EPA Announces Plans to Revise Sec. 401 Regulations
EPA announced this week that it intends to revise the the 2020 Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule after determining that it erodes state and Tribal authority. The agency intends to reconsider and revise the 2020 Rule to restore the balance of state, Tribal, and federal authorities while retaining elements that support efficient and effective implementation of Section 401. The agency’s process of reconsidering and revising the 2020 CWA Rule will provide opportunity for public and stakeholder input to inform the development of a new proposal. EPA committed to include sustained dialogue with state and Tribal co-regulator partners and local governments around these issues as they reconsider the rule. EPA will begin a stakeholder engagement process in June to hear perspectives on this topic and how to move forward. EPA has published a pre-publication version of the Federal Register Intention to Reconsider and Revise the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule. More information will be available at www.epa.gov/cwa-401.
While EPA engages with stakeholders and develops a revised rule, the 2020 rule will remain in place. The agency will continue listening to states and Tribes about their concerns with implementation of the 2020 rule to evaluate potential administrative approaches to help address these near-term challenges.
Barrasso Reintroduces Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2021
Senator Barrasso, along with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Pat Toomey (R-PA), introduced the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2021. The legislation amends section 401 of the Clean Water Act by limiting the scope of 401 water quality certification reviews to water quality impacts only; require states to publish clear requirements for water quality certification requests; require states to make final decisions on whether to grant or deny a request in writing based only on water quality reasons; and require states to inform a project applicant within 90 days whether the states have all of the materials needed to process a certification request.
EPA Implements Court Decision Overturning Science Transparency Rule
On May 24th, EPA Administrator Regan signed a final rule that effectuates the vacatur of the January 6th, 2021, rulemaking titled “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information.”
The finalization of the vacatur rule effectuates the February 1, 2021, U.S. District Court for the District of Montana order vacating and remanding the Science Transparency rule to EPA. The vacatur rule is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. This action effectively undoes changes to the EPA Science Transparency Policy proposed and promulgated between 2018 and January, 2021. ACWA published a summary of the now-vacated January 6th, 2021 rule, here.
Find more information about this action and the final rule here.
Department of Energy Announces Funding to Modernize Water Infrastructure, Combat Plastic Pollution and Recycling Barriers
This week, Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $6.5 million request for proposals (RFP) to develop new technologies for purifying non-traditional water sources.
Nearly all water in the United States accessed by municipalities, households and utilities, along with industrial, agricultural, and oil-and-gas extraction industries, is sourced from freshwater. But, due to changing precipitation patterns caused by climate change, increased water demand and aging infrastructure, freshwater supplies are dwindling and end-users are looking to non-traditional sources to reinforce water supply. The high amounts of saline and potential contaminants found in non-traditional water sources, such as seawater and brackish groundwater, agricultural, municipal and industrial wastewater will likely require more energy to treat the water for inevitable use.
This RFP will support projects focused on advanced desalination technologies to minimize the cost and energy burdens of these non-traditional water sources, expanding the U.S. water supply, improving climate resiliency, and reducing carbon emissions throughout America’s energy and water infrastructure. Projects funded through this solicitation will specifically address the autonomous water and precision separation challenges for non-traditional water sources.
Concept papers are due by June 15, 2021. View the request for proposals HERE.
Additionally, DOE announced an investment of up to $14.5 million for research and development to cut waste and reduce the energy used to recycle single-use plastics like plastic bags, wraps, and films. Through this funding opportunity, DOE will support a range of projects to develop economically viable solutions for converting plastic films to more valuable materials and design new plastics that are more recyclable and biodegradable. These solutions can increase investments in recycling processes and recycling jobs in the United States, reduce the amount of plastics that end up in the environment, and decarbonize the plastics industry. The funding opportunity announcement is available now on EERE Exchange.
Meetings and Webinars
Findings from the 2019 TRI National Analysis
June 10, 2021, 2-3:30 EST
Join EPA for a webinar on June 10, 2021 highlighting findings from the most recent data about industrial management of toxic chemicals. Get answers to questions such as:
- Are emissions from U.S. facilities increasing or decreasing over time?
- Which companies have implemented the most pollution prevention activities?
- Which industry sectors account for the largest quantities of chemical releases into the air, water, and land?
This webinar will briefly cover the basics of the TRI Program, explain key findings from EPA’s analysis of the 2019 TRI data, and explore features of the interactive National Analysis report. You’ll also learn how to easily get summary data for any U.S. location.
This webinar is part of a series of webinars to mark the 35th anniversary of TRI and to help inform stakeholders about this valuable resource.
EPA to Hold Next NEJAC Public Meeting on June 17, 2021
EPA is holding the next National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) public meeting on June 17, 2021. These free meetings are open to the public. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments relevant to the specific issues being considered by the NEJAC.
This meeting is being held from approximately 1:00-7:00 pm (ET). Registration is REQUIRED.
Agenda: The meeting discussions will focus on several topics including, but not limited to, EPA administration transition priorities, and discussions and deliberations of a charge related to the reuse and revitalization of Superfund and other contaminated sites. A public comment period relevant to the specific issues will be considered by the NEJAC at each meeting.
Public Comment Period: The meeting will have a public comment period from approximately 5:00-6:00 pm (ET). To learn about the Public Comment Guidelines, please visit the NEJAC Guidelines for Public Comment Sessions page.
