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The Week Ahead

The Senate environment panel will hold a hearing this week on Trump administration’s narrow Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule. Meanwhile, House lawmakers are scrutinizing the “legacy” of contamination from per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at military bases.

CWA Jurisdiction

The full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has set a Sept. 16 hearing on the Trump administration’s CWA jurisdiction rule, focused on “stakeholder reactions” to the new policy. Regulated industries such as agriculture and the construction sector have welcomed the rule, though EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are still working on implementation guidance to refine how the rule is enforced. Meanwhile, environmentalists say it unlawfully narrowed which waterbodies are considered “waters of the United States” and have brought several suits seeking to overturn the policy.

PFAS

The House Armed Services Committee’s panel on readiness will hold a Sept. 15 hearing on the “legacy” of PFAS use at military bases, including community protections and potential legal reforms.

EPA will host a Sept. 16 webinar on its research challenge looking for “Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS” as an alternative to incineration.

The Air & Waste Management Association will host an online conference on “The Science of PFAS” Sept. 15-17, with speakers including EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science Policy David Dunlap along with other EPA and state officials.

Trailer Emissions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral argument Sept. 15 in Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) v. EPA, et al., where TTMA is seeking to overturn an Obama-era rule setting fuel economy standards for trailers connected to long-haul trucks. The case had been on hold until the beginning of this year while EPA and NHTSA administratively reconsidered the requirements -- a process that remains pending -- but the rule is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1 and TTMA is asking for a judicial stay.

Climate Change

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s panel on the environment will hold a Sept. 16 hearing on “Opportunities for an Equitable, Low-Carbon Recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing follows Democrats’ Sept. 10 release of a sweeping “THRIVE Agenda” for the recovery that includes investments in renewable energy and building efficiency and environmental justice (EJ) provisions alongside labor protections.

The full House is slated to vote this week on its counterpart to S. 2193, a Senate-passed bill to boost agencies’ use of electric vehicles by ensuring that federal employees can pay to charge official vehicles with government accounts.

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) will host a Sept. 15 “master class” on greenhouse gas disclosure requirements in litigation touching on climate change, and the potential impact of ethics rules on those issues.

The Environmental & Energy Study Institute will hold a Sept. 16 briefing continuing its series on potential workforce policies for a post-pandemic recovery agenda, examining “energy transitions in coal country.” Speakers include Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

Environmental Justice

The House Natural Resource Committee has set its latest in a series of EJ “forum” events for Sept. 17, focused on issues in the Louisiana region known as “Cancer Alley.” The committee is using its events to highlight Democrats’ pending bills that seek to give EJ a more prominent role in government decision-making, and lower legal bars to civil rights suits over environmental issues.

SAB Meeting

EPA’s full Science Advisory Board (SAB) will meet Sept. 15 to continue its review of the proposed overhaul of cost-benefit analysis procedures for Clean Air Act policies. The board will continue discussing its Sept. 8 draft report faulted several aspects of the proposed rule, including urging EPA to potentially broaden the scope of benefits it considers, better justify proposed criteria for using health studies in cost analyses, and allow for policies that may reduce the chance of catastrophic losses even if they provide a “lower expected payoff” -- language that could potentially be interpreted as applying to climate change-related policies.

Guidance

Comments are due Sept. 18 on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) interim final rule (https://beta.regulations.gov/document/DOJ-OAG-2020-0004-0001) that codified a 2017 memo from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that forbids DOJ from issuing “binding” mandates through guidance. The new rule is part of an administration-wide push to limit agencies’ use of guidance, including EPA’s just-finalized policy setting new procedural requirements for “significant” guidance documents and creating a public petition process for requesting that existing documents be withdrawn, modified or reinstated.

FIFRA SAP

EPA’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP) will meet Sept. 15-18 to review the use of new approach methodologies in evaluating substances’ developmental neurotoxicity as part of human health analyses.

Energy

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee will hold a Sept. 16 confirmation hearing for two pending nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): Mark Christie, a Republican, and Allison Clements, a Democrat. If confirmed, the two will return FERC to a full roster of five commissioners for the first time since 2019.

Later that day, the committee’s panel on public lands, forests and mining will hold a legislative hearing on several bills including S.180, which would streamline the permit process for oil and gas operations.

The research, development and training firm GTI will host a Sept. 15 webinar on the use of artificial intelligence and related tools like machine learning in the energy sector.

Water Infrastructure

The National Municipal Stormwater Alliance will host a Sept. 15 webinar on “challenges” in the design and maintenance of stormwater retention ponds.

Natural Resources

The Ad-Hoc Industry Natural Resource Management Group, a cross-sector coalition of multinational companies, will host its annual Natural Resources Symposium Sept. 17. Speakers on the agenda include former EPA’s deputy assistant administrator for waste Steven Cook, former EPA General Counsel Roger Martella, and Alex Beehler, who heads the Department of Defense’s energy and environment program.

Environmental Health

EPA will host a Sept. 15 webinar on its newly opened grant offer for research into “potential causal relationships among cumulative exposures to chemicals and non-chemical environmental stressors during early lifestages and modifying factors that result in adverse developmental health effects.”

The group GreenHomeNYC will host a Sept. 16 webinar on how indoor materials like paint and finished furniture can contribute to indoor air quality problems and environmental health hazards.

Biofuels

ELI will host a Sept. 18 webinar on prospects for advanced biofuels, focused in particular on cellulosic bio-ethanol.

HSRB Meeting

EPA’s Human Studies Review Board (HSRB), which advises the agency on research that uses human subjects, will meet by teleconference Sept. 17.

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