EPA to restrict settlements with environmentalists

Read the full story in The Hill.

The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pledging to crack down on settlements with environmental groups that sue the EPA.

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement on Monday announcing a new policy that seeks to increase transparency in the process through which the agency settles regulatory lawsuits with environmentalists and other outside groups.

EPA makes ‘climate change’ vanish from four-year plan

Read the full story from CNN.

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified its priorities, and climate change is not one of them.

In fact, the phrase “climate change” does not appear in the agency’s draft four-year strategic plan, a 38-page document quietly released for public comment last week.

GAO to probe whether Trump administration is protecting agencies’ scientific integrity

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Government Accountability Office will look into whether the Trump administration is safeguarding scientific integrity.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) asked the GAO to investigate the issue on Sept. 25, calling media reports of political appointees screening Environmental Protection Agency grants and officials at multiple agencies purging references to climate change and other scientific information “troubling.”

Scott Pruitt took a $14,000 flight to Oklahoma to talk about closing EPA offices

Read the full story in Grist.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Pruitt has taken at least four trips on chartered and government flights since his confirmation, at a cost of $58,000, according to documents provided to a congressional oversight committee. The EPA has defended Pruitt’s travel by saying the four noncommercial flights were for necessary trips to meet stakeholders around the country and that there were special circumstances that prevented commercial flying.

Notes from closed meeting show how Interior aims to weaken environmental laws

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Near the end of September, officials at the Interior Department bureau that oversees hundreds of millions of acres of public land hosted a conference with state, county and local government representatives to discuss ways to loosen environmental rules.

Bureau of Land Management hosts told attendees and those joining the invitation-only meeting remotely that they wanted to streamline a powerful law that protects wildlife and public land, the National Environmental Policy Act. They asked how its rules could be smoothed out to limit delays that slow public and corporate development so that the federal government, as President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have said, can be a better partner rather than a hindrance. The meeting covered ways to fulfill the president’s executive order to remove impediments to new infrastructure, mining and other development on federal land.

At least two groups not on the invitation list obtained the call-in information for the meeting and secretly sat in and took notes, which one group provided to The Washington Post.

EPA Launches Smart Sectors Program

Read the full news release from EPA.

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the launch of Smart Sectors, a partnership program between the Agency and regulated sectors focused on achieving better environmental outcomes. A sector-based, collaborative approach provides a significant opportunity for EPA to consider more forward-thinking ways to protect the environment.

“When we consider American business as a partner, as opposed to an adversary, we can achieve better environmental outcomes,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The Smart Sectors program is designed to effectively engage business partners throughout the regulatory process. The previous administration created a narrative that you can’t be pro-business and pro-environment. This program is one of the many ways we can address that false choice and work together to protect the environment. When industries and regulators better understand each other, the economy, public, and the environment all benefit.”

A sector-based approach can provide benefits, such as: increased long-term certainty and predictability, creative solutions based on sound data; and, more sensible policies to improve environmental protection. Program leads for each sector will serve as ombudsmen within the Agency across program and regional offices. Staff will also: conduct educational site tours, host roundtables with EPA leadership, analyze data and advise about options for environmental improvement; maintain open dialogue with business partners and their environmental committees; and, develop reports that profile the impact of each sector on the environment and the economy.

Smart Sectors aims to facilitate better communication and streamline operations internally at EPA. The program is located in the Office of Policy’s Immediate Office, which enables the sector leads to work across EPA’s land, water, air, and chemical program offices, as well as with environmental justice, enforcement and compliance assistance, and other offices, including EPA regional offices.

View Smart Sectors Federal Register Notice here.

EPA has initially identified the following sectors to work with: aerospace; agriculture; automotive; cement and concrete; chemical manufacturing; construction; electronics and technology; forestry and paper products; iron and steel; mining; oil and gas; ports and marine; and utilities and power generation.

EPA Employees Are Ordered to Attend Anti-Leaking Classes

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency are attending mandatory training sessions this week to reinforce their compliance with laws and rules against leaking classified or sensitive government information.

It is part of a broader Trump administration order for anti-leaks training at all executive branch agencies. The Associated Press obtained training materials from the hourlong class.