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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA
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Virtual Event Announcement: 1:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday 12/8 — Conservation & U.S. National Security

Zoonotic diseases, natural disasters, and regional instability caused by food and water scarcity anywhere in the world could cause ripple effects here at home. Could many of our national security challenges be preempted with strong international nature conservation? What role is the US currently playing in preserving our natural world and are additional efforts needed? Reps. Raúl Grijalva, Jeff FortenberryJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FortenberryRecovering America through the lens of wildlife The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel Marjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP MORE, Chrissy Houlahan and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerKinzinger: Conspiracy theory FBI planned Jan. 6 example of 'legacy of Trump and Trumpism' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' Why the Democrats need Joe Manchin MORE join former Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA MORE and Philippe Cousteau.

RSVP at: https://conservationandnatsecurity.splashthat.com/

IN THE INTERIM: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to continue to allow uses of a pesticide that’s been linked to brain damage in children. 

In a proposed interim decision dated Thursday, the EPA continued to allow uses of the chemical chlorpyrifos, which agricultural workers can be exposed to through their jobs and the general public can be exposed to through food. 

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However, the public has 60 days to comment on the proposal, meaning that it will likely be up to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenExpanding child tax credit could lift 4 million children out of poverty: analysis Maria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back MORE's administration to make the final decision on whether to approve the continued useage because his inauguration is just 47 days away. 

Studies have linked chlorpyrifos exposure to issues such as lower IQ, impaired working memory and prolonged nerve and muscle stimulation. 

However, a recent risk assessment by the agency argued that the “science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved.”

Opponents have argued that using the pesticide should be prohibited in light of the studies linking it to neurodevelopmental issues. 

“Trump’s EPA continues to fail to protect our children from this brain-damaging poison,” Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. 

“Chlorpyrifos needs to be banned. ... This is a disgraceful parting gift to the pesticide industry from [Administrator Andrew] Wheeler and his cronies in the EPA,” Donley added. 

In 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning its use on food and crops. However, in 2017, then-EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOklahoma AG resigns following news of divorce, alleged affair Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues Scientific integrity, or more hot air? MORE reversed course, saying that further study was warranted. 

“We are returning to using sound science in decisionmaking — rather than predetermined results,” he said at the time.

The new proposal from EPA would place new restrictions on how chlorpyrifos can be applied and add requirements for personal protective equipment use.

Donley argued that these measures are "wholly inadequate."

Read more about the proposal here

 

NEW MEXICO, THE EPICENTER OF THE INTERIOR BATTLE: Interior observers were surprised to learn the Interior secretary position had been offered to and rejected by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamNew Mexico launching vaccine sweepstakes with M in prizes The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines MORE (D).

Those familiar with the department said they had never heard she was under consideration for the job.

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“It’s an interesting name that heretofore has not gotten a lot of visibility,” said one former high ranking Interior official who expressed surprise to see her name in connection with the job.

Instead, the discussion has revolved around other New Mexico lawmakers that are close associates of Lujan Grisham’s: Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandSenate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Sanders opposes Biden Interior nominee in procedural vote OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Judge halts Biden pause on new public lands oil leasing | Democrat presses Haaland on oil and gas review | EPA puts additional delay on Trump lead and copper in drinking water rule MORE (D-N.M.), who would make history as the first Native American to serve as Interior Secretary, as well as Sens. Tom UdallTom UdallSenate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin Study: Chemical used in paint thinners caused more deaths than EPA identified Oregon senator takes center stage in Democratic filibuster debate MORE (D-N.M.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSchumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' FBI warns lawmakers of violence from QAnon conspiracy theorists Overnight Energy: Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline | Government watchdog finds failings, but no Trump influence, in clearing of Lafayette Square MORE (D-N.M.).

Michael Connor, a former deputy Interior secretary from New Mexico, is also being considered for the job.

Lujan Grisham, like other lawmakers from New Mexico, has experience working in a state that has balanced oil and gas development with other conservation values. 

But she has primarily been viewed as a more natural fit to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, given that she served as New Mexico's health secretary from 2004-2007.

“Qualifications are all relative of course. Is Michelle Lujan Grisham as passionate about public lands issues as Deb Haaland or Tom Udall or Mike Connor? Maybe not. But is she more qualified than Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again MORE? Of course,” said one conservation source in close contact with congressional offices, referencing the Trump administration’s first Interior Secretary who resigned amid a number of ethics investigations.

Some officials feel that offering the Interior post to Lujan Grisham shows the Biden administration may not take the department seriously.

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“It sort of makes me feel disappointed in the transition, and I think the sentiment I was hearing was Interior is such a big sprawling agency that’s really important obviously and is the kind of place where you need someone that knows what they're doing and has experience with the department,” said one congressional source.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were irritated by the leaks coming out of the Biden transition team, with one source close to the caucus telling The Hill they did “a disservice not only to the caucus but to the governor.”

Read more on the discussion here

 

I’LL BE BACK…ING MARY NICHOLS: Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) heaped praise on Mary Nichols, a California air regulator being considered by President-elect Joe Biden's team to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

“She’s a big, big star,” Schwarzenegger told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt at a Thursday event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the EPA.

Hewitt was asking Schwarzenegger what it was like to work with Nichols, with the radio host positing she must have been “demanding.”

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“Well I hired her,” the action star said, adding that he “really hired the No. 1 expert, and Mary Nichols is fantastic.”

Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board, has been an active voice in pushing back against the Trump administration as the state has repeatedly sued over a number of environmental rollbacks.

She also struck a deal with five automakers to meet mileage and emissions standards much closer to those set under the Obama administration after the Trump administration drastically weakened the standards. 

“I hope that she gets to be the head of the EPA, because she has fought with the oil companies and she has fought with the car companies. And let me tell you, what I was so impressed about with her is that she is sensitive. She's a very sensitive woman,” Schwarzenegger said.

The former governor credited Nichols with being a stellar negotiator, working with companies to clinch deals that push the industry forward while recognizing technological limitations.

“She listened to the automakers she listened to everybody, and we made the adjustments and really brought it back,” he said, referencing the recent deal that pushed automakers beyond the Trump standards.

Read more on the former governor’s comments here

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

On Wednesday:

  • The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing titled “Pipelines Over People: How FERC Tramples Landowner Rights in Natural Gas Projects”
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will examine the nomination of Charles Cook to the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

EPA hastens end-of-administration NEPA overhaul, E&E reports

Denmark becomes first major oil-producing nation to set deadline to end extraction, The Washington Post reports

Russia to Germany gas pipeline targeted in U.S. defense bill, Reuters reports

The rancher trying to solve the West’s water crisis, Politico reports

 

ICYMI: Stories from Friday…

Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham

House approves bill banning big cat ownership after Netflix's 'Tiger King'

As coronavirus stifles demand, two more coal companies file for bankruptcy

Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA

EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children