Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

Water infrastructure: This Thursday the US House Transportation Committee Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment meets for a hearing titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Water Resources Projects and Policy.”  The Army Corps of Engineers will testify on Reports to Congress on Future Water Resources Development, and on Chief’s Reports.  Congressional review of these reports, along with an explanation of the process by which the Corps develops projects and activities, is a necessary step in the development of a Water Resources Development Act, which the Committee considers later this year.  The hearing will be chaired by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA).  It’s scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. in 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.
Regulatory reform: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) seeks comments on its Draft 2017 Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The Draft Report has two parts. Part I contains three chapters. Chapter I examines the benefits and costs of major Federal regulations issued in the fiscal year 2016. Chapter II discusses regulatory impacts on State, Local, and tribal governments, small business, wages and employment, and economic growth. Chapter III offers recommendations for regulatory reform. Part II summarizes agency compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. Comments are due by April 16.  This is an annual OMB report; the White House website presents reports going back 10 years.  In the current report, Chapter III is worth a close look because that’s where the President’s team describes what they want to do differently, rather than just continuing to crank out feel-good rhetoric every year.
Political pipelines: Politics may be local but energy is regional, especially in New England.  Consider a Connecticut bill, SB 332, “An Act Concerning Solicitation for Natural Gas Transport Capacity.”  SB 332 would disallow Connecticut’s ability to join other New England states to expand interstate natural gas transmission capacity.  That’s a big deal because the energy in CT depends on the thicket of interstate infrastructure that allows energy service in New England.  At a hearing on March 6, 20 people submitted comments to support or oppose SB 332.  Connecticut Business and Industry Association: “It is well established that Connecticut alone, cannot and will not be able to achieve the necessary capacity expansion on its own. This must be a regional effort. Accordingly, it is critical that Connecticut maintain its current authority to enter into the very interstate agreements this bill seeks to prohibit.”  Toxics Action Center: “We have worked for many years with citizen groups across the state to protect public health and the environment by working to clean up hazardous waste sites, curb pesticide spraying, and reduce pollution from dirty and dangerous waste, energy and industrial facilities. I’ve come to ask that you (sic) Senate Bill 332 prohibit Connecticut consumers from being forced to subsidize these expensive and unnecessary pipelines.”

Tom Ewing
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