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Water Policy Report - 02/20/2017

  • Judge's Order For EPA To Craft Conductivity TMDL Creates Test For Trump

    A federal district judge has ordered EPA to act on West Virginia's failure to craft cleanup plans for waters with high conductivity, a measure of ionic pollution associated with coal mining and other activities, creating a test for the Trump administration to either impose federal plans or invite another suit that the judge has signaled would certainly succeed.

    890 words

  • EPA Warns Releasing Utility ELG Data May Hinder Rulemaking, Enforcement

    EPA is urging a federal appeals court to reject environmentalists' suit seeking to force release of data on the agency's power plant effluent rule that the agency withheld from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, saying release of the data would set a negative precedent that may broadly hinder future rulemaking and enforcement efforts.

    957 words

  • Trump Could Moot Supreme Court Agency Deference Suit Ahead Of Ruling

    The Trump administration could moot a closely watched Supreme Court case that tests judges' deference to EPA and other agencies' readings of their own rules, ending the case without a ruling if the administration withdraws the policy at issue in the suit -- though an environmental attorney says other deference test cases are on the horizon.

    687 words

  • Landowner Renews EAB Challenge To EPA Carbon Capture UIC Permit

    An Illinois landowner is renewing his administrative challenge to an EPA underground injection permit for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) that renews several of his same attacks on an earlier version of the permit, including that EPA failed to consider impacts to endangered species and certain potential impacts to landowners.

    652 words

  • EPA Claims No Liability For Gold King Spill In Call To Dismiss Pending Suit

    EPA is arguing that it cannot be held responsible in court for its role in the 2015 Gold King Mine wastewater spill because the agency was trying to clean up pre-existing contamination at the former mine site, saying liability rests with the former owners who allowed the contamination to build up and that the suit over EPA's role should be dismissed.

    986 words

  • Delegating CWA Permit Powers Could Aid Weakening Of Jurisdiction Rule

    The Trump administration could permanently weaken federal authority to regulate wetlands regardless of the fate of the Obama EPA's controversial Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule by delegating dredge-and-fill permitting to states and removing direct federal power over many waters subject to the rule, an industry attorney says.

    1190 words

  • White House Agrees To Lift Hold On Army Corps' CWA Nationwide Permits

    The Trump administration will release its hold on implementing the Army Corps of Engineers' updated Clean Water Act (CWA) nationwide permits (NWPs), allowing the revised general permits to take effect as originally scheduled on March 19, after states warned the delay could cause widespread confusion for the thousands of projects subject to NWPs.

    504 words

  • White House Guide Tees Up Battles Between EPA, Agencies On Rule Costs

    The White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) has issued guidance implementing President Donald Trump's regulatory review executive order (EO) that will tee up battles between EPA and other agencies over how to offset the cost of new rules, by declaring that an agency can request cost-saving offsets from a separate agency.

    1219 words

  • Trump EPA Weighs Shuttering Enforcement Office But Prospects Unclear

    The Trump EPA is weighing a possible shuttering of EPA's Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) and returning civil enforcement to program offices, a move that sources say would significantly curb civil enforcement and be in line with Trump's calls to limit the agency's work -- though its prospects are unclear.

    1706 words

  • Former EPA Enforcement Official Sees Hurdles To Potential OECA Closure

    A former high-ranking career EPA enforcement official is pushing back on claims that the Trump administration might shutter the agency's Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA), saying that funding and other hurdles will complicate the push -- and suggesting less-sweeping ways to improve EPA's enforcement.

    1249 words

  • Speculation On Trump Agenda Unlikely To Justify Delaying EPA Rule Suits

    Industry arguments that speculation about President Donald Trump's agenda for EPA and how it might change the agency's approach to enforcement and other policies is seen by observers as an inadequate reason to delay pending suits over EPA rules, although some groups continue to argue that the agenda's uncertainty justifies such delays.

    963 words

  • Home Builders Challenges CWA Construction Stormwater General Permit

    The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is suing EPA over its Clean Water Act (CWA) general discharge permit for construction sites, with a likely focus on the measure's mandates for multiple construction firms working at one site and claims of procedural flaws including that the permit violates the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA).

