Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* Oregon’s Representatives start hearings this week on a bill that would prohibit the state from funding new bulk coal or oil terminals starting July 1, 2017 unless the Department of State Lands undertakes a “balancing test” which shows public need outweighing private need. In addition, the Department would have to consider the risks of an oil spill when issuing or amending certain leases; the bill would prohibit construction, extension or use of a wharf for receipt and discharge of crude oil. Some safety and congestion work is exempted. There are other efforts to clamp down and tighten-up on oil shipments via rail.

* The Department of Commerce presented how it will proceed in its research and evaluation of the impact of Federal permitting requirements on the construction and expansion of domestic manufacturing facilities and on regulations adversely impacting manufacturers. You’ll recall this was the focus of a Memorandum from President Trump in January. This first step is a request for information from interested and impacted parties. The Secretary of Commerce will use that information to present a report to the President “setting forth a plan to streamline Federal permitting processes.” It’s a short comment period – just through March! Not clear when the Secretary’s report is due. Stay tuned.

* EPA’s notice that it is withdrawing its requests for emissions information from existing oil and gas operations was in the Federal Register last week. Part of this request included detailed information on methane emissions and emissions control devices or practices within segments of the oil and gas industry. EPA writes that it would like to “assess the need for the information that the agency was collecting through these requests, and reduce burdens on businesses while the Agency assesses such need.” A final final decision is left open-ended.

Tom EwingTom