Biden Releases Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Proposal
The Administration released a budget proposal that requests $12 billion, or a 19% increase to EPA’s overall budget. The increase would enable the agency to add 2400 new staff to restore capacity and strengthen the agency’s ability to meet its core objectives and administration priorities.
Highlights of the President’s FY 2024 Budget include:
- Tackling the Climate Crisis. The Budget includes $5 billion, a $757 million increase over the 2023 enacted level, to support work reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, building resilience in the face of climate impacts, and engaging with the global community to respond to this shared challenge. The Budget proposes a $64.4 million increase over the 2023 enacted budget to implement the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act to continue phasing out potent GHGs known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). It also invests $7 million in wildfire smoke preparedness.
- Advancing Environmental Justice. The Budget bolsters the Agency’s efforts to achieve environmental justice in communities across the Nation by investing nearly $1.8 billion across numerous programs in support of environmental justice efforts, including the President’s Justice40 commitment, as well as infrastructure work such as Superfund, Brownfields, and SRFs, reach disadvantaged communities, including rural and Tribal communities. The Budget also includes $91 million for technical assistance to support capacity building for communities to advance equity and justice.
- Upgrading Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure and Replacing Lead Pipes Nationwide. The Budget provides more than $4 billion for water infrastructure, an increase of $1 billion over the 2023 enacted level. The Budget funds all authorizations in the original Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 and maintains funding for EPA’s State Revolving Funds at the total 2023 enacted level, which complements funds provided for water infrastructure programs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Budget also provides $219 million for two grant programs dedicated to reducing lead in drinking water and lead testing in schools (an increase of $163 million over the 2023 enacted level). It also funds other grants and loans to advance the goal of replacing all lead pipes.
- Ensuring Safety of Chemicals for People and the Environment. The Budget provides an investment of $130 million, $49 million more than the 2023 enacted level to build core capacity to implement the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Under TSCA, EPA has a responsibility to ensure the safety of chemicals in or entering commerce. In FY 2024, EPA will focus on evaluating, assessing, and managing risks from exposure to new and existing industrial chemicals to advance human health protection in our communities. Another priority is to implement FIFRA to ensure pesticides pose no unreasonable risks to human health and the environment.
- Tackling Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Pollution. The Budget provides approximately $170 million to combat PFAS pollution. This request allows the EPA to continue working toward commitments made under EPA’s 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap, including increasing our knowledge of PFAS impacts to human health and ecological effects, restricting use to prevent PFAS from entering the air, land, and water, and remediating PFAS that have been released into the environment.
- Enforcing and Assuring Compliance with the Nation’s Environmental Laws. The Budget provides $246 million for civil enforcement efforts, $165 million for compliance monitoring efforts, including funds to conduct inspections in underserved and overburdened communities, funds to rebuild the agency’s inspector corps; and $75 million for criminal enforcement efforts.
- Restoring Critical Capacity to Carry Out EPA’s Core Mission. To position the Agency with the workforce required to address emerging and ongoing challenges, the Budget added nearly 2,000 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) relative to the current level, for a total of more than 17,000 FTEs, to help rebuild the Agency’s workforce. Developing staffing capacity across the Agency would enable EPA to protect our Nation’s health better and provide avenues to strengthen and advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Staffing resources would additionally fund a significant expansion of EPA’s paid student internship program to develop a pipeline of qualified staff.
On March 1, 2023 EPA provided notice of a proposed consent decree regarding Cape Fear River Watch et al., v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, No. 1:22-cv-03809 (D. D.C). In December 2022, several environmental organizations filed a complaint against EPA alleging that the agency failed to perform duties mandated by the CWA to revise and promulgate ELGs associated with pretreatment standards for the Meat and Poultry Products (“MPP”) industrial category, after EPA had determined that such revised ELGs and standards were appropriate. The proposed consent decree has three major deadlines:
- No later than December 13, 2023, EPA shall sign/notify notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to revisions to the MPP Effluent Guidelines under the CWA.
- On June 30, 2024, and every 180 days thereafter until EPA signs a decision taking final action, EPA shall file with the Court a report on the status of the rulemaking and progress towards completion.
