EPA Streamlines EAB Process
EPA is proposing to streamline and modernize the review of permits by the agency’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) while providing more flexibility to regulated parties, states and tribes, and the public. Under this proposal, interested parties would be empowered to choose the option for resolving a permit dispute that is best suited to their needs.
The Agency’s proposal aims to facilitate speedy resolution of permit disputes—either through alternative dispute resolution, a hearing before the Board, or more timely judicial review. EPA proposes several additional reforms designed to streamline the current administrative appeal process and to provide appropriate checks and balances on how the EAB exercises its delegated authority. The Agency is seeking broad input through the public comment process on these proposed changes. The proposal’s key elements are designed to simplify the review process, expedite permitting, and allow parties who would like to challenge EPA’s permits in court to do so more quickly. The proposal provides parties challenging EPA’s permits with options to resolve their disputes, including ADR or a traditional appeal before Board. All parties would have a voice, and if they do not unanimously agree on the path forward, the permit becomes final and can be challenged in federal court without going through additional administrative process within the EPA. The proposal also seeks to clarify the scope and standard of EAB review; remove a provision authorizing participation in appeals by amicus curiae; and eliminate the EAB’s authority to review Regional permit decisions on its own initiative in the absence of an appeal brought by an interested party. EPA also includes new deadlines for EAB action and other provisions to promote internal efficiency. Finally, EPA also proposes to set twelve-year terms for EAB Judges in lieu of the indefinite terms currently in place; a new process to identify which EAB opinions will be considered precedential; and a new mechanism by which the Administrator, through the General Counsel, can issue a dispositive legal interpretation in any matter pending before the EAB.
EPA’s Pretreatment 101 Training
December 10, 2019 – December 12, 2019
Montgomery Park Auditorium Baltimore, MD
This event is a FREE introductory-level training to the National Pretreatment Program, sponsored by U.S. EPA.
Topics to include:
• Overview and history of the national pretreatment regulations
• Pretreatment standards
• Local limits
• Industrial user inventories and permitting
• And many more!
Full agenda with 2 days worth of topics is available on the EPA Pretreatment Program website. Final agenda with details and speakers will be distributed to registrants prior to the event. Space is limited and priority is given to municipal, state, and federal employees — register early!
Please register under the most appropriate ticket category. Municipal participants eligible to receive CEUs should indicate as such during the registration process so EPA may coordinate accordingly. If you require special accommodations, please contact Rebecca Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, December 2. Click here to register.
This week EPA announced the agency is looking for 20-30 nominees to serve on the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC). The FRRCC provides advice, information, and recommendations to EPA on a range of environmental issues importance to agriculture and rural communities. Nominees may represent farm groups, rural suppliers, marketers, processors, academia/researchers; state, local, and tribal government; and nongovernmental organizations. “In selecting committee members, EPA will consider qualifications such as: whether candidates are actively engaged in farming, hold leadership positions in ag-related organizations, possess a demonstrated ability to examine and analyze complicated environmental issues with objectivity and integrity, have experience working on issues where building consensus is necessary, and are able to volunteer several hours per month to the committee’s activities.” Full details about qualifications will be published in the Federal Register Notice next week. Details will also be posted on EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/faca/frrcc.
Coal Combustion Residual Proposal
On November 4, 2019 the EPA Administrator signed a proposed rule revising sections of the April 2015 final rule, revising closure requirements for unlined surface impoundments. In particular EPA is proposing amendments to the closure regulations for the disposal of coal combustion residuals in response to the court decisions. The rule:
- Establishes a new deadline of August 31, 2020 for all unlined surface impoundments and for closure or retrofit
- Establishes procedures for facilities to obtain additional time to develop alternate capacity to manage their waste streams for closures
- Changes the classification of compacted-soil lined or clay-lined surface impoundments from “lined” to “unlined”
- Specifies that all unlined surface impoundments are required to retrofit or close
EPA will provide a 60-day comment period. The prepublication proposal can be found here. For more information about the proposed changes to the CCR regulations, contact Kirsten Hillyer at email@example.com or 703-347-0369.
Steam Electric ELG
On November 4, 2019 the EPA Administrator signed a proposed rule revising sections of the September 2015 Steam Electric Rule by addressing amending flue gas desulfurization wastewater and bottom ash transport water applicable to the Steam Electric Power. The rule:
Changes the technology-basis for treatment of FGD wastewater and BA transport water, which lowers costs for utilities and rate payers by using newer pollutant control systems and providing more flexibility in the operation and maintenance of those systems.
Revises the voluntary incentives program for FGD wastewater to provide a lower cost option and help reduce the amount of pollutants discharged to our nation’s waters by approximately 105 million pounds per year.
Adds subcategories for high-flow facilities, low utilization units and facilities nearing retirement to reduce costs for utilities and ratepayers by imposing less stringent requirements.
EPA will provide a 60-day comment period. The prepublication proposal can be found here. For additional technical information about the steam electric effluent guidelines proposed rule, please contact Richard Benware at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-566-1369.
EPA MSGP Update
On November 4, 2019 EPA submitted a draft version of their multisector general permit for industrial stormwater to the Office of Management and Budget. Both environmental and industry groups have requested straightforward, “black and white” mandates for how industry should manage stormwater that leaves the facility. Once OMB completes its review, EPA will the publish the permit in the Federal register for public comment.
