Legislative Branch Activity

This week on Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, will hold a hearing titled “Making Implementation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ground-Level Ozone Attainable: Legislative Hearing on S.263 and S.452.” The NAAQs have been highly controversial since their publication in 2015. The change in the attainment requirement from 75 parts per million (PPM) to 70 PPM threatens a significant number of cities and counties in the US which could fall out of attainment. The legislation to be examined during the hearing includes the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017 (S.263) and the ORDEAL Act of 2017 (S.452), both of which would which would delay the implementation of the 2015 ozone NAAQS.

  • On Wednesday, May 24, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, will hold a hearing to discuss the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Civil Works) and the Bureau of Reclamation’s FY 2018 budget requests.
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, will hold a hearing titled “Examining Impacts of Federal Natural Resources Laws Gone Astray.”
  • On Tuesday, May 23, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Environment, will hold a hearing titled “Expanding the Role of States in EPA Rulemaking.”
  • On Thursday, May 25, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled “Budget-U.S. Forest Service.” The witnesses will be:
    • The Honorable Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; and
    • Mr. Tom Tidwell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources has scheduled a hearing titled “Discussion Draft of the Community Reclamation Partnerships Act.” The bill would authorize partnerships between States and non-governmental entities for the purpose of reclaiming and restoring land and water resources adversely affected by coal mining activities.
  • On Tuesday, May 23, the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Federal Lands, will hold a hearing to examine Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2199), which would require the Secretary of the Interior to develop a multipurpose cadre of federal property and identify duplicative, and lapsed Federal land inventories. The Committee will also consider the Public Lands Telecommunications Act (H.R. 2425), which would address communications sites on or adjacent to Federal lands concerning the retention and use of rental fees.

Regulatory Activity

Last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals approved the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) request to issue an indefinite stay of the lawsuits challenging its final rule titled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed and Modified Sources,” as the agency reconsiders portions of the rule. The rule, which establishes restrictions on methane gas emissions for oil and gas sources, was finalized by the Obama Administration in June 2016. In addition to granting the stay, the court instructed the agency to issue status updates every 60 days regarding its regulatory review.

The Department of State is seeking scientific experts to provide comments for the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on six assessments related to biodiversity and ecosystem services, four regional assessments, one global assessment, and one assessment on land degradation and restoration.

The IPBES was established in 2012 by more than 100 governments as a mechanism to provide scientific information in response to requests from policy makers. The IPBES includes a current membership of 126 governments and operates under the auspices of the UNEP, FAO, UNDP, and UNESCO. One thousand scientists from around the world currently contribute to the work of IPBES on a voluntary basis. The mission of IPBES is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development. Comments are due upon several different dates from now until August 15. Click here for access to the process to provide comments.