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Water Policy Report - 11/13/2017

  • High Court CWA Rule Suit Poses Early Test For Gorsuch On Environment

    The Supreme Court's pending case testing whether litigation over EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule should first be heard in federal district or appeals court will be an early test for how Justice Neil Gorsuch will interpret environmental laws, observers say, as the suit will require him to decide on how to interpret the CWA.

    1255 words

  • Consultant Floats Tool For Reconciling Competing CWA Jurisdiction Tests

    An environmental consultant is calling on EPA to craft a new software tool that could "bridge the gap" between the Obama-era study on waters' connectivity that helped drive the 2015 Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule and critics of the rule pushing for a narrower CWA test using "objective" criteria applicable by laypeople.

    911 words

  • Mining Industry Groups Urge Against CWA, SMCRA Overlap In EPA Rule

    Mining industry groups are urging EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to avoid potential overlaps between the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) when it crafts a revised rule on which waters are subject to the law to replace the Obama-era CWA jurisdiction policy.

    727 words

  • EPA Prepares To Delay Implementation Of 2015 CWA Jurisdiction Standard

    EPA has sent for White House review a proposal to delay the effective date of the currently stayed Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule, likely in an effort to avoid having to implement the policy if the Supreme Court dissolves an appellate court's nationwide stay of the rule before the Trump administration can repeal it.

    639 words

  • NMA Seeks EPA Rule Overhauls But Favors Punting On GHG Risk Finding

    The National Mining Association (NMA) is backing the Trump EPA's push to rescind or overhaul Obama-era rules including the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule, cautioning against letting highly politicized debates over more controversial issues such as the agency's climate risk finding hinder the regulatory reforms.

    757 words

  • 9th Circuit To Weigh Legality Of Army Corps Regional Wetlands Manual

    An Alaska land-holding company is urging a federal appeals court to overturn a district court ruling that upheld the Army Corps of Engineers' system of using region-specific handbooks to identify wetlands that may be subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA), setting the stage for a new ruling on whether a rider in a 25-year-old spending bill barred the practice permanently.

    565 words

  • GAO To Investigate Pruitt's Appearance In CWA Rule Lobbying Video

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is opening a review of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's appearance in an agriculture industry video supporting repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule as a potential violation of restrictions on "lobbying" by agencies, mirroring GOP criticism of the Obama EPA for its efforts to boost the same rule.

    281 words

  • EPA Fights 'Constructive Submission' Theory Seeking To Force TMDL

    EPA is urging a federal district court to reject environmentalists' "constructive submission" theory that the lack of a state-crafted waterbody cleanup plan for the Columbia and Snake rivers in Washington and Oregon means the states have abandoned efforts to craft a plan and that the agency must now impose its own plan on them.

    1061 words

  • 2nd Circuit Stays FERC Gas Pipeline Approval After State's CWA Concerns

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has stayed a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to construct an interstate gas pipeline, after New York argued that FERC is seeking to usurp its Clean Water Act (CWA) authority by approving the project before the state certified whether it complies with the water law.

    914 words

  • 9th Circuit Reverses Broad Read Of RCRA Anti-Duplication Provision

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has reversed a district court decision that broadly interpreted the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act's (RCRA) anti-duplication provision, finding that the lower court had overreached when it ruled that the Clean Water Act (CWA) categorically preempts RCRA claims.

    1189 words

  • Environmentalists Say EPA Policies Boost Suit Seeking CWA Ash Controls

    Environmentalists are invoking past EPA policies to boost a lawsuit claiming that the Clean Water Act (CWA) limits coal ash pollution that travels through groundwater to protected surface waters, in order to win judicial deference for that position and arguing that such a decision would be hard for the Trump administration to avoid.

    1152 words

  • District Court Judge Orders EPA To Release Utility ELG Review Documents

    A federal district court judge is giving EPA until Dec. 31 to produce documents related to its reconsideration of the 2015 Clean Water Act (CWA) effluent rule for power plants, after slamming an attorney for the agency during a recent hearing on EPA's "unrealistic" much longer timeframe for reviewing open records requests.

    808 words

  • EPA's ORD Prioritizes PFAS Research Amid Growing Exposure Concerns

    Leaders in EPA's research office are prioritizing work on assessing risks of perflouroalkyl substances, which they see as a major challenge for the agency in the short term as they face monitoring results that show an ever-widening spread of contamination from the substances, though EPA's water office is worried they will be harder to address under Trump administration toxics office rule changes.

    1369 words

  • EPA Research Appointee Sees 'Big Data' Among Short-Term Challenges

    Interdisciplinary research, "big data," and research translation are among the biggest challenges facing EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) in the near future, Richard Yamada, President Donald Trump's top appointee to ORD, tells Inside EPA in an exclusive interview.

    977 words

  • Trump EPA's Deregulatory Agenda May Have Staying Power Amidst Chaos

    Faced with a divisive and chaotic political environment in Washington, President Donald Trump's efforts to roll back EPA and other agencies' rules may be one of the few priority agenda items his administration is successfully advancing, though agency officials still face a long and litigious road before any major rules are repealed or revised.

