Week Ahead: South Dakota’s Rounds Scrutinizes Superfund

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a critic of Superfund’s management under President Barack Obama, will assess the Trump administration’s progress on the issue Tuesday at a Senate subcommittee hearing—one of a handful of environment and energy events the week of July 31.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight, which Rounds chairs, will hold the hearing. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt set up a task force that recently recommended embracing public-private partnerships and setting aggressive agency deadlines to move languishing Superfund site cleanups forward.

Rounds told Bloomberg BNA in 2015 that he wants, in general, to emphasize the work of inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office in rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse at the EPA and other agencies.

The GAO, Congress’ watchdog arm, issued a report last October urging the EPA to clarify its procedures for providing information to its Contaminated Sediments Technical Advisory Group, which assists the cleanup process at Superfund sites. The report said the EPA doesn’t consistently document its risk-management process when investigating contaminated areas.

“By not following its own rules, the EPA continues to perpetuate a culture of distrust among local landowners and citizens.” Rounds said at the time.

Rounds is a former South Dakota state legislator and governor who has concentrated on putting limits on a regulatory process that he considers overzealous and that he says imposes too many requirements on businesses.

“Regulations are stifling economic growth and innovation and hurting the future of this country by crushing the can-do American spirit that founded our nation, settled the West, won two world wars and put a man on the moon,” he said in his first Senate address in June 2015. Sylvia Carignan will cover the Senate hearing.

In Other News

Toxic wastewater: EPA will hold a public hearing Monday on its proposal to postpone certain compliance dates associated with its rule to regulate toxic wastewater releases from power plants. The 2015 rule has pitted the power industry against environmentalists. Amena H. Saiyid will cover.

Biofuel blending: EPA will hold a Tuesday public hearing on its biofuel blending proposal for 2018, which maintained the 15-billion-gallon requirement for corn-based ethanol but undercut blending mandates for advanced biofuels. Brian Dabbs will monitor.

Water security: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a Wednesday hearing to explore how water security and drought preparedness can be improved through better infrastructure, management, and innovation. David Schultz will track.

TSCA webinar: EPA Chemical Office Director Jeffery Morris, former EPA officials, and Lynn Bergeson, managing partner of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. will take part in a free webinar discussing the agency’s recent chemical inventory rule and strategies to comply with the new chemicals provisions of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act. Pat Rizzuto will cover.