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In The Works

Volume 18, Issue 7 - July 2017

In The Works is a monthly newsletter providing Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) news and regulatory updates. The newsletter is provided by Loureiro Engineering Associates, Inc. of Plainville, Connecticut.

NATIONAL

EPA and the Army Seek Input in the Review of the Waters of the U.S. Rule. Stakeholder sessions will be held weekly between September and November

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army (the agencies) will hold 11 sessions to give stakeholders an opportunity to provide recommendations on a revised definition of “waters of the United States.” The agencies will hold nine two-hour long teleconferences that will be tailored for specific sectors, plus one that will be open to the general public. The agencies will also hold one in-person session for small entities.

“EPA is committed to an open and transparent process for reviewing the definition of ‘waters of the United States,’” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Receiving input from across the country will help us make informed decisions as we move through our two-step process that will return power to the states and to provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses.” 

These sessions follow the February 28, 2017, Presidential Executive Order on "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule." The February Order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation's navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the States under the Constitution.

To meet these objectives, the agencies are following an expeditious, two-step rulemaking process. The recommendations gathered through these stakeholder sessions, in addition to the feedback the agencies are hearing through ongoing outreach to state, local and tribal governments, will help inform the step two rulemaking, which would revise the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

The stakeholder sessions will be held on a weekly basis beginning September 19 and will continue each Tuesday thereafter for ten weeks.  Each will run from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. eastern time. Information on how to register for each of these meetings is available on the EPA website.  Registration for each webinar will close a week prior. Those wishing to provide verbal recommendations during the teleconference will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. Due to the expected volume of participants, individuals will be asked to limit their oral presentation to three minutes.

Stakeholder Sessions Schedule

  • September 19, 2017 – small entities (small businesses, small organizations and small governmental jurisdictions)
  • September 26, 2017 – environment and public advocacy
  • October 3, 2017 – conservation, e.g., hunters and anglers
  • October 10, 2017 – construction and transportation
  • October 17, 2017 – agriculture
  • October 24, 2017 – industry
  • October 31, 2017 – mining
  • November 7, 2017 – scientific organizations and academia
  • November 14, 2017 – stormwater, wastewater management and drinking water agencies
  • November 21, 2017 – general public

The agencies are also planning an in-person meeting with small entities, which will be held on Monday, October 23, 2017, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time at the U.S. EPA’s Headquarters.

The agencies will also be accepting written recommendations on the step two rulemaking effort through a non-regulatory docket (EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0480), which will be available when the notice is published in the Federal Register. The agencies ask that this information be submitted on or before November 28, 2017. 

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut Governor Orders an Economic Evaluation of the Millstone Power Plant

Connecticut – In accordance with the executive order signed by Governor Malloy on July 25, 2017, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority will conduct an assessment to evaluate the current and projected economic viability of the Millstone nuclear generating facilities in order for the state to determine a path forward that best benefits the residents of Connecticut.

The assessment will include:

  • A review of the current and projected economic viability of the Millstone nuclear generating facilities using best available information,
  • The role of existing nuclear generating facilities, as well as large scale hydropower, demand reduction measures, energy storage, and emissions-free renewable energy, in helping Connecticut meet interim and long-term carbon and other emissions targets at the least cost and with the greatest net benefit to Connecticut ratepayers, while maintaining the reliability of Connecticut’s electric grid,
  • The best mechanisms to ensure continued progress toward those targets, and considerations for whether and, if so, how such mechanisms, including potential multistate collaborations, should be implemented, and
  • The compatibility of such mechanisms with competitive wholesale and retail electricity markets and their effect on ratepayers.

The findings of the assessment will be submitted to the Governor and the state legislature prior to the start of the 2018 regular session of the General Assembly.

MASSACHUSETTS

Baker-Polito Administration Issues Regulations to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Reach Global Warming Solutions Act Goals

In accordance with Governor Charlie Baker’s Executive Order 569, An Order Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth, the Baker-Polito Administration recently issued final regulations that build upon the Commonwealth’s nation-leading efforts to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect communities, residents, and infrastructure from the impacts of climate change. The regulations, published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and developed with significant stakeholder input, seek to ensure the Commonwealth achieves the greenhouse gas emissions limits for 2020, required by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008.

“Combatting and preparing for the impact of climate change remains a top priority of our administration, and requires collaboration across state government and with stakeholders throughout Massachusetts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These regulations will help ensure the Commonwealth meets the rigorous emission reductions limits established in the Global Warming Solutions Act in order to protect our residents, communities, and natural resources from the effects of climate change.”

To position the Commonwealth to meet its emission reduction limits under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), the final regulations lay out an approach to reduce GHG emissions from multiple sectors. Pursuant to the GWSA, in 2010 the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs established a 2020 GHG emissions reduction limit of 25 percent below 1990 emissions levels and the GWSA requires at least an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

As of 2014, the Commonwealth had reduced emissions by 21 percent from 1990 levels, leaving about 4 percent remaining to achieve the 2020 goal. The six final regulations announced today will, along with other Commonwealth climate policies, ensure that this goal is achieved by addressing emissions from the natural gas distribution network, the transportation sector, the electric sector, focusing on generation and consumption, and gas insulated switchgear. The rules ensure that state agencies are “leading by example” with their use of more efficient and advanced technology vehicles, complement Massachusetts’ nation-leading portfolio of clean energy programs, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and address other sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

The regulations address:

  • Carbon Dioxide Emission Limits for the Commonwealth’s State Fleet Passenger Vehicles;
  • Global Warming Solutions Act Requirements for Transportation;
  • Reducing Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Distribution Mains and Services; 
  • Increasing clean energy through the development of a Clean Energy Standard;
  • Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electricity Generating Facilities; and
  • Reducing Sulfur Hexafluoride Emissions from Gas-Insulated Switchgear.

“Combatting climate change requires that we do as much as we can to avoid the worst impacts of climate change by reducing emissions, while also working to build resilience and adapt to ongoing impacts that we’re already experiencing across the state,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Completion of these regulations in under a year marks a significant milestone towards implementing Governor Baker’s Executive Order on Climate Change and demonstrates our continued commitment and leadership on this issue.”

Under Section 2 of Executive Order No. 569, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) was directed to publish proposed regulations by December 16, 2016, hold public hearings on the proposed regulations by February 24, 2017, and finalize those regulations by August 11, 2017. The Executive Order’s requirements followed a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court, in the case of Kain v. DEP, where the court ruled that the steps mandated by the GWSA include promulgation of regulations by MassDEP that establish declining annual aggregate limits on multiple GHG emission sources or categories of sources. The Executive Order also directs the state to begin planning for climate change adaptation and working with cities and towns across the state to assess vulnerability and build resiliency to address climate change impacts.

“The Commonwealth benefitted from extensive public comment on these issues,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We received more than 300 comments in this process, and reviewed the information submitted carefully to develop these final rules.”

“Thanks to the Legislature’s passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act, Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in reducing harmful emissions and protecting the health of all of our residents,” said Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “This new set of regulations will help ensure that we achieve the goals set out in the original Act.”

“These rules re-establish the Commonwealth as a national leader in developing sensible, enforceable standards to transition our economy to a low-carbon future,” said Brad Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation.  “Much more needs to be done, and Governor Baker’s leadership will be essential to getting neighboring states to take meaningful action to prepare New England for the energy future being shaped by the Paris climate agreement.”

While the final, official version of the rules are published in the Massachusetts Register, an electronic version, the public comments received and other information about MassDEP’s rules can be found at the MassDEP portal.