Provided by FAC Corporate Partner: The Ferguson Group
The House and Senate are in recess until after the elections, returning on November 14, 2016
House Oversight Committee Report Finds Politicization of WOTUS Rulemaking
On October 27, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a staff report detailing findings from its two-year investigation into the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rulemaking process. The report alleges that pressure from the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led to a rulemaking that was a case study in legal shortcuts, predetermined conclusions, and politically motivated timelines. During the 114th Congress, the Oversight Committee held multiple hearings in 2015 (February 26, March 3) and 2016 (January 7, March 15, April 19, June 23) related to the WOTUS rule.
EPA Launches Voluntary Stormwater Planning Project – Draft Guidance
Last week, EPA released new draft guidance for communities seeking to craft long-term stormwater control plans. According to the EPA, this is the first step in a new effort to support such plans that will eventually include a “toolkit” of online resources and new technical assistance resources, and is working with five municipalities in a pilot program to produce model plans.
EPA's Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, Joel Beauvais stated the draft stormwater guidance is in response to years of stakeholder discussions calling for municipal stormwater plans that go beyond the five-year time horizon of a Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permit. The draft guidance outlines broad recommendations for planning new stormwater infrastructure projects, and integrating them into other projects such as downtown revitalization or capital improvements. Mr. Beauvais also said the guide will aid communities in developing integrated plans for sewer/stormwater/clean water compliance under the CWA.
EPA also announced five pilot communities to receive $150,000 each in EPA technical assistance to develop pilot stormwater control plans. The five cities named to host pilot projects are Burlington, IA; Chester, PA.; Hattiesburg, MS.; Rochester, NH; and Santa Fe, NM.
EPA Announces Environmental Justice Plan
EPA last week released their four-year Environmental Justice Plan (EJ2020), which calls for the agency to integrate environmental justice principles into all aspects of its operations and to reduce disparities in the nation's most overburdened communities. EPA's handling of environmental justice issues has come under fire recently, with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights saying in September the agency had not done enough to protect vulnerable communities from coal ash impacts.
House Republicans Set Date for 115th Congressional Leadership Elections
House Republicans are tentatively planning to hold elections for leadership positions one week after the November 8 federal election. The leadership elections will decide who Republicans will nominate to serve as Speaker of the House in the 115th Congress, as well as who will serve in other leadership positions, such as Majority Leader, Majority Whip and Conference Chairman. The schedule for leadership elections may change as some conservative Republicans may try to postpone the leadership elections until after Congress has completed a “lame duck” session scheduled to last through December 15.