EPA Week In Review
Please note: Many links take you to external webpages.
What a week at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With Children's Health Month in full swing, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler went west, where the focus was on WOTUS, WIFIA loans and Water Quality.
His trip kicked off in North Dakota, where he participated in a WOTUS roundtable hosted by Senator Kevin Cramer with state officials and stakeholders. While in Bismarck, Administrator Wheeler also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Governor Doug Burgum to renew the agency's commitment to working with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) and invited the Metro Flood Diversion Authority (MFDA) to apply for the third round of Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) funding.
WIFIA was in the spotlight in Indiana as well, where Administrator Wheeler joined Governor Eric Holcomb to announce a $436 million loan to the Indiana Finance Authority - the largest initial disbursement under WIFIA to date.
Administrator Wheeler broke news on the policy front in Green Bay on Thursday, where he unveiled the proposed Lead and Copper rule. The action represents the first major overhaul of the Lead and Copper Rule since 1991 and marks a critical step in advancing the Trump Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures. The trip concluded in Milwaukee on Friday with a roundtable on the Lead and Copper rule with U.S. Reps. Bryan Steil (WI-01) and Glenn Grothman (WI-06) and Wisconsin public health stakeholders.
Meanwhile this week, EPA, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), announced that they have selected 10 communities under the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance program to help revitalize their Main Streets through outdoor recreation.
Additionally, EPA honored top performers in the freight industry with the annual SmartWay Excellence awards, which recognizes businesses that move goods in the cleanest, most energy-efficient way possible while protecting public health and reducing air pollution.
Widespread Praise for the Proposed Lead and Copper Rule
Stakeholders and elected officials sound off on the proposed Lead and Copper Rule:
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler: “By improving protocols for identifying lead, expanding sampling, and strengthening treatment requirements, our proposal would ensure that more water systems proactively take actions to prevent lead exposure, especially in schools, child care facilities, and the most at-risk communities."
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson: “During my time as a physician, I saw firsthand the devastating impacts lead exposure can have on children. I applaud the EPA for taking action to reduce lead exposure in drinking water, particularly in our most vulnerable communities.”
Patrick Breysse, Ph.D., C.I.H., Director, National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Center for Disease Control: “Updates to the lead and copper rule will further strengthen federal efforts to prevent childhood lead exposure before harm occurs. Primary prevention, such as this, is the best way to ensure children do not experience harmful long-term effects of lead exposure.”
Susan Mayne, Ph.D., Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition: “...We welcome the action taken by the EPA today to decrease lead in our nation’s drinking water. Strong, systematic federal actions like this will help to lower the risks posed by these metals especially to vulnerable populations...”
Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Republican Leader John Shimkus (R-Ill.), and Energy Subcommittee Republican Leader Fred Upton (R-Mich.): “Today’s action represents the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting drinking water by taking this proactive and holistic approach to address our most at-risk communities from lead exposure, a commitment we share."
Mayor Karen Weaver (Flint, Mich.): "It is great to hear that the EPA has proposed lead and copper rule standards that move us toward better protection of our children."
State Senator Robert Cowles, Chair of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee (WI-02): “The EPA’s revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule shine a light on the continued necessity for additional action to address lead laden drinking water, and I applaud their attention to this issue.”
Sam Wade, CEO, National Rural Water Association: "The National Rural Water Association stands ready to train and assist rural and small communities to meet the requirements of the new lead and copper rule and achieve our common goal of lead free drinking water.”
Read our full WTAS here.
Administrator Wheeler Talks WOTUS in Bismarck
In North Dakota visit, EPA chief vows new Waters of the United States definition to 'stand the test of time': “Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler during his visit to Bismarck on Monday, Oct. 7, heard plenty of praise for his effort to replace the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule with a "common-sense" definition.” (The Bismarck Tribune, 10/07/19)
“Writing a new [WOTUS] rule which works for our farmers, businesses, and local governments is a critical issue- not just for North Dakota- but for our country," said Senator Kevin Cramer. "I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss redefining WOTUS with the Administrator and to help put North Dakotans in a position to continue leading on this issue.”
“We’ve worked hard to prevent the impacts of the 2015 WOTUS rule, and I appreciate Administrator Wheeler for partnering with us in that effort,” said Senator John Hoeven. “... We will continue working with the EPA to provide certainty to our farmers, ranchers and energy producers and preserve the role of states in protecting our water resources as the agency drafts a new WOTUS rule.”
Indiana and North Dakota Welcome WIFIA Loans
EPA chief's North Dakota visit capped with Fargo-Moorhead Diversion announcement: "Capping his two-day visit to Bismarck, Wheeler announced the EPA's invitation for the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority to apply for a loan under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act... The loan would provide $510 million in low-interest financing for the $2.75 billion project, for which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began work on an inlet last month." (The Bismarck Tribune, 10/08/19)
“This hugely important loan will reduce the tax burden of the diversion project and give assurances to taxpayers, state legislators and the private market that the project is affordable and moving forward,” said Governor Doug Burgum.
EPA chief travels to Indy, gives state $436 million loan to bring cleaner water to Hoosiers: "With state dollars and the [WIFIA] loan proceeds, Indiana’s revolving fund will be able to lend nearly $900 million to support water infrastructure projects throughout the state... Construction and operation of these projects are also expected to create more than 3,000 jobs..." (Indianapolis Star, 10/08/19)
“Delivering clean water and protecting public health are top priorities, and I am grateful that our partnership with the EPA will help empower communities across Indiana to take our water systems to the Next Level,” said Governor Eric Holcomb.
Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb present a loan from Indiana's State Revolving Fund (SRF) to CWA Authority, Inc. in Indianapolis.
Highlights from EPA's Regional Offices
From EPA Region 9: CCSD joins EPA and Nevada Department of Environmental Protection to reveal school water tests: During a joint news conference on Thursday morning at Dondero Elementary School, CCSD officials revealed the results of a 2017-2018 study, paid for with an EPA grant... [EPA Regional Administrator Mike] Stoker also used the occasion to roll out a new EPA rule by the Trump administration, to update the lead and copper rule for the first time in decades. (News 3 Las Vegas, 10/10/19)
From EPA Region 6: EPA Grant of $445,000 Will Fund Brownfields Programs in Louisiana: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a grant to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) to support land restoration projects through the state’s brownfields program. The $445,000 award will fund several aspects of the program, which works to restore abandoned properties to benefit communities. (EPA Press Release, 10/09/19)
From EPA Region 10: EPA’s environmental education grants help Northwest communities spur ecological awareness and local stewardship: Region 10, is awarding $376,355 in environmental education grants to five organizations in Idaho and Washington to help students, teachers and community members boost their knowledge of science and increase their ecological awareness and stewardship. View the projects here. (EPA Press Release, 10/07/19)
Tweets of the Week