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The Week Ahead

EPA Resumes Work After Shutdown; Comments Due On Revised CWA Construction Permit

EPA is resuming operations after the longest shutdown in its history, but effects from the 35-day halt in work could be felt on rules, litigation and other agency activities for a long time. Meanwhile, comments are due this week on the agency’s proposed revisions to the Clean Water Act (CWA) general stormwater permit for construction sites.

Government Shutdown

EPA employees are returning to work Jan. 28 after the 35-day government shutdown ended on Jan. 25, but the effects of the work stoppage, which blocked everything from day-to-day agency work to rule development and litigation, could be felt for months to come. Officials now face an uphill climb to get a host of regulatory and other projects back on track.

Catch up on our biggest stories of the shutdown month here, including confirmations of key EPA appointees, the opening moves of the Democratic House majority and states' latest actions on environmental policy.

CWA Permit

Jan. 28 is the deadline for comments on EPA's proposed changes to its 2017 CWA general permit for stormwater runoff at construction sites. The revisions are intended to resolve court challenges brought by industry and environmental groups opposed to the latest edition of the permit, and covers the definition of an “operator,” liability issues for sites with multiple operators, and certain erosion and sediment control and pollution prevention permit requirements.

EPA Events

Editor's Note: EPA has delayed many events that were planned for this week due to lingering effects of the shutdown, but at press time the agency's website said these are taking place as scheduled.

EPA Region 9 is slated to host its winter Regional Tribal Operations Caucus meeting Jan. 29-31 in Camp Verde, AZ.

EPA will hold an environmental modeling public meeting Jan. 30 in Arlington, VA. The meeting announcement says it will serve as “a public forum for EPA and its stakeholders to discuss current issues related to modeling pesticide fate, transport, exposure, and ecotoxicity for pesticide risk assessments in a regulatory context.”

EPA is scheduled to host a Jan. 31 webinar on “innovative” methods for financing stormwater infrastructure, including runoff reduction credits and “pay-for-performance” approaches.

RGGI

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will hold a Jan. 31 webinar to gather stakeholder input on the possible ramifications of New Jersey's planned return to the program.

Energy Policy

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) will host a Jan. 29 panel discussion on shifts in U.S. energy policy, including environmental-review mandates, and their relationship to changes in the country's energy generation and infrastructure makeup.

Environmental Accreditation

The Forum on Environmental Accreditation runs Jan. 28-31 in Milwaukee, WI. The event includes wide-ranging discussions of laboratory accreditations and environmental modeling, as well as a potential open meeting of EPA's Environmental Laboratory Advisory Board -- though whether that meeting will be delayed by the shutdown is still uncertain.

Waste

ELI will host a Jan. 31 webinar on waste recycling issues, including treatment of hazardous and organic wastes.

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