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The Week Ahead

Top EPA, DOJ Officials Set To Discuss Agency’s New Power Plant GHG, TSCA Rules

EPA toxics chief Alex Dunn and Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, who heads the Department of Justice (DOJ) environment division, are slated to speak this week on high-profile agency rules; one revising greenhouse gas reduction requirements for power plants and the other implementing the updated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

EPA Litigation

Clark, head of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resource Division (ENRD) that handles litigation on EPA’s behalf, will speak at a July 26 lunch in Washington, D.C., co-hosted by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and the D.C. Bar. Clark will address a range of “recent developments in the ENRD, enforcement activities, and other current priorities of the division,” and EPA’s new Affordable Clean Energy rule governing GHGs at power plants, which is already facing a court challenge.

TSCA

EPA’s Dunn is slated to speak on “key implementation issues” with the reformed TSCA, as part of a July 25 webinar hosted by the law firm Bergeson & Campbell. The agency is moving forward with a swath of new toxics policies under the law’s implementation deadlines but has struggled to provide the certainty that architects of the 2016 law hoped it would create.

PFAS

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee’s panel on the environment is holding a July 24 hearing on drinking water contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and “the need for corporate accountability.” States, federal officials, affected communities and industry are all wrestling with the potential liability for PFAS releases, as seen in the new lawsuit between the Chemours Company and its parent firm DuPont, over whether the chemicals giant unlawfully shifted unlimited future PFAS liabilities to its corporate progeny.

On July 23, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition of environmental, conservation and municipal groups will unveil a policy platform for the 2020 presidential election focused on PFAS and other drinking water contaminants, including harmful algal blooms, in the Great Lakes region.

Climate Hearings

House and Senate committees have set five hearings this week on climate-related issues.

On July 24, the full House Budget Committee will meet for a hearing on “the costs of climate change,” and the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s environment panel will hold a hearing on decarbonizing the American economy. Leaders on the energy committee are also holding a press conference on July 23 to announce “a bold new plan that will guide the Committee’s approach to tackling the climate crisis.”

On July 25, the House Natural Resources Committee’s panel on energy and mineral resources has a hearing on a pending bill to promote renewable energy development on public lands; the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will meet to discuss “business views on the costs of the climate crisis;” and the Senate energy committee will hold the latest in a series of hearings on “energy innovation.”

Enforcement

The American Bar Association (ABA) is hosting a July 24 webinar on federal and state enforcement in the oil and gas sector, focused on areas where EPA has diverged from states on the subject.

Environmental Justice

EPA’s environmental justice (EJ) office has scheduled a July 23 webinar on using EJ principles in state environmental impact assessments.

Federalism

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee panel on government operations will hold a July 23 hearing on “the state of federalism in the United States” and potential ways to bolster it, including possibly restoring the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations which has been defunct since 1996.

Climate Policy

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is hosting a July 22-23 workshop in Washington, D.C., examining the “challenges and opportunities for deploying and scaling up technologies involved in deep decarbonization” -- an effort defined as reaching 80 percent or greater reduction in carbon emissions by mid-century.

Also on July 22, NAS is hosting a webinar on sunlight-reflecting technology that would cool the Earth as a “climate intervention” strategy.

The Center for Energy & Climate Solutions will host a July 24 webinar on worldwide trends and lessons learned from carbon pricing policies.

Resiliency

The House Science Committee’s environment panel plans to host a July 22 field hearing in Houston, TX, on research that could help improve hurricane resiliency.

Waterfronts

The Senate Commerce Committee’s panel on science, oceans, fisheries and weather will hold a July 23 hearing on “economic, recreational, and environmental challenges” facing American waterfronts.

Vehicle Emissions

Comments are due by July 22 on a pending application from Toyota seeking “off-cycle” compliance credits for vehicle emissions reductions to its fleet outside of EPA-sanctioned emissions tests.

Small Business

The House Small Business Committee’s panel on economic growth is holding a July 22 field hearing in Tulsa, OK, on “how regulations stifle small business growth,” including regulations crafted under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Tribal Operations

EPA Region 9 is hosting the summer meeting of its Regional Tribal Operations Committee July 23-25 in Fort Bragg, CA.

Grid Regionalization

ELI will host a July 24 panel discussion in San Francisco, on the potential for expanding a regional electric grid for the Western United States, which proponents say could make power transmission more efficient and allow states to better integrate renewables into the grid.

Algal Blooms

EPA is hosting a July 24 webinar on its new mobile app that uses satellite data to warn users of harmful algal blooms as they form.

Infrastructure

The ABA will host a July 24 webinar on the various environmental and natural resources laws that govern infrastructure projects.

Wildlife

The full Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will hold a July 24 hearing on the Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize, for “innovative solutions to reduce human-predator conflict.”

Toxicology

EPA’s Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice will meet July 25 to discuss BioCompute, described as “a standardized method to communicate bioinformatic workflow information and ease organizational burden.”

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