The Flood Arrives- White House Quietly Releases Plans for Thousands of Regulations in 2015Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:16:39 CST
The Obama Administration has released what is being called their Federal Unified Agenda for the coming year. This is the tsunami of federal regulations that many Republican members of Congress have expressed concern about now that the mid term elections are mostly behind us. The latest rollout includes some 3,415 regulations– more than the last regulatory agenda, and one that includes 189 rules that cost more than $100 million. (One of those regulations is about further regulation of the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse- shown here.)
Among the regulations that are listed in the many different rules that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to issue in 2015 is the Waters of the US proposal. EPA seems to be signaling in the detail released on Monday that they plan to modify the rule that was out for public comment much of this year and issue that as a final rule in the new year. The EPA will issue its redefinition next year, according to the agenda.
Within the USDA, there are 123 regulations that are listed in the regulatory agenda, with one of the more controversial ones that is considered to be in the final rule stage the "Importation of Beef From a Region in Brazil." The Administration is saying in this rule that "Based on the evidence in a recent risk assessment, we have determined that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef can be safely imported from those Brazilian States, provided certain conditions are met. This action will provide for the importation of beef from the designated region in Brazil into the United States while continuing to protect the United States against the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease." The cattle industry in the US has strongly disagreed with the USDA as this rule proceeds through the federal pipeline.
For the entire list of over 3,000 rules in various stages of being effectively made the law of the land, click here.
There are several background statements about the EPA proposals that have to do with water quality, including WOTUS- the comments offered by EPA include:
"Improving Water Quality. EPA plans to address challenging water quality issues in several rulemakings during FY 2015.
"Definition of "Waters of the United States" Under the Clean Water Act. After U.S. Supreme Court decisions in SWANCC and Rapanos, the scope of "waters of the US" protected under Clean Water Act (CWA) programs has been an issue of considerable debate and uncertainty. The Act does not distinguish among programs as to what constitutes "waters of the United States." As a result, these decisions affect the geographic scope of all CWA programs. SWANCC and Rapanos did not invalidate the current regulatory definition of "waters of the United States." However, the decisions established important considerations for how those regulations should be interpreted. Experience implementing the regulations following the two court cases has identified several areas that could benefit from additional clarification through rulemaking.
"Water Quality Standards Regulatory Revisions. EPA will finalize updates to the Water Quality Standards regulation, which provides a strong foundation for water quality-based controls, including water quality assessments, impaired waters lists, total maximum daily loads, and water quality-based effluent limits (WQBELs) in NPDES discharge permits. These updates aim to clarify and resolve a number of policy and technical issues that have recurred over the past 30 years. They will assure greater public transparency, better stakeholder information, and more effective implementation of the Water Quality Standards program.
"Responding to Oil Spills in U.S. Waters. The Clean Water Act (CWA), as amended by the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), requires that the National Contingency Plan (NCP) include a schedule identifying "dispersants, other chemicals, and other spill mitigating devices and substances, if any, that may be used in carrying out" the NCP. EPA is considering amending subpart J of the NCP (the Product Schedule) for a manufacturer to have chemical, biological, or other spill-mitigating substances listed on the Product Schedule, updating the listing requirements to reflect new advancements in scientific understanding, and, to the extent practicable, considering and addressing concerns regarding the use of dispersants raised during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill."
Beyond the USDA and EPA, there is legitimate concern over the huge number of endangered species that are being looked at by the Department of the Interior. The Obama Administration is looking at everything from the Mexican wolf to the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse as candidates to be listed as a threatened or endangered species.
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