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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior official called Black Lives Matter 'racist,' defended alleged Kenosha shooter | Trump signs bipartisan bill funding conservation grants

The Hill logo The Hill 10/30/2020 Rebecca Beitsch and Rachel Frazin
a person holding a sign: OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior official called Black Lives Matter 'racist,' defended alleged Kenosha shooter | Trump signs bipartisan bill funding conservation grants © Getty Images OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior official called Black Lives Matter 'racist,' defended alleged Kenosha shooter | Trump signs bipartisan bill funding conservation grants

TGIF! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at rfrazin@thehill.com or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.

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JEREMY CARL: A recently appointed Interior Department official has called the Black Lives Matter movement racist and defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen charged with killing two people after opening fire at a protest in Kenosha, Wis.

Jeremy Carl was appointed as Interior's deputy assistant secretary of fish, wildlife and parks in early October, joining the department without any publicity from the agency. His appointment, as well as his history of controversial comments, was first reported by HuffPost.

Interior did not respond to multiple requests for comment on his appointment, instead referring The Hill to the White House, which also did not comment.

In July, Carl penned a piece arguing that the Black Lives Matter movement "is not marxist, it's racist."

"I don't mean to pick on these individuals in particular; many of them are good patriots and conservatives who have explicitly denounced BLM's racial politics," Carl wrote on the American Greatness blog after referencing posts from a number of other conservatives.

"But at the same time, we must be clear: Marxism doesn't define the Black Lives Matter movement-anti-white racism does," he added.

On the same blog, he argued that peaceful protests over George Floyd's police killing were more harmful than the looting that followed.

"[T]he non-violent protesters actually are far more damaging to the long-term fabric of our civil society than the rioters," he wrote. "Though many of the protesters have entirely sincere intentions, they are dangerous because their protests - often using ritual humiliation of their adversaries - are based fundamentally on lies and slander about white people, about police, and about America."

President Trump has also been highly critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, calling a mural on New York City's Fifth Avenue a "symbol of hate." He has also defended Rittenhouse, suggesting the teen was acting in self defense.

House Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) called Carl "an avowed white nationalist" and argued his hiring does further damage to an agency that is among the least diverse in government.

"Hiring Jeremy Carl, an avowed white nationalist, to run major portions of the Interior Department is the culmination of a long and intentional process that started early in the Trump administration," Grijalva said in a statement to The Hill.

"It's clear that [Interior] Secretary [David] Bernhardt either doesn't know racism when he sees it or he doesn't care, and the restoration of DOI's credibility will have to start with the removal of the racist ideologues he put in place," he continued. "Addressing DOI's well-known problems with diversity and inclusion will take time and demand serious attention from the next Interior Secretary regardless of who he or she may be."

Carl's Twitter account is private, but the Washington Post pointed to tweets defending Rittenhouse's action in Kenosha.

Carl retweeted an image the day after the Aug. 25 shooting featuring men carrying rifles with the caption, "With law enforcement incapable of defending private property ... Armed groups have begun protecting the city."

Carl also reportedly linked to a white supremacist blog when he penned a 2018 op-ed questioning if Starbucks would "become America's largest chain of homeless shelters."

The op-ed came shortly after two Black men were asked to leave a Starbucks. The two had not purchased coffee while waiting for another party to arrive for their meeting.

The piece posits that if customers cannot be asked to leave for failure to make a purchase, "Starbucks may soon find its customers don't really enjoy sharing their space with transients."

But in criticizing former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder, whom Starbucks hired as an adviser, Carl linked to the American Renaissance website, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as "one of the vilest white nationalist publications."

Read more on the new hire here.

BILL TO PAY (FOR CONSERVATION): President Trump on Friday approved a bipartisan bill that funds several popular conservation grants.

The move reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act and Chesapeake Bay Program through 2025.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act protects wetlands from floods, erosion and poor air and water quality and seeks to increase bird populations; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act helps conserve wildlife, plants and habitats; and the Chesapeake Bay program helps to restore the mid-Atlantic body of water.

The bill also authorizes funding to combat invasive species, creates grants to help states and tribes pay farmers for livestock that was attacked by protected species, and aims to tackle a neurological disease that impacts deer, elk and moose

However, Trump said that a portion of the bill that would have a task force on the disease collaborate with other countries would be taken as "advisory and non-binding."

"This provision interferes with my exclusive authority under Article II of the Constitution to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs," he argued in a statement.

The legislation was noncontroversial, passing the House by a voice vote this month and unanimously passing the Senate last month.

It follows the passage of another major conservation bill this summer that provided funding to secure new lands for parks and trails and also address a maintenance backlog at national parks.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle celebrated the passage of the new legislation, called America's Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act.

Read more about the legislation here.

MAILBAG: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to detail what agency trainings and activities have changed as a result of an order from President Trump barring diversity and inclusion trainings.

Following the order, EPA canceled a speaker series on racism, according to reporting from Politico, and another virtual event on LGBTQ pride and resilience, according to reporting from HuffPost.

"These directives have particularly worrisome consequences when applied to the EPA, which has a responsibility to address environmental injustice. It is widely recognized that low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and indigenous communities bear a disproportionate burden of pollution, and that there are systemic disparities in access to clean air and water," Duckworth wrote, adding that the suspended trainings could undermine the agency's mission.

The letter asks EPA to provide "a detailed reasoning" of why any cancellations were necessary for compliance with the September executive order.

It also asks how EPA will "reconcile these new directives with your promise to more effectively address the needs of communities facing environmental threats."

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a September speech said it would focus more heavily on environmental justice issues if Trump was elected to a second term.

"I believe that by focusing EPA toward communities in the coming years, our agency can change the future for people living in this country who have been left behind simply for living in polluted places," he said.

"We will respond through the proper channel and note that Senator Duckworth is attempting to combine two separate, unrelated issues," an EPA spokesperson said by email, adding that opportunities to "enhance awareness, understanding and appreciation of diversity and the principles of civil rights compliance are a priority and expectation for participation by EPA employees and managers if they are to be able to effectively reach out to underserved audiences."

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

On Tuesday:

  • The election will take place.

On Wednesday:

  • The U.S. formally withdraws from the Paris agreement.

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Environmental group releases more secretly recorded 'Pebble Tapes' targeting the executive who remains in charge, The Anchorage Daily News reports

The Intercept reports on "How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World"

Ex-official blows whistle on Army Corps' dam program, E&E News reports

EU takes France to court for second time over air pollution, Reuters reports

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