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The Week Ahead

OTC Meets To Debate Air Policies; Senate EPW Weighs Bills Curtailing EPA Air Act Powers

The interstate Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) is holding its fall meeting this week to debate strategies for reducing ozone in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions -- shortly after EPA denied a petition from some OTC members to expand the group to other states. Meanwhile, the Senate environment panel will review four bills that would limit EPA's Clean Air Act powers.

OTC Meeting

OTC and the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Visibility Union (MANE-VU) will hold their joint fall meeting Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C. Discussion is likely to involve the Trump administration's denial of a 2013 petition from several OTC states to expand its membership, which would add new states and regions to the list subject to tougher ozone controls than elsewhere.

Air Bills

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee's air and radiation subcommittee is scheduled to debate four pending bills that would restrict EPA's regulatory power under the Clean Air Act at a Nov. 14 hearing. The bills are S. 1857, which would extend the compliance deadline for EPA emissions rules governing wood furnaces and other types of heaters; S. 203, which would bar the agency from regulating emissions from vehicles designed for motorsports instead of on-road use; S. 839, which would delay enforcement of EPA's air toxics rule for kilns until court challenges to the policy are resolved; and S. 1934, which would bar the agency from updating rules that govern diesel engines in Alaska unless it finds that the revisions “will not negatively affect electricity or energy reliability in any remote area” of the state.

Regional Haze

Oral argument is Nov. 16 before the D.C. Circuit in Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG), et al. v. EPA, the long-delayed case testing whether states can rely on power plants' participation in EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) as an alternative to source-specific control technology to curb haze-forming pollution. EPA under the Obama administration allowed facilities to use CSAPR participation for compliance with the regional haze program but environmentalists say the two programs are not equivalent, while industry groups say the agency had no basis for rejecting state compliance plans based on an earlier program that CSAPR replaced.

EPA Enforcement

Patrick Taylor, deputy assistant administrator at EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), will speak on the agency's enforcement priorities under the Trump administration at a Nov. 16 event hosted by the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C.

Emissions Reductions

EPW is holding a full committee hearing on “Promoting American Leadership in Reducing Air Emissions Through Innovation.” The hearing notice does not address which technologies legislators will seek to highlight, but witnesses slated to appear include Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers; Kipp Coddington, director of the University of Wyoming's Carbon Management Institute; and Zoe Lipman, director of the environmental group BlueGreen Alliance.

SO2 NAAQS

Comments are due Nov. 17 on two draft documents that EPA is using to support its agency review of sulfur dioxide (SO2) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), which recommended that the agency leave the existing one-hour standard unchanged at 75 parts per billion.

CWA Regulation

The Association of Clean Water Administrators, which represents state water regulators, is holding a workshop on Clean Water Act (CWA) variances Nov. 16-17 in Washington, D.C. The agenda focuses on in-depth discussions of how state regulators can use and justify facility- or waterbody-specific variances from statewide water quality standards.

Toxicology

EPA scientists are among the presenters slated for the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry's annual meeting, running through Nov. 16 in Minneapolis, MN.

Meanwhile, EPA's Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice will meet Nov. 16 in Research Triangle Park, NC. Kris Thayer, director of the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) risk analysis program at EPA, will present on “Systematic Review for Chemical Assessments.”

Hurricanes

The House Energy & Commerce Committee's environment panel will hold a Nov. 14 hearing on the environmental impacts of hurricanes that have hit the United States in 2017, including Harvey, which flooded Houston, TX, and Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico.

WIFIA

EPA is hosting a Nov. 16 information session in Nashville, TN, on the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) financing program -- the second in a series of three stakeholder events aimed at aiding local officials in applying for WIFIA aid. The agency is going through the process of selecting the first projects to be funded through WIFIA, just as the Office of Inspector General has opened an audit to review the program's internal controls.

Stormwater Management

The law firm Ballard Spahr will host a green infrastructure conference Nov. 14 in Philadelphia, PA. Topics on the agenda include the potential for legal mandates to adapt for the impacts of climate change, methods of reducing implementation costs for green infrastructure and the potential uses of the technology to mitigate hurricane damage.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is co-hosting a Nov. 17 workshop in Sayreville, NJ, on using green infrastructure to bolster coastal resiliency

The National Groundwater Association is hosting a Nov. 14 workshop in Kansas City, MO, on how stormwater infrastructure affects groundwater quality.

IG Recommendations

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a Nov. 15 hearing examining the work of inspectors general (IGs) across the federal government, including at EPA, that will target “ongoing management challenges identified by IGs in their respective agencies” and overall implementation of the Inspector General Act that established IG offices.

CWA Jurisdiction

EPA will hold a Nov. 14 stakeholder call to gather input on its forthcoming revisions to the standard for Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction. The call will be the seventh in a series of sector-specific sessions seeking recommendations for how the agency, together with the Army Corps of Engineers, should craft a new CWA rule to replace the 2015 standard that the Trump administration plans to repeal, which industry and Republicans have charged expands the law's scope far beyond what Congress intended. The Nov. 14 call is open to stormwater, wastewater and drinking water groups.

NEPA

The American Bar Association is hosting a Nov. 15 webinar on the “past, present and future” of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), featuring current White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) member Edward A. Boling and former CEQ member Horst Greczmiel.

Tribal Issues

The D.C. Bar Association is hosting a Nov. 16 panel discussion on the “emerging nexus” between tribal fishing rights and environmental regulations.

Environmental Economics

EPA's environmental economics office is hosting a Nov. 16 seminar in Washington, D.C., on links between air quality and housing prices.

ELAB Meeting

EPA's Environmental Laboratory Advisory Board (ELAB) will meet by teleconference on Nov. 15. The board is charged with crafting recommendations on the expansion of national environmental accreditation and issues related to measurement and monitoring in EPA's programs.

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