Overnight Energy: Senate confirms controversial Interior No. 2 pick

INTERIOR NO. 2 CONFIRMED: The Senate on Monday confirmed President Trump’s pick to be the No. 2 official at the Interior Department.

David Bernhardt was confirmed to the deputy secretary post on a 53-43 vote.

With Monday’s vote, Bernhardt returns to the Interior Department, where he held the position of solicitor during the George W. Bush administration.

The Senate confirmed Bernhardt to that position unanimously in 2006. But this year’s confirmation process was trickier for Bernhardt, with most Democrats opposing his nomination and warning of potential conflicts of interest, given his time lobbying on behalf of energy and mining clients.  

Bernhardt has vowed to recuse himself from decisions relating to past clients for one year. Democrats, though, said he should recuse himself for a longer period of time.

Republicans argued Bernhardt’s past Interior tenure and private sector experience made him a qualified deputy secretary nominee.

“His personal background and public and private professional experiences prove that he is a strong voice for the West, and extremely well-qualified for the nomination to be deputy secretary,” Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerOvernight Energy: Senate confirms controversial Interior No. 2 pick Senate confirms Trump’s nominee for No. 2 Interior post Week ahead: Controversial Interior nominee gets Senate vote MORE (R-Colo.) said during floor debate over his nomination.

Read more here.   

 

TRUMP PROPOSES FRACKING RULE REPEAL: The Interior Department released its formal proposal Monday to repeal the Obama administration’s hydraulic fracturing regulation for federal land.

The proposal from the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is due to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register.

The landmark 2015 regulation set standards in areas such as disclosure of fracking chemicals and integrity of well casing.

It was the Obama administration’s attempt to update decades-old regulations to account for the explosive growth in fracking for oil and natural gas in recent years.

Trump officials say in the proposal released Monday that the Obama regulation is largely duplicative of state and tribal standards, and would cost the oil and gas industry up to $45 million a year to comply.

“Considering state regulatory programs, the sovereignty of tribes to regulate operations on their lands, and the preexisting authorities in other federal regulations, the proposed rescission of the 2015 final rule would not leave hydraulic fracturing operations entirely unregulated,” the BLM writes in the proposal.

The BLM did not indicate that it intends to replace the rule.

The rule’s enforcement has been on hold since last July, when a federal judge in Wyoming overturned it, ruling that the BLM does not have the authority to regulate fracking at all. The Obama administration appealed that decision, but the case is now on hold due to the Trump administration’s reconsideration of the rule.

Read more here.

 

STATES SUE OVER CHEMICAL SAFETY RULE DELAY: Eleven states sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday over its June decision to delay implementation of a chemical safety rule.

The states argue the rule is important for “protecting our workers, first-responders and communities from chemical accidents,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said in a statement, and should be allowed to take effect as planned by the Obama administration’s EPA.

The EPA’s rule was inspired in part by a 2013 explosion at a chemical plant in Texas killed 15 people.

It would require plants to better prepare for accidents and give the EPA more regulatory and oversight power over the facilities. Chemical companies have argued the rule could create security and compliance problems.

The EPA has said it needs “additional time to review the program, so that we can fully evaluate the public comments raised by multiple petitioners and consider other issues that may benefit from additional public input.”

Read more here.

 

REPUBLICAN EXTOLLS CLIMATE CHANGE’S ‘BENEFITS’: House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) argued Monday that climate change is real and has numerous benefits in areas like agriculture and shipping.

Smith wrote in the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal that the “benefits of a changing climate are often ignored and under-researched.”

“Our climate is too complex and the consequences of misguided policies too harsh to discount the positive effects of carbon enrichment,” he said.

Smith said higher carbon dioxide concentrations aid photosynthesis, increasing plant growth, while warmer temperatures would increase growing seasons.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY I: A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee panel will hold a hearing on clean energy technologies.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY II: The House Natural Resources Committee will begin marking up 21 bills. 

 

Rest of Tuesday’s agenda …

Two House Science Committee panels will hold a hearing on biofuel innovation and research.

House Oversight Committee members will meet to discuss “sue and settle” agreements.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

The Portland Press-Herald dives deep into Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) spending on recent trips to Washington, D.C., where his agenda included lobbying to undo the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) declined to veto a bill to ease longwall coal mining, angering environmentalists, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan says Volkswagen is showing Londoners “utter contempt” by refusing to pay a £2.5 million fine for its emissions scandal, the Guardian reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Monday’s stories …

-Senate confirms Trump’s nominee for No. 2 Interior post

-GOP Science chairman hails ‘benefits’ of climate change

-States sue EPA over chemical safety rule delay

-Trump administration seeks to repeal Obama fracking rule

-EPA chief makes frequent trips back to Oklahoma: report

-Week ahead: House energy, water spending bill begins moving

 

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com and Devin Henry dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @dhenry, @thehill

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