Federal Government Shutdown Continues
On December 21, 2018 Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution to ensure federal agencies could continue to operate. Several federal agencies had funding reserves they were permitted to use to stay open for a short time thereafter. On December 28, 2018 EPA closed with approximately 800 “essential” employees still coming to work. “Essential” employees would be those individuals tasked with responding to new pesticide imports, legal filings, rule makings, and those responsible for responding to new pollution spills. The new Democratic lead House of Representatives passed legislation January 3, 2019 that would reopen nine federal agencies, including EPA. However, this legislation did not include the requested funding for a proposed border wall, which President Trump has vowed to veto, and the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (KY), has indicated without Trump support, the Senate will not consider the House bills. Also on Thursday, January 3, 2019 Nancy Pelosi was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives. On Thursday, January 10, 2019 the House passed two new spending bills intending to reopen parts of the federal government that focus on agriculture, food stamps, housing, and public health. The Republican lead Senate has objected to this strategy. As of today, there is no indication how long the federal government shutdown will last.
Andrew Wheeler Nominated for EPA Administrator
President Trump officially nominated Andrew Wheeler for EPA Administrator. Wheeler was the Deputy Administrator and has been the Acting Administrator since Scott Pruitt’s departure in July. Wheeler spent six years as the Republicans’ chief counsel and staff director on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and most recently worked for Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting. The Democrats are expected to push back against this nomination as Wheeler is a former lobbyist for the coal industry. Many Republicans have already issued support to Wheeler. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee scheduled the nomination hearing for January 16th.
ACWA Joins Coalition Urging Congress to Fund Water Infrastructure
ACWA and ASDWA joined a broad coalition of national, regional and local organizations in calling on Congress to include water and wastewater infrastructure funding in any comprehensive infrastructure packages that are considered by Congress during the coming session.
Alexandra Dunn Confirmed to OCSPP
Wednesday of last week Alexandra Dunn was confirmed as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). Ms. Dunn was nominated August 31, 2018 and the Senate confirmed on January 2, 2019. Ms. Dunn had most recently been serving as the Region 1 Administrator with jurisdiction over the New England states. Prior to joining EPA, Alexandra Dunn served as Executive Director and General Counsel for the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) and Executive Director and General Counsel for the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA). Among a number of other responsibilities, OCSPP is responsible for administration of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
WOTUS Outreach Postponed Due to Shutdown
EPA and the Corps of Engineers announced they will postpone the planned January 23 public hearing on the proposed new “Waters of the United States” definition until after appropriations have passed to fund the EPA. Publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register is also postponed.
A notification of public hearing was issued in the Federal Register on December 28, 2018 to hold a hearing in Kansas City, Kansas. EPA and Army will notify the public of the revised date for the public hearing, the start of the public comment period, public webcast and other outreach activities after appropriations have passed. Information on the status of the public hearing will be posted on the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/revised-definition-waters-united-states-proposed-rule.
Farm Bill By the Numbers Blog Post
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (“NSAC”), an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities, put together a helpful breakdown of the 2018 Farm Bill. The blog post includes a detailed explanation of the 2018 Farm Bill Conservation Title. To view the post, go here.
ACWA Seeking Examples of Perceived Inconsistencies in Assessment and Listing Process
ACWA is seeking state input on the following questions: Where does inconsistency emerge during the assessment and listing process for your state? Examples may include perceived different requirements between your state and other states, between one EPA region and another EPA region, between what is stated in one EPA document versus another, between what is stated in guidance and what is approved, between EPA regulations and regional EPA staff advice, etc. Please reach out to Frances Bothfeld if you have specific examples or questions you would like addressed.
