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The Week Ahead

The House is preparing to vote on its first round of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills, including an EPA bill that would give the agency a $318 million boost. Senate appropriators are considering legislation that would boost EPA’s work on plastic waste cuts.

Appropriations

The full House is expected to vote this week on EPA’s FY21 funding bill that would raise the agency’s budget to $9.38 billion as part of its first spending “minibus” of the season. In addition to that figure -- which represents a $318 million increase from EPA’s current level and $2.67 billion above President Donald Trump’s request -- the bill includes significant “emergency” spending on infrastructure, including $13 billion for various EPA programs. Policy language in the bill would block finalization or implementation of several Trump EPA rules, including repeal of the legal basis for mercury controls, changes to water certification requirements, rollback of oil and gas sector methane curbs and the agency’s science “transparency” rule.

Meanwhile, one of the Senate’s first agenda items for its return to Washington, D.C., after the July 4 recess is the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act, which is likely to include policy battles related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have already proposed an amendment that would ban the Defense Logistics Agency from purchasing products that contain PFAS.

Plastic Waste

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s panel on state and foreign operations will hold a July 21 hearing on federal efforts to reduce plastic waste in international waters, which has been a priority for EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The agency recently eyed the newly implemented U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as a vessel for quick action on plastic waste, and those efforts could get a further boost from a pending bill known as the “Save Our Seas 2.0 Act,” which has two sponsors on the hearing’s witness list -- Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

CHPAC

EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC) is poised to meet July 24 for the first time since the replacement of much of its membership, including its director. Of the committee’s 28 members, 20 are newly appointed since its meeting in late 2019, including new chair Deanna Scher, who works for Minnesota’s health department. EPA’s children’s-health office, including CHPAC, has been under intense public scrutiny since the ouster of its former director Ruth Etzel in 2018. No agenda has been released for the July 24 meeting as of press time.

TSCA

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel tasked with reviewing EPA’s guidance outlining the systematic review framework for Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk assessments will meet July 23 for an agenda that includes presentations by EPA deputy toxics chief Stan Barone and Eva Wong, an official with the risk evaluation division at the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

Toxicology

The Toxicology Forum will host a July 20 online session on non-animal test methods for assessing the hazards of food ingredients -- methods that align with EPA’s recent push to reduce animal testing in chemical risk evaluations.

EPA’s Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice will meet July 23 to discuss the latest update to the CompTox chemical data dashboard.

Private Sustainability

The Environmental Law Institute will host a full-day “master class” July 22 on voluntary corporate social responsibility programs including environmental sustainability. The session will cover methods for reducing companies’ environmental and social footprints, as well as tools for reporting those improvements. Reporting on voluntary action has been a primary concern for investors, advocates and regulators prioritizing private work, such as in a recent Government Accountability Office report that warned of “fragmentation” in companies’ disclosures absent some standardized framework.

DOE Cleanups

The NAS panel reviewing the Department of Energy’s (DOE) nuclear site cleanup program will meet July 21 for a question-and-answer session with agency officials.

Human Testing

EPA’s Human Studies Review Board, which advises the agency on research that deals with human subjects, will meet July 21-22.

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