- No later than August 31, 2025, EPA shall sign/notify a decision taking final action on revisions to the MPP Effluent Guidelines and publication of the MPP Pretreatment Standards under the CWA.
EPA is providing 30 days for the public to provide input on the settlement agreement. Comments are due March 31, 2023.
Water Environment Federation Integrated Planning Survey
Integrated Planning (IP) is a concept that supports prioritization of capital investments in all forms of water infrastructure designed to protect human health and the environment, and to incorporate societal objectives in the most cost-effective, affordable way. WEF is using this survey to:
- Understand awareness of IP
- Gauge regulatory and utility management support and interest in IP
- Gauge non-governmental organization support and interest in IP
- Receive lessons learned from professionals engaged with previous IP efforts
- Identify barriers to IP adoption and implementation
- Understand perceived benefits from IP
The results will also provide a benchmark to track progress of WEF’s IP Task Force in raising awareness and promoting IP as an implementation strategy to address water quality challenges and community service priorities. Key findings and results will be shared with survey participants who elect to provide their email.
The point of contact for this survey is Trent Stober (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Approximate time to complete this survey: 10 minutes
The deadline is March 30th, 2023 and the link to access the form is: https://forms.office.com/r/Qa9ndzCH6t
Proposed Wastewater Discharge Limits for Certain Power Plants
This week EPA is proposing regulatory revision to wastewater discharge standards that apply to coal-fired power plants. The proposed regulation is intended to further protect human health and the environment by reducing the discharge of toxic pollutants to the nation’s waterways. Specifically, EPA’s new proposal would set tighter discharge standards for flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater, bottom ash (BA) transport water, and combustion residual leachate (CRL), with the FGD and BA requirements intended to achieve “zero-discharge” of those wastes. The proposal would also allow utilities to avoid these mandates by voluntarily shuttering their coal-fired units. The agency’s cost analysis estimates that the proposal would reduce pollution by 584 million pounds per year, and the annual increase to a typical household’s energy costs would be just 63 cents. Once published in the Federal Register, the proposed regulation will be open for public comments for 60 days. At the same time, EPA is also publishing a direct final rule to extend the deadline for plants to file a notice stating that they will stop burning coal by 2028, either by shutting down or using a cleaner fuel to produce steam that generates electricity. A prepublication version is available here on the Agency’s website.
ECOS Updates State PFAS Standards White Paper
This week, ECOS published its annual update of its paper on regulatory, legislative, and scientific processes and considerations for setting state PFAS standards. This March 2023 update reflects the addition of seven states, as well as new regulatory and scientific activities that have occurred over the past year, including updated guidance across the states, information on U.S. EPA’s updated interim lifetime health advisories, and notes from states about how the proposed designations of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA and pending proposal of an MCL for PFOA and PFOS would have an impact on their regulations, among other updates.
In 2019, ECOS compiled information on state PFAS standards, advisories, and guidance values. Sharing data and regulatory approaches helps federal, state, and international authorities avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts, as well as to understand and communicate about differences in guidelines. This paper outlines ECOS’ findings on state efforts and considerations for future regulatory activities on PFAS. The document was initially published in February 2020 and updated in March/April 2021 and March 2022.
See the newly updated paper here.
NAS Report Released: Transforming EPA Science to Meet Today’s and Tomorrow’s Challenges
This report calls for EPA ORD to pursue all of its scientific aims in a new framework—to apply systems thinking to a One Environment − One Health approach in all aspects of ORD’s work. To accomplish this, the report provides actionable recommendations on how ORD might consider incorporating emerging science and systems thinking into the agency’s research planning, so that ORD can become an increasingly impactful organization. The report identifies a number of high-priority recommendations for ORD to pursue in taking advantage of a broad range of advanced tools, in concert with collaborators in other federal agencies and the broader scientific community. Given the resource constraints, the report recognizes that ORD will have to make decisions about priorities for implementing its recommendations, and that ORD leadership is in the best position to set those priorities as implementation begins. The report concluded by stating that shifting to a systems-thinking approach will require renewed support from science leadership, enhanced strategic planning, investment in new and broader expertise and tools, and a reimagined and inclusive commitment to communication and collaboration.
