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The Week Ahead

Comments are due Feb. 12 on EPA’s request for data on the universe of “legacy” coal ash impoundments at closed power plants. Meanwhile, the Senate environment panel will vote Feb. 9 on Michael Regan’s nomination to be the agency’s next administrator.

Coal Ash Options

The Trump EPA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking outlining options for addressing legacy coal ash impoundments included a suggestion the agency might lack authority over the facilities. Environmentalists have already criticized the suggestion the agency could avoid regulation of the sites, noting a court order for the agency to regulate the facilities, and are expected to further press for regulation in their formal comments due Feb. 12. It is unclear whether the Biden EPA will finalize the rule as proposed, make major changes, or scrap it.

Regan Nomination

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee has scheduled a Feb. 9 business meeting to vote on the nomination of Regan, currently North Carolina’s environment secretary, to be President Joe Biden’s EPA administrator. At his Feb. 3 confirmation hearing Regan vowed that, if confirmed, he will conduct an “assessment” of the agency’s Trump-era actions in line with Biden’s directive to review specific policies for revision but will focus more on collaborative approaches in crafting new high-priority policies.

Climate Change

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s environment and climate change panel is scheduled to hold a hearing Feb. 9 titled “Back in Action: Restoring Federal Climate Leadership."

Resources for the Future (RFF) is holding a Feb. 10 webinar titled The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC): Key Scientific and Policy Considerations for the Biden Administration,” highlighting the latest SCC-related research from RFF scholars and the Climate Impact Lab.

Risk Assessment

An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will hold its first public meeting Feb. 11 to evaluate EPA's Handbook for Developing Assessments for the Integrated Risk Information System program.

EPA is recommending that comments be submitted this week on three Clean Air Act residual risk and technology reviews (RTRs) in order to have the best chance of consideration by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Comments on the mercury cell chlor-alkali plants RTR and the primary magnesium refining RTR are due Feb. 22, but EPA says comments submitted by Feb. 8 are best assured of consideration. Comments on the flexible polyurethane foam fabrication operations RTR are due Feb. 25, but EPA recommends comments be submitted by Feb. 10.

OMB Nomination Hearings

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Feb. 9, and the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing Feb. 10 on the nomination of Neera Tanden to be OMB director.

EPA At 50

Indiana University continues its series of webinars examining 50 years of EPA with a Feb. 11 webinar featuring Jonathan Cannon and James Salzman discussing water policy.

Catalyst Tampering

Comments are due Feb. 12 on whether and how EPA should update or withdraw its 1986 catalyst policy regarding replacement catalytic converters for light-duty gasoline motor vehicles that are beyond their emissions warranty. EPA is seeking information on whether it has accomplished the goals of the 1986 policy; whether the agency should establish a consistent enforcement policy for all types of replacement catalysts; whether it should withdraw the catalyst policy entirely and use the overarching tampering policy for catalysts as well; and whether the 1986 policy affects the market for aftermarket catalysts.


Comments are due Feb. 8 on EPA’s proposal to tighten some hazardous air pollutant limits for polyvinyl chloride and copolymers (PVC) production plants and weaken others to achieve a net increase in the stringency of its air toxics rule for the sector. The proposal responds to requests from the PVC production industry and environmental groups for reconsideration of certain aspects of the Obama EPA’s 2012 rule setting maximum achievable control technology (MACT) emissions controls for the facilities.

Groundwater Permitting

The Mintz law firm is holding a Feb. 9 webinar titled “Navigating the Muddy Waters of the Supreme Court’s Maui Decision.” The webinar will discuss how we got here, where we may be heading, and the technical and permitting tools available to address the risks resulting from increased uncertainty over the reach of the federal Clean Water Act.

Food Scrap Recycling

The Environmental Law Institute is holding a Feb. 10 webinar on the effectiveness of food scrap recycling mandates and landfill bans.