Environmental Law Updates
Federal Legislative Actions
H.R. 861 - To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency (2/3/17) Text not available as of 2/5/17. An email sent to potential bill co-sponsors contains the following explanation: “Our small businesses cannot afford to cover the costs associated with compliance, too often leading to closed doors and unemployed Americans... It is time to take back our legislative power from the EPA and abolish it permanently.” THIS BILL HAS BEEN REFERRED TO HOUSE SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE
H.R.694 - Stop EPA Overregulation of Rural Americans Act (1/24/2017) This bill could repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent rule for new residential wood heaters. The rule strengthens emissions standards for new wood stoves, establishes federal air standards for other new wood heaters, and sets particulate matter emission limits for newly manufactured wood stoves. Particulate matter, the fine particles in smoke, can harm the lungs, blood vessels, and heart. The bill's sponsor, David Rouzer, claims the regulation is detrimental to residential wood heater manufacturers. THIS BILL HAS BEEN REFERRED TO THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE
H.R.637 - Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017 (1/24/2017) This bill is widely sponsored and could prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. If passed, it would repeal climate change statutory provisions and regulations. Specifically, "greenhouse gas" would be removed from the Clean Air Act (44 U.S.C. 7602(g)) and replaced with "air pollutant," which explicitly excludes carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. Additionally, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Solid Waste Disposal Act would not be allowed to regulate climate change. THIS BILL HAS BEEN REFERRED TO THE HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE
Several Joint Resolutions have been passed pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, which empowers Congress to overturn new federal regulations:
H.J.Res.38 - Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule (1/30/17) Congress overruled an Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement of the Department of the Interior regulation called the Stream Protection Rule (81 Fed. Reg. 93066). The rule required coal mining companies to take various steps to avoid damaging the hydrologic balance of waterways outside of their permit areas, as well conduct a baseline assessment of what the surrounding ecosystems contain before they begin mining projects, monitor affected streams during mining, and develop a plan for restoring damages waterways after mining is completed. THIS RESOLUTION PASSED ON 2/2/2017
H.J.Res.41 - Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to "Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers" (1/30/17) Congress overruled a regulations mandated under the Dodd-Frank Act that required publicly traded mining, oil, and gas companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments for the commercial development of oil, gas, and minerals. Rex Tillerson actively lobbied against this rule as the head of ExxonMobil. THIS RESOLUTION PASSED ON 2/3/2017
Some regulations have already been repealed by Congress:
The Stream Protection Rule (91 Fed. Reg. 93066) was repealed under the Congressional Review Act. This rule required mining companies to take steps to avoid damaging the hydrologic balance of waterways outside of their permit areas, as well conduct a baseline assessment of what the surrounding ecosystems contain before they begin mining projects, monitor affected streams during mining, and develop a plan for restoring damages waterways after mining was completed. RULE REPEALED
Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers (81 Fed. Reg. 49359) was repealed under the Congressional Review Act. This Dodd-Frank Act regulations required publicly traded mining, oil, and gas companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments for the commercial development of oil, gas, and minerals. RULE REPEALED
Some regulations may be repealed under current legislation:
Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources (81 Fed. Reg. 35823), a rule that implements requirements to help combat climate change and reduce air pollution from oil and natural gas extraction, in part by setting VOC and methane requirements for sources. H.R. 637, the Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017, would repeal this rule. LEGISLATION IS CURRENTLY IN COMMITTEE
Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (80 Fed. Reg. 64661), the first rule to set greenhouse gas emissions guidelines for existing power plants (the largest stationary emissions source) to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel fired power plants. H.R. 637, the Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017, would repeal this rule. LEGISLATION IS CURRENTLY IN COMMITTEE
Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters, New Residential Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces (80 Fed. Reg. 13671), a rule that revised the standards of performance for residential wood heaters totaking final action to revise the Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters to strengthen emissions standards, establish federal air standards for other new wood heaters, and sets particulate matter emission limits for newly manufactured wood stoves. LEGISLATION CURRENTLY IN COMMITEE
Executive Orders & Memoranda
Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects (1/24/17) This order expedites environmental review for "high priority" infrastructure projects, including pipelines and electrical grids.
Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing (1/24/17) In partnership with the Order to expedite environmental reviews for infrastructure projects, this Memorandum seeks to ease "regulatory burdens" by expediting the review of environmental, and other, agencies.
Memorandum Regarding the Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (1/24/17) Restarts the Dakota Access Pipeline project after Army Corps of Engineers, under Obama administration, blocked an easement granted for the pipelines.
Memorandum Regarding the Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (1/24/2017) Restarts the Keystone XL Pipeline project after the project plans were rejected by President Obama in 2015.
Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze (1/23/17) Places hiring freeze on all Federal civilian employees in the executive branch.