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The Week Ahead

EPA Weighs Path Forward For TSCA Reviews; E-Manifest Board Aims To Boost Adoption

EPA is launching the first peer review of a chemical evaluation under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) this week, while also seeking comment on its plans for risk assessments under the law. Meanwhile, an agency advisory board working on the electronic manifest system for hazardous waste is meeting to consider ways to drive greater use of the program.

TSCA

Comments are due June 19 on EPA’s list of 20 chemicals that it plans to consider “high priority” for review under TSCA, including the closely watched shift of formaldehyde from the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program to the reviews established by the updated TSCA. Agency toxics chief Alexandra Dunn has said a formaldehyde evaluation under TSCA opens the door to risk management actions that could limit future harms from the substance, but Democrats and environmentalists are keeping up pressure for officials to release at least the draft IRIS assessment, which they say shows human exposures can cause leukemia and other cancers.

Meanwhile, EPA will convene its TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals for a June 18-21 meeting to peer review the draft risk assessment of pigment violet 29 (PV29) -- the first risk evaluation of an existing chemical under the revised TSCA. The assessment has already been the subject of controversy as EPA initially declined to release the toxicity studies underlying the draft assessment, citing the need to protect confidential business information. But officials reversed course and released 24 such studies in March.

E-Manifest

EPA’s E-Manifest Advisory Board will meet June 18-20 in Arlington, VA, with an agenda focused on bolstering adoption of the platform, a year after it came online following a series of delays. The agency says in the meeting announcement that stakeholders have asked for clarification on requirements of the Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Rule, and it hopes providing that clarity will drive more operators toward fully electronic manifests.

Vehicle Standards

EPA and Department of Transportation officials could testify on the Trump administration’s plans to loosen Obama-era vehicle efficiency standards during a hotly anticipated June 20 hearing before the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s panels on the environment and consumer protection. While a witness list is not yet available, the announcement suggests witnesses from both EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -- which have jointly crafted the proposal to largely freeze current standards -- will be called to testify.

Circular Economy

Circularity 19, a conference sponsored by an array of industries and billed as “the largest circular economy event in North America,” runs June 18-20 in Minneapolis, MN. The agenda includes dozens of speakers and six issue-specific “tracks” that aim to bolster firms’ efforts at minimizing, reusing or recycling waste rather than disposing it, with an eye toward “turn[ing] circular economy concepts into profitable opportunities.” Inside EPA’s exclusive new service Environment Next will have coverage of the event.

Regulatory Reform

The conservative Federalist Society will host a June 18 panel discussion on the regulatory system, and whether EPA and other agencies’ rulemaking authority is an “unnecessary delegation” from Congress.

The free-enterprise Hoover Institution will host a June 21 conference on “Regulation and the Rule of Law” in Washington, D.C. The agenda focuses on litigation against Trump administration rules that has led to nationwide injunctions against their implementation, and future regulatory changes in cost-benefit analysis -- which EPA is already considering -- and “potential presidential actions to restore Constitutional order.”

Supreme Court

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s litigation division will host a June 21 panel in Washington, D.C., reviewing the Supreme Court’s current term, which is set to end on June 30. The high court has yet to decide Kisor v. Wilkie, a fight over the level of deference EPA and other agencies should receive when they interpret their own rules. And the court has already announced it will hear high-profile cases over Superfund litigation and the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) reach into groundwater during the 2019-20 term that starts Oct. 1.

Climate Change

The Brookings Institution will host a “bipartisan discussion” on carbon-price policies on June 20 in Washington, D.C., featuring Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL). Proposals for carbon pricing have attracted support both sides of the aisle, including Democratic presidential front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, though he has still drawn attacks from the party’s left wing that calls the plan too weak.

The Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum will host a June 19 seminar in Washington, D.C., on conservatives’ approaches to climate policy.

The Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, which are joint projects between EPA, the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy, will jointly host a June 20 webinar on climate adaptation strategies focused on the potential for more extreme rainfall and subsequent flooding.

EPA will host a June 19 webinar on electric utilities’ “green tariff” programs that fund energy purchases from specific renewable sources.

PFAS

The full Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will vote at a June 19 business meeting on legislation that would force EPA to craft a series of new drinking water, toxics and reporting rules governing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The vote comes just days after lawmakers reached a bipartisan deal on the PFAS bill and expect to pass it as part of the pending fiscal year 2020 defense authorization bill, potentially before the July 4 holiday.

Also slated for a vote during the July 19 meeting is a separate bill that would shift funds between EPA’s clean water and drinking water State Revolving Fund accounts, as well as confirmation of two non-EPA nominees, other legislation and General Services Administration resolutions.

On June 18 the American Bar Association will host a webinar on the “basics” of PFAS law and policy.

Water Criteria

Comments are due June 17 on EPA’s proposed CWA aluminum criteria for Oregon, which the agency unveiled in May following its 2013 move to reject state-crafted criteria for the metal as too lenient.

Natural Disasters

EPA is hosting three webinars this week for utilities and local authorities on natural disaster resilience and recovery. A June 19 webinar will cover disaster response and resiliency for communities with decentralized wastewater systems; another June 19 program focuses on earthquake preparedness for water and wastewater utilities; and a June 20 webinar covers the agency’s guidance for handing debris from disasters.

Environmental Law

The Environmental Law Institute will host a June 20 panel discussion on women’s contributions to environmental law and policy as part of its month-long “Gender and the Environment” program.

Geothermal Power

The full Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee will hold a June 20 hearing on “opportunities and challenges” for development of domestic geothermal energy.

Air Toxics

Comments are due June 17 on EPA’s proposed risk-and-technology review (RTR) of air toxics standards for boat manufacturing. As with most of the Trump administration’s RTRs to date the proposal finds no need to tighten limits on the sector, though it would remove regulatory exemptions for periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction from its rules in order to comply with federal court rulings finding such exemptions unlawful.

SmartWay

EPA will host a June 20 webinar through its SmartWay program, which addresses environmental controls in the shipping industry, on the use of freight activity data to support carbon-emission benchmarking and reporting.

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