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The Week Ahead

The Senate is weighing President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, starting a process that could cement the court’s conservative majority for years or decades. Meanwhile, EPA’s financial advisory board is meeting to weigh how the agency can take advantage of tax laws to boost environmental funding opportunities.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing slated to run through Oct. 15, the start of a contentious process that Republicans plan to culminate in a final vote on her confirmation before the Nov. 3 election.

Observers expect Barrett, currently a federal appeals court judge, to cement a solid conservative majority on the high court. Environmental groups have warned that President Donald Trump’s nominee appears too willing to question plaintiffs’ standing to seek relief for environmental damage, and is inclined to overturn prior precedents.

EFAB

EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board (EFAB) will meet Oct. 14-15 with an agenda focused on how the agency can take advantage of low-tax “opportunity zones” created by the 2017 tax law, and its responses to recent EFAB input on a host of issues.

Litigation

EPA and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials will speak on recent developments in environmental litigation during an Oct. 14 American Bar Association (ABA) panel. Speakers on the agenda include DOJ’s environment and natural resources chief Jeffery Bossert Clark, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for enforcement John Irving, and toxics chief Alexandra Dunn.

COVID-19

The law firm Clark Hill will host an Oct. 15 webcast on uncertainty surrounding environmental policy and enforcement, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected that state of affairs.

EPA Webcasts

EPA has scheduled a host of informational and technical webcasts this week.

On Oct. 13, the agency will host an event on disease mitigation in schools; a training session on the Enforcement and Compliance History Online database; and a demonstration highlighting updates to the “How’s My Waterway” online tool compiling water quality data at the community, state and national levels.

On Oct. 14, the agency will host a webcast on flood resiliency focused on “nature-based approaches” in New England.

And on Oct. 15, it will sponsor a discussion on reducing air pollution in and near schools.

Superfund

Comments are due Oct. 14 on EPA’s proposed settlement for cost recovery on the Superfund cleanup of the former Charlotte Bay Trading Co. site in Charlotte, NC.

Drinking Water

EPA will host an Oct. 14-15 online public hearing on its pending six-year review of Safe Drinking Water Act regulations, focused on possible revisions to rules governing microbial and disinfection byproducts.

NEPA

The ABA will host an Oct. 15 webinar on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) focused on the Trump administration’s wide-ranging overhaul of implementing rules for the law. Speakers include Andrew Wishnia, senior policy advisor to Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Pesticides

EPA’s pesticides office has set an Oct. 15 webcast to give an “overview” of its Aug. 31 proposed rule that would exempt some plants genetically engineered with pest-resistant substances -- known as plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs) from existing regulations if they “pose no greater risk than PIPs that meet EPA safety requirements,” and “could have been created through conventional breeding.”

Energy

The law firm Van Ness Feldman will host an Oct. 15 webcast on energy policies Congress could take up in 2021, depending on the results of the House, Senate and White House races.

Industry Sustainability

The Environmental Law Institute is hosting its annual corporate and policy forums this week, with two panels on the evolution of voluntary environmental controls among industry. An Oct. 13 discussion will focus on “Reimagining Supply Chains for a Resilient and Just Future,” and an Oct. 14 session covers “Reimagining Environmental Governance” amid the COVID-19 pandemic, increasingly dire climate-change predictions and political upheavals.

Oil & Gas

The energy and environmental research group GTI will host an Oct. 13 webcast on advanced methane-detection technology.

The law firm Vinson & Elkins will host its annual symposium on hydraulic fracturing Oct. 15, focused on state and federal policy developments, litigation, markets and safety issues.

Taconite

EPA will host an Oct. 14 online hearing for its proposal to relax the Clean Air Act federal implementation ban that sets regional haze reduction requirements for U.S. Steel’s Minntac taconite facility in Mountain Iron, MN. The plan sets a directly applicable federal emissions limit for nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the plant, under a standard of emissions control known as best available retrofit technology required by major industrial sources of haze-forming pollution. The revised NOx limit would be 1.6 pounds NOx per million British Thermal Units, based on a 30-day rolling average, averaged across Minntac’s five production lines.

Climate Change

The Sierra Club will host an Oct. 14 webinar on climate adaptation, resilience and risk, including examples of “good and bad” solutions to those issues.

The Brookings Institution will host an Oct. 15 panel discussion on how the November elections will affect U.S. climate policy, including the roles Congress, private groups and state and local governments would play under either a second term for President Donald Trump or a Biden administration.

Vehicle Emissions

Comments are due on EPA’s direct final rule to correct what it says is a “technical” error in 2012 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) testing regulations. If the agency receives no adverse comments by the deadline, the rule will take effect without further action.

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