A Democratic House Could Spell Trouble For Trump’s DOI And EPA

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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The Department of the Interior (DOI) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will likely face increased pressure from lawmakers after the Democratic Party won control of the House of Representatives during Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Democrats picked up at least 27 seats in the House, four more than needed to gain a majority. Democratic House leaders are now in charge of setting the agenda and can increase oversight and issue subpoenas on Executive Branch agencies, Axios reports.

“Authorizing committees can take up executive branch bandwidth with oversight hearings,” ClearView Energy Partners managing director Kevin Book said, according to Axios. “Appropriators can constrain executive branch options with riders and by limiting reprogramming requests.”

The shift in power places Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a difficult position as he tries to navigate multiple inspector general probes, one of which has been referred to the Justice Department, into his conduct. (RELATED: Trump Stands By Zinke Amid Misconduct Allegations)

Democratic New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone is expected to lead the House Energy and Commerce Committee and target many of Trump’s actions on the environment and energy by the EPA and DOI.

“We have serious concerns with how Trump’s EPA has consistently sided with the special interests over people’s health and the environment,” Pallone told the Houston Chronicle in a statement Monday. “We will look to restore the environmental protections that have been gutted over the last two years.”

A flood of negative press played a role in former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigning from his position in the Trump administration. Pruitt also faced pressure from lawmakers calling for investigations into Pruitt’s spending habits and living arrangements. Democrats have increasingly turned their attention to Zinke, especially after news broke of the IG referring a probe to the Justice department.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Trump has promised to fight back against a Democratic House majority hostile to his administration.

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