    685 words

  • CLF Challenges New Hampshire Municipal Stormwater General Permit

    The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) is suing EPA over a recently issued stormwater general permit for small municipalities in New Hampshire, continuing a permit-by-permit approach to seeking stringent stormwater controls after the agency shelved a rule requiring stormwater retention at new construction sites nationwide.

    354 words

  • Top Transition Official Details Budget For Trump To Permanently Shrink EPA

    Myron Ebell, the former head of the Trump transition team at EPA, says he hopes that President Donald Trump fulfills his campaign promise to dramatically and permanently shrink EPA by revoking its climate change authority, dramatically cutting its staff and budget, and shifting much of its work to states.

    2264 words

  • EPA Research Leaders Seek To Show Relevancy, Value To Transition Team

    EPA's research leaders are seeking to demonstrate the value of the Office of Research and Development (ORD), emphasizing during a recent introductory meeting with Trump administration transition team leaders the language in environmental statutes that requires various research programs, ORD's emergency and technical assistance and other actions.

    796 words

  • Upcoming Budget Fights Loom As Crucial Test for EPA Programs

    Facing unified Republican control of Congress and the White House, EPA and its supporters are bracing for the threat of significant budget cuts to its programs -- beginning as soon as the looming expiration of the stop-gap measure that funds the government through the end of April -- which could set up the first of many battles over whether the agency has adequate resources to address environmental problems, several observers say.

    1401 words

  • EPA Vows Oversight Of Grants Staffing Amid Calls To Boost Aid To States

    EPA is pledging to step up its procedures for tracking hiring and performance of staff who administer grant programs after a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found it lacks data on those employees -- data that could become more important if conservatives succeed in shifting some agency duties to grant-funded state efforts.

    483 words

  • House GOP Bill Would Abolish EPA Regional Offices, Grants, GHG Rules

    House Republican Sam Johnson (TX) is floating legislation that would abolish all 10 EPA regional offices and terminate every agency grant program, while also prohibiting EPA from using any funds to implement a slew of greenhouse gas (GHG) programs and ending all agency environmental justice activities.

    657 words

  • Rep. Smith Rejects Democrats' Criticisms Over EPA 'Secret Science' Bill

    Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chairman of the House science committee, appeared to reject concerns from Democrats and their witness with the substance of an upcoming bill he is expected to advance seeking transparency in EPA's scientific process, arguing that medical privacy concerns are easily addressed and information that EPA uses for decision-making should be publicly available.

    1522 words

  • Water Utilities Update Municipal Bond Benefits Ahead Of Tax Change Fight

    Wastewater and drinking water industry groups are preparing to release updated data and fact sheets on the value of tax-exempt municipal bonds ahead of an expected GOP congressional push for tax reform that water utilities fear could threaten the bonds, which are used to finance many water infrastructure projects.

    730 words

  • Chemical Manufacturers Cite CRA Bid In Call For EPA To Delay RMP Rule

    Chemical manufacturers are urging EPA to further delay implementation of the Obama administration's final rule revising the agency's industrial facility safety program, saying additional time is vital to give Congress time to consider a Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolution that could potentially undo the entire rule.

    746 words

  • EPA Approves Wisconsin's Variance For Phosphorus Water Quality Limits

    EPA has approved Wisconsin's request to grant dischargers a 10-year variance from stringent water quality standards, a move that many states have been awaiting in the hopes that it will provide a model for how they can provide flexibility for dischargers while still addressing nutrient pollution of waterbodies.

    1018 words

  • Iowa Utility, Local Officials Spar Over Suit Testing CWA Permits For Drainage

    An Iowa water utility and county officials representing local agricultural drainage districts are arguing whether a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling effectively nullified a pending suit claiming the drainage districts are subject to Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permit requirements and can be made to limit the amount of nitrate coming from fields.

    805 words

  • Pruitt's Emails Give Democrats New Tool To Fight Trump EPA's Agenda

    The imminent release of thousands of Scott Pruitt's emails from his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general (AG) will give Democrats and other opponents of the newly-confirmed EPA administrator new tools to fight the Trump EPA's agenda after he is sworn in, though their release failed to help Democrats delay Pruitt's confirmation.

    1090 words