Week Ahead: Congress Tackles Agency Nominations, Budgets

Nominations for senior positions at the EPA and other agencies, as well as fiscal 2018 spending bills, are on Congress’ busy environment and energy agenda as lawmakers return to work the week of June 5.

The summer period leading up to the August recess is generally one of the most hectic in Washington—especially whenever there’s a new presidential administration seeking to fill vacancies.

Susan Parker Bodine is scheduled to get a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing June 7 as the Environmental Protection Agency’s next assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance. Bodine has been serving as the committee’s Republican chief counsel, and previously served in the EPA as assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response in the George W. Bush administration. Renee Schoof will cover.

Environment and Public Works members also are slated to take up three nominations to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: current Commissioner Kristine Svinicki and new nominees David Wright, a former South Carolina Public Service Commission chairman; and Annie Caputo, a senior policy adviser for the committee. If the nominees are confirmed, the agency will return to a full five-person panel. Rebecca Kern will monitor.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will meet June 6 to consider four nominations: David Bernhardt to be deputy secretary of the Interior; Dan Brouillette to be deputy secretary of Energy; and Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to be Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members.

Appropriators will be examining President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which has drawn bipartisan complaints for eliminating or under-funding numerous energy and environment programs. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke discusses his department’s proposal June 8 with the House Appropriations, Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee. Alan Kovski will attend.

In the Senate, the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will listen June 7 to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell’s comments about his agency’s budget request. Also that day, the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee will hear from Svinicki and other NRC members about their agency’s budget request.

In other news during the week:

Nuclear Council: The U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council will hold a two-day session starting June 6 in Washington on the worldwide nuclear energy marketplace. Among the speakers is Edward McGinnis, a veteran Energy Department official working on nuclear issues.Rebecca Kern will cover.

Air and Waste Management: The Air and Waste Management Association meets June 5-8 in Pittsburgh. A number of state and federal officials, as well as industry representatives, are slated to discuss a variety of environmental issues, including the EPA’s priorities, requirements for refineries to install fenceline pollution monitoring networks, and recent developments in environmental permitting. Patrick Ambrosio will cover.

Industrial Hygiene: The American Industrial Hygiene Association is holding its annual Conference and Expo in Seattle June 4-7 for occupational and environmental health and safety professionals. Sam Pearson will be there.