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Wheeler picked to head US EPA; agency ordered to release thousands of documents


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Wheeler picked to head US EPA; agency ordered to release thousands of documents

US DOE earmarks nearly $10 million to stimulate market opportunities for coal

The U.S. Department of Energy said Jan. 15 that it has made $9.5 million available to create new market opportunities for coal through research into making upgraded coal fuel, producing high-value solid products from coal and other advanced material research.

Watchdog group alleges acting US EPA chief may have broken ethics pledge

A government watchdog group Jan. 15 asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general to investigate whether Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler violated an ethics pledge by participating in rulemakings championed by his former lobbying client, Murray Energy Corp. The complaint, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, alleged that Wheeler may have run afoul of a two-year recusal agreement he signed after leaving the Faegre Baker Daniels law and consulting firm to join the EPA as deputy administrator in April 2018.

DOE extends deadline on solicitation aimed at building future coal plants

The U.S. Department of Energy modified a solicitation for conceptual designs for "coal-based power plants of the future" and extended the deadline for submitting a proposal by 10 days, to Jan. 25. The DOE is hoping to spur the development of coal-fired power plants capable of flexible operation, improved efficiency and reduced emissions, providing resilient power and operating at a smaller scale than conventional coal plants.

FERC's McNamee gets conditional OK to work on US grid resilience docket

A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ethics official said member Bernard McNamee can participate in the agency's ongoing grid resilience review but with a caveat: He must recuse himself from the matter if it starts to "closely resemble" a failed U.S. Department of Energy proposal to support financially struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants that McNamee helped craft.

Trump officially nominates Andrew Wheeler to lead US EPA

In a widely expected move, President Donald Trump tapped U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to officially lead the organization. Wheeler, who was confirmed 53-45 as the EPA's deputy administrator in April 2018, stepped up to head the EPA temporarily after former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018 amid a cloud of ethics investigations.

Wheeler previously was a lobbyist for Murray Energy and a principal at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, where he co-led that firm's energy and natural resources practice.

Judge orders release of thousands of docs between EPA officials, industry groups

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to expedite the production of thousands of pages of emails and calendars for Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Office of Air and Radiation head Bill Wehrum and 23 other agency employees in response to a public records lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club.

Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California gave the agency 10 months to produce approximately 20,000 pages of material that the environmental group said could expose "conflicts of interest" based on top officials' "strong ties to regulated industries."