You can access the report here.
ACWA Mid-Year Meeting, March 15-16: Registration – New Virtual Participation Option
The 2023 ACWA Mid-Year Meeting is just weeks away! Visit ACWA’s meeting page to see the latest agenda updates and to register. ACWA will be joined by Deputy Assistant Administrator Pigott and other EPA and state association partners.
We have added an option for virtual participation that is open to states, interstates, and EPA partners only. Pre-registration will be required. The virtual registration fee will be $125. States, interstates, and EPA partners are able to register virtually on ACWA’s member portal. Virtual attendance access will be shared closer to the event. Please contact Lexy Bailey with any questions regarding registration.
2023 Nutrients Permitting Workshop – May 1-3, 2023
The 2023 Nutrients Permitting Workshop will be held May 1-3, in Denver, CO!
This workshop is part of a series of meetings focused on nutrients permitting through a grant between EPA, ACWA, and WEF. The workshop series is intended to help support states and EPA to further identify challenges & barriers to nutrient permitting program implementation, highlight opportunities for program improvement & enhancement, showcase innovations, assist with analysis of training, guidance, tools, and other support material needs, improve administrative efficiencies, clarify roles and responsibilities, promote program streamlining, build stronger linkages to WQS & TMDLs, modernize permit terms and data management, revise program performance measures, identify program areas where targeted technical assistance would be most beneficial, and attempt to solve some of the most intractable nutrients issues.
This is the eighth and final workshop under this grant. This workshop will focus state successes and lessons learned based on a variety of topics covered throughout the previous seven workshops in this series. A portion of the agenda will also look ahead at what States feel is the future of nutrients permitting.
2023 Clean Water Cross-Program Workshop – May 4-5, 2023
The 2023 Clean Water Cross-Program Workshop will be held May 4-5, in Denver, CO!
This workshop series is intended to help states and EPA better integrate the core CWA programs and improve how they respectively and collectively address current CWA challenges. The kickoff workshop theme, “Implementing WQS that are Challenging to Meet,” will focus on challenges the 303c, 303d, and 402 programs face when implementing certain WQS. For select parameters, meeting WQS may be very technologically challenging. The workshop will focus on:
- Enhancing cross-program implementation (e.g., by exploring solutions like WQ targets) based on feasible technologies and best management practices; and,
- Solutions which would optimize synergy in managing multiple pollutants; coordination among state programs; and collaboration with the regulated community.
The workshop’s target audience is the 1-3 personnel who manage or have deep experience in the 303c, 303d, and 402 programs in a state. This is the first of six planned workshops supported by a cooperative agreement.
More information can be found here; a registration link and agenda will be posted on the webpage soon. Hotel rooms are available at the local per-diem rate here and potential attendees are encouraged to book their lodging asap.
2023 National Pretreatment Coordinators Workshop
Monday, May 15, 2023 – Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Purpose: This meeting is intended to help support states and EPA to build staff capacity, identify challenges & barriers to pretreatment program implementation, highlight opportunities for program improvement & enhancement, showcase pretreatment program innovations, assist with analysis of training, guidance, tools, and other support material needs, improve administrative efficiencies, clarify roles and responsibilities, build strong linkages to other programs, improve data management, identify program areas where targeted technical assistance would be most beneficial, and attempt to solve some of the most intractable pretreatment program issues.
Future updates for this meeting can be found on ACWA’s website:
ACWA Comments on Proposed WQS Regulatory Revisions to Protect Tribal Reserved Rights
This week, ACWA submitted comments in response to EPA’s proposed WQS Regulatory Revisions to Protect Tribal Reserved Rights. The letter is posted on ACWA’s website here.
ACWA developed comments with the primary goal of helping EPA determine a feasible path forward on TRR in WQS, and focused on:
- The need for more substantive engagement in rule development with states and tribes,
- Adjustments to the rule framework to make it implementable for implicated states,
- Specific concerns that ACWA believes EPA, states, authorized tribes, and other right holders will need to sort through either in the existing processes of protecting TRR in WQS, or via revision to the WQS Regulation,
- Select concerns of some individual states, and,
- The need for EPA to review individual state comments especially closely for this proposed rule.
