Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* Wastewater Effluent Guidelines: EPA announced availability of the Agency’s Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15), open for public comment. The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires EPA to biennially publish a plan for new and revised effluent limitations guidelines. Preliminary Plan 15 discusses EPA’s 2020 annual review of effluent limitations guidelines and pretreatment standards, presents the agency’s preliminary review of specific categories, updates the analyses and tools that EPA is developing, and discusses several new and ongoing rulemaking actions. EPA is initiating three new rulemakings, concluding that revisions are required for: (1) Meat and Poultry products to address nutrient discharges; (2) Organic chemicals to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) discharges; and (3) Metal Finishing also to address PFAS discharges. The Plan also updates rulemaking pertaining to discharge limits for coal power plants. Comments are due October 14.

* The Birds… A Re-make…: DOI’s Fish & Wildlife Service had an advance NOPR (notice of proposed rulemaking) last week on how it might expedite and simplify the permit process authorizing “incidental take of eagles.” Recall that “take” in this context means killing, wounding or otherwise ruining eagle habitat and causing death. Take is sometimes unavoidable, and take is sometimes permitted if the loss of a certain, specific number of eagles is offset by conservation actions elsewhere, actions that will otherwise make the population thrive and offset the allowed takes. Bald eagles – but not golden eagles – have been recovering and, of course, both are still protected by federal law. But now wind energy needs to expand and project sponsors want a quicker take permit process. There’s some hard to ignore irony here. Remember when DOI, under President Trump, determined that 7500 bald eagles per year, nationally, could be sustainably taken? Remember the ridicule that followed? Now, DOI uses that figure to advance this revision effort! Will there be more ridicule? Oh, never mind, this is for wind, not the eagles. Comments are due October 29.

* Unclogging the pipelines: DOE published an RFI (request for information) seeking comments on “current and future challenges to supply chain resilience in the freight and logistics sector.” This information would help build a report being prepared by the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force established by President Biden on June 8. The focus of the Task Force is on near term supply chain challenges, and, more specifically, on alleviating bottlenecks and supply constraints, particularly for ports, rail, and trucking. The RFI lists 13 broad topics for which the Task Force seeks information and comments. Topics range from major bottlenecks and chokepoints that impede cargo to the effects of climate change to current barriers – e.g., regulatory, technological, workforce – that inhibit performance to actions that US and state DOTs could take to make things work better. Comments are due October 18.

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