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The Week Ahead

House Weighs Oversight Of EPA’s PFAS Agenda; EPW To Debate ‘Federalism’ In Air Policy

The House oversight committee is preparing for a hearing this week on the hazards of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, shortly after EPA released its controversial plan for the emerging contaminants. Meanwhile, the Senate’s environment committee, is holding a hearing on the role of “cooperative federalism” principles in air regulation and enforcement.

PFAS

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee’s environment panel will hold a March 6 hearing on “PFAS Chemicals and their Risks,” following EPA’s release of its long-awaited “action plan” for dealing with the drinking water contaminants. Many state officials have already voiced disappointment that the agency is not moving more quickly to craft an enforceable drinking water standard.

Air Policy

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee’s air and radiation subcommittee has set a March 5 hearing on “States’ Role in Protecting Air Quality: Principles of Cooperative Federalism.” It follows a Feb. 26 House hearing where EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine pushed back on accusations that her office has given states too much deference in implementing environmental laws.

HFCs

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear argument March 8 in Mexichem Fluor, Inc., et al. v. EPA, where chemical companies Mexichem and Arkema are challenging EPA's 2016 rule that changed the status of some climate-warming hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in different end-uses to "unacceptable." Specifically, they are asking the court to remand and partially vacate the rule to conform to an earlier D.C. Circuit decision that vacated an earlier HFC rule from the Obama EPA.

TRI Analysis

Newly confirmed EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is scheduled to roll out the agency’s formal analysis of 2017 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data during a March 5 press call.

Infrastructure

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s panel on water and environment will meet March 7 for a hearing on EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, focused on use of infrastructure upgrades to combat affordability issues.

The House Ways & Means Committee, which has authority over taxation and other revenue measures, is holding a March 6 hearing on “Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Need for Immediate Action.” Democrats are working on potential legislation that would fund water and other infrastructure projects as a rare point of overlap with the Trump administration’s priorities -- including a trust fund to finance water infrastructure projects that would be funded through an increase in the corporate income tax rate.

GlobalChem

EPA toxics chief Alexandra Dunn is scheduled to give a keynote address to the annual GlobalChem conference, which will run March 6-8 in Washington, D.C. Beyond Dunn’s speech, topics on the agenda include EPA’s implementation of the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act, PFAS policy and risk assessments.

Pharmaceutical Waste

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) will host a March 6 webinar on EPA’s recently-issued Resource Conservation & Recovery Act rule that set management standards for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals at healthcare facilities and reverse distributors. The rule is set to take effect on Aug. 21, but is likely to draw legal challenges.

CWA Spill Rule

Comments are due March 5 on data EPA gathered through an industry survey which the agency says supports its proposal not to enact a Clean Water Act (CWA) spill prevention rule that environmentalists say is legally mandated and long overdue. EPA claims the survey data and other materials show that a new spill-prevention rule would be redundant with other regulatory mandates and provide little to no public benefit.

United Nations ‘Pact’

ELI has scheduled a March 8 webinar on the United Nations’ 2018 resolution that aims to establish “a global pact for the environment.”

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