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The Week Ahead

EPA Weighs Comments On Vehicle Rule Rollback, Key Science Issues For NAAQS Reviews

Comments are due this week on a series EPA's joint rule with the Department of Transportation (DOT) aimed at rolling back Obama-era vehicle emissions limits. Meanwhile, the agency is also taking comment through this week on scientific issues that will be key to its next round of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) reviews.

Vehicle Efficiency

Comments on the joint EPA-DOT rule to roll back Obama-era vehicle emissions policies, which includes freezing the scheduled efficiency standards with model year 2020 as well as revoking California's waiver to craft its own vehicle policies, are due on Oct. 26.

The proposal is already facing heavy criticism from supporters of the current rules, who say the Trump administration is overstating the costs of implementing the standards while using specious economic and technical analysis to tout the benefits of a rollback.

NAAQS Reviews

Oct. 22 is the deadline for comments on EPA's proposed quantitative risk and exposure assessment (REA) that will support the agency's upcoming review of the “secondary” NAAQS for nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter. During a recent meeting of the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), members faulted the agency's plan for using a confusing and narrow approach that echoes problems from a prior NOx-SOx combined review.

On Oct. 24, comments are due on EPA's call for input to CASAC highlighting “adverse public health, welfare, social, economic, or energy effects” from NAAQS implementation methods, as part of its push for a quick review of the 2015 ozone standard.

Wastewater 'Blending'

EPA is holding the second of three planned hearings on its planned Clean Water Act (CWA) rulemaking that will govern wastewater treatment plants' use of “blending” technology and other methods to deal with wet-weather events, on Oct. 24 in Lenexa, KS. During the first hearing on Oct. 16, industry speakers said EPA should avoid regulating blending directly, offering a series of options for other methods the agency could use to limit pollution during heavy rains and other wet weather.

Facility Safety

Steven Cook, the deputy assistant administrator at EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management, is among the speakers slated to address the Process Safety Summit on Oct. 23 in Washington, D.C. Cook will speak on the state of the risk management plan (RMP) facility safety rule, including the RMP update issued in the final days of the Obama administration that the agency is now working to roll back.

Groundwater Liability

American Law Institute-Continuing Legal Education (ALI-CLE) and the American College of Environmental Lawyers are co-hosting an Oct. 23 webinar on the state of Clean Water Act (CWA) liability for groundwater pollution. A series of courts have handed down contradictory rulings on the subject in recent months, leading to calls for the Supreme Court to step in and resolve the split.

Climate Change

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will host an Oct. 24 briefing in Washington, D.C., on a report that assesses the state of carbon sequestration and “negative emissions” technology as a way to reduce greenhouse gas releases.

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute has set an Oct. 25 briefing in Washington, D.C., on employment gains from energy efficiency.

Lead Rules

EPA will host an Oct. 23 webinar on its implementation of the lead renovation, repair and painting rule, which seeks to limit exposures when working on houses and child-care facilities with lead-based paint.

ELI Forum

The Environmental Law Institute is hosting a pair of policy “forum” discussions on Oct. 23 in Washington, D.C., leading up to its annual awards dinner that evening. The first event is a “Corporate Forum” featuring a panel of speakers including former Obama-era EPA General Counsel Avi Garbow discussing “Corporate Governance in an Age of Increased Environmental Accountability, Liability and Risk.” The second discussion, a “Policy Forum,” deals with “the intersection of private environmental governance, law, technologies, and communities.”

Water Infrastructure

The American Water Summit runs Oct. 24-26 in Philadelphia, PA, with an agenda focused on all aspects of funding and regulatory policy for water and wastewater systems. Speakers include Michael Patella, the senior policy adviser at EPA's Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center.

The NAS panel studying legionella in drinking water is meeting in Washington, D.C., Oct. 22-23.


EPA is hosting an Oct. 25 webinar to highlight best practices for ground-level pesticide application.

Computational Toxicology

EPA's Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice will meet Oct. 25 in Research Triangle Park, NC, and by webinar. The focus of the meeting is the Chemical and Products Database, part of the agency's computational toxicology dashboard software.


EPA is hosting an Oct. 24 webinar on sustainable materials management on tribal lands.

Wildfire Smoke

EPA has scheduled an Oct. 23 webinar to give a public overview of the 2018 update to its “Smoke Sense” mobile application, which is “a citizen science, crowdsourcing research project” that aims to assess the health effects of wildfire smoke and gauge public willingness to take steps to reduce exposures, including measuring the success of risk communication strategies.

HSRB Meeting

EPA's Human Studies Review Board (HSRB) will hold an online meeting Oct. 23.