Congress Scrambles To Avoid Shutdown, Groups Weigh High Court’s New Term
House Republicans have just days to decide whether EPA and other agencies will have to shut down at the start of fiscal year 2024, which begins Oct. 1. Legal experts will discuss the Supreme Court’s upcoming 2023 term, where the justices are slated to hear several cases that could have a significant impact on EPA and other agencies.
With the House and Senate still far apart on FY2024 spending legislation, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is starting to prepare for a government shutdown. “One week prior to the expiration of appropriations bills, regardless of whether the enactment of appropriations appears imminent, OMB will communicate with agency senior officials to remind agencies of their responsibilities to review and update orderly shutdown plans, and will share a draft communication template to notify employees of the status of appropriations,” according to a circular first reported by CNN. The circular comes as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to struggle to win support from a majority of his own caucus for a continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the government operating for a few weeks, which would have given lawmakers and the White House additional time to work out a longer-term appropriations agreement. Some senators are now suggesting that they may approve a CR and send that to the House for its consideration. One industry official is expecting several months of such uncertainty and doubts that EPA will receive its request for increased funding for the TSCA program.
The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is holding a Sept. 25 public webinar where leading environmental law scholars will discuss key cases the Supreme Court is slated to review — or will consider reviewing — in its upcoming term, which starts next month. Panelists will offer an overview of key rulings and takeaways from the court’s last term, such as its landmark Sackett ruling that narrowed the reach of the Clean Water Act. The webinar will then turn to cases that have been granted review or are likely to be considered by the justices in the upcoming term, including a review of Chevron deference and the constitutionality of administrative law judges.
Law firm Barnes & Thornburg on Sept. 28 is also slated to hold the first webinar in its two-part series providing a review of Supreme Court key decisions and upcoming cases. This first webinar will recap rulings made by the high court in the most recent term.
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is holding a Sept. 27 hearing with EPA Administrator Michael Regan on science and technology at the agency.
House Energy and Commerce’s environment panel also hosts a Sept. 27 hearing on reauthorizing EPA’s brownfields program.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) is set to hold a Sept. 28 hearing examining solutions to address beverage container waste. The hearing, planned by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), chair of the EPW Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight, will look at exploring ways to improve the domestic collection of single-use beverage containers.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment is holding a Sept. 28 hearing on Clean Water Infrastructure Financing, with plans to hear state and local perspectives, and learn about recent developments as well.
Comments are due Sept. 29 on the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) phase 2 National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) proposal, which includes provisions codifying several streamlining measures that Congress included in debt-ceiling legislation as well as several new mitigation, assessment and other mandates.
The Ecological Restoration Business Association (ERBA) is hosting its 2023 Policy Conference on Sept. 27-29, which will include discussions on topics including policy developments and opportunities in the Biden administration via the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA, the Supreme Court’s Sackett v. EPA ruling and EPA’s subsequent “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, Corps regulatory program and infrastructure law investments, stream restoration findings and solutions, and other key issues.
The National Academies of Sciences, Medicine and Engineering (NASEM) is holding its third meeting on EPA’s Use of the Title 42 Special Hiring Authority on Sept. 26-27, where the committee will hear from EPA’s Office of Research and Development regarding the previous and current implementation of the Title 42 hiring authority, placing an emphasis on hiring and recruiting procedures. Most of the meeting is closed, with one open session on Sept. 26.
EPA’s PFAS Council Manager Matt Klasen will join Jeffrey Dawson, senior science adviser in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, state regulators, private-sector scientists and attorneys at a Sept. 27 Chemical Watch conference to discuss regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the United States and Europe, PFAS alternatives and lessons learned from recent litigation.
The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) is hosting a Sept. 26 meeting to discuss topics including workgroup activities, proposed recommendations for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council (IAC), CEQ briefings, and a new formal charge for WHEJAC. A public comment period relevant to current WHEJAC charges will also be considered at the meeting.
Responses are due Sept. 29 in Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s (R) high-profile suit that charges EPA lacks authority under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to pursue disparate impact-related discrimination claims, a Biden administration priority. Most recently in the suit, Louisiana v. EPA, the agency called on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to dismiss the case for a number of reasons, including because EPA has closed the complaints that prompted the lawsuit.
EPA is holding a Sept. 27 online public hearing on its proposal to deny Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s application to allow Alabama to operate a coal combustion residuals (CCR) state permit program in lieu of the federal CCR program.
EPA’s response brief in the suit Electric Energy Inc., et al., v. EPA, et al., is due Sept. 29, which sets the stage for the agency’s first response in the industry litigation challenging EPA’s interpretation of its 2015 coal ash rule, as seen in its basis for proposing to deny a series of coal ash facilities’ requests to extend their deadlines for closure in January 2022.
Renewable Waste Management
EPA is set to hold a Sept. 27 webinar on Renewable Waste Management: Solar Panel Recycling, which will provide an overview on the outlook for solar panel use and the associated waste and showcase EPA’s Solar Photovoltaic Waste Elimination Tool.
EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee is holding a virtual meeting Sept. 29 where panelists will discuss recommendations on communicating risks of PFAS in drinking water, land use and electrifying transportation in small communities, environmental justice and other topics.
EPA’s Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Advisory Committee (FRRCC) is holding a Sept. 28 virtual meeting, which advises EPA on a range of environmental issues and policies that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities.
OurEnergyPolicy and BP America are holding a Sept. 29 event to discuss methane policy and regulation. Tomás Carbonell, EPA deputy assistant administrator for stationary sources, will provide opening remarks. Other speakers include Carrie Jenks, of Harvard University’s Environmental and Energy Law Program; Environmental Defense Fund’s Jon Goldstein; and BP’s Isabel Mogstad.
Comments are due Sept. 29 on EPA’s proposal to expand air toxics rules for integrated iron and steel plants, including emissions limits for previously unregulated pollutants, new limits for unregulated emission points, tougher standards for unplanned “fugitive” emissions and also a first-time fenceline air monitoring mandate that industry has warned against.