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The Week Ahead

Industry Groups Ready 2019 Agendas; 'Ambient Air' Comments Due Despite EPA Shutdown

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are holding events this week to outline their 2019 policy goals, including on energy and environmental policies. Meanwhile, although EPA remains shuttered, the agency is closing the comment period on several policy proposals including a revised definition of “ambient” air.

Industry Priorities

Two major industry groups are holding events this week to present their 2019 agendas, both in Washington, D.C.: API, at its “State of American Energy” event on Jan. 8; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which will host a “State of American Business” address on Jan. 10.

Both associations have used their previous annual addresses during the Trump administration to call on congressional Republicans to pass broad regulatory reforms, but the window for any such legislation is almost certainly closed now that Democrats control the House. Instead, API and the Chamber may focus more directly on EPA's rollbacks of Obama-era policies, especially on climate.

Ambient Air

Comments are due Jan. 11 on EPA's draft guidance where the agency floated a new definition of “ambient air” that would make it easier for industries and regulators to exclude facilities from Clean Air Act requirements if the general public has no access to them. The revised definition would expand the scope of when areas deter or preclude access by the general public, which factors into a host of regulatory and permitting decisions.

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's Local Government Advisory Committee and Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee are scheduled to meet Jan. 10-11 in Washington, D.C. The meeting agenda includes discussions on water infrastructure, site restoration, risk communication, emerging contaminants and agriculture issues.

The Clean Air Act Advisory Committee's Mobile Sources Technical Review Subcommittee is slated to meet on Jan. 10 in Washington, D.C. EPA did not post an agenda for the meeting prior to the current shutdown.

Environmental Law

The American Bar Association is holding a continuing legal education seminar on environment and energy issues, along with mass torts and product liability, Jan. 10-12 in Laguna Beach, CA. Topics on the agenda include an analysis of “trends and coming threats” in energy and environmental litigation, legal issues related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and “stigma” that follows successful environmental remediation.

Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers is holding its annual conference Jan. 7-10 in Washington, D.C., with an agenda heavily focused on making infrastructure more resilient to climate change impacts.

UIC Permits

Comments are due Jan. 8 on EPA's proposed approval of North Dakota's plan to transfer permit authority for many categories of the Safe Drinking Water Act's underground injection control program from the state's health department to its environment department.

Environmental Justice

The Environmental Law Institute is holding a Jan. 9 panel discussion on environmental justice issues in the Appalachian region, and how they relate to the Trump administration and state officials' pro-coal push for “energy dominance.”

Pesticides

Jan. 11 is the deadline for public comments on a proposed joint stipulation between EPA and environmental groups that would resolve along-running lawsuit over the agency's registrations of certain pesticides that are alleged to harm bees in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The stipulation implements an 2017 district-level ruling against EPA, and would set a June 30, 2022 deadline for regulators to determine whether products containing clothianidin and thiamethoxam affect listed species. The agency would be required to consult with federal wildlife services as needed based on any such finding.

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