Legislative Announcements

Federal Court Vacates Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule

Update provided by Meguire Whitney

 On August 30, a federal judge vacated the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which had replaced the Obama administration’s 2015 Waters of the United States rulemaking. Judge Rosemary Marquez, of the Arizona district court, said that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers had erred in enacting the NWPR, and remanded the rule for reconsideration by the agencies. The 2015 WOTUS rule had expanded federal protections for various waterways, while the NWPR had significantly narrowed the scope of wetlands to be protected under the Clean Water Act. The court ruling leaves in place the underlying pre-WOTUS regulations for determining CWA jurisdiction. Prior to yesterday’s court actions, the EPA had already begun a process to restore pre-WOTUS protections, with a plan to undergo a new rulemaking to establish what the EPA calls “an updated and durable definition of ‘waters of the United States.’”

Natural Resources Releases Reconciliation Legislative Text, GOP Urges Markup be Postponed

Update provided by Meguire Whitney

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee have scheduled a September 2 markup of their $31 billion portion of the reconciliation package, despite opposition from Republican members of the committee. Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) sent a letter to Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) urging that the markup be postponed to deal with the Afghan refugee resettlement crisis as well as fallout from Hurricane Ida in the Gulf Coast. However, the issue is especially relevant for Natural Resources Democrats, who are arguing that the committee’s $31 billion allocation in the Reconciliation package could be used to provide significant aid to those along the Gulf Coast as well as those in areas at high risk for wildfires and other extreme weather events. The Natural Resources bill includes $500 million for NOAA to address hazards such as sea-level rise, $100 million to Fish and Wildlife Service to help habitats withstand extreme weather events, and $900 million for the Bureau of Land Management to address wildfire risks, among other things.

DOE Holds Inaugural Hydrogen Shot Summit

Update provided by Meguire Whitney

On August 31 and September 1, the U.S. Department of Energy held its first Hydrogen Shot Summit, convening a diverse group of stakeholders from electric utilities, government, academia, and the finance industry to identify ways to meet the Department’s goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per kilogram in one decade. The Hydrogen Shot Summit is part of DOE’s larger Energy EarthShots initiative, which aims to catalyze development and significantly reduce the cost of clean energy over the next 10 years to meet the Biden administration’s climate goals. Key panel topics from the two-day summit included a review of the DOE’s recent Request for Information on viable hydrogen demonstrations and discussions on multiple hydrogen production pathways, thermal conversion with carbon capture and storage, and the challenges to the deployment and financing of projects.

House Panel Holds Hearing on Cyber Incident Reporting Bill

Update provided by Meguire Whitney

On September 1, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation held a hearing with various energy, telecommunications, and banking industry officials on the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act. The legislation would direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to establish, within 270 days, requirements for critical infrastructure operators to report cyber incidents within 72 hours upon occurrence. Critical infrastructure owners and operators would be mandated to report cyber incidents to a new Cyber Incident Review Office within CISA, whereby the new office would track and analyze the incidents and publish a quarterly report to help prevent or respond to other cyberattacks. Witnesses at the hearing advocated against a one-size fits all approach to cyber incident reporting, urged Congress to rely on the expertise of a wide group of cyber officials, and to harmonize federal cybersecurity incident reporting requirements to limit duplicative or disparate requirements among various federal agencies.

In advance of the hearing, the American Public Power Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association sent a letter to the relevant House and Senate Committee leadership urging against additional cyber incident reporting requirements for the electric sector as such mandatory reporting standards already exist and electric utilities already participate in voluntary information sharing systems to protect the electric grid.

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