Climate Leaders Look to Build on Paris Agreement in the Week Ahead

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Lawmakers may have left town with Congress on break this week, but hundreds of government officials, business leaders, philanthropists and academics will flock to Washington, D.C., this week to talk about climate change.

The agenda for the Climate Action 2016 Summit calls for discussions on how to deliver on climate commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as a series of working groups on near-term and long-term needs in transportation, land-use, energy and climate resilience.

The Climate Action 2016 summit kicks off Thursday morning with remarks from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and continues through Friday afternoon.

Highlights of the agenda include a Q&A session with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on whether the U.S. can deliver on its climate commitments, a keynote address by OMB Director Shaun Donovan, and remarks on smart land use from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Anthony Adragna and Andrea Vittorio from our climate team will have full coverage of the summit.

Obama in Flint: President Obama on Wednesday is set to visit Flint, Mich., site of an ongoing lead contaminated drinking water crisis.  The White House announced last week that Obama would visit Flint to receive an in-person briefing on federal response efforts and speak directly with residents of Flint. The EPA has been criticized for its response to the contamination of Flint’s drinking water, which occurred after the city’s water source was changed to the Flint River without use of the proper corrosion controls, leading to elevated levels of lead in the water.

U.S.-Canada Meeting: Officials from the EPA, Transportation Department and other regulatory agencies will meet with their Canadian counterparts on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, D.C. The agenda for the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council calls for a discussion of a variety of environmental and energy topics, including pollinator protection, workplace chemicals, energy efficiency standards and the transportation of dangerous materials. Watch out for coverage from our expert chemical reporter Pat Rizzuto.

Power Plant Litigation: The EPA faces a Friday deadline to file its response to a state petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court in litigation over the agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants. A coalition of states, led by Michigan, want the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision that left the MATS rule in place while the EPA worked to address a legal flaw in its decision-making process. The states specifically want the Supreme Court to weigh in on whether a court can leave an unlawful regulation in place if the agency didn’t have the statutory authority to issue that regulation. The EPA is expected to argue in its response that a supplemental finding issued in April to address that legal flaw has mooted the states’ request. I covered the story in April for subscribers in EPA Likely to Argue Cert Petition on Mercury Rule Moot.

EPA Regional Administrator Departs: Jared Blumenfeld, administrator for EPA Region 9, will formally step down from his position on Friday. Blumenfeld, who has served in that post since 2010, announced his resignation to staff in April. Alexis Strauss, who currently serves as deputy regional administrator, is expected to serve as acting administrator until a permanent replacement is named. The Region 9 office serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations.