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The Week Ahead

The Supreme Court is hearing oral argument this week in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case involving an EPA cooling water regulation. Meanwhile, attorneys with K&L Gates will discuss the implications of the Nov. 3 elections on energy and environmental policy.

Cooling Water Rule

The Supreme Court will hear oral argument Nov. 2 in environmentalists’ FOIA suit seeking documents from EPA’s development of its Clean Water Act (CWA) cooling water rule, teeing up a decision in early 2021 on the scope of the FOIA exemption for documents that are part of a “deliberative process.” While the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit sided with environmentalists that the documents should be released, observers expect the justices to side with the executive branch that the documents should not be publicly available.

Election Impacts

Members of K&L Gates Public Policy and Energy, Infrastructure & Resources practice groups are holding a webinar discussion Nov. 5 discussing the possible implications of the Nov. 3 election on energy and environmental policy.

NSR Reporting

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral argument Nov. 2 in New Jersey’s long-delayed challenge to EPA’s Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permit emissions reporting requirements, which the state says are inadequate to ensure that developers of industrial projects obtain the necessary permits.

Wetlands Permitting

The public comment period on Florida’s application to assume wetlands permitting authority under CWA section 404 ends Nov. 2. If EPA grants the state’s request, it would become only the third state, after Michigan and New Jersey, to assume such permitting. During a virtual public hearing last week, environmentalists and a retired EPA employee urged the agency to reject the request, with environmentalists arguing there are significant gaps in the state’s plan and the agency alumnus raising concerns that it will decrease environmental protections. Industry groups are very supportive of the state’s efforts.

The Association of State Wetlands Managers (ASWM) is hosting a webinar Nov. 4 on lessons learned from Florida’s 404 assumption process.

ASWM is also hosting a Nov. 6 webinar on what states can gain from assuming 404 permitting authority, as well as providing updates on three states that are currently pursuing 404 permitting: Florida, Oregon and Minnesota.

Power Plant ELG

EPA is hosting a webinar Nov. 5 describing the regulatory requirements in its recently finalized changes to effluent limitations guidelines (ELG) for steam electric power plants. Environmentalists are vowing to sue over the changes. And House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Democrats are pressing the agency for answers about how the rule will be implemented while accusing the agency of ignoring a 2019 court decision that faulted the Obama-era ELG for being too lax.

Environmental Racism

The Environmental Law Institute is hosting a Nov. 4 webinar titled “Dismantling Environmental Racism”. Panelists will provide an in-depth exploration of environmental racism and opportunities to dismantle it.

Superfund Listings

The public comment period on EPA’s proposal to add four sites to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) ends Nov. 2. The agency is proposing to add the Cherokee Zinc -- Weir Smelter site in Weir, KS; the Billings PCE site in Billings, MT; the Pioneer Metal Finishing Inc. site in Franklinville, NJ; and the Northwest Odessa Groundwater site in Odessa, TX.

Addressing PFAS

The Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials is hosting a Nov. 5 webinar on how the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has been working to assess and mitigate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) emissions from the Chemours facility in Fayetteville, NC.

Pesticide Reviews

Public comments are due Nov. 2 on EPA's draft human health and/or ecological risk assessments for the registration review of several pesticides. The pesticides under review are 10,10'-oxybisphenoxarsine (OBPA), amicarbazone, aminopyralid, dimethenamid/dimethenamid-p, endothall, fluoxastrobin, folpet, ipconazole, iprodione, metconazole, polixetonium chloride, prothioconazole and sodium pyrithione.

Air Pollution Cost Control

The public comment period on EPA updates to its Air Pollution Cost Control Manual ends Nov. 2. The agency requested comment on Chapter 1, Section 5, “Wet Scrubbers for Acid Gas,” a chapter that covers control measures for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and acid gas emissions.

Vessel Management

EPA is hosting a Nov. 2 webinar on vessel sewage management strategies. Speakers will discuss their on-the-ground experience providing education and outreach to boaters and marinas, implementing no-discharge zones and leveraging grant funding to construct and maintain critical infrastructure.

One Water Engineering

The US Water Alliance is hosting a Nov. 5 webinar to showcase engineering innovations and how they are being used to embed One Water practices throughout the water sector. Webinar attendees will hear from panelists about successful examples of integrating One Water solutions into engineering practices and will learn how the delivery of these projects has changed organizational culture and the way projects are operationalized.