Meetings and Webinars
Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States” (2023 Rule) – Tribal and State Webinar Series
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) published the final “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’” rule in the Federal Register on January 18, 2023; the rule will become effective on March 20, 2023. The agencies developed this rule with consideration of the relevant provisions of the Clean Water Act and the statute as a whole, relevant Supreme Court case law, and the agencies’ technical expertise after more than 45 years of implementing the longstanding pre-2015 “waters of the United States” framework. This rule also considers the best available science and extensive public comment to establish a definition of “waters of the United States” that supports public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth.
EPA and Army are hosting a series of webinars in March and April specifically for Tribes and States to learn about the final rule and implementation considerations. The agencies will first present an overview webinar and will then present three additional webinars on topics of specific interest to Tribes and States. Participants will have the opportunity to submit questions before each topical webinar, and the agencies will use those questions to inform development of the presentations.
All webinars will be held from 2-3:30 p.m. ET and include time for questions and answers. Please submit questions in advance to email@example.com. Questions must be received at least one week in advance of the webinar to be considered.
Tribal and State officials can register for individual webinars listed below. Participants should register with their Tribal or State email address, if available, so that EPA can ensure attendance is limited to participants from Tribal and State government agencies and member organizations. The webinars, but not the Q&A sessions, will be recorded and posted to EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/wotus.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with logistical questions about these webinars or to arrange for accommodations (e.g., sign language interpreters or translation). Accommodations will be provided if received no later than a week prior to each webinar.
- Rule Overview — March 22, 2023, 2-3:30 p.m. ET
- Relatively Permanent Standard — March 30, 2023, 2-3:30 p.m. ET
- Significant Nexus Standard — April 5, 2023, 2-3:30 p.m. ET
- Exclusions and Other Topics — April 12, 2023, 2-3:30 p.m. ET
If you are interested in registering for these webinars, please contact Julia Anastasio.
Subject: State-EPA Webcast on Section 106 Grant Regulations: Non-substantive Regulatory Update
Date: Thursday, March 29, 2023
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm eastern
Link: Email email@example.com if you did not get the Outlook invite.
The EPA Office of Grants and Debarment has initiated an EPA work group to review grant program regulations (40 CFR Part 35) to identify any needed non-substantive updates. Regulatory updates are conducted periodically to remove outdated content and making minor changes to correct or clarify regulatory language. As part of this effort, OWM reviewed the Section 106 State regulations at 35.162 and identified some regulatory content that should be removed and some content that should be updated. These changes would not impact the allocation process.
Please join ACWA and OWM for a webcast on March 29th at 2:00 Eastern to provide specific information on the Section 106 regulatory updates being considered.
Tools for Source Water Protection – Watershed Academy Webinar
March 21st, 2-3pm EST | Register here
Registration is now open for EPA’s Watershed Academy webinar on Tools for Source Water Protection, which will take place on March 21, 2023. This webcast will present examples of communities, states, and regions turning discrete water quality data into live public information. This webinar will feature EPA’s Office of Water’s Source Water Protection (SWP) team presenting on two tools: The Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters (DWMAPS) and the Funding Integration Tool for Source Water (FITS). In addition, there will be a brief overview of the background and concepts of source water protection. Both tools were developed by the SWP Program and can be used either independently or in tandem by many stakeholders for their source water protection needs.
For more information on this webinar and to register visit: https://www.epa.gov/watershedacademy/turning-water-data-public-information-webcast.
NAWM Webinar: Introduction to the New National Manual on the Ordinary High Water Mark
Wednesday, March 29, 2023 – 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT | Register here
Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) delineation has long been a part of identifying aquatic resources that may be subject to federal jurisdiction under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Sections 9 and 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Despite the challenges found in OHWM delineation, because of the complexity and dynamic nature of inland waterways, a national manual providing guidance on OHWM identification and delineation has never been released. The National Technical Committee for OHWM, comprised of experts from Federal agencies and academia, developed and released the interim draft of the National OHWM Field Delineation Manual for Rivers and Streams. The manual provides a scientifically supported, weight-of-evidence framework to support efficient OHWM identification and delineation that are consistent, repeatable and defensible. Use of the National OHWM Manual will result in timely and more predictable identification and delineation of the OHWM across the Nation.
