Presentation at the Louisiana Environmental Conference – Federal Regulatory Update

This presentation was given at the Louisiana Environmental Conference in Lafayette, Louisiana on March 16, 2017. It provides a great deal of detailed information about actions the Trump Administration has taken regarding the environment. There has been a lot of activity and there promises to be much, much more. As always, stay tuned!

More Protests in the Pipeline

Pipelines are essential to get crude oil and natural gas from a production site to processing and then for use in the market. When properly constructed, operated and maintained within the pipeline safety rules, they provide an efficient method to transport these products that are so valuable to our economy. However, in recent years, it has become more and more common for environmental groups to protest the construction of new (and safer) pipelines.

The years-long and still ongoing saga of the Keystone XL Pipeline is well known. After undergoing numerous environmental reviews that established it had little overall environmental impact, President Obama declined to grant authority to construct the trans-boundary portion of the pipeline. President Trump issued a Presidential Memoranda in which he invited TransCanada to resubmit its application and stated a final permitting decision must be made within 60 days of the resubmittal. TransCanada submitted its application within several days. Continue reading “More Protests in the Pipeline”

ALERT: The Trump Administration’s Second Week

The Trump Administration’s second week was somewhat calmer as to its environmental agenda. Nevertheless, there were some important developments.

The administration took aim at the number of regulations issued by executive agencies, issuing an Executive Order, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, on January 30, 2017. Dubbed the “One In, Two Out” Order, it essentially requires that, unless prohibited by law, the agency identify two existing regulations to be repealed when it publicly proposes a new regulation. The environmental statues do not contain a specific provision that explicitly prohibits this practice. As a result, EPA should be subject to this order during its rule-makings. However, many of the regulations issued by EPA are based on, or otherwise required by, the environmental statutes. It may be prove difficult for EPA to repeal two regulations when issuing a rule that is required by an environmental statute, as those to-be-repealed regulations may be required by a statute. The order should, however, inhibit or curtail discretionary rule-makings and promote the repeal of other discretionary rule-makings. Continue reading “ALERT: The Trump Administration’s Second Week”

Public Water Supplies Need Help In Managing Increased Scrutiny

The delivery of water into our homes, and the safety of that water, is usually taken for granted.  We turn on the tap and water comes out, which we assume is safe to drink and use for cooking.  But, for a variety of reasons, many people no longer make that assumption quite so readily. As a result, regulatory agencies and citizens have become more engaged. A public water supply must handle violations of the drinking water standards and rules and the possible defense of enforcement actions or suits in a way that ensures the quality of drinking water while minimizing liability for the public water supply.

Public water systems and municipalities are facing an inordinate level of scrutiny due to high profile cases of contaminated drinking water. The most famous, or infamous, drinking water crisis is the Flint, Michigan situation, which, by most accounts, was brought about by very poor decision-making. Flint began using the Flint River as a water source, in what appears to be a cost-cutting move. Even though water from the Flint River was known to require treatment, proper anti-corrosive agents were not used, resulting in lead leaching from the aging service lines. Testing revealed that lead levels in residential water were well over the standard set by EPA of 15 parts per billion. Continue reading “Public Water Supplies Need Help In Managing Increased Scrutiny”

ALERT: The Trump Administration’s First Week

President Trump and his staff have taken several steps to implement his environmental agenda.

As reported previously (see Freeze on Regulations), Mr. Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, on January 20, 2017, issued a Memorandum requiring, among other things, that all federal agencies postpone the effective date of all regulations published in the Federal Register but not yet effective as of January 20, 2017. EPA, on January 23, 2017, complied, postponing the effective date of thirty rules until March 21, 2017. See 82 Fed. Reg. 8499 (Jan. 26, 2017). The thirty regulations include the:

  • Risk Management Program revisions (previously effective on March 14, 2017),
  • Renewable Fuel Standards for 2017 (previously effective on February 10, 2017), and
  • Addition of a subsurface intrusion component to the hazard ranking system (previously effective on February 8, 2017).

Continue reading “ALERT: The Trump Administration’s First Week”

ALERT: Freeze on Regulations

On January 20, 2017, moments after President Trump was sworn in, his Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, issued a Memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies. It stated that the President had asked him “to communicate to each of you his plan for managing the Federal regulatory process at the outset of his Administration.”

In short, there is an immediate halt to regulations being sent to the Federal Register for publication. The Memorandum commands that no regulation be sent to the Federal Register “until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President after noon on January 20, 2017, reviews and approves the regulation.”  In other words, a Trump appointee must approve the regulation prior to its submittal to the Federal Register. Continue reading “ALERT: Freeze on Regulations”

The hurdles for Trump’s EPA

The new Trump administration has made repeated statements regarding overly burdensome environmental regulations. For example, in his “Contract with the American Voter,” Trump pledged to lift restrictions on the production of energy reserves — including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal — and allow the Keystone Pipeline to move forward. There have also been numerous statements regarding the repeal — in whole or in part — of existing regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan. Continue reading “The hurdles for Trump’s EPA”