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The Week Ahead

SAB Weighs LCR Proposal; EPA Toxics Officials Detail TSCA New Chemicals Program

EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) is meeting this week to weigh the agency’s proposed overhaul of the drinking water lead and copper rule (LCR). Meanwhile, top officials in the agency’s toxics office are slated to speak on how they are implementing the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act’s (TSCA) mandates for new chemicals.

LCR Revision

The chartered SAB will meet by phone on May 11 to discuss EPA’s proposed update to the LCR. EPA has asked the board to review available non-disruptive technologies that can locate lead service lines, and to provide “scientific review of the methodologies to ensure the maximum effectiveness of public education programs for lead in drinking water.” But environmentalists are urging SAB to also look at what they say are the numerous flaws in the proposed rule, such as the decision not to set a health-based limit on lead levels.

New Chemicals

Two top officials at EPA’s toxics office -- Deputy Director Tala Henry and Associate Deputy Administrator for New Chemicals Lynn Dekleva -- will speak on a May 13 webinar hosted by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) as part of an ongoing series that replaced the group’s cancelled GlobalChem conference. The May 13 session focuses on the TSCA new-chemicals program and also includes EPA engineer Ritesh Tiwari, ACC Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs Mike Walls, and Rich Engler, director of chemistry at the industry law firm Bergeson & Campbell.

NEPA

The American Bar Association will host a May 12 webinar on the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s proposed rule overhauling implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The proposal has drawn widespread opposition from Democrats and environmentalists previewing a legal battle once the rule is finalized.

Water Quality Certifications

EPA is expected to finalize as soon as this week its proposed rule that would greatly scale back states’ power to block federally approved projects under the Clean Water Act (CWA), under an April 10, 2019 executive order that set a timeline of “13 months” for it to enact the new policy, even as a federal appellate court is weighing litigation that could determine how long states have to review the projects before they must decide to act.

The proposal would overhaul the CWA section 401 process where states “certify” that federal permits either meet or conflict with their water quality standards, including limiting the scope of state certifications to point source discharges; requiring any conditions states attach to their section 401 approvals to be imposed in discharge permits rather than in the section 401 certification itself; allowing federal agencies to establish what constitutes a “reasonable time” for a state to issue any certification; and imposing a federal agency “veto” when the agency determines a state 401 certification does not comply with CWA requirements.

LGAC

EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) will meet by phone on May 15 to advance its report to the agency on risk communication.

PFAS

May 15 is the deadline for the Department of Defense (DOD) to file a formal response to environmentalists’ lawsuit demanding that it halt all incineration of materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Plaintiffs in Save Our County, et al., v. Defense Logistics Agency, et al., say DOD’s incineration contracts violate federal environmental and defense law.

BOSC

EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises the agency on its scientific work, will hold a May 12-13 meeting of its Chemical Safety for Sustainability and Health and Environmental Risk Assessment Subcommittee to review EPA’s strategic research action plan for the agency Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (HERA) program. HERA is “designed to develop and apply state-of-the-science research to characterize the impacts on human and ecological systems from exposure to single, complex, or multiple physical, chemical, or biological stressors.”

MATS

EPA is taking comment through May 11 on its proposal to extend the deadline for power plants subject to the mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) rule to switch their compliance reporting to the Emissions Collection and Monitoring Plan System (ECMPS), which power plant operators have used since the 1990s to report emissions data under EPA’s acid rain program. The agency says adopting ECMPS for the air toxics rule would streamline reporting for operators, but has repeatedly delayed the switch citing technical difficulties. The current proposal would move the target from June 30, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2023.

COVID-19

The American Public Health Association and National Academy of Medicine will host a joint May 13 webinar in their “COVID-19 conversations” series, on public-health protections that EPA and other agencies can put in place in order to balance health, economic and workforce needs as states begin to loosen their stay-at-home orders designed to fight the pandemic.

Carbon Capture

The National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Earth Resources will host a May 13 webinar on carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies, and their role in the “energy transition” from fossil fuels to renewables.

Climate Change

The American Bar Association will host a May 13 “Virtual Land Use Institute” presentation on the relationship between climate change, sea level rise and state and local land use policies.

Cyanotoxins

EPA has set a May 13 webinar on its “CyAN” mobile app designed to help state and local water quality managers respond quickly to algal blooms that produce cyanotoxins that can contaminate water supplies.

Stratospheric Ozone

Comments are due May 14 on EPA’s proposal to adopt three technical standards produced by the firm SAE International for servicing motor vehicle air-conditioning equipment while limiting release of ozone-depleting air pollutants.

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