Reclamation, EPA sign MOU to align WIFIA & Title XVI Funding for Water Supply & Reuse Projects
Effective October 24th, US EPA and Bureau of Reclamation entered into a 5-year MOU to “work together to implement existing water infrastructure financing programs. The MOU to “Establish an Agreement for Assistance in Administering and Servicing Federal Credit Instruments” is pursuant to language in Congress’ 2019 WIFIA funding and calls for the agencies to “work together to advance water reliability for communities in the United States.” Specific focus is on the financing of water supply and reuse projects, which, per WIFIA, may include treatment works and community water systems; brackish or seawater desalination, aquifer recharge, or water reuse infrastructure; projects which address drought and the resilience of drought-stricken watersheds; and acquisition of real property as part of such projects. The repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of aging infrastructure will remain a strategic objective and funding priority under WIFIA.
Notable responsibilities for Reclamation will include adjusting Title XVI funding criteria to provide additional consideration for projects EPA selects for WIFIA funding and identifying a staff lead to coordinate with EPA. Notable responsibilities for EPA will include considering adjusting criteria to address water reuse projects, and/or developing WIFIA strategic objectives that specifically address drought. For more information, see the Press Release and MOU text.
Supreme Court Holds Clean Water Act Argument
This week, the United States Supreme Court held oral arguments in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. The issue in the case is whether the Clean Water Act requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater. To view the argument transcript, go here. To listen to the argument audio, go here.
Save Our Seas 2.0 Act Includes NPDES, Stormwater Management Plan Provisions
Building on the 2018 Save Our Seas Act, the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act (S.1982) is moving through the Senate. The Act would foster domestic and international partnerships to prevent and mitigate marine litter by establishing a trust fund, prizes, and various other incentives for public and private entities to better manage solid waste. The language has passed through two of three Senate committees; its next stop will be the Commerce Committee on November 13.
The language compels EPA to establish a Strategy for Improving Waste Management, Recycling, and Water Management that must include guidance on (a) reducing leakage of plastic and solid wastes into waterways and oceans, (b) expediting efforts and assistance in States to facilitate relevant program activities, and (c) providing guidance to complementary activities. Currently, “complementary activities” include developing “effective trash provisions” for (a) NPDES permits issued to separate storm sewer systems and (b) stormwater management plans. Additionally, the EPA administrator is asked to focus grants and solid waste revolving funds on waste interceptor technologies such as trash wheels (which have recently garnered some attention due to questions about their efficacy). Find the text of the Act here.
ACWA Holds Fourth Nutrients Permitting Workshop
This week, ACWA held its fourth Nutrients Permitting Workshop. The workshop was held at the AlexRenew facility in Alexandria, Virginia and focused on identifying challenges and building solutions regarding water quality standards and permitting for nutrients. Over 85 attendees from 26 different states as well as representatives from EPA Headquarters and Regional offices participated. Next week, ACWA will post the slides from the workshop presentations. The next Nutrients Permitting Workshop will be held in June 2020 and will focus on flexibilities for nutrients permitting (e.g., trading, adaptive management, integrated planning). For more information on the Nutrients Permitting Workshop series, contact Mark Patrick McGuire.
2020 National SNC NCI Symposium – January 2020
The 2020 National SNC NCI Symposium will take place January 22-24, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. The goal of this meeting will be to help support states and EPA regions with their efforts to identify and implement activities and actions associated with reducing noncompliance, with particular emphasis on significant non-compliance (SNC). As most of you know, EPA is undertaking a new National Compliance Initiative with the goal of reducing the rate of SNC with an additional focus on identifying and addressing the worst SNC violators. Potential session topics at this meeting may include improving data quality, reducing DMR nonsubmittal, improved understanding of incomplete DMR data transfer, getting permit limits into ICIS, focusing in on small POTW challenges and opportunities for improvement, an overview of current resources available, identification of future training tools and needs, with a large portion of the presentations dedicated to highlighting state and regional SNC success stories. The agenda is currently under development and a draft should be available next week. Further details about this meeting can be found on ACWA’s website. https://www.acwa-us.org/event/2020-national-snc-nci-symposium-dallas-texas/
2020 National Stormwater Roundtable – February 2020
The 2020 National Stormwater Roundtable will be held in San Antonio, Texas on February 4 – 6, 2020, supports implementation of federal and state municipal, industrial, and construction stormwater programs nationwide by sharing best management practices, showcasing innovative state programs and initiatives, highlighting new technologies, facilitating discussion on national program enhancements and improvements, identifying state resource needs including tools, training and guidance, and proposing solutions to challenges and barriers faced by the regulators and other stakeholders. The Stormwater Roundtable is a national meeting specifically organized by state and federal regulators for EPA and state program staff representatives. Attendees include state managers, permit writers, inspectors, compliance staff involved in regulating stormwater, EPA Headquarter and Regional staff involved in stormwater regulation, and partnering state and federal agency staff that provide technical and/or regulatory assistance to the stormwater program. Future updates for this meeting can be found on ACWA’s webpage – https://www.acwa-us.org/event/2020-national-stormwater-roundtable/
2020 National Pretreatment Meeting – SAVE THE DATE!
The 2020 National Pretreatment Meeting will take place May 11-13 in Nashville, Tennessee. Though the agenda is currently in development, tentatively, Monday, May 11 will be a series of training sessions from 1-5; Tuesday, May 12 will be an all-day states and EPA-only meeting; and Wednesday, May 13 will be an all-day meeting partnered with NACWA at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. ACWA is currently recruiting folks to joined a planning committee to help craft the meeting agenda. Contact Mark Patrick McGuire if you are interested.