Week Ahead: Pruitt Meets the Purse-String Holders

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will explain to Congress why he believes cutting his agency’s budget by 31 percent is a good idea, one of numerous energy and environment events during the week of June 12.

Pruitt is scheduled to appear June 15 before the House Appropriations’ Interior, Environment and Related Agencies’ Subcommittee to discuss President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request. Pruitt has defended the proposed cut to the Environmental Protection Agency by saying he has met with many state officials “who are committed to pro-jobs and pro-environment” and who will join in funding a greater share of U.S. environmental protection needs.

Republicans on the Appropriations Committee are expected to give Pruitt a warm reception because of his commitment to overhauling the agency, as Brian Dabbs has reported. However, they have been more dismissive about the magnitude of the proposed cut.

Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), who chairs the EPA funding subcommittee, has said he looks forward to working with the Trump administration. But in President Barack Obama’s final year in office, his appropriations subcommittee called for cutting less than $300 million from Obama’s EPA budget request—which would have amounted to about a 3.5 percent cut to EPA’s budget—while at the same time boosting spending by more than $200 million over what Obama had sought for drinking water state revolving funds.

Calvert is a conservative who has spoken of the need to reduce “job-killing regulations.” But he also has a bipartisan side: He has held a seat on the Appropriations Committee since 2007 and has reached across the aisle on votes to raise the debt limit and keep the government running when hardliners threatened a shutdown. With a business background in the real estate and restaurant industries, Calvert is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a coalition of more than 70 members of Congress that backs “advancing positive policies that can command bipartisan support.”

Also on Capitol Hill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing June 13 on several of Trump’s nominees: Annie Caputo and David Wright to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (as well as the reappointment of Commissioner Kristine Svinicki); and Susan Bodine to assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Bloomberg BNA will cover.

Environment and Public Works also will hold a hearing June 14 on the renewable fuel standard Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver. The bill (S. 517) would waive summer restrictions on transportation fuel containing 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, and higher ethanol blends. Among those scheduled to testify is Mike Lorenz, executive vice president of Sheetz Inc. Brian Dabbs will monitor.

Also June 14, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy Subcommittee is set to explore states’ roles on energy security planning, emergency preparedness and state energy programs. Rebecca Kern will cover.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Water and Power Subcommittee will meet June 14 to look at a variety of water- and power-related bills, including one aimed at making it easier to build new surface water storage projects. Alan Kovski will cover.

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry will hold a hearing June 13 on small watershed structure. Trump has proposed to zero out funds for the Department of Agriculture’s rural wastewater and water infrastructure program in the fiscal year 2018 budget. Amena H. Saiyid will cover.

In Other News

G-7 meeting: Environmental officials from the Group of Seven nations—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.—meet in Bologna, Italy, June 11-12. Climate-related issues are just one part of the agenda, but Pruitt can expect an earful on the decision of the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement. Eric J. Lyman is covering.

European Parliament: European Union lawmakers are scheduled to discuss the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement June 14. Votes also are expected on a variety of environment issues, including greenhouse gas emissions reductions through 2030 for parts of the economy that are not covered by emissions trading as well as the use of pesticides in certain conservation areas. Stephen Gardner will cover.

Methane lawsuit: Environmental groups are asking a federal appeals court to stop the EPA from placing a stay on an Obama-era regulation on methane emissions from oil and gas wells. The agency has until 4 p.m. on June 15 to submit a response to the groups arguing why the stay shouldn’t be struck down. David Schultz will handle.

Social cost of carbon: The National Academies’ Board on Environmental Change and Society will hold a June 14 symposium on the social cost of carbon and climate impacts. Rachel Leven will track.

EPA Review of New Chemicals: EPA’s Jeffery Morris discusses during a free June 12 webinar what the agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics has been doing to slash the backlog of new chemical requests that had piled up following last year’s overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act and prevent another backlog from occurring. Specialty chemical manufacturers, former EPA officials and Lynn L. Bergeson, managing partner of Bergeson & Campbell P.C., add their perspectives. Pat Rizzuto is moderating the webinar.

Green chemistry: William Feehery, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences, will deliver the keynote address at the American Chemical Society’s 21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference June 13-15 in Reston, Va. Bloomberg BNA will cover.

Chemical dispersants: The toxicity and efficacy of chemical dispersants used to respond to oil spills is the subject of a new science review that aims to improve oil spill cleanups. The tools will be studied by a new scientific advisory committee that holds its first meeting June 13-15. The trade-offs for workers, coastal communities and the environment when other cleanup methods are used—or when oil spills are left untreated—also will be discussed by the National Academies’ Committee on the Evaluation of the Use of Chemical Dispersants in Oil Spill Response. Pat Rizzuto is following.