Overnight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide

Overnight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide
© Greg Nash

DEMS CALL FOR ROSS RESIGNATION: Two Democratic lawmakers are calling for Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTrump trade adviser pushes back on reports of US-China tariff deal China, US agree to reduce tariffs amid trade talks, Beijing says Income for poorest Americans fell faster than previously thought: study MORE's resignation following a report that he threatened top officials for contradicting President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Giuliani associate Lev Parnas discussed Ukraine with Trump at private dinner: report MORE's claims that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama.

Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoAdvocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' from major defense policy bill Unlikely allies push horse racing reform MORE (D-N.Y.) each demanded the secretary step down in statements late Monday, saying that Ross's reported threats were "an embarrassing new low."

"Wilbur Ross does not deserve the trust of the American people or a place in the Cabinet and he should be dismissed immediately," Beyer wrote.

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"Reporting now suggests that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross put the safety of countless Americans at risk by compromising America's hurricane warning system just to protect the President's ego. If these reports are true, Secretary Ross needs to take responsibility and resign," Tonko wrote.

The calls for resignation follow a New York Times report Monday that said Ross threatened to fire top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) after they countered Trump's statements.

The nation's largest environmental group, The Sierra Club, also called for Ross' ousting Monday.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement that Ross needs to resign to "maintain the dignity of the federal government."

Read more here.

 

COMMERCE PUSHES BACK: The Department of Commerce is denying a report that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top staffers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after officials contradicted President Trump's claim that Alabama could be impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

"The New York Times story is false. Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian," a spokesperson told The Hill.

More here.

 

More NOAA... The acting chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is investigating whether the agency's response to President Trump's claims about Hurricane Dorian constituted a violation of policies and ethics, The Washington Post reported Monday. In a Sunday email obtained by the newspaper and later verified by The Hill, Craig McLean called NOAA's response "political" and a "danger to public health and safety."

 

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NEW DETAILS ON BLM RELOCATION PLAN: Included in the Department of Interior's decision to decentralize the Washington office that manages the nation's public lands is a plan to move congressional affairs staff 2,600 miles away to Reno, Nevada.

The agency announced in July that it would be moving about 300 D.C.-based Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees out West, but internal Interior Department documents shared with The Hill Monday show the extent to which roles traditionally placed in the nation's capital are being shotgunned across the country.

The July 15 documents include a position-by-position breakdown of Interior's unprecedented plans for BLM's reorganization – information that has yet to be shared with employees who are still waiting to hear where they must relocate. 

A senior policy analyst, several legislative affairs specialists, and a public affairs specialist are among the positions of note shown in the documents to be heading to Reno. 

Interior had previously said that legislative staff would remain in Washington.

The Reno office has traditionally been the main office for BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program and other grazing initiatives in the Great Basin. 

"Why would you put your legislative affairs staff in Reno, Nevada when Congress, who they work with, is in Washington, D.C?" asked Steve Ellis, who served as the Deputy Director for Operations at BLM, the highest career-level position at the agency, before retiring in 2016. 

"Legislative affairs is constantly interacting with Congress and congressional staff. That's their job. So yeah, that sounds like a great place for them to be," Ellis said sarcastically.  

It's not clear whether the department revised its plans since the documents were created. The agency did not return a request for comment on its plans for staffers. 

More on the Interior plan here.

 

Get ready for tomorrow: William Perry Pendley, the Bureau of Land Management's highest political official, will appear before Congress on Tuesday to defend a decision to relocate the agency to western Colorado.

Pendley, a controversial figure who once advocated selling off public lands, has confirmed he will appear before the House Natural Resources Committee.

The hearing is one of the first after returning from August recess, and many Democrats have publicly opposed the move.

More on the hearing here.

 

THE BEE'S KNEES: Oregon Democrats are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to defend its decision to expand the use of a pesticide considered harmful to bees.

The EPA in July expanded the allowed uses of sulfoxaflor, saying the decision was made with pollinators in mind, as the pesticide is less harmful to bees than other alternatives.

But the agency has previously referred to the pesticide as "highly toxic to bees" -- something that a number of Oregon Democrats in Congress had noticed.

