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The Week Ahead

EPA Advisory Board Debates E-Manifest's Future; Agency Seeks Input On NO2 NAAQS

The panel advising EPA on its development of a hazardous waste electronic manifest (e-manifest) meets this week to debate its technical aspects, while Congress and EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) are looking into delays in its development. Meanwhile, the agency is seeking public comments on its proposal to retain existing nationwide air standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).


EPA's advisory board working on recommendations for the e-manifest program will meet Sept. 26-28 in Arlington, VA. The meeting will focus on technical issues related to user registration and account activation -- issues that EPA says “need resolution prior to launching the e-Manifest system.” The e-manifest has faced many delays since it was authorized in 2012, leading Congress and the agency's OIG to query its budgets and progress.


Comments are due Sept. 25 on EPA's proposed rule that would retain the existing NO2 national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), set at 100 parts per billion over one hour. The proposal backs a suggestion from the agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee that supported keeping the current standard in place because it adequately protects public health.

CWA Jurisdiction

Sept. 27 is the deadline for comments on the proposal to withdraw the Obama administration's Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule. Scrapping the 2015 policy would have little immediate effect, since it has already been stayed nationwide under a federal court order, but would avoid the possibility that the rule would come back into effect should the Supreme Court decide that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit lacked authority for its stay.

On Sept. 26, EPA will hold the second of its stakeholder outreach calls aimed at gathering input to inform development of a new, narrower jurisdiction rule. This week's call is open to environmental and public-advocacy groups, the vast majority of which have backed the 2015 rule and oppose any move to narrow the scope of the law.

Regulatory Reform

The House Speaker's Task Force on Intergovernmental Affairs is holding a Sept. 28 hearing on federalism issues that could provide fuel for the GOP's push to strengthen states' role in environmental regulation.

Sept. 30 is the end of fiscal year 2017, and the deadline for an array of EPA reports on various issues -- including its recommendations on which rules should be rolled back or loosened in order to boost domestic energy production in line with a recent presidential executive order.

Cooperative Federalism

EPA Chief of Operations Henry Darwin will speak on the Environmental Council of the States' (ECOS) Sept. 26 webinar addressing the “cooperative federalist” relationship between states and EPA, and how it is changing under the Trump administration. That relationship was a focus of ECOS' fall meeting with the state regulators who make up the group seeking more flexibility from the agency along with steady or boosted funding assistance.

Climate Change

The New York University law school is hosting a Sept. 26 seminar at its New York City campus on federalism as it relates to climate policy, with speakers including attorneys general and environmental regulators from 10 states.

The American Bar Association has set a Sept. 28 webinar on the Trump administration's international negotiations over climate policy, and how they have been affected by the decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is holding a Sept. 26 presentation in Washington, DC., on the future of U.S. hydrokinetic electricity as it relates to green energy policies.

TSCA Reform

EPA will host a Sept. 27 stakeholder webinar on its recently finalized rule updating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) inventory of chemicals that are currently used in commerce. Publication of the rule started a six-month clock for companies to notify the agency of whether their production of chemicals subjects them to the rule.

Environmental Justice

EPA's environmental justice office is holding a Sept. 26 teleconference to discuss the impending reorganization that will see its functions moved from the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) to the agency's policy office, alongside the group responsible for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. EPA says the move will allow OECA to focus on its core mission and bolster Administrator Scott Pruitt's priorities, though Cynthia Giles, who headed the enforcement office during the latter years of the Obama administration, has charged that it will weaken and “inject politics” into the two offices being moved.

CWA Criteria

Sept. 26 is the deadline for public comments on EPA's draft updated CWA water quality criteria for aluminum, though the agency is weighing a last-minute deadline extension after New Mexico regulators and Massachusetts drinking water utilities sought more time to craft their input. The agency last updated its aluminum criteria in 1988, and industry has said that the age of the values has made it difficult to permit ongoing operation and expansion of facilities.

CAAC Meeting

EPA's Science Advisory Board Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee (CAAC) will meet Sept. 27-28 to discuss the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) risk assessment program. The agency is scheduled to present materials on IRIS enhancements “expected to add transparency and increase throughput and responsiveness to Agency needs,” after the program's new leadership told CAAC that they plan a shift in its “paradigm.”

Water Infrastructure

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee's panel on water resources and environment will hold a Sept. 26 hearing on water infrastructure groups' perspectives on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure.” The hearing is the latest part of a push for legislation boosting EPA's support for state and local infrastructure spending, seen as a bipartisan priority.

Nuclear Waste

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee's panel on interior, energy and the environment will host a Sept. 26 hearing on nuclear waste management and storage.

Tribal Issues

ELI will host a Sept. 27 webinar on “Emerging Environmental Issues in Native Communities,” including climate change, resource constraints, pipeline construction, and renewable energy.

Supreme Court

The free-enterprise Hoover Institution is hosting a Sept. 29 panel discussion on regulatory issues slated for the Supreme Court's upcoming 2017-18 term, which starts Oct. 2. Those issues include the legal challenge to the CWA jurisdiction rule, which will go before the high court on Oct. 11 on the limited question of which courts should first hear suits over the rule.

Cost Analysis

The Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, and the Administrative Conference of the United States will hold a joint symposium on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. on "New Developments in Regulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis." The agenda includes presentations from former White House officials and discussion of methods for estimating costs of deregulatory actions.


The House Natural Resources Committee's oversight panel will hold a Sept. 27 hearing on wildfire impacts, including methods for reducing risks of new fires and improving forest resiliency.

Small Business

EPA will host a Sept. 28 webinar on its Small Business Innovation Research grants program for entities interested in applying.

CRA Resolutions

The House Judiciary Committee's regulatory reform subcommittee will hold a Sept. 28 hearing on agencies' implementation of Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions that scrapped 13 Obama-era policies at the start of the Trump administration, and bar agencies from pursuing “substantially” similar rules in the future. None of the rules affected by the CRA were issued by EPA, but some touch on environmental issues nonetheless, including the Interior Department's Stream Protection Rule that restricted mine-related water pollution.

Computational Toxicology

EPA's Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice will meet Sept. 28 for a presentation on “Learning Boolean Networks from ToxCast High-Content Imaging Data.”