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The Week Ahead

Wheeler To Testify At Senate Confirmation Hearing, NAS Weighs Environmental Reviews

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) will hold a confirmation hearing this week on Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler's nomination to lead the agency permanently. Meanwhile, two National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panels are advancing their reviews of environmental hazards related to disease and flame retardants.

Andrew Wheeler

Wheeler will appear before EPW at a Jan. 16 hearing where lawmakers will consider his nomination as the next permanent EPA administrator. Democrats and environmental groups are lining up to oppose Wheeler's confirmation, but Republicans' 53-47 Senate majority means that while Democrats may win policy concessions in exchange for dropping procedural roadblocks, they are unlikely to win a floor vote.

NAS Reviews

Two NAS committees have meetings scheduled this week in Washington, D.C. First, the academy will hold a Jan. 15-16 workshop on the relationship between environmental pollutants such as particulate matter and pesticides on the spread of infectious diseases.

Second, an NAS panel reviewing potential health hazards from organohalogen flame retardants will meet in a closed session Jan. 17-18.

EPA Events

Editor's Note: The following EPA-organized events could be postponed if the government shutdown continues, but at press time the agency's website listed them taking place as originally planned.

EPA Region 4 is slated to hold an information session for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program Jan. 15 at its Atlanta, GA, offices.

EPA has scheduled a Jan. 16 webinar on its Community Multiscale Air Quality Modeling System, which models “local to hemispheric air pollution issues” and is used to guide pollution-abatement strategies.


Lawmakers and environmental justice (EJ) advocates, including Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) and former EPA EJ chief Mustafa Santiago Ali, will appear at a Jan. 15 “Justice First” event in Washington, D.C., that will focus on climate concerns, clean-energy mandates and green jobs -- all elements of progressives' burgeoning “Green New Deal” agenda.

Senate Republicans are set to attend their annual retreat beginning Jan. 17. The event gives GOP lawmakers a forum to plan their policy and procedural agendas for the new Congress, which this year could focus heavily on avenues to ending the current shutdown. Unlike in past years members of the House caucus are not expected to attend.

Wood Heaters

Comments are due Jan. 14 on EPA's proposal to amend Obama-era standards for new wood-burning heaters to add a “sell-through” period for retailers to sell units that do not meet the newly more-stringent federal emissions limits. Critics say the revision would be an unlawful delay of emissions reduction requirements, signaling a likely legal challenge.

Environmental Peacebuilding

The Environmental Law Institute is hosting a Jan. 17 panel discussion to review the 2018 activities of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association, a multi-discipline group “dedicated to bringing together researchers, practitioners, and decision makers working on issues of environment, conflict, and peace."