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The Week Ahead

The 117th Congress convened Jan. 3 with many Democrats expected to push for consideration of climate change legislation to advance President-elect Joe Biden’s environmental agenda, but the fate of such efforts may hinge on the outcome of two Georgia Senate runoff elections this week.

New Congress

The 117th Congress convened on Sunday, Jan. 3, and is meeting in Washington, D.C. for a week, including to count Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. Lawmakers will then depart until Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, after which Democrats in the House and Senate are expected to float greenhouse gas legislation to support Biden’s sweeping climate change policy agenda.

Georgia Elections

Whether Congress is able to approve broad climate legislation is likely to hinge on the outcome of the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, which will determine control of the upper chamber.

If GOP candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler win their elections, Republicans will hold 51 seats in the 117th Congress. If both Democratic candidates -- Jon Ossoff or Raphael Warnock -- win, it would create a 50-50 tie between both parties that would effectively give Democrats control of the Senate because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote.

The results will have implications for what level of challenge the incoming Biden administration and environmentalists will face in their likely pursuit of additional climate change legislation in 2021. A divided Congress could prove particularly challenging for climate legislation as well as getting Biden’s environment nominees confirmed.

Hazardous Air Pollutants

Comments are due Jan. 8 on EPA’s proposed revisions to its national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants for polyvinyl chloride and copolymers (PVC) production. The agency’s proposal would tighten some air toxics limits for PVC production plants and weaken others to achieve a net increase in the stringency of its air toxics rule for the sector, while eliminating waivers for excess emissions during facility startup, shutdown or malfunction.

Environmental Justice

The law firm Beveridge & Diamond is sponsoring an Association of Corporate Counsel webinar on Jan. 5 on environmental justice (EJ). The webinar will discuss incorporating EJ principles into business operations and speculate on anticipated EJ policy, regulation and legislation.

Safe Drinking Water

EPA Region 3 is hosting a virtual environmental training session, “Ask the Inspector Workshop - SDWA,” on Jan. 6 to aid federal facilities in complying with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

Carbon Cuts

ConservAmerica is hosting a webinar Jan. 6 titled “Beyond Electrification: Policy Options for Cutting Carbon Emissions in the Transportation Sector.” The webinar will discuss various technology and policy options available to Congress to “decarbonize” transportation.