"These new approved uses come at a time when colonies are dying at alarming rates," Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenFalling investment revives attacks against Trump's tax cuts Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All' White House says Pelosi plan to lower drug prices 'unworkable' MORE and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate committee advances budget reform plan Harris proposes keeping schools open for 10 hours a day Overnight Energy: Dems ask Trump UN ambassador to recuse from Paris climate dealings | Green group sues agencies for records on climate science | Dem wants answers on Keystone oil spill MORE said in a letter co-signed with Reps. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans Hillicon Valley: Google buying Fitbit for .1B | US launches national security review of TikTok | Twitter shakes up fight over political ads | Dems push committee on 'revenge porn' law Progressives urge end to mass phone data collection program MORE, Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioDemocratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe Democratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill MORE and Suzanne BonamiciSuzanne Marie BonamiciOvernight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide Oregon Democrats push EPA to justify use of pesticide 'highly toxic' to bees House lawmakers introduce bill to help those struggling with student debt MORE. "This is particularly concerning, given that pollinators are an invaluable component of our nation's food production."

The lawmakers are asking the EPA to more fully explain the scientific rationale for their decision by Oct. 9, including its risk assessment of the pesticide for pollinators.

A spokesperson for the EPA said it would respond to the letter through appropriate channels.

The letter follows two recent lawsuits from environmental groups who say the EPA relied too heavily on industry studies when approving sulfoxaflor. 

EPA defends policy: An EPA official told reporters when the new policy was unveiled that "most of the studies that we used were indeed sponsored by industry. That is common practice in the pesticide program."

EPA also said the economic plight of farmers was a factor in its decision. The agency said growers could see net revenue losses of up to 50 percent if they aren't able to use the pesticide.

Sulfoxaflor was banned by a federal court in 2015 in a suit brought by beekeepers, but the EPA has repeatedly granted emergency exemptions that allow farmers to use the pesticide.

Read more here.

 

FAILING TO LEAD ON LEAD: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not effectively using a rule meant to protect against exposure to lead-based paint, an agency watchdog found.

The EPA's Office of the Inspector General found, in a report released Monday, that the agency's Lead Action Plan, which is meant to curb children's exposure to lead, lacked measures to track its implementation.

The report concluded that the agency did not have "an effective strategy" for implementing and enforcing the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule. The watchdog said the agency did not have controls to measure how effective the program would be in achieving its goals and said there was a lack of communication between the two EPA departments that oversee the rule.

"Explicit and measurable program objectives, goals and outcomes are needed to demonstrate whether the RRP program is achieving its intended results to protect the public by addressing hazards associated with renovation, repair and painting activities in target housing and child-occupied facilities," the inspector general wrote in the report.

The EPA did not respond to a request for comment.

The RRP rule specifically focuses on the renovation of homes built before 1978, where work might disturb lead-based paint. The rule was first established in 2008 and requires workers to be certified in lead-safe practices and firms to be certified by the EPA.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the Bureau of Land Management's proposal to relocate its headquarters to Colorado. A House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing on "boosting U.S. manufacturing of clean energy technologies and creating new manufacturing jobs."

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-Mississippi: Veggie burgers must be clearly labeled, the Associated Press reports.

-Storing nuclear waste would only net Wyoming $10 million annually -- raising doubts of its viability, the Casper Star Tribune reports.

-Mississippi beaches have been vacant for 2 months as a toxic algae bloom lurks offshore, The Huffington Post reports.

-Flood puts big staffing strain on Nebraska emergency agency, the Associated Press reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Monday...

-Democrats call for Ross to resign for reportedly threatening to fire officials

-Watchdog faults EPA response to lead paint hazards

-'Queer Eye' star Bobby Berk says Conoco contaminated family's water

-Oregon Democrats push EPA to justify use of pesticide 'highly toxic' to bees

-Chief scientist investigating NOAA's backing of Trump over experts on Dorian

-Controversial BLM leader will defend agency's relocation before Congress

-Donations to green groups surge during Trump presidency: report

-Enthusiasm builds for 'Blue New Deal' after climate town hall