Questions: Please contact Karen Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 202-564-0203.
For more information on the NEJAC, visit National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
Environmental Justice Consultations on the Risk Management Rulemaking for n-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP)
Registration information and more opportunities for public and stakeholder engagement can be found here.
EPA invites environmental justice communities and stakeholders to participate in environmental justice consultations regarding the development of a proposed risk management action under section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to address unreasonable risks presented by n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP).
The environmental justice consultation period will extend from today through August 27, 2021. Both sessions will provide an overview of the TSCA risk management requirements, the findings from the final risk evaluation, the tools available to manage the unreasonable risks from NMP, and an opportunity for EPA to obtain input on environmental justice concerns. These consultations are open to the public, and EPA is inviting national, local and non-governmental organizations, communities, and other interested stakeholders to participate.
Background: EPA issued a risk evaluation for NMP in December 2020. EPA is now moving to risk management for this chemical, the next step in the process required by TSCA. NMP is a solvent that is used widely in the manufacture and production of electronics, petrochemical products, polymers and other specialty chemicals. Common consumer uses include paints and coatings, glues and adhesives, paint and adhesive removers, lubricants, and automotive care products.
Advancing Water Reuse in Small and Disadvantaged Communities
Two identical sessions will be held on:
- June 10, 2021 from 1-2:30 PM (Eastern Time) – Register Here
- June 29, 2021 from 1-2:30 (Eastern Time) – Register Here
Please Register In Advance! Once registered, you will receive directions on how to log onto the session of your choice.
Many water recycling success stories are in larger cities. These outreach and listening webcasts will introduce water recycling opportunities that make sense for smaller communities. Equally important, we want to learn from you about your communities’ interests in water recycling and your needs for support to enable you to pursue recycling projects. We will follow up these webcasts with online training tailored for small and disadvantaged communities and set up pilot projects to assist individual communities with recycling project development. Whether you are reusing water now or just thinking about it, this webcast is designed for you!
Who Is Doing This?
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development, National Rural Water Association, and American Water Works Association are collaborating to help small and disadvantaged communities pursue water recycling. Through the Water Reuse Action Plan, several federal, state, and local agencies and organizations are taking actions like this one to build the nation’s capacity to benefit from wastewater recycling and stormwater capture and use. Click here to learn more.
For more information, contact Adam Jorge, U.S. EPA (Jorge.Adam@epa.gov, 415-972-3563). Please spread the word!
Ecology and Systematics of Diatoms (virtual 2-week course)
June 7th– 18th
- Synchronous class schedule: Monday through Friday, 9AM – 3PM Eastern Daylight Time, USA
- Online office hours: 4 – 5PM and by appointment
- Instructor: Dr. Sylvia Lee (email@example.com)
Students, post-graduate researchers, and professionals may apply for a scholarship and reserve a seat in this two-week virtual course offered from June 7-18, 2021.
This is an online instruction course for two credits from the University of Iowa. Although we are unable to meet in person for field sampling, microscopy, or laboratory work, we will do the best we can to learn some of these skills remotely. Students are encouraged to use their own light microscope or a microscope they can access with permission from a school or laboratory, but this is not a course requirement in any way and will not influence your final grade. Registration information can be found here.
More information is available here.
Research Scientist (Water Quality Standards) – Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Location: St. Paul, MN
Closing Date: June 15, 2021
This position is located within the Water Assessment Section of the Environmental Analysis & Outcomes Division at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, for the State of Minnesota. The incumbent will develop new and revised water quality standards to reflect current science and EPA guidance, and to protect the designated uses of Minnesota waters. The incumbent will conduct research on conventional pollutants, nutrients and toxins through existing water quality standards/criteria documents and published literature review. The incumbent will provide technical assistance to rulemaking efforts related to new and revised water quality standards. The incumbent will also develop all relevant written documents, reports, procedural manuals, statements of need and reasonableness (SONARs) and exhibits necessary to support proposed changes to water quality standards.
For more information, click here.
Water Protection Division Director – New Mexico Environment Department
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Closing Date: June 30, 2021
The ideal candidate must have demonstrated leadership experience in business acumen, leading people, managing change, driving results, and building coalitions. The ideal candidate must possess exceptional communication skills, both oral and written, knowing how to effectively communicate with a wide variety of stakeholders. Finally, the ideal candidate should have a passion for the protection of New Mexico’s natural environment and how it relates to human health.
For more information, click here.
Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program Coordinator – Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Closing Date: June 7, 2021
The candidate will serve as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program Coordinator and agency expert on CWSRF program policy for DEQ. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides below-market rate loans for the planning, design, and construction of water pollution control activities throughout Oregon. Funded activities range from infrastructure improvements to watershed restoration projects. The candidate will be responsible for coordinating statewide program and policies and implementation of the CWSRF loan program; providing advice and guidance on state and federal regulations and policies; evaluating and interpreting controversial or complex problems, and managing the resolution of these problems; coordinating program team members on complex projects; and responding to complex technical and policy questions from internal staff, the public, and stakeholders related to program development and implementation. The candidate will provide recommendations to the Program Manager and DEQ leadership for policy decisions regarding water quality project funding, statute and rule interpretation, and federal reporting.
For more information, click here.