Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  EPA seeks comments on the “Recommended Best Practices for Environmental Reviews and Authorizations for Infrastructure Projects.”  These recommendations were published last January in a report by the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.  Now EPA wants to know whether any of the ideas are generally applicable on a delegation or authorization-wide basis to permitting under FAST-41.  A covered project is any activity “in the United States that requires authorization or environmental review by a Federal agency,” mostly big-ticket projects ranging from transportation to waterways to pipelines.  Comments are due November 20.
*  Federal agency reports are being released almost daily in response to various Presidential Executive Orders addressing energy independence and economic growth.  The reports identify possible regulatory changes that could unburden energy and economic development while still meeting all legal environmental, safety and natural resource demands.  FERC’s is one of the reports that came out last week.  It focuses actions in four jurisdictional areas: (1) hydropower licensing; (2) LNG facility, and natural gas pipeline and storage facility siting; (3) eastern states’ centralized electric capacity market policies and (4) electric generator interconnection policies.
*  The U.S. Global Change Research Program announced updates on three reports.  First, the final release of Volume I of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, with a focus on the United States.  It presents a direct conclusion: Based on extensive evidence, it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”  Second, the public draft of Volume II, “Climate Change Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” is available for public review and comment; deadline is January 31, 2018.  Third, the draft of the “2nd State of the Carbon Cycle Report” is also available for review and comment; deadline is January 8, 2018.  The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990. 

Tom Ewing
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