Overnight Regulation: EPA chief commits to replacing Obama climate rule | Deputy consumer bureau chief seeks injunction to replace Mulvaney | Trump meets senators on ethanol mandate

Overnight Regulation: EPA chief commits to replacing Obama climate rule | Deputy consumer bureau chief seeks injunction to replace Mulvaney | Trump meets senators on ethanol mandate
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Welcome to Overnight Regulations, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill and the courts. It's Thursday evening here in Washington where Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenVirginia can be better than this Harris off to best start among Dems in race, say strategists, donors Virginia scandals pit Democrats against themselves and their message MORE (D-Minn.) announced he is resigning over sexual harassment allegations. 

Read about that here

 

THE BIG STORIES 

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA to make formal decision on regulating drinking water contaminant | Utility to close coal plant despite Trump plea | Greens say climate is high on 2020 voters’ minds EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Court tosses challenge to EPA's exclusion of certain scientists from advisory boards MORE told House lawmakers Thursday the agency will replace former President Obama's climate change rule for power plants. 

As Timothy Cama reports, Pruitt said at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that EPA will be introducing a replacement rule for the Clean Power Plan. 

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Pruitt had previously only committed to considering a replacement for the rule, which called for a 32 percent reduction in the power sector's carbon emissions.

Business groups opposed to the Obama rule have been pushing Pruitt to write a replacement to shield companies and the federal government from future litigation on climate and fulfill the EPA's obligation to regulate power plants' carbon dioxide.

Find the story here

 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's deputy director isn't giving up her fight for control of the watchdog agency. 

As Sylvan Lane reports, Leandra English asked the District Court for the District of Columbia Wednesday night to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE from naming Office of Budget and Management Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney told Trump officials their 'highest priority' will be deregulation: Axios High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Trump declares national emergency at border MORE to the interim role. 

The request is English's latest maneuver in the fight for control of the agency. 

English originally sued Mulvaney and the president, claiming the Dodd-Frank Act made her the rightful acting director, but her lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. 

Read the story here

 

REG ROUNDUP 

Environment: The Senate on Thursday confirmed two of President Trump's environmental nominees.

Joe BalashJoseph (Joe) BalashOvernight Energy: Trump plan could open Alaska's Arctic region to drilling by next summer | States sue over offshore drilling tests | Lawmakers fail to pass lands bill this year Latest Trump plans would open Alaskan Arctic to drilling by next summer Trump officials attended conference where speaker said carbon dioxide makes planet 'greener' MORE was confirmed as assistant secretary for land and minerals management at the Interior Department, and Susan Bodine was confirmed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, which oversees enforcement of pollution laws.

Devin Henry has the story here

 

Justice: Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war MORE got into a heated exchange with Justice Department interns this summer over marijuana and police brutality, according to new video of the private event.

During a video of the "Summer Intern Lecture Series" obtained by ABC News and published on Thursday, an unnamed college intern asked Sessions why the Justice Department has harsher policies for marijuana and "pretty lax" policies for gun control when guns kill more people than marijuana.

Sessions contested claims that marijuana is harmless.  

"Marijuana is not a healthy substance in my opinion," he said. "The American Medical Association is crystal clear on that. Do you believe that?"

"I don't," the intern said.

"OK Dr. whatever your name is," Sessions replied. "So you can write to AMA and see why they think otherwise."

Read the full story here

 

Technology: A federal judge set March 19 as the trial date for the Justice Department's lawsuit to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

AT&T had asked that the trial begin in February, while prosecutors with the Justice Department's antitrust division requested May.

"This is not a normal case -- from many perspectives," Judge Richard Leon told the two legal teams Thursday.

Harper Neidig has the story here

 

Courts: Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee chastised their Republican colleagues on Thursday, accusing them of rushing President Trump's judicial nominees through the confirmation process.

Ranking member Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (D-Calif.) said it was the fastest confirmation pace for circuit court nominees she could remember in her 25 years on the committee.

"For example, last week marked the fourth hearing since May when two circuit court nominees were on the agenda the same day," she said. "That's four times in six months, yet this committee only held three hearings with two circuit court nominees in all eight years of the Obama administration." 

The committee voted 11-9 long party lines to advance 10 judicial nominees to the floor for a vote on Thursday, including three circuit court judges: Steven Grasz to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and James Ho and Don Willett to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Grasz, an Omaha lawyer, was given one of the rare "not qualified" ratings from the American Bar Association. 

Read the rest here

 

Health: Six senators, including three Republicans, are asking GOP leadership to block a Trump administration rule that slashes funding for a federal drug discount program.

The program, called 340B, requires drug companies give discounts to health-care organizations that serve high volumes of low-income patients.

But a new rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which takes effect Jan. 1, cuts Medicare payments to hospitals enrolled in the program by $1.6 billion.

Jessie Hellman has the story here

 

Energy: Kevin McIntyreKevin J. McIntyreGOP commissioner on federal energy panel dies Senate should reject Trump’s radical nominee to key energy panel Overnight Energy: Chief energy regulator vows to steer clear of political fights | Zinke was referred to DOJ shortly before watchdog controversy | Groups threaten to sue EPA over paint stripper MORE was sworn in Thursday as the new chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency said.

McIntyre's swearing-in as both a new commissioner and the chairman restores the agency to five commissioners for the first time since 2015.

He was previously an attorney at Jones Day, heading its energy practice and often representing industry clients before FERC.

McIntyre, a Republican, replaces Neil ChatterjeeIndranil (Neil) ChatterjeeGOP commissioner on federal energy panel dies Senate should reject Trump’s radical nominee to key energy panel Overnight Energy: Chief energy regulator vows to steer clear of political fights | Zinke was referred to DOJ shortly before watchdog controversy | Groups threaten to sue EPA over paint stripper MORE, who had served as chairman on an interim basis since August while McIntyre went through the Senate confirmation process. Chatterjee, also a Republican, will stay on at FERC as a commissioner.

McIntyre's chairmanship comes at an important time for the often obscure agency that oversees wholesale electricity markets, interstate pipelines and similar matters.

Read more here.

 

Energy: President Trump met Thursday with Republican senators from oil- and refinery-heavy states to hear their complaints about the federal mandate to mix ethanol into the gasoline supply.

Senators said there were no major outcomes from the meeting at the White House, but Trump asked the lawmakers to take the lead themselves on proposals to change the renewable fuel standard in a way that benefits both refineries and corn farmers.

The senators came into the meeting concerned that the Trump administration's policies too heavily favored the ethanol industry, which pushes to require more ethanol in gasoline, increasing costs for refiners who have to either buy the ethanol or buy renewable identification number credits to comply.

Read more here.

 

In other news 

Trump asks for emergency stay on accepting transgender military recruits by Jan.1 

Rep. Speier calls for victim-centric sexual harassment complaint process – The Washington Post 

Bump stocks get first hearing in Senate, dealt another blow in House – Roll Call 

Federal report: violent crime rose in 2016. Other federal report: eh, maybe not. – Vox