environment

Rick Perry Defends Private Travel Costs at House Energy Hearing
Some sites are too remote to be accessed by commercial airlines, secretary says

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies during a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce’s Energy Subcommittee on Thursday. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

BY ELVINA NAWAGUNA

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told lawmakers Thursday that his use of private aircraft for work travel is sometimes justified because his department’s national laboratories and some sites he has to visit are too remote to be accessed by commercial airlines.

GOP Hopes to Undercut Offshore Regulator, Say House Democrats
Republicans are taking aim at an agency created by President Obama after BP oil spill

The site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen from the back of a U.S. Coast Guard cargo plane in 2010. Republicans are re-evaluating a regulatory agency established by Obama in the aftermath of the spill. (Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers are trying to undermine the federal regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the safety and environmental concerns of offshore oil and gas operations, said Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee at a Wednesday hearing.

The complaints stem from a provision in the committee Republicans’ recently released draft bill that would direct the Interior secretary to look for potential “inefficiencies or duplication between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement,” which both regulate aspects of offshore drilling.

EPA Moves to Repeal Climate Rule; Lawsuits to Follow
With Clean Power Plan on the chopping block, environmental groups gear up to sue

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, left, said this week that unraveling the Clean Power Plan would right “the wrongs of the Obama administration.” (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

The EPA’s move on Tuesday to undo the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule will almost certainly trigger an onslaught of lawsuits from environmental groups and many blue states that have been bracing for that action since President Donald Trump took office.

The agency said it had filed a notice with the Federal Register proposing to unravel the 2015 Clean Power Plan and will seek public input into that proposal over a 60-day period. But the EPA did not commit to promulgating a replacement policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which environmentalists have said would lead them to sue to stop the repeal or force the agency to write a new policy.

Uncertain Costs for Renewed Nuclear Waste Push in Nevada
The controversial Yucca Mountain plan would spur a $260 million spending increase, but the math is muddled

Nevada lawmakers — from left, Reps. Dina Titus, Dean Heller, Ruben Kihuen, and Jacky Rosen — confer in April after making statements in opposition to using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste disposal site. On Friday, Titus said a CBO report on the latest Yucca bill was “seriously flawed.” (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

A House bill to restart the process of making Nevada’s Yucca Mountain a permanent repository for nuclear waste would increase spending by $260 million over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday in a report that acknowledges some uncertain numbers.

The CBO’s score could be a hurdle for the Yucca bill by forcing its backers to offset the cost by cutting other federal spending under pay-as-you-go budget mandates. The bill moved out of the Energy and Commerce Committee with surprisingly bipartisan support considering how the issue had divided Capitol Hill while Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada was majority leader. Reid didn’t seek reelection in 2016.

Analysis: In Puerto Rico, Trump Congratulates Himself
GOP mum on messaging; Schumer says enough

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing for Puerto Rico. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump arrived Tuesday in Puerto Rico and offered the hurricane-ravaged U.S. citizens not a truckload of drinkable water or fuel, but Trump himself and his team.

Trump’s day was one of countermessaging about his administration’s widely panned Puerto Rico relief efforts. He used a briefing minutes after he landed there to congratulate his team and solicit praise from Puerto Rican officials — lightly coaching them on what they should say.

Las Vegas Massacre Was ‘in Many Ways, a Miracle,’ Trump Says
President criticial of Puerto Rican truckers as he heads for battered island

The Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, from which a gunman killed 59 people Sunday night. (Sascha Brück/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Las Vegas mass gun massacre that left 59 dead and more than 500 injured was “in many ways, a miracle,” President Donald Trump said Tuesday morning.

Trump pinned that assessment on the local law enforcement officers who located the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, and eventually entered his 32nd-floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino — but only after he had orchestrated the carnage on concertgoers and then apparently killed himself.

Trump Continues Defensive Stance on Puerto Rico Response
President tweets his team has answered governor’s every request

Hurricane survivors receive food and water being given out by volunteers and municipal police as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Thursday in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Continuing his administration’s sometimes-defensive stance on its response to the Puerto Rico hurricane damage crisis, President Donald Trump on Friday contended his team has responded to the island government’s every request.

In a set of morning tweets, Trump dismissed critics — including some congressional Democrats — who allege he and his administration have been too slow in helping the U.S. territory respond to two massive hurricanes. Following the the second, Maria, the entire island lost power, cash is in short supply, and commodities like diesel fuel also are running thin.

EPA Continues to Get a GOP Beating in Interior-Environment Bill
Calls for massive reductions rebuffed, but criticism continues

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., has had some harsh words for the EPA amid the debate over appropriations for the agency. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Although Republicans appeared to have rejected the White House’s call for sharp cuts to the EPA, their disdain for the agency has reappeared as the House debated amendments to the often contentious Interior-Environment spending bill on the House floor last week.

The 80 amendments House lawmakers sifted through consisted of Democrats’ attempts to remove what they described as harmful environmental riders from the measure, and Republicans’ measures to further reduce spending on environmental programs and give the Trump administration more authority to advance its deregulatory agenda. The Democratic amendments were mostly thwarted by the GOP majority.

Trump on Hurricane Irma: ‘Get Out Of Its Way’
President: Storm is one of ‘epic proportion’

President Donald Trump is briefed on Thursday about Hurricane Irma by Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert. (White House photo)

President Donald Trump on Friday urged those in the path of megastorm Hurricane Irma to “get out of its way.”

The president had used his Twitter account this week to tout his administration's response to Hurricane Harvey and its plan for Irma, which blazed a path of destruction through the Caribbean and is churning toward Florida.

Analysis: As Hurricane Irma Churns, Trump Touts His Team Again
President uses tweets to laud administration, hype storm — but not warn Floridians

A radar image shows Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, making its way through the Atlantic Ocean. Projections have it affecting Florida this weekend. (NOAA image via Wikimedia Commons)

Donald Trump’s message to Floridians likely in the path of Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful recorded Atlantic storms, is not one urging them to get to safety. Rather, the president used the hurricane Wednesday morning to laud his own team’s response to another major storm.

In short, the coming crisis is allowing the president to market his administration as disaster response experts — with him at the helm — for the second time in a few weeks.