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The Week Ahead

Pruitt Faces House Panels' Questions; EPA Weighs Comments On Clean Power Plan Repeal

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will appear as a witnesses before two House subcommittees this week, with lawmakers likely to focus on his ethics scandals that have emerged since the agency chief's last appearance on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, the comment period is closing on EPA's plan to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for existing power plants.

Scott Pruitt

Pruitt is set to testify before two House subcommittees on April 26, in hearings that are ostensibly on the agency's fiscal year 2019 budget but will provide opportunities for legislators to question the administrator on not just his policy priorities but the ethics and spending scandals swirling around him.

First, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's environment panel is holding a morning hearing that has been seen as a forum for Pruitt's scandals since it was announced. Then, both the administrator and EPA Chief Financial Officer Holly Greaves will testify before the House Appropriations Committee's panel on interior and environment.

Clean Power Plan

Comments are due April 26 on EPA's proposal to repeal the Obama-era power plant GHG regulation, following a series of high-profile public hearings on the subject. The public input on the CPP repeal proposal is likely to rehash long-standing legal arguments over Clean Air Act authority to regulate GHG reductions “outside the fenceline” of power plants, and preview the certain litigation over a final repeal.

Coal Ash

EPA is hosting an April 24 public hearing on its proposed changes to the 2014 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) rule governing coal ash disposal. Environmental groups have already floated arguments for why the planned changes -- which focus on creating more flexibility for facility- and region-specific standards -- would be unlawful, signaling their likely arguments in a court challenge.

Ozone CTG

April 23 is the comment deadline for EPA's proposal that would withdraw Obama-era control techniques guidelines (CTGs) for how existing oil and gas operations can reduce ozone-forming emissions and methane as a co-benefit, which were based in part on the 2012 new source performance standards (NSPS) for the sector. Because EPA is reconsidering the NSPS it is “prudent” to withdraw the CTGs entirely, the agency said in a fact sheet on the proposal.

Sue & Settle

Former Obama EPA General Counsel Avi Garbow and former Clinton Department of Justice (DOJ) environment head Lois Schiffer, along with current Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Brightbill, will debate EPA's “Sue and Settle” policy at an April 24 “off the record” panel discussion hosted by the District of Columbia Bar Association. The agency under Pruitt has used an informal policy to curtail “friendly” settlements over its missed deadlines and other statutory violations, but the limits of that policy are unclear and being tested in court.


The full House Natural Resources Committee has set an April 25 hearing on the “weaponization” of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) -- part of a GOP push to limit what they say are needlessly lengthy environmental reviews of infrastructure and other projects. The White House recently released a long-awaited memorandum of understanding signed by EPA and 11 other agencies aiming to limit NEPA reviews to two years and assign a “lead agency” to each review in order to give it greater authority than in the past to direct the analysis.


The American Bar Association (ABA) is hosting an April 25 teleconference on the “legal, policy, and technical issues” affecting the development of renewable energy projects on brownfields sites. Congress recently reauthorized the brownfields program in the FY18 spending omnibus.

Environmental Justice

The annual National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program runs April 25-27 in Washington, D.C. EPA is sponsoring the program even as equity groups have slammed the Trump administration for its approach to civil-rights issues, including how it responds to petitions alleging violations of the Civil Rights Act.


The Senate Appropriations Committee's panel on energy and water will hold an April 25 hearing on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's FY19 budget.

'Secret Science'

The conservative Federalist Society is holding an April 24 teleconference discussion on EPA's measures to address “secret science.” The agency last week advanced a rule proposal that would create binding limits on the use of non-public data -- such as studies based on private medical records -- to support EPA regulations.

Administrative Law

The D.C. Bar is hosting an April 26 panel discussion on the line between non-binding guidance and binding legislative rules. The often-murky difference between those two categories of agency action has fueled much litigation over EPA's informal guides, as well as an effort by DOJ to rein in enforcement actions based on guidance.

ABA's Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice is holding its spring meeting April 27 in Washington, D.C. Among the speakers are EPA Assistant General Counsel Caroline Wehling and former DOJ assistant environment chief Thomas Lorenzen.


EPA's Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice will meet April 26 in Research Triangle Park, NC.


EPA's pesticides office on April 24 is holding its first of two planned webinars aimed at helping communities bolster mosquito management practices. The first session will focus on using Geographic Information System (GIS) and other mapping technologies in pest control.

Drinking Water

EPA is hosting an April 24 webinar for small drinking water systems on “simultaneous compliance” with drinking water safety and disinfection-byproduct standards.

Electric Vehicles

The ABA has scheduled an April 26 webinar on reliability and sustainability issues involved with infrastructure that supports electric vehicles.

NAC/GAC Meeting

The EPA committees that advise Administrator Pruitt in his role as the U.S. Representative to the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) -- known as the National Advisory Committee (NAC) and Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) -- will meet April 26-27 in Washington, D.C., to craft advice on trade and environmental issues relating to CEC's duties.


EPA is hosting an April 26 webinar through its SmartWay program, which is designed to make freight transportation more efficient in order to reduce its environmental impact. The webinar focuses on changes in the shipping industry from “electric trucks, big data and connectivity.”

HSRB Meeting

EPA's Human Studies Review Board, which reviews the agency's policies and activity regarding testing on human subjects, is holding a virtual meeting from April 24-26.