Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Watchdog warns of threats to federal workers on public lands | Perry to step down on December 1 | Trump declines to appear in Weather Channel climate special

A WATCHDOG WARNING: A government watchdog is warning the Trump administration that it must beef up protections of its federal employees overseeing public lands due to numerous instances of threats and assault.

According to a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Monday, federal employees within the Interior Department's three public lands agencies experienced at least 360 instances of threats and assaults between fiscal 2013 and 2017.

Additionally, the FBI initiated nearly 100 investigations of domestic terrorism stemming from threats against those agencies during the time period. The report found that those investigations largely centered on individuals or groups motivated by anti-government ideologies.

The report showed that incidents against employees ranged from telephoned threats to attempted murder. For example, one listed threat included an individual who attempted to murder a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) law enforcement officer with a firearm, while another incident involved an employee who was stabbed outside a federal building. Other threats include ones posted on YouTube and Facebook, the report found.

The GAO warned that the calculation of threats and assaults on federal land officials was likely much higher, due to the likelihood many instances were not reported or that they were reported to state or local law enforcement but not shared with agency law enforcement officers.

The watchdog recommended that the federal government must do more to protect its employees but found that agencies largely blamed lacking resources for an inability to further assess security needs.

Read more about the report's warnings here.

 

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GONE BY CHRISTMAS: Energy Secretary Rick Perry will leave the Trump administration on Dec. 1, Department of Energy (DOE) staff confirmed Monday.

Perry, one of the longest-serving Trump Cabinet members, announced last week that he would leave his post by the end of the year, following months of rumors that he would be stepping down. 

"While Secretary Perry continues to serve at the pleasure of the president, it is his intent to depart DOE Dec. 1," an agency spokesperson told The Hill.

Perry's departure date was first reported by Politico. 

Perry has become a figure in Democrats' impeachment probe into the president after he allegedly influenced President Trump to take the controversial July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump requested an investigation into a potential 2020 rival.

A whistleblower's complaint alleges that Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure authorities in Kiev to investigate Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden previously served on the board of. 

Read more here.

 

And he's not responding to subpoena requests, so far...

Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry will not comply with a House subpoena to turn over documents tied to his involvement with Ukraine, the Department of Energy wrote in a letter to Democratic lawmakers.

The letter referred to the Democrats' "impeachment inquiry" in quotes, saying the look into President Trump's interactions with Ukraine was not valid.

"As the Supreme Court has long recognized, a Congressional committee cannot exercise the investigative power of the full House of Representatives unless it has that power through proper delegation," the letter said. 

Perry, alongside former special envoy Kurt Volker and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, took over interactions with Ukraine, according to House Democrat Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) this week.

More on the letter.

 

TRUMP SKIPS ANOTHER CLIMATE EVENT: President Trump will not appear in a Weather Channel climate change special airing next month that features Democrats and Republicans looking to challenge the president in 2020. 

The Weather Channel announced the one-hour "2020: Race to Save the Planet" special Monday, that the network said will air on Nov. 7. 

In addition to top Democratic candidates, it will feature all three of Trump's long-shot Republican challengers. But the president, a climate-change skeptic, is not in the lineup although The Weather Channel said it extended Trump an invitation.

Trump declined to participate, according to The Associated Press. 

A Trump campaign spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

Although Trump won't be in the special, the feature won't ignore him or what his administration has been doing, Rick Knabb, the network's on-air hurricane expert and former director of the National Hurricane Center told The Associated Press. 

Knabb conducted the candidate interviews along with meteorologist Stephanie Abrams and climate desk journalists Sarah Holder, Jamilah King, Rebecca Leber, Brentin Mock and Nikhil Swaminathan. 

The interviews were recorded in communities impacted by extreme weather that "have seen the effects of the changing climate firsthand," according to the network. 

Read more on the special here.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY:

On Tuesday, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on protecting federal employees from an anti-government culture.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on energy efficiency.  

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

The 2019 ozone hole is the smallest on record since its discovery, but there's a catch, The Washington Post reports

Wind power industry warns of global trade war threat, the Financial Times reports

Avoid buying palm oil from Malaysia, Indian group tells members, Bloomberg reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Monday and the weekend...

-Weather Channel to talk climate change with 2020 candidates

-Trump declines to participate in Weather Channel 2020 climate change special

-Newly painted mural of Greta Thunberg vandalized with pro-oil message, slurs

-Perry to step down on December 1

-Perry won't comply with subpoena in impeachment inquiry

-Watchdog warns government must do more to protect employees from threats on public lands

-Trump officials say aid to Puerto Rico was knowingly stalled after Hurricane Maria

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