone who has gulped the exhaust from a passing truck or bus knows we must do something about these vehicles. Electrifying them is a one-two punch: we reduce carbon emissions that worsen climate change and we clean up the air we breathe."

"Today California took a momentous step to realizing the right to zero on our city streets," said Adrian Martinez, attorney for Earthjustice.

"From disadvantaged community members choking on diesel and gas tailpipe fumes, to college students, to transit agencies like LA Metro, to bus riders, to doctors and nurses, to environmental advocates, Californians made it clear they demand zero-emissions buses in communities statewide."

More on California's move here.




Congress has important unfinished business.

More than 60,000 American workers are relying on Congress to renew and extend the biodiesel tax incentive.

Join us in urging Congress to complete a multiyear extension before the end of the year.

Contact your legislators today.



Next Friday is the day funding is set to run out for numerous government agencies, including the EPA and Interior, unless Congress and Trump reach a deal to fund them before then.

Whatever deal comes out of that process is also likely to include a major legislative package on public lands, which could renew the expired Land and Water Conservation Fund, among other major priorities.



New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed into law Friday a ban on using elephants in circuses, the first such ban in the nation, NJ.com reports.

United States officials tallied a record number of dead Mexican gray wolves in 2018, the Associated Press reports.

Staff at Wales's natural resources agency in the United Kingdom warned that the environment could be "severely compromised" by a reorganization plan, BBC News reports.



 Check out Friday's stories ...

-GOP lawmakers push Trump to take 'any appropriate action' to save Keystone XL

-California commits to 100 percent electric bus fleet by 2040

-Top lawyer at Interior once said women shouldn't be NFL referees because they PMS

-House Democrats call on Trump to act on climate change

-Trump administration to unveil strategy for fighting lead exposure

-Germany's environmental minister takes on Trump over cost of pulling out of Paris deal