Live Updates From Pruitt’s Back-to-Back Hearings on Capitol Hill (5)

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Thanks for joining Bloomberg Environment’s for live updates of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s day on Capitol Hill.

Pruitt defended himself against complaints about his travel costs, living arrangements, and raises handed out to close aides. But the day also featured some substantive talk on EPA policies and funding, including Pruitt backing away from some of the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts.

McCollum: ‘Time That You Resign’

“Mr. Pruitt, I think it’s time that you resign,” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) said during a House subcommittee hearing.

“I’m going to say it clearly and straight to you because I think you deserve that.” McCollum said.

McCollum said Pruitt didn’t provide direct answers to pressing questions at the hearing.

By Kim Chipman (Bloomberg News)

©2018 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission

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Updated 3:26 p.m.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s second appearance of the day before House lawmakers has shifted to discussion of the agency’s policies. Pruitt faced tough questioning this morning on housing, spending, and hiring issues. However, he’s now being pressed on the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the EPA’s budget. This story will updated throughout the day with the latest news.

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Updated 2:44 p.m.

Pruitt is halfway through his trip to Capitol Hill: he’s now appearing before a House Appropriations subpanel.

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Updated 1:01 p.m.

Biofuels Waivers

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing the agency is following federal law in issuing waivers that exempt small refineries from satisfying annual biofuel quotas.

A federal court ruling last year made winning waivers easier.

More refineries, he said, have applied for relief from quotas, up from the “mid 20s” last year. He attributes the increase in applications to volatility in the market for renewable identification numbers, or RINs, the compliance credits refiners use to prove they have satisfied the quotas.

“You see a lot of pressure on those small refiners in particular” because of volatile, escalating RIN price, Pruitt said.

Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) said he was concerned about a “lack of transparency” in the program, as EPA shields information about individual waiver applicants and recipients. While there is confidential business information involved, it “gives the appearance of impartiality and unfairness” to shield data, Green says.

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy (Bloomberg News) and Ari Natter (Bloomberg News)

©2018 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission

California Clean Fuel Waiver

The agency has no plans “at present” to revoke California’s authority to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions standards.

“We work very closely with California officials on that issue,” Pruitt said.

Proponents of the so-called clean-car rules are worried the Trump administration will move to challenge California’s authority to set pollution standards as the EPA rewrites car and light truck efficiency rules for 2022-2025.

“It’s important that we work together, as was indicated earlier, to achieve a national standard,” Pruitt said.

California has a Clean Air Act waiver allowing the state to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and light trucks. State standards are aligned with current EPA rules now being revised and fuel economy regulations set by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Ryan Beene (Bloomberg News)

©2018 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission

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Posted at 11:21 a.m. Updated 12:16 p.m.

Bloomberg Environment reporters Abby Smith and David Schultz are reporting from the hearings. Follow them on Twitter or @BloombergEnv for updates throughout the day.

Here is Pruitt’s prepared testimony that gives a long list of priorities he wants to touch on as administrator of the EPA. That includes Superfund sites, improving air and water quality, and talking up “lean management,” which he said will speed up environmental permitting decisions.

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