Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* You want to get this wiring right…: The Coast Guard published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) last week regarding an update to its electrical engineering standards. At 48 pages, it’s a substantive proposal. Comments are due by July 21. The NOPR would update prior “incorporations by reference (IBR),” i.e., the legal method of directing regulated entities to follow separately published standards. The proposal would add a limited number of alternative standards and eliminate outdated or “unnecessarily prescriptive regulations.” The CG writes that “due to technological advances, it is necessary to update the current standards to ensure modern technologies are addressed in the regulations.” Four specific areas are mentioned: eliminating “prescriptive requirements” for generator prime movers; electric cable construction; classifications of hazardous locations; and allowing the use of an emergency generator in port.

* New Whale Watch…: NOAA announced the start of a new 5-year review of Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca).

The previous review was completed in 2016 and the agency is looking for information that might indicate whether the current endangered listing should change. This will likely draw a lot of attention. These whales were the focus of a NOAA “species in the spotlight” a few years back. They are on the short-list of mammals thought close to extinction. The population, in the Pacific Northwest, has not been increasing. The total abundance for the Southern Resident killer whale population was revised in September 2020 and now stands at only 74 whales. Additionally, a State of Washington killer whale task force has closely monitored the whales’ status and has its own recommendations to protect the whales. In 2019 NOAA proposed an expansion of an exclusive zone for the whales. NOAA’s upcoming review seeks information focusing on seven categories, from basic biology to current conservation measures to any other new information that can help inform next steps.

* EO redux: While reviewing whether or how to move forward on an Executive Order from the Trump Administration, suspended by the new Administration, DOE nevertheless writes that it identified opportunities to strengthen the electric grid from foreign threats while reviewing the EO that was trumped. Got that? Trump’s EO was: “Securing the United States Bulk-Power System.” Biden’s EO is the one addressing health and science and the environment and the “climate crisis” and the kitchen sink. Should a new EO replace the trumped EO? That’s what DOE is thinking about, and apparently while they are ruminating on that they also seek information “on various aspects of the electric infrastructure.” One open issue pertains to “prohibition authority,” i.e., the President’s authority to prohibit certain equipment from national adversaries. Should that authority expand or change? Comments on this complex mix of policy and technology and politics are due by June 7.

Tom Ewing “reply” or 513-379-5526 voice/text