NWQMC Transform Your Hidden Racial Bias Workshop
Monday, April 10th and Monday, April 17th | Registration deadline is April 2nd! | Register Here
Science shows we all have implicit or unconscious biases, which is part of being human. Certain implicit biases, such as racial, gender or age do cause harm and perpetuate systems that oppress, exclude and divide us. Divisions keep us from attracting and retaining top talent, drawing out the best in each other, creating and cultivating effective teams, organizations and a culture of inclusion and race equity. Unaddressed, it is like missing a leg on a stool that we need to stand on to succeed and be effective in our work. As leaders, we have a responsibility to learn how to improve our knowledge, skills and competencies to increase our collective impact and better support our colleagues, organizations and constituents.
The path to systems and a culture that are predominantly inclusive and equitable is an iterative journey from unaware to advocate. Every system and organization is made up of individuals so this course focuses on the individual and compliments any organizational training. There is no one way to travel on the path. This course provides information, actions, a process and resources combined with your intention, attention and commitment reduce the impact of implicit bias. You do need to commit to attending both three-hour sessions in this two part workshop.
Natural Resources Analyst
Location: Cheyenne, WY
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position is responsible for coordinating the Water Quality Division’s (WQD’s) role in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental review processes and assists with the development and adoption of Wyoming’s surface water quality standards consistent with the Wyoming Environmental Quality Act and federal Clean Water Act. The position collaboratively reviews, evaluates and develops recommendations on priority federal projects to ensure that the actions of federal agencies are consistent with Wyoming’s surface water and groundwater quality rules and regulations. The position assists with establishing attainable surface water quality goals for surface waters in the state; establishing water quality criteria to support surface water quality goals; and ensuring that surface water quality is maintained and protected through the development of antidegradation provisions and implementation methods.
For more information and how to apply, click here.
Section Chief for Surface Water Quality Monitoring
Location: Worcester, MA
Closing Date: Open until filled
MassDEP seeks applicants for the position of Water Quality Monitoring Section Chief in the Watershed Planning Program (WPP), Division of Watershed Management, Bureau of Water Resources. WPP administers a statewide surface water monitoring program in accordance with a strategic monitoring plan (i.e., Monitoring Strategy) designed to support multiple water resource management objectives pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). These include, but are not limited to, water quality and biological criteria development, water quality assessment, and restoration efforts to improve surface water quality, such as derivation of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). The Water Quality Monitoring Section designs and performs surface water monitoring activities while adhering to stringent quality assurance protocols to produce credible scientific data for water quality management decision-making. Monitoring staff also manage contractor-supported projects by developing scopes of work and budgets, soliciting and reviewing proposals, and providing technical and administrative oversight throughout the projects.
For more information and how to apply, click here.
Senior Permit Manager (Environmental Specialist 4)(In-Training)
Location: Spokane, WA
Closing Date: March 14, 2023
The Water Quality program within the Department of Ecology is looking to fill a Senior Permit Manager/Financial Project Manager (Environmental Specialist 4)(In-Training) position. This position is located in our Eastern Region Office (ERO) in Spokane, WA. Upon hire, you must live within a commutable distance from the duty station.
This position offers a career path and on-the-job training. This position allows you to progress through the Environmental Specialist field and achieve the goal class of an Environmental Specialist 4. Candidates will be considered at the Environmental Specialist 3 In-Training and the Environmental Specialist 4 levels, depending on their qualifications. For salary levels for each, please see the qualifications section. The mission of the Water Quality Program is to protect and restore Washington’s waters to support healthy watersheds and communities. Our work ensures state waters can support beneficial uses including recreational and business activities, supplies for clean drinking water, and the protection of fish, shellfish, wildlife, and public health.
For more information and to apply, click here.