Government Files Brief to Supreme Court in Maui Case
Last week, the United States filed its brief to the United States Supreme Court regarding the groundwater/direct hydrologic connection petitions for Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui and Upstate Forever v. Kinder Morgan. In the brief, the United States asks that the Supreme Court focus on the whether the Clean Water Act applies when pollutants are emitted from a point source reach navigable waters after traveling through groundwater. Specifically, the US argues that the Supreme Court should take the Maui case to resolve the current conflict among the Circuit Courts as Maui’s facts are a better vehicle for resolving the question of indirect discharges. To view the brief, go here.
2019 Mid-Year Meeting
Early Bird Registration is available and ends February 28th
Register Now! And receive the early bird rate! This meeting is planned as a day and a half meeting. State attendees will lead discussions relevant to states priorities. Members are encouraged to attend. Go here to reserve your lodging accommodations. Call direct 703-837-0440 or 1-800 HILTONS and ask for the ACWA – Mid-Year Meeting group. Meeting registration can be found here. Members, if you encounter problems logging into Member 365, go here. View the updated draft agenda.
Save the Date! Nutrients Permitting Workshop – November 2019
The November 2019 Nutrients Permitting Workshop will be located in Alexandria, Virginia at the AlexRenew facility November 5-7, 2019. The workshop will focus on the relationship between water quality standards and nutrients permitting. Lodging is available at the Embassy Suites Alexandria Hotel. To reserve your lodging, call direct 703-684-7900 or 1-800-EMBASSY and ask for the Association of Clean Water Administrators group of rooms, or reserve online here.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
ADEQ is looking to hire in two positions. The Groundwater Permits Unit Program Manager is responsible for the oversight and tactical decision making over a unit dedicated to the issuance of general permits, recycled water, ambient aquifer monitoring and assumption and implementation of the Underground Injection Control program in order to protect the groundwater of Arizona. Further responsibilities include evaluating and documenting employee performance, coaching staff and developing a corporate culture of continuous improvement and the ADEQ way.
The Senior Program Manager for Surface Water Permitting is an integral part of our diverse, talented, and innovative team and directly contributes to our agency’s mission by driving operational performance in the surface water permitting programs including AZPDES permitting, individual and general stormwater permitting, Clean Water Act Section 404 program assumption, and compliance and enforcement for surface water regulated entities .
State of Washington Department of Ecology
The Water Quality Program at the State of Washington Department of Ecology is looking to hire in three positions. The South Puget Sound TMDL & Nonpoint Implementation Specialist (Environmental Specialist 4) will develop and implement nonpoint source water pollution-reducing plans associated with TMDLs, Straight-to-Implementation projects, and other water quality assessments in South Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca watersheds.
The Water Quality Program is looking to hire a Statewide CAFO Permit Expert at their Headquarters building in Lacey, WA. This position is responsible for developing effective statewide general permits, policies, procedures, guidance, and regulations pertaining to wastewater discharges and their effects on the receiving environment, particularly for the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) Permit. Ideal candidates will have the technical expertise to develop and implement water quality regulations appropriate for CAFO’s, the people skills to engage a wide variety of stakeholders, including farmers, environmental groups, the public, and other regulatory agencies, the ability to explain technically complex concepts to a broad audience with varying levels of technical expertise, and the ability to impartially implement NPDES permits and water quality regulations.
The State of Washington Department of Ecology is also looking for a Stormwater Inspector in the Water Quality Program. This position, located at their Northwest Regional Office in Bellevue, WA, conducts compliance inspections at sites covered under the Construction and Industrial Stormwater General Permits
The Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM), located in Windham, Maine, is interested in new hires for two full time positions. The Policy Analyst provides professional support to senior staff and the Executive Director by conducting research, analyzing policies, evaluating state programs and program needs, crafting possible solutions and reporting findings in a format accessible to ASWM and its members. The Senior Policy Advisor will review draft regulations, Federal Register notices, proposed legislation, legal rulings and similar documents that may impact national, state and tribal wetland programs and provide written and/or verbal analysis for ASWM Executive Director, Board of Directors, staff, ASWM members, and the public.
For more information and details on how to apply follow the links to the job postings.
Be sure to check out other opportunities on ACWA’s jobs page.