Thursday, August 31, 2017

EPA Waives Low RVP Gasoline Requirement In PA, 37 Other States And DC

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday issued a waiver from the requirement to meet reformulated or low volatility gasoline requirements for 38 states and the District of Columbia, including the Pittsburgh Region in Pennsylvania.
The waiver is in effect through September 15 which is the end of the ozone season and the period during which low-RVP gasoline is required in Western Pennsylvania under DEP regulations.
The low-RVP requirement affects Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Click Here for a copy of the waiver.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Report: Proposed Federal Funding Cuts Are A Step Backward In Cleaning Up The Delaware Watershed

A report issued Tuesday by PennEnvironment said proposed Trump Administration cuts of 34 percent or more to water quality improvement and protection programs would be a step backward in helping to cleanup up the Delaware River Watershed.
The report points out significant progress has been made in reducing Delaware River pollution, including a 71 percent reduction in PCB contamination from the 10 largest sources in the watershed between 2005 and 2013.
Other examples include restoring sources of drinking water like the Christina River, the cleanup of hazardous waste sites like DuPont’s Titanium Technologies facility and grants to states for watershed restoration to make streams feeding the Delaware fishable, swimmable and drinkable.
The report says proposed cuts include--
-- 34 percent cut to EPA’s water-related programs, hobbling efforts to prevent runoff pollution, monitor water quality, establish pollution limits, protect watersheds and wetlands, and pursue sources of pollution;
-- Federal grants from the EPA to state governments for clean water would be slashed by 30 percent or more; and
-- Research and development funding would be cut by 47 percent, limiting support for scientists, residents and local communities trying to understand the ever-changing threats facing their waterways.
StateImpact reported the four Delaware Basin states – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware – would lose some $14 million in grants for the control of pollution from “nonpoint” sources such as agricultural runoff, and about $3.3 million in funding for the protection of drinking water sources, the report estimated.
Members of Congress from Pennsylvania have expressed bipartisan concern about the proposed cuts, including Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Patrick Meehan (R-Parts of 5 counties) and others.
Click Here for a copy of the report.
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Fmr Corbett Admin Official Anthony Pugliese Named FERC Chair Chief Of Staff

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee Monday announced Anthony Pugliese has been named Chief of Staff at the Commission.
Since January 2017, Pugliese has served as Senior White House Advisor at the U.S. Department of Transportation, where he helped oversee all aspects of the department, including pipeline safety and regulatory issues.
He also played a leadership role in the development and planning of President Donald J. Trump’s infrastructure proposal.
Prior to that, he was a consultant on energy issues involving solar, oil and natural gas at Pugliese Associates. Before that, he was Director of Legislative Affairs for former Gov. Tom Corbett, focusing on energy, tax policy, infrastructure, economic development and international affairs.
He also served on Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale Commission.
“I am very pleased to welcome Anthony to the Commission,” said Chairman Chatterjee. “We appreciate his willingness to bring his experience and expertise on energy, infrastructure and safety to FERC.”

Friday, August 18, 2017

Trump Order On Infrastructure Environmental Reviews May Impact State Decisions Under Delegated Federal Programs

The 13-page order seeks to address what the Trump Administration believes are inefficiencies associated with infrastructure project decisions, including by limiting National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews to “not more than an average of approximately [two] years.”
Infrastructure projects include: a project that involves multiple authorizations from Federal agencies to develop the public and private physical assets that are designed to provide or support services to the general public in the following sectors:  surface transportation, including roadways, bridges, railroads, and transit; aviation; ports, including navigational channels; water resources projects; energy production and generation, including from fossil, renewable, nuclear, and hydro sources; electricity transmission; broadband internet; pipelines; stormwater and sewer infrastructure; drinking water infrastructure; and other sectors as may be determined by the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.
One Federal Decision
A new One Federal Decision protocol is also established for major infrastructure projects where multiple federal agencies have permit responsibility, under which a lead federal agency will work with other relevant federal agencies to complete needed environmental reviews and permitting decisions.
The EO stipulates that federal agencies will sign a joint Record of Decision and issue required federal permits 90 days later.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, will develop a two-year modernization goal, establish a performance accountability system, and score each federal agency quarterly on implementation of the EO and of appropriate best practices.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is charged with developing an action plan to improve government-wide environmental reviews and mediate disagreements between federal agencies.
Guidelines To States
The Executive Order notes that “CEQ and OMB shall also develop guidance for applying One Federal Decision whenever the lead agency is a [s]tate, tribal, or local agency exercising an assignment or delegation of an agency's NEPA responsibilities.”
The new EO revokes the January 2015 EO 13690 related to establishing a federal flood risk management standard which prevented federal investments in infrastructure projects that would be subject to flooding, including as a result of sea level rise.
It also directs the Department of Interior to provide a multi-agency reorganization effort and incorporate the strategy into the comprehensive reorganization plan directed in March by EO 13781, which includes the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement which have oversight of the mining and reclamation programs in states like Pennsylvania.
DOI is also the lead on identification and designation of “energy right-of-way corridors” on federal land for expedited environmental review for energy infrastructure projects.
In January 2017, the White House released the Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects, which called for identification of high-priority infrastructure projects and for CEQ to coordinate with relevant federal agencies to expedite procedures and deadlines for completion of environmental reviews.
Click Here for a copy of the infrastructure order.  Click Here for a fact sheet on the order issued by the White House.