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The Week Ahead

Former EPA Chiefs Weigh In On Agency’s Future; EPW Weighs CWA Jurisdiction Rules

House lawmakers will hear testimony from several former EPA chiefs this week at a hearing on the agency’s future after President Donald Trump leaves office. Meanwhile, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) is meeting to debate the proper scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA), while EPA works on its contentious rule to narrow the law’s reach.

EPA’s Future

Four former EPA administrators are set to testify at a June 11 hearing of the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s oversight panel. The witness list includes Reagan-era Administrator Lee Thomas; Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who served under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003; William Reilly, who led the agency in the George H.W. Bush administration; and Gina McCarthy, who served in the Obama administration.

Each of the former agency chiefs also signed a joint letter to the panel offering to serve as a resource to inform Democratic lawmakers’ oversight of Trump’s environmental agenda and to share “ideas on an affirmative path forward for EPA,” and their testimony on June 11 could touch on any of those ideas. All four have been publicly critical of the Trump administration’s policies and could aid Democrats seeking to reverse them.

CWA Jurisdiction

The full EPW has scheduled a June 12 hearing on EPA’s rules defining the scope of CWA jurisdiction, including the Trump administration’s proposed narrow standard as well as prior revisions of the policy.

Ozone

The interstate Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) and Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Visibility Union (MANE-VU) will hold their joint annual meeting June 11 in Wilmington, DE. Debate is expected to focus on state and federal options for reducing ozone levels after a federal appeals court backed the agency’s denial of a bid to expand the area covered by the OTC, eliminating what the member states hoped would be a major option to curb interstate emissions.

EPA will host a June 11 public hearing at its Washington, D.C., headquarters on the proposed denial of a Clean Air Act petition from New York seeking direct federal limits on ozone-forming pollutants from over 300 industrial facilities in upwind states. New York is likely to challenge the final petition rejection in court, setting up the latest in a series of tests of EPA’s responsibility to enforce the air law’s “good neighbor” mandate that limits interstate transport of ozone and other criteria pollutants.

Climate Change Hearings

The House has scheduled five hearings this week on climate issues.

On June 11, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s panel on economic development, public buildings and emergency management will discuss efficiency and resiliency in federal buildings; the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the costs of climate change; and the House Financial Services Committee will mark up a bill reauthorizing the federal flood insurance program that includes climate provisions.

On June 12, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee’s panel on the environment will hold a hearing on climate change’s contributions to natural disasters, including recovery efforts and resiliency.

Finally, on June 13 the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing on renewable energy sources, focused on methods of “ramping up” their adoption.

PFAS

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies will host a June 11 webinar on the “tsunami” of legislative and regulatory efforts to control drinking water contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Topics on the agenda include aggressive state-level policies, the EPA-led interagency agenda that critics say is too tentative and a raft of proposed bills in the House and Senate.

Report on the Environment

EPA is hosting a June 12 webinar to feature its Report on the Environment (RoE), which includes scores of peer-reviewed indicators of national conditions, environmental stressors and trends gleaned from federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations on five themes: air, water, land, human health and ecological conditions. Historically the agency updates the RoE every four to six years, with the latest release in 2015.

Wildfires

EPA will host a June 12 “web summit” on the use of indoor air filters to mitigate health hazards from wildfires.

Also on June 12, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) will host a panel discussion in Los Angeles, CA, on “what’s next” for efforts to combat California wildfires.

Renewable Fuels

President Donald Trump is slated to visit the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy ethanol plant in Council Bluffs, IA, on June 11. The visit, coordinated with biofuels group Growth Energy, will highlight EPA’s recent rule approving year-round sales of 15-percent ethanol fuel (E15), which is expected to soon draw a court challenge from refiners.

Western States

The Western Governors’ Association is holding its annual meeting from June 10-12 in Vail, CO. The meeting comes just days after EPA released a new guidance that limits states’ authority to review CWA permits under the law’s section 401, rejecting calls from many Western states to avoid such a step.

ELI is hosting a “master class” on climate adaptation and mitigation measures in Western states on June 10 in Portland, OR.

Citizen Science

The U.S. Government Open Innovation Summit, an interagency conference focused on citizen science technology and methods, is slated for June 14 in Washington, D.C.

ELI will host a June 13 panel discussion in Washington, D.C., on citizen science in the environment enforcement world, looking at methods for individuals to collect and report evidence of environmental law violations.

FERC

The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s energy panel has scheduled a June 12 oversight hearing on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), focused on “ensuring its actions benefit consumers and the environment.”

Chemicals

The American Chemical Society will hold its Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference jointly with the biennial International Conference on Green & Sustainable Chemistry June 11-13 in Reston, VA.

The international Chemical Watch Expo, which features chemicals technology and policy from the United States and around the world, will be held June 11-12 in Brussels, Belgium.

Region 4

EPA Region 4, which covers eight Southeastern states, will host an American Bar Association event on “key environmental issues” for the region on June 11 in Atlanta, GA. The agenda features top state and Region 4 officials discussing “key state and regional developments with an emphasis on program initiatives and priorities.”

Pesticides

EPA will convene a Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP) June 11-14 in Washington, D.C. to provide input on the agency’s proposed guidelines covering topically applied pest killers for parasitic insects that attack domestic animals.

EPA’s Human Studies Review Board (HSRB), which advises the agency on research involving human subjects, will meet by teleconference on June 11 to work on its report concerning research into the effects of pesticide inhalation by horticultural workers.

Site Cleanups

ABA will host a “master class” session on complex liability issues under the Superfund and brownfields laws June 12 in Atlanta, GA.

Nutrients

EPA and the Department of Agriculture will co-host a June 12 webinar on federal financing programs that assist farms, wastewater utilities and other point and nonpoint sources on nutrient reductions.

Water Utilities

The American Water Works Association, which represents water utilities and professionals on water quality and supply issues, is hosting its annual conference and exposition June 10-12 in Denver, CO.

EPA will host a June 12 webinar on measures water utilities can take to improve their earthquake resilience.

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