What We're Watching the Week of Sept. 12


New Nuclear power

OK, before you read any further, please know this -- we’re definitely watching for any developments on the Water Resources Development Act. The Senate is expected to vote on it before the end of the week.

Aside from that, here are some of the top stories, events and other environmental controversies on our radar this week. 

Environmental Riders Cleave to Funding Debate

Congressional leaders met with the president today to hammer out details on a stopgap bill as environmental riders continue to play a critical role in both short and long-term appropriations action. The White House is angling to boost the EPA’s funding for Toxic Substances Control Act reform in a continuing resolution, which lawmakers will need to secure by Oct. 1. Meanwhile, advocacy groups are still waging the lobbying war over full fiscal year 2017 riders, such as a block on the Clean Water Rule. Brian Dabbs is covering.

What a VW Engineer’s Guilty Plea Means for Others in the Diesel Scandal 

A veteran Volkswagen engineer pleaded guilty in federal court last week to conspiracy charges related to the automaker’s emissions scandal and agrees to cooperate with ongoing investigations. Patrick Ambrosio follows up with a look at what the engineer’s cooperation could mean for others at VW who were involved in the development of the illegal technology and the cover-up. 

House Hearing Looks at Congress’s Authority to Issue Subpoenas

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology holds a hearing Wednesday examining Congress’s investigative authority—specifically its subpoena authority—and its recourse. The subpoenas issued by committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) focused on probes by several attorneys’ general into whether fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. deceived investors about the impact of climate change on their bottom lines. Rachel Leven is covering.

What’s the Fate of Nuclear Power?

With the nuclear industry facing an increasingly dim future in the face of headwinds such as low natural gas prices and flat electricity demand, nuclear power’s path forward will be the subject of a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Wednesday led by nuclear proponent Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Rebecca Kern is reporting.

Cleaning Up Waste from Nuclear Weapons Program

The National Cleanup Workshop on Wednesday and Thursday brings together Energy Department officials and other stakeholders to discuss the agency’s Office of Environmental Management’s progress to clean up waste from the government’s nuclear weapons programs.Rebecca Kern is reporting.

The Push for a Superfund Tax Reinstatement

House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) tells Bloomberg BNA the reinstatement of the Superfund tax will be a critical priority in the next Congress. The tax lapsed at the end of the 1994 calendar year.  Brian Dabbs has a Q&A coming with the New Jersey congressman.   

Closing the Loop

Applying circular economy thinking to how we produce, use and recycle products will be the subject of a World Resources Institute discussion on Friday. Andrea Vittorio will have the story.

Senate Committee Takes Closer Look at Agrochemical Mergers

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing Sept. 20 on the recent uptick in mergers among companies that sell agrochemicals and seeds, such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical and others. David Schultz is reporting.

Shale Gas Surge Triggers U.S. Petrochemical Expansions

The upsurge in U.S. shale gas production is creating expansion projects for manufacturers of petrochemicals, plastics and fertilizer that are expected to create thousands of long-term jobs and many new revenue sources. Alan Kovski has a special report coming.

How the Oil, Gas Industry Defeated Colorado Anti-Fracking Measures

Two citizens' initiatives seeking stringent restrictions on drilling in Colorado failed to qualify for the November ballot because they didn’t have enough signatures on their petitions. Tripp Baltz takes a deeper dive into what happened.