ECHO Data Visualization Gallery Available for State Testing/Review
This week EPA announced open testing of several new display tools in ECHO Gov. Federal, state, local and tribal government employees were asked to provide feedback on the new designs. The release of these demo dashboards is the first step in generating a broader dialogue on these new visualizations. The content included is intended to highlight some of the various capabilities that will make it easier to use and explore the data. Before moving forward, EPA is seeking feedback on the new format and what other ECHO products should be updated to use this technology. For more details on this effort please contact Sean Rolland.
Technical Paper 6 Data Entry Guidance for CAFO Sector
Over the last year, EPA has generated several technical papers associated with the NPDES eReporting Rule data elements. This week the Enforcement Targeting and Data Division in the Office of Compliance released Implementation Technical Paper No. 6: Data requirements for NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule CAFO-specific Data Elements, which addresses the data elements and data sharing requirements related to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (or “CAFOs”). This paper was developed based on recommendations from a State-EPA CAFO Technical Workgroup. This workgroup met bi-weekly from April to September 2017 and included 85 subject matter experts from EPA Headquarters, five EPA Regions, and 24 states. This document, along with several other related technical documents, were drafted by EPA in collaboration with states to help move forward with converting the NPDES program from paper to electronic reporting. To see the complete list of technical papers developed, please click here.
S.2663 Agriculture Creates Real Employment Act
On April 12, 2018 Senator Barrasso (WY), along with several sponsors, introduced S.2663 Agriculture Creates Real Employment Act (ACRE Act) to “improve provisions relating to environmental requirements for agriculture and agricultural producers, and for other purposes.” Provisions in this bill that ACWA wished to highlight include:
- an NPDES pesticide permit exemption if the pesticide sale, distribution, and use is consistent with FIFRA
- a report after one year that provides a status update on pesticide information collection and provides recommendations on how to improve FIFRA to protect water quality
- an EPA prohibition on disclosure of personal data collected from an owner, operator, or employee of a livestock operation or such information provided by a state agency
- a limitation on the use of aerial surveillance, including unmanned aircraft, for NPDES program purposes by EPA and state agencies, unless they have obtained voluntary and written consent or have obtained certification of reasonable suspicion of violation from a court
For more information on this bill, click here.
Administrator Pruitt Testifies in front of Congress
On Thursday, April 26, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce’s Environment Subcommittee and the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Though both hearings were supposed to focus on the FY2019 EPA Budget, questions often turned to the recently reported ethics issues facing the Administrator. To view a recording of the House Energy and Committee hearing, go here. To view a recording of the House Appropriations Committee hearing, go here.
EPA Proposed Rule to “Strengthen Transparency in Regulatory Science”
On April 24, 2018 EPA released a prepublication copy of a soon to be proposed rule that EPA says will ensure “when EPA develops regulations, including regulations for which the public is likely to bear the cost of compliance, with regard to those scientific studies that are pivotal to the action being taken, EPA should ensure that the data underlying those are publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation.” The proposed regulation will provide that “for the science pivotal to significant regulatory actions, EPA will ensure that the data and models underlying the science is publicly available in a manner sufficient for validation and analysis.” The proposed rule is supposed to increase transparency in preparation, identification, and use of science in policy making. In particular, this rule is focusing on science “that is critical to the calculation of a final regulatory standard or level, or to the quantified costs, benefits, risks, or other impacts in which a final regulation is based.” The proposal is taking comment on how to accomplish greater transparency while protecting private or confidential business information. EPA is also seeking comment on: (1) whether a general regulation such as this is the appropriate vehicle for this type of action; (2) whether additional regulatory or policy vehicles should be established; (3) what potential impacts this rule would have on specific EPA programs; (4) what criteria should be used for any exceptions to this rule; (5) which criteria the agency should use to base any exceptions, including certain categories of regulations; (6) how to incorporate stronger data and model access requirements in terms and conditions of cooperative agreements and grants; (7) how best to protect private or sensitive data, copyrighted material, confidential business information, and national security related data; (8) how to handle data and models that were developed prior to the effective date of the rule; (9) whether disclosure requirements associated with response data and models should be expanded to include other types of data such as economic, cost/benefit, environmental effects, etc.; and (10) whether any aspect of the rule should be phased in over time. From OMB’s website it appears the rule was delivered on April 19, 2018, OMB review was concluded on April 23, 2018, and the rule was signed by the administrator on April 24, 2018. A copy of the preproposal rule can be found here.
2018 Nutrients Permitting Workshop
The 2018 Nutrients Permitting Workshop will be held June 5-7, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio at the Riffe Government Center, 77 S. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. If you plan to attend the meeting, you must register. Please do so by Friday May 18, 2018. To register for the meeting, go here. To view the most recent draft agenda, go here.
For more information on the meeting, please contact Mark Patrick McGuire.
Reserve your Spot for the 2018 Contaminants of Emerging Concern Workshop
ACWA will be opening up registration for the 2018 Contaminants of Emerging Concern Workshop to those states who would like to send two participants on Tuesday, May 1st. Registration is expected to fill up fast. For those states that have not reserved a spot and would like to, please contact Frances Bothfeld. The workshop will be held June 20-21 in Washington, DC. This workshop is meant to facilitate state to state information sharing, identify common issues states are having with contaminants of emerging concern, and provide updates from the state associations, EPA, and other federal agencies on emerging contaminant research, programs, and policy.
2018 TMDL Modeling Workshop
The 2018 TMDL Modeling Workshop will be held June 19-21 in Denver, Colorado. The workshop will support implementation of state 303(d) programs by building a community of practice among state agency staff who use or want to use TMDL modeling in implementation of state 303(d) programs. This discussion-based workshop will feature presentations, breakout sessions, and dialogue where states will share and highlight modeling implementation success stories, obstacles faced, and lessons learned to begin an ongoing transfer of knowledge between states via the ACWA TMDL Modeling Workgroup.
A very preliminary agenda is available here and will be updated periodically. To attend you must register – the registration deadline is May 31st. To register go here. The registration page also contains information about lodging and a link to reserve lodging. Julian Gonzalez sent out an email to ACWA members and committees with much of the aforementioned information, including an official request for states to submit requests for travel support from ACWA, as we will be providing limited travel support in order to help as many states as possible attend the meeting. If you have questions or want to know more, contact Julian Gonzalez.
The Washington State Department of Ecology has an exciting opportunity for an environmental professional looking to be a part of their Water Quality Program in Lacey, WA. They are looking for a 319 Program Policy Lead (Environmental Planner 4) to be the senior planner responsible for the overall management of the federal Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Program. The selected applicant will work directly with the EPA to ensure that Washington’s program meets both federal requirements and Washington’s water quality objectives. For more details on the job and to apply, go here.
Be sure to check out other job opportunities on ACWA’s website!