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The Week Ahead

Former EPA Leaders Weigh Agency’s Future; Deadline Arrives For Oil Waste Rule Decision

Former EPA administrators and other agency alumni will offer their perspectives on the future of environmental protection at a conference this week. Meanwhile, EPA is facing a revised court-ordered deadline to decide whether to update its rules for waste from oil and gas extraction.

EPA’s Future

A raft of EPA alumni including former administrators William Reilly, William Ruckelshaus, Carol Browner and Gina McCarthy are slated to speak at American University’s conference on “EPA and the Future of Environmental Protection,” April 23-24 in Washington, D.C.

The agenda touches on EPA’s upcoming 50th anniversary; changes to its internal structure and its relationship with the White House both as a result of the Trump administration’s reforms and new challenges like climate change; and the potential for environmental regulation and private governance based on “new approaches, new tools, and possibly new legal authorities.” Last week, Inside EPA previewed the conference, including a look at results from a survey of almost 400 former employees that identified climate change as the most pressing near-term issue facing the agency.

Oil & Gas Waste

April 23 is the deadline for EPA to decide whether it will propose revisions to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act subtitle D regulations governing waste from oil and gas operations, or otherwise sign a determination that revision of the regulations is not necessary. The requirement stems from a 2016 consent decree with environmentalists that originally set a March 15 deadline, but the government shutdown automatically extended the agency’s timeline to act by the duration of its funding lapse.

EPA has already enacted Clean Water Act effluent limitation guidelines for oil and gas extraction and for centralized waste treatment that is used to treat some produced water, but it has not previously explored the issue holistically.

Risk Assessment

EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) risk assessment program will host an April 24 webinar on the relaunched assessment of hexavalent chromium. IRIS published a protocol document for the long-delayed assessment on March 15, in its first sign of action since Administrator Andrew Wheeler and other top officials scaled back the office’s agenda late last year.

On April 24, EPA is co-hosting a webinar on “New Approaches for Respiratory Sensitization,” as part of an ongoing series of presentations on “new approach methodologies” in risk assessment.

EPA will host an April 25 meeting of its Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice, in Research Triangle Park, NC, and by webinar.

WESTAR/WRAP Meeting

The Western States Air Resources Council (WESTAR) and Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP) will hold their joint spring meeting April 23-25 in Seattle, WA. Members of the groups, which include state and tribal governments, will discuss air issues such as background ozone modeling, EPA’s regional haze policy, its forthcoming Cleaner Trucks Initiative for heavy-duty vehicles and its rule governing air emissions from “exceptional events” such as wildfires.

Pesticides

The law firm Bergeson & Campbell will host an April 24 webinar on “hot topics” in administration of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, focused on regulation and litigation concerning “pesticide, biocides, and other agricultural chemicals.”

Climate Change

The Environmental Law Institute has scheduled an April 25 panel discussion on potential pathways for “deep decarbonization” in the United States -- defined as greenhouse gas reductions of 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

EPA will host an April 24 webinar on sustainability standards for federal procurement of solar panels.

Air Toxics

Comments are due April 26 on EPA’s proposed risk and technology review of its air toxics standards for the hydrochloric acid production sector. Illinois Democrats have argued that the proposal seems to reconsider a strict Obama-era risk value for ethylene oxide despite concerns over high emissions of the chemical from a medical sterilization facility and a chemicals plant in their state.

Environmental Economics

EPA’s environmental economics program will host an April 25 presentation from Carnegie Melon University professors Karen Clay and Edson Severnini on the fertility effects of lead exposure.

EPA Science

The water resources subcommittee of EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors, which reviews the agency’s scientific agenda, will meet April 23-24 in Washington, D.C.

Human Testing

The EPA Human Studies Review Board, which provides input on research on human subjects, will meet by phone on April 24.

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