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The Week Ahead

EPA Weighs Comments On Rules To Overhaul Cost-Benefit Analysis, Streamline Fuel Policies

EPA this week will hold a virtual public hearing on its controversial proposal to rework how it calculates the costs and benefits of Clean Air Act rules. Meanwhile, comments are due on a long-awaited rule that aims to “streamline” the agency’s many existing fuels regulations.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

EPA will hold a July 1 online public hearing on its proposed Clean Air Act cost-benefit analysis rule. The agency has touted the rule as a way to standardize its projections of rules’ environmental, health and economic impacts, while critics see it as a way to deprioritize pollution reductions and make it harder for future administrations to justify new or tightened air policies. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has also said the rule will be just the first of a series of cost-benefit policies that will eventually cover all other statutes the agency administers.

Fuel Regulations

June 29 is the deadline for written comments on EPA’s “streamlining” rule for its wide-ranging suite of fuels regulations. The rule would complete an Obama-era plan to reorganize the agency’s many regulations on the quality of gasoline, diesel, and other transportation fuels, with provisions that “streamline existing fuels regulations by deleting expired provisions, eliminating redundant compliance provisions, and removing unnecessary and out-of-date requirements.”

However, the agency is already fielding calls from the biofuels sector for the rule to also remove what that industry says are unnecessary barriers to sales of higher-ethanol fuel blends.

Animal Testing

Top EPA toxics and research officials, including toxics office chief Alexandra Dunn, will speak on a June 30 webinar outlining the agency’s recent report on its “New Approach Methods Work Plan” for reducing the use of animal testing in chemical assessments. The work plan says existing policies will need to be “further refined or explained” to achieve aggressive goals for reducing animal testing, but does not say which rules and guidance documents will need to be overhauled.

Climate Change

House Democrats will formally unveil their aggressive climate-action plan at a June 30 press conference headlined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), who chairs the chamber’s Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The plan calls for economy-wide net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century, with milestone goals including 100 percent clean vehicles by 2035 and a carbon-neutral energy sector by 2040. But press reports say the plan is light on legislative details, leaving potential bill text to other committees.

The American Bar Association will host a June 30 webinar on the potential to apply the collective-action principles behind the worldwide COVID-19 response to climate change -- another problem that requires “a collaborative and coordinated set of solutions implemented locally, nationally, regionally and internationally."

The National Academy of Sciences will host a June 30 webinar on research into the adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), including electric models, focused on projections of the growth of the ZEV fleet and how that will affect overall emissions.

Infrastructure

The House Rules Committee is set to consider debate rules and amendments to H.R. 2, Democrats’ sweeping surface-transportation bill, at a June 29 hearing, which will set the stage for a vote by the full House later this week. The bill includes a wide range of environmental provisions such as new and expanded clean energy tax credits, a requirement to include greenhouse gas emissions in transportation planning and a study of whether EPA data could be used to impose future carbon fees.

On July 1, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee -- where the GOP majority has already downplayed the House transportation bill as too partisan to pass -- will hold a full-committee hearing on the potential for infrastructure spending to help drive recovery from the current recession, as well as “resiliency” more broadly.

Border Policy

The North American Development Bank will host two webinars this week, on June 30 and July 2, on EPA’s draft framework document developed with Mexico’s environmental agency for their joint U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program, setting out goals for cooperative work on environmental issues near the border.

COVID-19

EPA will host a June 30 webinar on new agency research into chemicals and methods that will aid cleanups of sites or equipment contaminated with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

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