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The Week Ahead

Senate Takes Up PFAS Legislation; House Panel To Vote On EPA's FY20 Funding Bill

The Senate’s environment committee is holding a hearing this week on legislation to limit per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), in the latest move toward a bill that could force more stringent measures for the contaminants than EPA has planned. Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee will vote on approving the agency's fiscal year 2020 funding bill.

PFAS

The full Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will meet May 22 to consider legislation that would set new limits on PFAS in drinking water. The Senate hearing follows a House panel’s review of a slate of PFAS bills -- many bipartisan -- at a May 15 hearing, and could set the stage for the chambers to produce one or more consensus measures on the subject. However, House Republicans are already calling for lawmakers to work more closely with EPA on the bills, which could slow the process.

EPA Budget

The House Appropriations Committee plans to vote on its FY20 funding bill for EPA and other interior and environment agencies during a May 22 meeting. The proposed EPA budget, as detailed at a May 14 subcommittee markup, would boost the agency’s funding to a total of $9.52 billion in funding for the agency -- $672 million over FY19 enacted levels and $3.42 billion over the Trump administration's FY20 budget request.

Also on May 22, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s panel and water and environment will hold a hearing on the White House’s FY20 budget request and its policy implications.

Deregulation

The pro-regulatory group Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is hosting a May 22 event on Capitol Hill to highlight Congressional efforts to push back on the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda. Guests include Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), with other, unannounced members of Congress also expected to attend.

Mercury Inventory

EPA is hosting a pair of webinars this week to assist industry in complying with its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) mercury inventory reporting rule, even as environmentalists are pressing a court challenge aimed at strengthening the 2018 policy. The first presentation is on May 21, and the second, is set for May 23.

Climate Change

House and Senate committees have four hearings this week on climate change issues. In the House, the oversight panel of the science committee will hold a May 21 hearing on the need for resiliency requirements in transportation infrastructure, while the select climate committee has a May 23 hearing on broader resiliency issues.

In the Senate, the chamber’s full energy committee will meet May 21 to discuss renewables and energy efficiency. Meanwhile, the Senate Agriculture Committee has its own May 21 hearing on the effects of climate change for the agriculture sector.

Wildfires

EPA is hosting a May 21 webinar on methods of mitigating human health impacts from wildfire smoke. Western state officials are bracing for a difficult wildfire season this summer.

Infrastructure

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a May 22 hearing on Democrats’ newly unveiled infrastructure bill that targets climate change and drinking water quality with billions of dollars in grants for energy efficiency, electric vehicles, renewable power, and drinking water systems, including efforts to address PFAS.

Nutrients

EPA will host a May 21 webinar for small drinking water systems on ways to combat harmful algal blooms driven by high nutrient levels in surface waters.

The agency has also set a May 22 webinar on methods for coastal communities to manage nutrient levels in their nearby waters.

Civil Service

The House Oversight Committee’s panel on government operations will hold a May 21 hearing on the Trump administration’s “War on a Merit-Based Civil Service.” The precise focus of the hearing is still unannounced, but the White House has generally sought to cut staff at EPA and other regulatory agencies. Political leaders have also been accused of retaliating against career officials who speak out in favor of stringent policies -- most prominently when they suspended EPA children’s health chief Ruth Etzel.

Sustainability

The International Bar Association will host a May 21 webinar on models and legal mandates for “sustainable and responsible” investment in agriculture.

SBA Advocacy

The Senate Small Business Committee and the regulatory affairs panel of the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee will hold a joint May 22 hearing on the activities and potential reauthorization of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy, which often files comments and rulemaking petitions on behalf of small businesses that oppose EPA regulations.

Environmental Economics

EPA will host a May 22 seminar in Washington, D.C., through its environmental economics program on the relationship between weather and emissions from facilities and mobile sources in contributing to outdoor air pollution levels.

Remote Monitoring

EPA has set a May 22 webinar on the potential applications of multi-source remote sensing technologies for assessing and managing pollution levels in surface waters.

Computational Toxicology

EPA’s Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice will meet May 23 for a presentation on the RapidTox online dashboard, which compiles a suite of workflows designed to quickly assemble data for any given problem formulation.

Gulf Oil Spill

May 20 is the deadline for public comments on the final environmental assessment and restoration plan for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Biogas

The Environmental & Energy Study Institute will host a May 22 briefing in Washington, D.C., on “the many benefits” of biogas created from decomposition of organic wastes.

Earthquakes

EPA and three South Carolina water utility groups are co-hosting a May 23 event in Charleston, SC, on methods for water and wastewater utilities to bolster their resiliency to earthquakes and other seismic events,

Emerging Contaminants

EPA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, through their joint work in the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, will co-host a May 23 webinar on treatment options for the emerging drinking water contaminants 1,2,3-Trichloropropane and 1,2-Dibromoethane.

BOSC Meeting

EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises the agency on its scientific agenda, will hold a meeting of its subcommittee on safe and sustainable water resources by teleconference on May 21.

SmartWay

EPA’s SmartWay program will host a May 23 webinar on its Transport Partnership Multimodal Tool.

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