September 13, 2021

 

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Update on Infrastructure and Budget Resolution

  • The Senate returns for legislative business this week following the August district work period, and the House returns next week;
  • Numerous priorities await action, including
    • Passage of an infrastructure bill with the current surface transportation law (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act) expiring September 30, 2021
    • With the end of FY2021 September 30, a continuing resolution is needed to keep the federal government fully funded until FY2022 appropriations measures can be passed, and
    • Consideration of the estimated $3.5 trillion budget resolution
  • The $3.5 trillion budget resolution would be over 10-years and is intended to address climate, education, health care, Medicare, immigration, and taxes—the ‘human infrastructure’ as declared by President Biden in his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan introduced earlier this year;
  • Democratic leadership in both chambers would like to pass the budget resolution and an infrastructure measure in tandem by the end of this month;
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made an agreement with members in her caucus that the infrastructure bill will be voted on in the House by September 27;
  • Last week, House Committees with jurisdiction over items expected to be included in the budget resolution began drafting legislative language;
  • The size of the budget resolution and how to pay for it, the scope of the programs to be included, and the very thinly divided partisan breakdown in the Senate and House are the challenges for supporters of the budget resolution;
  • As a reminder, prior to the August Congressional district work period, the Senate passed its Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and, in early July, the House passed its Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684);
    • Both of these measures are heavily focused on surface transportation programs and reauthorization while also including investments in water infrastructure and some emergency management provisions highlighted in the July 19 and August 9, editions of APWA’s Washington Report
  • APWA Government Affairs continues bipartisan outreach to Congressional offices about the Association’s 117th Congress Public Policy Priorities: Surface Transportation Reauthorization, Water Resiliency, and Emergency Management;
  • Please contact APWA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net with any questions about APWA’s Government Affairs activities and priorities.

Federal Judge Overturns Navigable Waters Protection Rule

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona Judge Rosemary Márquez overturned the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) August 30 in Pasqua Yaqui Tribe v. United States Environmental Protection Agency;
    • The NWPR, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under then-President Trump, established a new definition for "waters of the United States" that are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act
    • The NWPR narrowed the definition by excluding certain bodies of water, such as groundwater or creeks or streams that dry up at certain times of the year, from regulation
    • This followed EPA and USACE’s repeal of a 2015 rule that defined WOTUS more broadly
  • President Biden’s EPA and USACE had requested the court allow the agency to follow its standard rulemaking process for repealing and replacing NWPR;
  • However, environmentalist and tribal groups sued requesting that the NWPR be immediately dismissed;
  • Judge Marquez granted this request saying the rule should be vacated based on her judgement of "the seriousness of the Agencies’ errors in enacting the NWPR, the likelihood that the Agencies will alter the NWPR’s definition of ‘waters of the United States,’ and the possibility of serious environmental harm if the NWPR remains in place;”
    • The court did not provide immediate clarity on the regulations that will now be in place
    • A separate ruling is expected in the coming weeks regarding whether the 2015 rule will be reinstated
  • Further litigation from industry groups that are supportive of the NWPR is also likely, which could ultimately reverse this ruling;
  • Because of the ruling, EPA and USACE said they “have halted implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and are interpreting “waters of the United States” consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory regime until further notice;”
  • Detailed information on the agencies’ statement and the pre-2015 WOTUS definition can be found on EPA's website;
  • For any questions regarding WOTUS or APWA’s advocacy on water resiliency issues, contact APWA Government Affairs Manager Michael Altman at maltman@apwa.net or (202) 218-6727.

EPA Announces Intent to Regulate PFAS in Wastewater

  • EPA announced its Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15) September 8, which outlines its plans for new regulations on wastewater discharges;
  • In Preliminary Plan 15, EPA would initiate three new rulemakings to revise effluent limitations guidelines and pretreatment standards for the following industries:
    • Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) discharges from facilities manufacturing PFAS
    • Metal Finishing to address PFAS discharges from chromium electroplating facilities
    • Meat and Poultry Products category to address nutrient discharges
  • These regulations would represent EPA’s first limitations on PFAS in wastewater;
  • Once the plan is published in the Federal Register it will be open for a 30-day public comment period;
  • More information on Preliminary Plan 15 can be found on EPA’s website.

EPA and DOD Publish First Validated Laboratory Method for PFAS Testing in Wastewater

  • EPA and the Department of Defense (DOD) published a draft September 2 of the first EPA-validated laboratory analytical method for testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in environmental media including wastewater, surface water, and groundwater;
    • Labeled Method 1633, this single-laboratory validated method is able to test for 40 PFAS compounds;
    • The method can be used to test wastewater, surface water, groundwater, soil, biosolids, sediment, landfill leachate, and fish tissue;
  • EPA and DOD intend to complete a multi-laboratory validation study of the method in 2022;
  • More information on Method 1633 can be found on EPA’s website.

President Biden Announces Executive Order Addressing COVID Safety Protocols

  • President Biden announced an Executive Order last week on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors;
    • This EO calls for parties that contract with the federal government to begin the process of providing adequate COVID-19 safeguards to their workers performing on or in connection with a Federal Government contract by October 8, 2021
    • Additionally, the EO would mandate that the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force provide definitions of relevant terms for contractors and subcontractors, explanations of protocols required of contractors and subcontractors to comply with workplace safety guidance by September 24, 2021
      • This includes any exceptions to Task Force guidance that apply to contractor and subcontractor workplace locations and individuals in those locations working on or in connection with a federal government contract.

September Recognized as National Preparedness Month

  • During September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be promoting National Preparedness Month through their “Ready.gov” campaign;
  • The overall theme is “Prepare to Protect.” Each week of the month will have a sub theme:
    1. Week 1 September 1-4 - Make A Plan
    2. Week 2 September 5-11 - Build A Kit
    3. Week 3 September 12-18 - Low-Cost, No-Cost Preparedness
    4. Week 4 September 19-25 - Teach Youth About Preparedness

CISA Releases Drone Guidance to Assist Emergency Communications Centers

 

ON THE HORIZON