Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The Army Corps of Engineers is starting to compile its annual Report on Future Water Resources Development.  The Report provides Congress with a list of potential new studies and projects and, possibly, modifications to existing studies and projects.  This is the first step in a multi-year process. The Report looks at specific “water resource problems” within the Corps’ primary mission areas: flood risk management, navigation and aquatic ecosystem restoration. Timely.  Each mission area is critical to a host of pressing, high-profile issues: from dams in California to electricity storage to restoring natural stream flows to the efficiency of the nation’s inland waterways.  And don’t forget drinking water supplies for metropolitan water districts.

*  The first deadline is close for implementing the President’s Executive Order to “alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.” Next week is when agency heads must designate one official as that agency’s Regulatory Reform Officer, who will then lead the Agency’s internal regulatory reform task force.  The RRO will oversee implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies to ensure that agencies effectively carry out regulatory reforms.  A top issue here pertains to “offsetting,” i.e., “offsetting the number and cost of new regulations.”  There will also be inter-Agency task forces.  In addition, again by next week, implementation guidance is due from the Office of Management and Budget.  Progress reports are to start in May.

*  Last March the Department of Commerce published an RFI regarding “information on the construction and maintenance of American pipelines.”  The comment period closed Friday.  In some ways, there are similarities here to the recent RFI regarding manufacturing in the US. But there are also critical differences – made very clear by America’s trading allies and partners!  This Presidential directive requires the Secretary to present “a plan for the domestic sourcing of materials for the construction, retrofitting, repair, and expansion of pipelines inside the United States.”  Surely an assignment requiring considerable sophistication and analysis – and balance!
Tom Ewing