Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* Latin as a second language: DOE announced a meeting next week to discuss the impacts petrochemical manufacturing, pipelines, and supporting infrastructure have on environmental and health conditions in local communities and on global greenhouse gas emission targets. The a priori presumption, of course, is that these industries provide critical and irreplaceable benefits for humankind, from agriculture to communication to the environment to food safety to medicine to pharmaceuticals to transportation to zoology and provide these benefits with decreasing amounts of per unit energy and resources and make the overall economic pie bigger and better for every human on the planet. Oh… wait a minute… maybe I got that a priori thing backwards… The meeting is to address local environmental, health, and community impacts, particularly from ethane crackers and pipelines; risks to local communities; GHG emissions; and chances to reduce public impacts. Really, the meeting is just going to be a shout out because DOE says it wants the meeting to focus on “individual opinions and perspectives,” it doesn’t want “consensus advice.” What? Welcome to the mosh pit. Should be a blast, man…! 

* Basil Fawlty: “just don’t mention the war…” The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will start a rulemaking process to amend the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan to reduce mortality and injury risks among North Atlantic right whales(Eubalaena glacialis) and other large whales caused by entanglement in commercial trap/pot and gillnet fisheries along the U.S. East Coast. [Trap/pot fisheries use submerged three-dimensional wire or wood devices that permit organisms to enter but make escape extremely difficult or impossible. A gillnet is a wall of netting that hangs in the water column, typically made of monofilament or multifilament nylon.] NMFS plans seven virtual public meetings. North Atlantic right whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and considered depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). NMFS does not want comments about impacts to habitat from offshore wind – that’s in the Notice! In other words, if you have concerns about huge windfarm footprints cramming fish and fishing vessels into smaller and smaller spaces, increasing risks for humans and animals all jammed together, just sit there, okay? Don’t say nothin’. “Written or electronic scoping inputs must be received by October 21.” Not sure if “scoping inputs” are the same as comments.

* Upcoming: A Gentlepersonly Discussion: DOE issued a Request for Information (RFI) regarding establishment of a Uranium Reserve program. Nuclear energy provides more than 55 percent of US energy. However, DOE writes that the industry and fuel supply chain face significant challenges and “domestic nuclear fuel suppliers are in a weakened position on the domestic and global stage.” Last December, as part of the Appropriations Act, Congress made $75 million available to DOE for the reserve program. Now, DOE is considering options to acquire natural uranium and convert this uranium into uranium hexafluoride that would be stored at US commercial facilities. Of course this has to support “energy justice” and there are all those easy issues about siting and transport and manufacturing and refining and mining and Tribal Lands and don’t forget social equity. This topic just so lends itself to rational discussion. Comments due by September 10.


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