Proposed EPA Rules Could Limit State And Tribal Power To Block Infrastructure Projects -OPB

Over the last few years, since Trump came to power, I have been hearing about companies, some here in the NW engaged in shellfish farming, that have been quietly spending tens of thousands of dollars lobbying the Federal government to strip away the capability of local jurisdictions, such as county, state and tribal governments, to create local rules that could stymie the businesses operations or licensing by the federal government, under the Clean Water Act. A goal of theirs has been to take away the ability of local environmentally concerned organizations to sue, other than at the federal level.  Now, it appears the Trump administration is acting on their lobbying efforts. Think about fish farming, pulp mills, or any other activity covered under the Clean Water Act.

The rules specifically would restrict these non-federal governments’ authority to review the water quality impacts of projects that require a federal permit or license. These projects range from pipelines to hydropower facilities to dredging — any development that result in “discharge” into U.S. waters.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before October 21, 2019. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2019–0405, at https://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Kasparek, Oceans, Wetlands, and Communities Division, Office of Water (4504–T), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564–3351; email address: cwa401@epa.gov.

Read the whole legal document (very long, very difficult to follow if not a environmental lawyer) at

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-08/documents/cwa401certification_2060-af86_nprm_20190807_prepublication_version.pdf

https://www.opb.org/news/article/federal-water-quality-rules-energy-infrastructure/

E.P.A. Plans to Curtail the Ability of Communities to Oppose Pollution Permits – NY Times

More work being done by the Trump Administration to limit citizens ability to appeal.

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to weaken rules that for the past quarter-century have given communities a voice in deciding how much pollution may legally be released by nearby power plants and factories. The changes would eliminate the ability of individuals or community advocates to appeal against E.P.A.-issued pollution permits before a panel of agency judges. However, the industrial permit-holders could still appeal to the panel, known as the Environmental Appeals Board, to allow them to increase their pollution. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Trump administration rolls back protections on wetlands. Legal battle will ensue

The battle over the Clean Water Act has shifted into high gear. The EPA  has decided to rollback Obama era protections to wetlands. The definition of wetlands and their importance to underground aquifers has been established by science. That science has allowed the expansion of how pollution migrates to “navigable waterways” as defined by the CWA. That the ex-head of the EPA Scott Pruitt as well as the current (ex coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler has chosen on numerous occasions to ignore their scientists recommendations, to choose development and industry over protections means that the battle will shift to the states, where progressive states like ours, who have implemented strong Critical Areas Ordinances and Shoreline Master Plans, are capable of holding off the outcomes of this ruling. Likely a Supreme Court battle will ensue over the next few years.

NPRs version of the story here:

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/11/675477583/trump-epa-proposes-big-changes-to-federal-water-protections

NY Times article here:

Washington Post coverage:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/20/trump-to-roll-back-obamas-climate-water-rules-through-executive-action/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3787695342fe

National Resource Defense Council view

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/trumps-attack-clean-water-what-you-need-know

A right wing analysis of the rollback can be found here:

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/421091-epa-restores-common-sense-to-overaggressive-water-regulations

 

 

 

 

Debate Over Water Quality Standards Takes A New Turn – Puget Sound Institute

Christopher Dunagan writes on the issue of the Federal EPA vs. State of Washington EPA, vs. the people of Washington, as the real battle of Trumps reigning in of environmental regulations changes the rules of engagement. The issue is very relevant to all of us in the Salish Sea basin, as it pits a national standard of water quality, established by the EPA under Obama’s era, against an update by the Trump administration. How much cancer causing chemicals can we eat before we get cancer?

The State of Washington EPA fought the original stricter standards, because it would mean more effort by industrial corporations (i.e. Boeing et al) to meet the newer standards, which were put in place partly due to the fact that many of us are eating far more fish than what was originally believed. Now those same corporations are petitioning Trump’s EPA to ease the standards.

It’s not just an academic debate. Cancer causing chemicals effect us and our resident Orcas and more. Read the whole short story on it here. Www.pugetsoundinstitute.org

https://www.pugetsoundinstitute.org/2018/11/debate-over-water-quality-standards-takes-a-new-turn/

Many people thought the issue of regulating toxic chemical discharges into Puget Sound was settled when the federal government forced Washington state to use stricter criteria, but the debate may be underway once again.

EPA to eliminate office that advises Agency Chief on Science – NY Times

The EPA has abandoned any pretense at using science to instruct their decisions, made by their chief, who is an ex-coal lobbyist. The corruption in this administration will likely never be duplicated. We have not seen anything like this since the early part of the 1900s. You want to change it? Get out and vote.

 

 

Scott Pruitt’s Dirty Politics – New Yorker

William Ruckelshaus, who ran the E.P.A. under Nixon and Reagan, said that Pruitt and his top staff “don’t fundamentally agree with the mission of the agency.” Margaret Talbot reports. (New Yorker) See also: The E.P.A. Says It Wants Research Transparency. Scientists See an Attack on Science. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/climate/epa-scientific-transparency-honest-act.html Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/02/scott-pruitts-dirty-politics

Puget Sound cleanup survives Trump attempt to kill it -Seattle PI.com

Glad to hear that we continue to get money for the clean up of Puget Sound, a project that will take probably as long as it’s taken to pollute it. But the work will continue.

Of course the trade off is that the military budget was given more than ever. And the Navy will likely continue it’s expansion throughout the northwest Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Trump administration failed in its efforts to wipe out money to clean up Puget Sound and other waterways from Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes, as Congress has refused to dry up spending on water programs. Puget Sound gets $28 million as part of $8.08 billion in funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The Trump administration had wanted to slash EPA’s budget to $5.7 billion, in real dollars its lowest spending in 40 years. The money is contained in a mammoth omnibus federal spending bill, passed Thursday by the House of Representatives and due for final action Friday in the Senate. [The bill passed the Senate and awaits the President’s signature.] Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

 https://www.seattlepi.com/local/politics/article/Connelly-Puget-Sound-cleanup-survives-Trump-12775110.php

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