    1111 words

  • Trump EPA Faulted For Narrow Benefit Tallies Of Targeted Obama Rules

    The Trump EPA is attracting a barrage of criticism for narrowing or omitting analysis of potential health or other lost benefits from its proposed repeals of Obama administration rules, with critics arguing the agency's methods often ignore established or peer-reviewed approaches used to account for the costs and benefits of environmental regulations.

    1882 words

  • Carper Sees Senate Democrats As 'Last Line Of Defense' Against Trump EPA

    Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), ranking member on the environment committee, says Senate Democrats are "like the last line of defense" against the Trump EPA's deregulatory agenda and will use the legislative process to fight President Donald Trump's proposed massive budget cuts for the agency and oppose roll-backs of rules they support.

    749 words

  • Sessions' Ban On Third-Party Payments Derails EPA 'Supplemental Projects'

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions' order barring the Justice Department (DOJ) from entering into settlements that provide payments to non-governmental third parties is already derailing popular EPA supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), sources say, despite DOJ assurances that the projects can continue as long as they comply with EPA policy.

    1154 words

  • Hiring For Pruitt Security Detail Seen As Drain On Enforcement Resources

    A retired EPA enforcement officer says the agency's move to add security staff for Administrator Scott Pruitt's protection detail is a "shell game" that will drain at least $2 million from the enforcement office, while a current career official says the move will free up criminal investigators who were temporarily transferred to the detail.

    841 words

  • Judge Rejects Claims Of EPA 'Duty' To Expand Stormwater Permits

    A federal district judge has rejected environmentalists' claim that the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires EPA to expand its use of stormwater permits in watersheds impaired by polluted runoff, dealing another blow to the groups' wide-ranging legal strategy seeking to force new controls on currently unpermitted properties.

    671 words

  • EPA Pledges To Craft Collaboration Agreements For Green Infrastructure

    EPA is pledging to craft a framework for local governments to share expertise on their use of green infrastructure within "12-18 months," after a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report faulted the agency for failing to include written agreements on collaboration in its pilot projects aimed at boosting use of the technology.

    706 words

  • Former EPA Staff Say Budget Cuts Will Hinder 'Meaningless' Strategic Plan

    Former EPA officials are criticizing the Trump administration's draft plan outlining the agency's broad priorities for 2018 through 2022 as an "almost meaningless" document, and saying that proposed budget cuts will hinder EPA's ability to even achieve the plan's vague goals let alone adequately protect public health and the environment.

    1689 words

  • Environmentalists, States Wary Of Trump EPA's 'Cooperative Federalism'

    Environmentalists and some state regulators are wary of the Trump EPA's push to bolster "cooperative federalism" by giving states more authority on environmental protection, with environmentalists saying it is a "misleading" plan that will weaken safeguards while states say similar agency commitments in the past have failed to materialize.

    1514 words

  • Arkema Fire May Complicate Pruitt's RMP Redo But Few Expect Stricter Rule

    An industry attorney is acknowledging that the industrial facility fire sparked by Hurricane Harvey flood waters may complicate the Trump administration's effort to revise an Obama-era rule updating the agency's risk management plan (RMP) accident prevention program with new requirements, as environmentalists have argued the fire backs the need for the Obama rule.

    1312 words

  • Industry May Seek EPA Guide To Ease Strict 'Off-Site' Enforcement Reviews

    Industry officials may ask the Trump administration to provide greater clarity on how EPA reviews facilities' analysis of the potential impacts of accidental "off site" releases as agency enforcement officials are maintaining the Obama EPA's stepped up scrutiny of the analyses, an industry attorney says.

    733 words

  • Pruitt Directive Axes Current Science Advisers, Driving 'Purge' Charge

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is applying his new policy barring science advisors from receiving agency grants to current advisors, a move that will force some to either give up their grants or step down from the panels on which they serve, opening the door to Pruitt making additional appointments and intensifying criticisms that the he is seeking to "purge" independent advisors.

    1200 words

  • Senate Democrats Ask GAO To Expand Review Of New EPA Advisors Policy

    A group of Senate Democrats is asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to expand its review of EPA's policies and procedures for its advisory committees to also include Administrator Scott Pruitt's new policy barring any scientist who is receiving EPA grant funding from serving on any of its advisory committees.

    547 words

  • Critics Float Legal Theories To Challenge Pruitt's Science Advisor Policy

    House Democrats and a Columbia University law professor are detailing possible legal arguments that could be used to challenge Administrator Scott Pruitt's controversial new directive barring scientists who are receiving an EPA research grant from serving on one of its scientific advisory committees.

    1173 words

  • EPA Readying Plan To Coordinate Water, Waste Issues At Sediment Sites

    EPA's water, waste and enforcement offices are close to signing a model agreement to serve as a template for deals with states, tribes and other federal agencies to ensure better collaboration between water and Superfund program efforts at contaminated sediment sites, potentially bolstering efforts by Administrator Scott Pruitt to speed cleanups at the challenging sites.

    806 words

  • ECOS, EPA Eye Metrics To Reduce State Program Reviews, Boost Flexibility

    Todd Parfitt, president of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), says the group of state environmental regulators is working with EPA to craft metrics for reducing agency reviews of state programs in order to free up limited resources and bolster agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's goal of delegating more environmental protection work to states with increased flexibility in how states achieve those goals.

    963 words