Sixth Circuit Rules in Two Hydrologic Connection Cases, Setting Up Circuit Split
This week, the Sixth Circuit issued its decisions in Tennessee Clean Water Network v. Tennessee Valley Authority and Kentucky Waterways Alliance v. Kentucky Utilities. In both decisions, the court found 2-1 that indirect release of pollutants such as coal ash seepage into groundwater eventually leading to surface waters are not covered by the Clean Water Act. These cases were heard together in August.
At present, there are decisions in the Ninth (Maui) and Fourth (Kinder Morgan, Dominion) Circuits finding CWA liability for releases/discharges of pollutants into groundwater that eventually led to surface waters, while the Sixth Circuit (TVA, Kentucky Utilities) decisions found no liability.
House Passes Continuing Resolution to Keep Government Open Past October 1
The House passed a funding bill which also contains a continuing resolution (CR). If signed by the President, this bill will avert a government shut down on October 1st. In the past weeks, Congress had been able to pass a couple of minibus bills. However, the Interior-EPA appropriations was stalled and no minibus was passed. Congress instead passed a CR that will keep the EPA funded at current levels until December 7th.
Senate Holds Hearing on the Federal Role in the “Toxic PFAS Chemical Crisis”
PFAS continues to be the subject of hearings on the Hill. The most recent hearing was held by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on September 26th. Dr. Peter Grevatt, Director of EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, was joined by expert witnesses from the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, the Government Accountability Office, and citizens affected by PFAS contamination. Most of the conversation echoed what was said during the House PFAS hearing on September 6th. To watch the hearing and read the testimony, please see the Committee’s website.
2014 Farm Bill To Expire
It is being reported that Congress will let the 2014 Farm Bill expire this weekend, having failed to reach an agreement on nutrition, conservation, and other policies currently dividing the House and Senate agriculture committees for the 2018 Farm Bill.
When the 2014 law expires Sunday only a handful of farm programs will see a noticeable effect, since big provisions such as commodity programs are funded through the end of the year. However, two programs that will be affected are the Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program. Program funding will remain, but USDA’s authority to administer the programs will end September 30.
Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Holds Hearing on Cleaning up Oceans
The Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee held a hearing entitled Cleaning Up the Oceans: How to Reduce the Impact of Man-Made Trash on the Environment, Wildlife, and Human Health? Four experts on plastic pollution testified on the effect of marine debris on environmental health. During the hearing both the majority and minority parties expressed support for further addressing the marine debris issue through the Save our Seas Act (S. 3508). This act would reauthorize the Marine Debris Act. Additionally, the bill calls for a stronger international effort to curb marine debris.
EPA’s Add new General Read-Across Toxicology Tool
Researchers have developed an automated read across tool called the Generalized Read-Across (GenRA). Chemical read across is a tool often used in computational toxicology. It uses known information about a chemical to predict the behavior of another chemical that is similar. This method is often requires subjective assessment of the chemicals. To circumvent the subjectivity, the EPA developed an automated version, which is now available on the EPA Computational Toxicology Dashboard. For more information, please see the EPA article.
Western Governors Association holds 401 Webinar
This Monday, the Western Governors Association held a webinar on the importance of state authority under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. he webinar was moderated by WGA Policy Advisor Ward Scott. Panelists included Darrell Early, Chief, Natural Resources Division, Idaho Office of the Attorney General and Jeanne Christie, Senior Policy Analyst/Executive Director Emeritus, Association of State Wetland Managers. You can access the webinar here.
EPA Announces WIFIA Listening Sessions
Join EPA to learn about its newest financing program, WIFIA (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loans. WIFIA program staff will provide an overview of the program, explain the financial benefits of WIFIA loans, and discuss the application process. Learn more about the WIFIA program at www.epa.gov/wifia.
October 11, 2018
EPA Region 10 Office
1200 6th Avenue
This session will feature a panel with WIFIA’s first borrower, King County, Washington.
November 13, 2018
Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building
77 West Jackson Boulevard
December 11, 2018
EPA Region 1 Office
5 Post Office Square
January 15, 2019
EPA Region 4 Office
61 Forsyth Street, SW
2018 National CAFO Roundtable
The week ACWA staff, states, EPA HQ, Regions, and USDA participated in a 2 ½ day meeting to discuss animal agriculture issues. As part of this meeting, participants visited two dairies and the Dixie Drain, which is agriculture return phosphorus removal plant intended to help offset Boise’s POTW permit requirements. Topics discussed at the meeting included an overview of the Idaho programs, the pros and cons of using a two permit system, common ownership challenges, making NMPs simpler and easier to implement, the value of microbial source tracking, recent trends in the animal agriculture world including litigation issues, federal updates from EPA and USDA, program challenges in IA and VA, eReporting Implementation, and electronic tools designed to help the programs be more efficient. This year’s CAFO Roundtable had 68 participants representing 31 states, 6 EPA Regions, EPA HQ, local/regional NRCS, and USDA HQ. Presentations for the meeting will be made available next week. Please contact Sean Rolland.
November Nutrients Permitting Workshop
The next 2018 Nutrients Permitting Workshop will be held Tuesday, November 6 to Thursday, November 8, 2018 in Gulfport, Mississippi at the Courtyard Marriott Gulfport Beachfront, 1600 East Beach Blvd., Gulfport, Mississippi. Secure your lodging now using this link, or you can call the hotel direct at 228-864-4310. To register and for more information, go here.
The draft agenda is available here. It is subject to change.
For more information on the meeting, please contact Mark Patrick McGuire.