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The Week Ahead

House Panel To Mark Up EPA FY18 Bill, Comments Due On First CCS 'Primacy' Approval

House appropriators this week will mark up their fiscal year 2018 spending bill for EPA, which rejects the administration's bid for deep cuts but would still reduce the agency's budget. Meanwhile, the agency is closing the comment period on its first-time proposal to give a state primary authority for issuing water permits for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) wells.

FY18 Budget

The full House Appropriations Committee is set to consider its FY18 budget bill for EPA at a July 18 markup. The House bill would cut EPA's funding from $8.1 billion down to $7.5 billion -- a far smaller cut than the White House's requested $5.7 billion -- and includes policy riders that would delay implementing the Obama-era rule tightening the national air standard for ozone, among others. The committee's interior and environment panel approved the bill by a voice vote at a July 12 hearing.

Carbon Capture

Comments are due July 18 on EPA's first-of-its-kind proposal to grant North Dakota “primacy” for issuing Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) permits for CCS wells, which agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and other officials say will help advance CCS technologies and could also encourage other states to seek similar authorities.

ECOS Meeting

The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), which represents many state environment agencies, is holding its annual STEP meeting July 17 in Washington, D.C. The agenda focuses on the “cooperative federalist” relationship between EPA and states that agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has touted, to return authority to states, despite also seeking to cut spending that supports state programs. Roles for industry and citizen groups will also be discussed.

Water Infrastructure

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee's water panel is holding a July 20 hearing titled “Addressing America’s Crumbling Water Infrastructure.” It is part of a push in both chambers to address sewer and drinking water needs, including a draft House bill that would reauthorize and boost EPA's drinking water State Revolving Fund.

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee's panel on water and environment is holding a July 19 hearing on implementation of the 2014 and 2016 versions of the Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes Army Corps of Engineers work on water infrastructure projects.

Low-Dose Toxicity

The National Academy of Sciences is poised to release on July 18 its report on the health effects that some chemicals may cause at low exposure levels, or doses. It is expected to say EPA's existing regulatory toxicology testing approaches do not address the situations in question, though the Trump administration budget sought to eliminate one such program.

Following that release, the Cato Institute is hosting a July 20 meeting titled “The Search for Truth in Regulatory Science,” where University of Massachusetts environmental health professor Edward J. Calabrese will argue that federal regulation of low doses of radiation and chemicals is in many cases baseless.

Regulatory Reform

The House Natural Resource Committee's oversight panel will hold a July 18 hearing on resource laws “gone astray,” as part of the committee's efforts to lighten regulations on mining, oil & gas exploration, and other sectors.

Uranium Mills

Comments are due July 18 on EPA's revised proposal for a groundwater protection rule for uranium in-situ recovery (ISR) mining, after the Trump administration revised an Obama-era draft to variously strengthen and relax its requirements. The 2015 proposed rule, long sought by environmentalists and developed under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA), included subsurface and surface standards -- mainly focusing on groundwater protection, restoration and stability. It would also have required monitoring groundwater for much longer periods as compared to current practices.

Children's Health

EPA's Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC) will hold its plenary meeting July 18-19 in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes drinking water policy, pesticides, EPA's newly-issued rules implementing the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act and other issues.

Power Utilities

The House Energy & Commerce Committee's energy subcommittee is holding a July 18 hearing to hear “market participant perspectives” on the state of the electricity industry.

Air Monitoring

EPA has set a July 17 webinar to present results from its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant program on new research into air quality monitoring methods.

And EPA is hosting a July 18 webinar to feature winners of its “Smart City” challenge for local governments to generate new, publicly available air quality data by deploying small-scale sensors.

Oil & Gas

The House Natural Resource Committee's energy panel is holding a July 18 hearing on efforts to promote onshore oil and gas extraction in Alaska.

Great Lakes

EPA's Great Lakes Advisory Board will meet by teleconference on July 17 to work on recommendations to the interagency task force developing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative's third action plan.

Toxicology

EPA will host a July 19 webinar to introduce users to its ECOTOXicology knowledge base (ECOTOX), “a comprehensive, publicly available knowledge base providing chemical environmental toxicity data on aquatic life, terrestrial plants and wildlife.”

Mining

The House Natural Resources committee's energy panel will hold a July 20 hearing on “innovative solutions” in hardrock mining technology.

CERCLA Practices

Comments are due July 20 on EPA's proposed update to approve a new standard practice for environmental site assessments at forested or rural properties under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

ELAB Meeting

EPA's Environmental Laboratory Advisory Board (ELAB) is holding its monthly meeting by teleconference on July 19. 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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