What Environmental News to Watch the Week of Oct. 31


Here are some top stories, events and other environmental controversies to watch for this week.

Rep. John Shimkus Talks E&C Committee Chair Aspirations. After biding his time in the House for nearly 20 years, John Shimkus may have the inside track on chairing the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He talks to Dean Scott on driving the Republican agenda forward in what he hopes will be a six-year term in an interview coming to our blog.  

Briefs on Clean Water Rule Lawsuits Due Tuesday. The Sixth Circuit will receive the first set of legal briefs on Tuesday to lawsuits over the Clean Water Rule, which clarifies the scope of the Clean Water Act. Thirty-two states and a whole host of municipal, business and industrial groups will be filing. Amena Saiyid is tracking this story.

Coal Industry v. EPA in the Courts. The American Petroleum Institute is set to contest an EPA rule on hazardous secondary materials recycling in oral arguments on Thursday at the D.C. Circuit. Industry groups have rallied around API, claiming the rule dramatically expands the EPA’s authority under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. But the EPA argues the rule, which took effect in July 2015, aims to prevent illegal recycling. Brian Dabbs is attending the arguments and reporting.  

How Much Can a New President Influence TSCA? The amended Toxic Substances Control Act was largely written with the technical assistance of Obama’s EPA, but it will be implemented under a president Trump or Clinton. Pat Rizzuto is interviewing those who worked with the EPA in the 1970s, 1980s and beyond to explore how different presidents have influenced the chemicals law and the power the next president would hold.

Proclaimed Savior of West Virginia Coal Country. West Virginia coal baron Jim Justice, who appears likely to win the West Virginia governorship, told Stephen Lee about his plans to revive coal in the state “I’ll find new markets for our coal. I know we can get our coal miners back to work,” Justice said. We’ll have the exclusive this week.

What’s Next for Climate Talks? Nearly 200 nations face a new obstacle at the annual UN climate talks set to get underway in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Nov. 7. Since enough countries have ratified the December 2016 Paris climate pact that it can go into force, a new challenge is raised: how to maintain momentum as they begin years of implementation work. Dean Scott is writing a preview of the climate talks. 

The Fight Over Clean Energy Tax Extenders. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, is lobbying against tax extenders for certain clean energy technologies, including small wind turbines and fuel cell technologies. Meanwhile Alliance to Save Energy, and other clean energy advocacy groups, support their inclusion in a year-end spending bill. Rebecca Kern is reporting.

Green in More Than One Sense of the Word.  David Shultz digs into the savvy methods employed by Earthjustice to recoup its attorney fees in lawsuits filed against the EPA. Subscribers can get the full scoop in his story Frequent Filers: The Attorneys Shaping EPA Pesticide Policy.

Converting Coal to Wood Stokes Fire. Transitioning a coal-fired power plant in Oregon into the nation’s largest biomass facility is stirring up environmentalist concerns that switching to carbon-emitting wood isn’t any better for the environment. Paul Shukovsky reports in his story Converting Oregon Coal Plant to Biomass Stokes Controversy.

Zika and Bees on the Agenda. EPA’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee meets Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the agency’s response to the Zika virus, pollinator protection and farmworker protection. David Schultz is following.