Overnight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule

Overnight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

HE'S OUT OF THERE: Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryOvernight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule GOP counsel acknowledges 'irregular channel' between U.S. and Ukraine Live coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing MORE, whose dealings with Ukraine have become a focus of the House impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE, will step down from his Cabinet post at the end of the year, Trump said Thursday.

The president told reporters at the start of a ribbon-cutting event at a Louis Vuitton factory in Alvorado, Texas, that he already has a replacement for Perry, but he did not say who it would be. Trump said he would make the announcement shortly.

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"Rick and I have been talking for six months. In fact, I thought he might go a bit sooner. But he's got some very big plans. He's going to be very successful," Trump said.

Trump spoke fondly of Perry during the event, introducing the former Texas governor as a "very good friend of mine," adding "I'm going to miss you so much."

Who's next?: "We have his successor, we'll announce it pretty soon," Trump added.

"We'll be announcing the replacement, and he -- I think it's a he in this particular case --  I think he'll do a fantastic job," Trump continued. "We worked on that together. Right, Rick?"

Weeks of speculation: Perry's resignation had been expected for weeks, particularly after news of his involvement in Trump's efforts to encourage Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE's son Hunter, who once sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Perry was one of the "three amigos" dealing with Ukraine, alongside former special envoy Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP counsel acknowledges 'irregular channel' between U.S. and Ukraine The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings READ: William Taylor's opening statement at impeachment hearing MORE and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, according to Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Overnight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation MORE (D-Va.), who cited the recent testimony of a top State Department official. Trump is said to have named Perry as the impetus for the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the center of the impeachment probe.

Perry in Dems' sights: The timing of Perry's departure is sure to raise eyebrows, particularly as it comes amid growing scrutiny of Trump officials who were involved with Ukraine.

Democrats are pressing forward with witness testimonies as part of their impeachment probe. Multiple witnesses, including top State Department officials who ignored White House directives not to testify, have raised concerns about what they described as a shadow foreign policy conducted outside the normal diplomatic channels.

Perry recently told Fox News he was not sure if he would comply with a congressional subpoena for records related to the Ukraine controversy. The deadline for submitting those documents is Friday.

More on Perry's exit here.

 

It's Thursday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. 

Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com and Rebecca Beitsch, rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @rebeccabeitsch and @thehill.

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END OF THE PRO-BIG GAME HUNTING COUNCIL?: A controversial federal committee that advises the Trump administration on the benefits of international big game hunting may soon be terminated.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told members of the International Wildlife Conservation Council during a member meeting in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that he "hasn't yet decided" on the pathway forward for the committee, after environmental groups challenged its authority in court last year.

"I know [former Secretary] Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight 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 Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics Overnight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule MORE spent a lot of time thinking about your appointment and he absolutely deeply appreciated your willingness to support it," Bernhardt told the group, which consists primarily of pro-hunting industry representatives and recreational hunters.

"I also doubt he had any thought that he would suddenly find [federal advisory committees] tried in courts on a regular basis," he said. "And we had some experience with that recently."

The International Wildlife Conservation Council was established in 2017 under Zinke, the same year the Trump administration moved to reverse a ban on elephant trophy imports from Africa. President Trump ultimately intervened and the Fish and Wildlife Service shifted import decisions to a "case by case" basis.

The Humane Society, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council were among the organizations that filed a lawsuit in August 2018, arguing the council was illegal because it was disproportionately filled with pro-hunting advisers. The groups said federal law requires all government advisory panels have a balanced mix of participants. The Trump administration moved to dismiss the suit, but a federal court overruled them in September.

Bernhardt told the committee Thursday that "as we get to December" he would be meeting with lawyers to decide the next best steps for the future of the advisory board, adding he hadn't "yet decided what that pathway will be."

The council's charter is set to expire in December. A spokesperson for the Interior Department said Bernhardt will make his decision before then.

Read more here.

 

SHOOT YOUR SHOT: Senate Democrats forced a floor vote Thursday to block the implementation of a Trump administration environmental rule that aims to weaken regulations on power plant emissions.

The vote, which failed 41 to 53, was largely seen as a protest of the Trump administration's rollbacks on several environmental protections and climate change mitigation efforts, and offers a roadmap of actions Democrats might take if they win back the Senate in 2020.

"There may be no more worthy issues than protecting our environment," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action MORE (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Thursday morning.

"Time is running out for the U.S. to meet the existential threat posed by climate change and that's why this rule is such a grave, grave mistake."

Democrats were able to bring the vote to the floor through the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a seldom-used legal maneuver that requires the signature of just 30 senators. The CRA allows Congress to review and overturn rules implemented by the executive branch within 60 days after they have been finalized. The so-called disapproval resolution needs only a majority vote to pass.

Thursday's vote was meant to express disapproval of the EPA's Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule and would have required at least four GOP defections to succeed.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges GOP senators warn against Trump firing intelligence community official MORE (Maine) was the only Republican to join Democrats in voting for the bill, with Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinFormer coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda 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 (W.Va.), Doug Jones (Ala.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) breaking ranks with Democrats and voting against it.

"I think they made a grievous error in reversing the progress that we were making on clean power, so I do not support overturning those rules," Collins said.

Jones said he didn't support the administration's weakening of power plant regulations, but didn't support the method lawmakers were taking to stop it.

"I don't like this flip-flopping back and forth between this administration and the next. We have to get stakeholders at the table," he said Thursday.

"Folks in Alabama are concerned as well [about climate change], we just have to do it in the right way."

Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Nestlé to refresh bottled-water business as sales turn flat, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Bank regulators present a dire warning of financial risks from climate change, The New York Times reports.

Qatar is air-conditioning the outdoors because of climate change, GQ Magazine reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Thursday...

-Trump confirms Perry to step down as Energy secretary

-Future of controversial international hunting council up in the air

-Democrats vow to push for repeal of other Trump rules after loss on power plant rollback

-EPA official delayed recusal on key health study for ex-employer: report

-White House: Climate change won't be on agenda when Trump hosts G-7

-Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule

-Climate change protesters snarl London transit services, clash with commuters